Nursing Home Abuse
Abuse can often be avoided with careful selection of the facility, although once a patient is placed in a facility, constant vigilance and advocacy is necessary to avoid abuse or neglect.
Your First Visit – What to Look For
Finding a good nursing home can be difficult at best. How do you know if a facility is a good one, or if they are just on their best behavior for the day? There are several things that you can do to determine the cleanliness of the facility and the care of the patients. Take a deep breath when you first walk in, and inhale deeply as you walk down the halls. How does the facility smell? Focus on the floors, bathrooms, and the conditions of the occupied rooms to determine if they are clean and cared for. Floors that are dirty, overall unkempt conditions, and poorly bathed patients will smell bad and indicate the facility does not place a high enough priority on patient care or cleanliness.
In addition to your visual inspection, you can ask to see the Survey Reports that are prepared during the annual state inspection of the facility. The facilities are legally required to make these reports available to you and to provide you with a well lit, accessible room to review them in. If the facility refuses to show them to you or fails to provide you with an adequate area to review them in, you can notify the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) at (800) 458-9858.
If the reports indicate poor patient care, incompetent staff, a slow response or callous indifference to the violations, you probably should look elsewhere as these are indications of serious problems. Facilities are always at their best during a state inspection, so your reports of questionable care or conditions are important. Unannounced visits will often give a more complete view of patient care, cleanliness and general condition.
Most facilities have received violations, but this doesn't necessarily mean the facility will abuse or neglect their patients or fail to observe state laws for cleanliness or care. Standards exist for the following areas:
- Nursing care
- Physician services
- Rehabilitative services
- Infection control
- Quality of life
- Dietary services
- Pharmacy services
- Facility management
- Patient rights
When a facility violates one or more of these standards, they are issued an "F-tag" on their survey report. Some violations cause more concern than other. To determine the severity of the F-tag, visit the DADS website for an explanation of each F-tag code.
When Even Due Diligence Fails
Even when we investigate a facility thoroughly, sometimes things get by us, are hidden from us, or conditions worsen after the patient has been admitted. Don't beat yourself up if you did everything you could to find a good facility – just do something about. You can document the deficiencies and report them to the state. If you or a loved one has been physically or emotionally abused or neglected, or has had a suspicious injury or accident, then it is time to take it a step further and hire a knowledgeable attorney. The attorneys at Zinda Law Group are well versed in elder care law and we can help you. We will investigate you concerns and help you determine the right steps to take. Call us at (800) 863-5312 to speak with an attorney today and let us help you.