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Legal Steps Necessary To Overcome Nursing Home Abuse & Negligence

Nursing homes will continue to play an increasingly important role for future generations. With the elderly population on the rise, the need for nursing homes will only grow. Therefore, rectifying issues of abuse and negligence is imperative to achieve quality care.

How Do We Overcome Abuse & Negligence?

…….Start With Legal Action: There is no better deterrent to abuse and negligence than the threat of legal action.   Legal action helps achieve two main goals (i) it throws light on the importance of “proper care” and (ii) it strives to create fear in the minds of nursing homes and their staff such that they will work more efficiently to avoid “messing up.”

With nursing home abuse, legal action can be both civil as well as criminal. Courts have been notorious for awarding high punitive damages[1] for abuse cases. The hope is that high punitive damages will force nursing staff to take the care that they provide more seriously. Additionally, abuse can also lead to criminal action. Jail time can serve as a reminder to nursing home providers and their staff that abuse will not be tolerated.

With negligence, any attorney will tell you that it all it takes is one case….one case to force everyone to pull up their socks and improve overall standards.

What Is Negligence? Negligence is a term we throw around lightly. Sure, calling someone out based on negligence is easy—Nurse A forgets to give you your medicine at night and you now need surgery because your body is now undergoing shock. This is an easily identifiable negligence case. But proving negligence is actually a 4-step process. Duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages need to be shown. All of this probably sounds Greek to you but that’s why you have attorneys. Each factor requires an element of proof that may or may not be so obvious to your case and your attorney will help you prove your case.

……Next, Look For Transparency: Transparency as a means to prevent abuse and negligence is not your most obvious legal remedy. However, transparency can have legal implications. Most countries have a regulator in charge of nursing home oversight. When such regulator fails, your natural inclination is to lay blame and leave it at that. But have you ever thought about suing the regulator for negligence? That is, negligence for failing to prevent nursing care abuse by ignoring reports received or by conducting shoddy inspections? This course of action may seem overtly ambitious but unless you give all your legal options a try, you will never know!

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[1] Punitive damages act as a punishment for wrongful conduct. It is usually an amount that is five or six times the amount asked for by the plaintiffs.

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