Philadelphia Nursing Home Negligence FAQ
We all worry about our aging or vulnerable loved ones. When we entrust their care to a nursing home or long-term care facility, we want to make sure they receive the assistance, companionship, and respect they deserve. Nursing homes offer comfort and care for our elderly and disabled family members when they can no longer care for themselves. Most do a fine job of looking after their residents. But, unfortunately, not all of them. Sometimes their services fall short, and their vulnerable residents suffer severe harm.
In this blog post, we answer some frequently asked questions about nursing home negligence in the Philadelphia area. To learn more about your legal rights as a nursing home resident who has been a victim to negligence in a Philadelphia nursing home or long-term care facility, contact an experienced nursing home negligence attorney at the Levin Firm today for a free case evaluation.
1. What exactly is nursing home negligence?
Nursing home negligence is a type of abuse of a resident of a nursing home or long-term care facility. Because most residents of these facilities are elderly, you may also hear of abuse at a Philadelphia nursing home referred to as elder abuse.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), elder abuse is an intentional act or a failure to act by a caregiver or another individual who is in a relationship involving an expectation of trust and who creates a risk of harm to an older individual.
In a nursing home or long-term care setting, abuse of elderly and/or vulnerable residents can take several forms:
- Physical abuse: When nursing home staff intentionally use any force (hitting, beating, shoving, choking, or even slapping) to harm their residents.
- Emotional abuse: When nursing home staff inflict emotional harm through their words and/or actions, such as by threatening residents, isolating them, or punishing them.
- Sexual abuse: Any non-consensual sexual contact or interaction involving a resident of a nursing home, perpetrated by staff or a fellow resident.
- Financial abuse: When caregivers abuse their access to residents and the residents’ personal information to commit financial crimes such as fraud or identity theft.
- Negligence: Unlike the four categories of abuse above, negligence occurs when nursing home staff or administration fail to take reasonable steps to provide a minimum standard of care to residents, resulting in harm to those residents. Negligence can take many forms, including failure to assist residents in daily routines, failure to provide adequate nutrition or hydration, understaffing, failure to administer or monitor medications, and failure to care for treatable health conditions.
Any harm that comes to a resident of a nursing home in Philadelphia is absolutely unacceptable. If you suspect any type of abuse of a nursing home resident, take steps to ensure the resident’s immediate safety if necessary, then contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney right away.
2. What rights do Philadelphia nursing home residents have?
Any resident in a Philadelphia nursing facility has a right to be treated with respect, consideration, and dignity. This means freedom from physical and mental abuse and involuntary seclusion, physical or chemical restraints, and corporal punishments for convenience or discipline. Restraints should only ever be used on a resident based on a written order by a qualified doctor, and only if necessary to protect the safety of the resident or others.
In addition, Philadelphia nursing home residents have legal rights to security and self-determination.
These rights, as described on the Medicare website, include:
- The right to be free from neglect, discrimination, and abuse.
- The right to medical care and to choose their physician.
- The right to receive written information in a way that the resident can understand the services offered, the costs of the services, the nursing facility expectations for their residents, and their rights under the law.
- The right to be involved in their care planning.
- The right to refuse or accept who visits them.
- The right to determine reasonably whether they want to wake up, eat, or go to bed.
- The right to not only participate but form resident groups and participate in their activities.
- The right to know in writing of planned discharge or transfer.
- The right to their finances.
- The right to make complaints without worrying about retribution.
If you suspect a violation of any of the rights above, do what you need to do to ensure the nursing home resident’s safety, then call an experienced Philadelphia nursing home injury lawyer.
3. What happens if a Philadelphia nursing home resident complains of abuse?
Today, all the states, including Pennsylvania, have procedures for reporting allegations and complaints of nursing home neglect and abuse. Some people have a legal obligation to report suspected abuse or neglect to authorities. Others may not have a legal obligation, strictly speaking, but have a moral obligation to do so in appropriate cases. Reporting abuse or neglect to authorities typically sets in motion an official investigation process that could result in fines, penalties, and even criminal charges against the nursing home or individual staff members.
Be aware, however, that complaining through official channels, without the assistance of an experienced nursing home abuse attorney, may not always achieve adequate or timely results for the vulnerable resident. In fact, it may get in the way of the resident’s, and your own, legal rights to receive compensation for injuries and losses.
To ensure full protection of the resident’s rights, we encourage anyone who suspects that nursing home negligence has harmed a loved one to first take steps (if necessary) to protect the resident’s health and safety, and then to call an experienced Philadelphia nursing home negligence attorney immediately. Skilled nursing home negligence lawyers can act quickly to develop a legal strategy to protect the resident’s rights.
4. Why does it seem like abuse and neglect are so common in Philadelphia nursing homes?
Because, sadly, too many Philadelphia nursing homes fall short of the standard of care they have a legal and moral obligation to deliver far more often than they should.
Nursing home abuse is nothing new; according to the National Center on Elder Abuse, 10 percent of elderly Americans experience abuse in the nursing home facility where they reside. Why are abuse and neglect so common in nursing homes that one in ten residents endure it?
Many factors contribute to this epidemic of neglect and abuse, including:
- Inadequate training of staff;
- Hiring staff with substandard qualifications and/or criminal backgrounds;
- Understaffing, often driven by budgetary constraints or cost-cutting;
- Resident health complications that exceed the abilities of the staff to care-for;
- Lack of appropriate or working equipment; and
- The known reluctance of nursing home residents to report their abuse out of fear or embarrassment.
These are just a few factors, of course. No matter what the cause, nursing home abuse and neglect are unacceptable.
