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Nursing Home Negligence & Elder Abuse
Thursday, January 24th, 2008

When you are faced with having to place a loved one in the care of a nursing home, you expect that their needs will be met and that they will be in a safe environment. Unfortunately, nursing home negligence and outright abuse in this area are more common than we would like to think.

Despite many Federal and State regulations, which have been established to protect our loved ones in these settings, a gross number of violations continue to occur every single day, tragically compromising the health, dignity and safety of our elders and the disabled.  As a society, we must not forget that individuals entering nursing homes are the most vulnerable members of our society.

Nursing home negligence and elder abuse can manifest itself in a variety of ways.  While physical and sexual abuse is the one of the most common, some other examples are:

• Use of restraints without proper medical orders
• Deprivation of food or water
• Medication Errors: Over or under-dosing of medication
• Unexplained injuries or failing to report and injury
• Forcing a patient to stay in a room or placing in a secluded area
• Failure to assist with Activities of Daily Living (e.g. dressing, personal hygiene, and eating)
• Unsanitary and unclean conditions
• Stealing a patient’s money and/or possessions
• Fraud, forgery, and extortion
• Wrongful use of Power of Attorney, Trusteeship, or Guardianship

Department of Human Services fields thousands of nursing home negligence and elder abuse complaints every year.  However,   investigations into these complaints can be difficult because dementia or other conditions can make residents poor witnesses.

If you must place a loved one into a nursing home, do your homework.  Research the facility.  Take a tour of the home, meet the staff, find out about their licensing and staff certification. 
You should also ask about staff training programs, particularly any on elder abuse, patient safety, and dealing effectively with difficult residents.   Request copies of the latest inspection report, which is required of a facility certified to take Medicare and Medicaid.

Once you place someone into a nursing home, watch for warning signs of abuse.  Common signs that they are suffering from nursing home negligence or elder abuse might be: sudden agitation or emotional withdrawl, unexplained bruises or other injuries and/or rapid weight loss.

The Nursing Home Negligence lawyers at D’Amore & Associates in Oregon and Washington are experienced in all types of nursing home negligence and elder abuse claims.

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