We rely on nursing homes and assisted living facilities to provide our sick and elderly loved ones with life-saving medical services and 24/7 care. Unfortunately, there has been a significant shift in the level of care provided at these facilities of late. In the early 2000s, prominent private equity firms like the Carlyle Group and Warburg Pincus started acquiring nursing homes and revamping them into for-profit machines that prioritized profit over patients.
Charles Duhigg, a reporter with The New York Times, analyzed this strange business venture in his article, “At Many Homes, More Profit and Less Nursing,” where he explains that “records collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reveals that 60 percent of homes bought by large private equity groups from 2000 to 2006…managers have cut the number of clinical registered nurses, sometimes far below levels required by law” and “homes owned by large investment companies typically provided only one hour of care a day.
Managers at these nursing homes have been pressured to cut expenses and staff, leading to accidental suffocations, injuries, medication errors, and serious quality of care deficiencies. In the past, regulators had the power to levy heavy fines against any negligent nursing home chains that failed to protect their residents. In recent years, private investment companies have circumvented these fines by breaking these chains into complex corporate structures that obscure who is actually in control of each facility.
What’s the Law?
In recent years, nursing homes across the country have been the subject of intense public, media, and professional scrutiny. Despite being for-profit organizations, many of these facilities are critically understaffed and ridiculously underfunded. The low pay and high turnover rates contribute to a dangerous living environment staffed by inexperienced, negligent, and abusive caretakers. Fortunately, Georgia lawmakers have implemented laws and regulations to protect nursing home residents, which can be found in the Official Code of Georgia Statutes and at the Department of Community Health Rules and Regulations website.
In Georgia, nursing homes can be held liable for the following violations and abuse cases:
- Professional or general negligence (O.C.G.A. § 51-1-27)
- Not protecting residents from falls
- Failing to utilize safety measures
- Ignoring a resident’s care plan
- Inadequately training staff
- Failing to prevent skin or bodily breakdown
- Violation of the Georgia Bill of Rights for Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities
- Not respecting a resident’s dignity and privacy
- Not utilizing reasonable care and skill
- Not being compliant with applicable laws and regulations
- Violation of the Standard of Care Act
- Failing to prevent accidents
- Failing to provide patients with a safe living environment
- Failing to adequately supervise residents
What Is a Catastrophic Injury?
A “catastrophic injury” denotes an injury that is so debilitating and severe that it irreparably impacts a victim’s quality of life and earning capacity. Tragically, elderly residents frequently sustain catastrophic and even fatal injuries while in the care of nursing home facilities. The perpetrators of these incidents are usually abusive or negligent caretakers or dangerous residents who take advantage of the facility’s neglectful staff.
Each year, countless nursing home residents are the victims of the following catastrophic injuries:
- Spinal cord injuries – A spinal cord injury can result in partial or complete paralysis, chronic pain, and respiratory and circulatory problems. A resident can sustain a spinal cord injury if they’re dropped by an aid or are injured in a slip and fall incident.
- Traumatic brain injuries – Sustaining a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can lead to a farrago of cognitive, physical, and behavioral side effects and disabilities. Common symptoms of TBI include abnormal speech and language patterns, confusion, physical limitations such as an inability to move extremities, and more. A resident can sustain TBI in cases of physical abuse and slip and fall accidents.
- Multiple bone fractures – Falls are the most common cause of injuries among senior citizens in America; in fact, falls account for nearly 90% of all fractures among people 65 years of age or older. The most common fractures are to a resident’s hip, femur, vertebrae (spine), humerus, and leg bones. Sadly, these injuries often result in extreme disability. Hip fractures, in particular, can lead to a slew of additional medical problems and even a resident’s death. Elderly residents are often at a greater risk of falling and sustaining bone fractures due to osteoporosis and a lack of careful monitoring. For example, slippery floors or debris left in the hallway of a nursing home can lead to a tragic slip and fall accident.
Injured in a Nursing Home? Contact Pratt Clay, LLC Today
Catastrophic injury lawsuits typically yield substantial economic, non-economic, and even punitive damages because the court recognizes that injured parties will likely require expensive medical treatments, professional care services, and rehabilitative therapy sessions. If you have questions about catastrophic injuries or nursing home abuse cases, please contact the attorneys at Pratt Clay, LLC today. Our experienced legal team can investigate your case, research the negligent facility, and collect evidence that proves the negligent facility violated your rights and the Standard of Care Act.