Knowing patients’ rights can help prevent nursing home abuse

Many families go out of their way to take care of aging relatives. They remodel guest rooms, add access ramps to their homes and welcome their new guests. Some Missouri families may not have the resources for so many adjustments, though, even with an abundance of desire to care for elderly parents well.

What that means is they need the services of a facility where their mother or father can have the 24-hour care she or he needs. Making the decision to enlist those services is difficult enough, so when families do decide, they want to know the nurses and assistants at the facility will make their family member’s care a top priority. 

Unfortunately, that does not always happen. In 2017, NPR published an article highlighting abuses in nursing homes around the U.S. Disturbing numbers included the fact that in the previous two years, the investigators “found 134 cases of abuse of nursing home residents severe enough to require emergency treatment.” They discovered incidents had taken place in 33 states, and in 72 percent of the cases, someone had reported the situation to local law enforcement agencies. 

For anyone who has loved ones in nursing homes, this is not good news. Concerns for their well-being grow when statistics like the above come out. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is doing its part to protect nursing home residents by making them aware of their rights. One of the most important is the right to protection from neglect and abuse. “[Residents] have the right to be free from verbal, sexual, physical, and mental abuse, corporal punishment, and involuntary seclusion by anyone.” 

It may also be comforting to know the law requires nursing homes to report “all alleged violations and any injuries of unknown origin within five days of the incident.”



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