5. Who Oversees Nursing Homes?
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS), and state-level health care agencies, regulate the nursing home industry. CMMS plays an especially powerful role in overseeing nursing homes because the vast majority of them accept patients covered by Medicare or Medicaid. Typically, responsibility for conducting on-site inspections of nursing facilities falls to state agencies that report their results to CMMS and others.
In an inspection of a nursing home, an inspector visits the facility and reviews its policies, records, and operations. An inspection frequently includes interviews of residents and staff.
An inspection seeks to identify deficiencies in any of the following areas:
- The quality of care
- The freedom from neglect, exploitation, and abuse
- The resident care planning and assessment
- The resident rights
- The physician and nursing services
- The dietary and nutrition services
- The pharmacy services
- The overall administration
- The environmental factors
Of course, inspections are not fail-safe. Negligence that leaves a resident harmed can occur even at a nursing home that passes its inspections with flying colors. Never trust inspections, alone, in assessing whether negligence at a Philadelphia nursing home has harmed a resident you love.
6. How can I make sure that a Philadelphia nursing home facility is safe for my loved one?
Unfortunately, it is impossible to say that a nursing facility is entirely safe or to foresee any potentially dangerous situations involving nursing home care.
However, you can improve the chances that a nursing facility is secure by following these basic guidelines:
- Do not settle: Make sure you explore all of your options. Seek recommendations from a physician, family, friends, or other reliable sources to steer you in the right direction.
- Health inspections: Look up the recent health inspections of all nursing homes you are considering. Compare the quality of each of the facilities.
- Tour the facility: Schedule a time to meet with the facilities director and ask questions about their care, staff, and the services they provide. Pay special attention to the other residents and the staff members, how they act, and how they interact; it can give you a good idea of the atmosphere.
- Visit as often as you can: Do not assume the quality of care at a nursing home will always remain the same. Frequent visits can detect declines in standards that could lead to your loved one suffering abuse or neglect.
Finally, if you conclude that a facility is not safe, for any reason, take the necessary steps to move your loved one immediately, then call an experienced Philadelphia nursing home negligence attorney.
7. What legal action can I take if Philadelphia nursing home negligence harmed my loved one?
The answer to this question depends on the context, and it can get very complicated. Your options may include reporting a dangerous condition at a nursing home to the police; filing a complaint with a state or federal agency; taking direct legal action against the nursing home and/or its staff for compensation; or a combination of these or other steps.
The sequence, timing, and substance of the steps you take can have a potentially significant impact on the resident’s, and even your own, legal rights. We strongly encourage you to speak with an experienced nursing home negligence attorney before deciding on any course of action, unless you must take immediate steps to protect your loved one’s health and safety (in which case, do that first, and then call an attorney right away).
Experienced attorneys for nursing home residents and their families know that you have no time to lose in addressing a suspected case of nursing home negligence. They have the skill and know-how to act quickly (within hours or a day) to develop a legal strategy that protects the resident’s, and your own, legal rights.
8. When should I file a lawsuit against a Philadelphia nursing home?
Before asking when, you will need to know if, which is why you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. Trust only an experienced Philadelphia nursing home negligence attorney to take any legal action on your or the resident’s behalf. The attorney may advise you on a course of action that involves filing a lawsuit quickly. Or the attorney may counsel a more cautious, deliberate approach.
Another reason not to delay speaking with a lawyer is that the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania for a nursing home negligence lawsuit is generally two years from the date of the injury. However, even this window of opportunity can shrink based on particular circumstances. In other words, you have no time to lose: speak with an experienced Philadelphia nursing home negligence attorney right away.
9. Is nursing home negligence the same as medical malpractice?
Not quite. Medical malpractice can happen at a Philadelphia nursing home, but not all nursing home negligence constitutes medical malpractice. For example, a nursing home nurse’s medical error may constitute medical malpractice. However, a nursing home staff’s failure to provide sanitary facilities for residents might not.
Still, the potential for a case of nursing home negligence to involve medical malpractice serves as yet another reason to speak with an experienced Philadelphia nursing home negligence attorney right away. Under Pennsylvania law, lawsuits involving medical malpractice claims trigger special procedures for a lawyer to follow. Only trust a lawyer who is familiar with those procedures with your loved one’s nursing home negligence claim. to learn more about the types of claims you can file as a nursing home resident who has suffered from abuse speak with our Philadelphia nursing home abuse lawyers today.
10. When Should I call a lawyer if I suspect nursing home negligence (or abuse) in Philadelphia?
As soon as possible. If you need to take immediate steps to ensure your loved one’s health and safety in a nursing home, then do that first. But, in all other cases, contact the experienced Philadelphia nursing home negligence attorneys at the Levin Firm immediately to protect your loved one’s legal and financial interests.
Contact A Philadelphia Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer At The Levin Firm Today
Representing victims of nursing home abuse requires a team of Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers, nurses, and others trained to review the facts of these cases, including medical records. It can be very difficult to prove that even the most serious nursing home injury is the result of assault or medical malpractice. That’s why you need attorneys on your side to investigate medical records and find the best medical experts to examine the extent of your injuries. At The Levin Firm, we also work with highly-regarded experts to determine the type of medical malpractice and how and why it happened. At times, we will work with other law firms with particular expertise to assure that our clients receive the most thorough and zealous representation.
When you need a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, or New Jersey personal injury attorney to represent you or a loved one who has been abused or neglected in a nursing home, contact
The Levin Firm as soon as possible. We represent every client zealously in order to obtain the best results possible in each case, so please call 215-825-5183 or contact us online today.