Nursing homes hold an important role in our community. We depend on these facilities to take care of our loved ones when they need it the most. Because they hold such great responsibility, they must be held accountable for their actions and meet a high level of quality. To ensure this, nursing homes must undergo annual inspections that review compliance with state laws regarding safety and quality of care.
Unfortunately, many facilities fail to meet expectations. When this happens, the state will issue fines and sanctions in an attempt to remedy deficiencies. In January 2019, Charleston Bishop Gadsden Episcopal Health Care Center received high marks from the state with no violations and no fines. However, there were seven noted deficiencies, an increase from the prior year. The primary concerns were improper handwashing procedures and improper storage of hand sanitizer. There were also deficiencies in patient care and medication management.
While Charleston Bishop Gadsden Episcopal Health Care Center has given other facilities a standard to strive for, sadly, inadequate care is far too common there—Hughey Law Firm has successfully handled cases against it.
The problem is industry-wide in Charleston, and is anticipated to get worse. A recent article from the Post Courier predicts that South Carolina will have the fourth largest nursing shortage in the country by 2030. This has the potential to adversely affect residents across the state. Staffing shortages often have a direct correlation with a lower level of care.
If you believe your loved one is the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, don’t hesitate to contact the nursing home abuse attorneys at Hughey Law Firm at (843) 881-8644.
Understanding Nursing Home Abuse
Our loved ones deserve the highest level of care. At a time when they are most vulnerable, they count on us to protect them and ensure their safety and security. For many people, choosing the right care facility is a painful and difficult decision. After taking the time to find the right place, discovering abuse can be heartbreaking.
Abuse comes in many forms. As a caregiver, you must recognize and report any signs of abuse or neglect. The South Carolina Code of Laws clearly defines the legal definition of abuse. The most commonly recognized forms of abuse include:
- Physical abuse: Physical abuse occurs when a staff member causes physical harm to the resident. This may include hitting, pushing, or slapping. Be on the lookout for unexplained bruises, marks, or broken bones. Unexplained doctor visits are also a cause for concern.
- Sexual abuse: Sexual abuse includes any unwanted or unsolicited sexual contact. It is never okay for a staff member to have a sexual relationship with a patient. Any suspected sexual contact should be reported right away.
- Emotional or psychological abuse: Emotional abuse can include yelling, degrading, ignoring, or intentionally belittling the resident. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, one study found that psychological abuse led to greater declines in mental health.
- Financial abuse: Older adults are often unable to handle their own finances. Financial abuse includes mishandling funds, writing forged checks, and stealing cash or other valuables. The NCEA estimates that financial abuse costs older adults over $2.6 billion annually.
- Neglect: Neglect can be just as dangerous as abuse. When a caregiver fails to provide medical care or attention to a resident, it can cause a decline in the resident’s physical or emotional well-being. Common forms of neglect include improper bed rotation, failure to meet dietary needs, withholding required medications, and inadequate security. To learn more about neglect speak with an experienced attorney.
Know Your Legal Rights
Abuse is never okay. If you are not certain if what abuse is or suspect any type of abuse, the most important thing you can do is remove your loved one from the situation. You have the legal right to choose whichever care facility you want and make a change at any time. But removing your loved one is not enough. Elder abuse is illegal. Report any occurrence of abuse right away. This will allow the state to investigate the situation and hold all parties responsible. You do not need to provide proof to file a report.
The law also allows victims of nursing home abuse or a member of their family to seek economic damage from the nursing home. These damages include:
- Medical bills: Abuse can cause severe personal injury. Treatment may include doctor visits, surgeries, medication, or physical therapy.
- Pain and suffering: Abuse can be a traumatizing experience. Pain and suffering includes any physical or emotional pain related to the abuse.
- Relocation costs: Moving your loved one to a new care facility can be expensive. It may include increased care costs, transportation costs, or deposits for the new facility.
- Wrongful death: Severe cases of abuse can lead to death. When this happens, the staff and facility need to be held responsible. In addition to civil penalties, the responsible parties will likely face criminal charges.
How Our Nursing Home Attorneys Can Help
It can be overwhelming trying to figure out what to do after you find out your loved one is being abused. At this time, the only thing you should really have to worry about is ensuring your loved one’s health and safety. An experienced attorney can take care of the legal process so you can focus on your family. Some of the things your attorney will take care of include:
- File a complaint with the proper authorities
- Request and review pertinent medical records
- Gather evidence and witness statements
- Recommend care providers and help facilitate treatment
- File a lawsuit
- Communicate with the nursing home and their attorneys
- Recover fair and just financial compensation
Hughey Law: Standing up for What’s Right
At the Hughey Law Firm, we handle each case with compassion and respect. Discovering abuse can be an emotional experience. Our job is to support you and help you seek appropriate compensation. Money won’t take away the abuse, but it can help you choose a new care facility and get you and your loved one the support you need.
Nate Hughey has spent almost two decades successfully helping hundreds of survivors of nursing home neglect and abuse recover compensation for their injuries—including against Charleston Bishop Gadsden Episcopal Health Care Center—and even teaches other lawyers how to handle those cases. Many law firms throughout South Carolina consult the lawyers at Hughey Law Firm on nursing home cases for their experience in handling these complex matters.
If you believe your loved one is the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, contact Hughey Law Firm at (843) 881-8644 or visit us online to set up a free consultation.