Macon Nursing Home Negligence Attorney
According to Medicare, there are 20 nursing homes within a 25-mile radius of Macon, and over half of them are rated either one-star or two-star (out of five) when it comes to health inspections, staffing, and other quality measures. Even people who take the time to search out a high-quality residence for themselves or loved ones find that quality can quickly deteriorate due to high staffing turnovers and the frequency with which nursing homes change ownership or management. Even in facilities where the nursing staff is qualified and dedicated to their work, nurses find themselves understaffed, overworked and unable to keep up with the demands of the job. In conditions like these, patients get neglected and suffer harm as a result. When they do, Buzzell, Welsh & Hill can help. Our attorneys have decades of experience helping injury victims and their families recover compensation from the negligent parties responsible for their harm. If you or a beloved family member has suffered unnecessary harm in a nursing home in Dublin, Forsyth, Milledgeville or throughout Middle Georgia, call our experienced Macon nursing home negligence attorneys for help.
Georgia Laws Against Nursing Home Negligence
The Georgia Disabled Adults and Elder Persons Protection Act defines neglect as “the absence or omission of essential services to the degree that it harms or threatens with harm the physical or emotional health of a disabled adult or elder person.” Abuse under the law is defined as the “willful infliction of physical pain, physical injury, sexual abuse, mental anguish, unreasonable confinement, or the willful deprivation of essential services to a disabled adult or elder person.” An “elder person” is one who is 65 years old or older, and a “disabled adult” is one who has Alzheimer’s, dementia, or is otherwise mentally or physically incapacitated. Nursing home workers are mandatory reporters under the law who must report abuse or neglect they witness, and they can be charged with a crime if they don’t.
Physical or emotional abuse in a nursing home and nursing home negligence can look very similar; the only difference is that in one case the actions are being done deliberately to punish or hurt the resident, while in the other case the actions occur because of careless or overworked staff. Below are examples of conduct that could amount to nursing home abuse or neglect.
- Malnutrition and Dehydration – Residents might not get the nutrition they need for physical and mental health if staff are not attentive to their needs and ensuring they are adequately fed. Nursing home staff members have also been known to deprive residents of food and water as a form of punishment.
- Social Interaction – Residents can be left alone in their rooms all day as a form of punishment or out of neglect. Isolation is detrimental to physical and emotional health.
- Medication Errors – Dispensing medication is a major and critical function of nursing home staff, and many residents take multiple medications throughout the day. Keeping up with these medications might be a challenge, but making preventable errors can be disastrous to the resident’s health. Also, an astounding number of nursing home residents are intentionally overmedicated not for therapeutic reasons but merely to make them easier to control or less of a burden for staff members.
- Restraints – Nursing home workers might put residents in physical restraints or use chemical restraints to make residents easier to handle, but such restraints can only lawfully be used under a doctor’s written order specifying how long and when restraints can be used. Restraints can only be used as much as necessary to protect the resident or others from harm.
Symptoms of Neglect or Abuse to Look for in Your Loved One
If you have a family member in a Georgia nursing home and notice any of the following that are matters of concern, please give us a call to see how we can help. You can also address your concerns directly to the administration at the facility or the Georgia Department of Community Health.
- Hygiene issues – Residents are being neglected.
- Bedsores or pressure ulcers – Even if the resident is immobile, staff members are responsible to move and turn residents periodically to prevent bedsores. Bedsores are a sign of neglect and if left untreated, they can cause serious injuries or terminal illness.
- Unexplained weight loss – Residents are not receiving adequate nutrition, whether through neglect or intentional abuse.
- Signs of fearfulness, withdrawal, depression – These emotional changes can be a sign of ongoing abuse. Negligent lack of sufficient nutrition and hydration can also cause mood and personality changes.
- Symmetrical bruising on the arms or legs – These are signs the resident has been forcefully grabbed or restrained.
- Other cuts, bruises or broken bones – Patient falls are a leading cause of injury and death in nursing homes. Some falls are unavoidable while others could be prevented with adequate care. Physical abuse can also produce the same results. Thorough investigation is needed to find the cause.
Our Macon Nursing Home Negligence Lawyers Can Help
Nursing home administrators are responsible to conduct adequate screening and hiring practices and provide the necessary training and supervision of their employees. They should be aware of when and how staff members could be exploiting residents, and they should provide adequate staffing to meet the needs of residents and keep their employees from undergoing excessive job-related stress they might take out on vulnerable residents.
According to the Bill of Rights for Residents of Long-term Care Facilities (Georgia Nursing Home Resident Bill of Rights), residents have a right to receive visitors in a private setting and the right to file a civil lawsuit for money damages for violations of their rights under the law. Neither residents nor their family members should feel afraid to speak up and speak out against nursing home negligence. We’ll meet with you at our offices, in your home, or at the resident’s facility as needed to make sure we are providing you with the right legal services to meet your needs.
Contact Buzzell, Welsh & Hill Today
If you or your loved one is suffering from abuse or neglect in a Middle Georgia nursing home or long-term care facility, Buzzell, Welsh & Hill can help. Call our experienced Macon nursing home negligence attorneys today for a no-cost, confidential consultation.