The decision to place a loved one in a nursing home can easily tug at your heartstrings. After all, it could be a parent or some other family member that you just can’t care for and keep your job. Meanwhile, your worst fears might become a reality. If you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected, you should promptly seek legal help from an attorney with experience in the nursing home abuse.
You don’t have to look far from home to find allegations of prospective problems with facilities providing long-term care services. According to news reports from last fall, a Nashville post-acute care provider was prohibited from accepting new patients. The sanctions were in response to a detailed report expressing concerns that patients’ lives were placed in jeopardy.
Although you might think of nursing homes as places intended for the elderly, some facilities also provide services for the disabled and those needing rehabilitation. The safety of you or your loved one is an expectation – not just a desire.
Nursing Home Abuse: The Law in TN
Meanwhile, it should not surprise you that there are laws in TN intended to protect patients from nursing home abuse. These supplements those already in place on a federal level.
In Tennessee, directives regarding licensing standards for health care facilities fall under the direction of the Department of Health’s purview. Here, patient abuse is specifically defined as “patient neglect, intentional infliction of pain, injury, or mental anguish. Patient abuse includes the deprivation of services by a caretaker which are necessary to maintain the health and welfare of a patient or resident.”
Meanwhile, there is a caveat when it comes to denying medical services. If someone who is terminally ill has “executed an irrevocable living will in accordance with the Tennessee Right to Natural Death Law, or other applicable state law, if the provision of such medical care would conflict with the terms of such living will – shall not be deemed ‘patient abuse’ for purposes of these rules.”
The state statutes further define both abuse and neglect at TN Code § 71-6-102. The two are combined to mean “the infliction of physical pain, injury, or mental anguish, or the deprivation of services by a caretaker that are necessary to maintain the health and welfare of an adult or a situation in which an adult is unable to provide or obtain the services that are necessary to maintain that person’s health or welfare.”
Signs of Abuse or Neglect in Healthcare Facilities
Truth be told, some signs of abuse or neglect are more obvious than others. For example, if your loved one is covered in bruises or bed sores, you may question the level of care. Does it rise to the level of abuse or neglect? It certainly pays to investigate.
Meanwhile, you may already know about regular restraints and wonder if the resident needs to be tied down. However, there’s also the issue of “chemical restraints.” In cases of understaffing, some facilities overmedicate to circumvent problems with patients.
Of course, there’s the obvious. No doubt you’ll notice if your loved one is covered in feces or urine. This is inexcusable.
While we’ve barely touched on the many signs of abuse or neglect, one thing is clear. You should follow your instincts if you think either is an issue and seek legal counsel.