We would like to believe that nursing homes and assisted living facilities are in the business of providing care, comfort, and compassion for seniors and peace of mind for the families who have entrusted their loved ones with them. But the reality is that most nursing homes are in the business of making money. The desire to cut costs and increase profits can often lead to decisions that directly contribute to the likelihood of abuse, neglect, and medical malpractice. Understaffing, inadequate employee screening and training, and poorly maintained facilities are just a few of the ways putting profits over people adversely affect the health and well-being of residents.
Nursing Home Negligence & Misconduct
Protecting the bottom line also can lead nursing homes to protect themselves by hiding incidents of abuse, neglect, or mistreatment. When such cases come to light, nursing homes can be hit with large judgments in personal injury lawsuits brought by residents and loved ones. If state and federal regulators discover violations of the law or cases of abuse and neglect, they may levy hefty fines and impose other sanctions that threaten facilities’ ongoing operations or tarnish their reputations.
As such, management and staff are too often incentivized to cover up incidents or signs of abuse and neglect, even though they are legally obligated to report such incidents to law enforcement. In fact, a 2017 alert issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General looked at reports of mistreatment of Medicare beneficiaries in skilled nursing facilities and found that over a quarter of severe abuse cases were not reported to police as required under federal and state laws.
Tell-Tale Signs of Elder Abuse & Neglect in Nursing Homes
Nursing homes hide their misconduct or inadequacies in many ways. It can be explicit or implicit policies from the top which discourage reporting of injuries, accidents, or claims of mistreatment. It can be individual staff members who lie about or fail to report problems caused by their intentional acts or inadvertent mistakes in order to protect their jobs. No matter how and why false statements or omissions are made and who makes them, this kind of concealment is designed to shield the facility from accountability and liability for their actions.
Some common ways nursing homes and assisted living facilities hide their misconduct include:
- Lying or claiming ignorance about how an injury occurred.
- Falsifying medical and treatment records to conceal conditions, injuries, or incidents which indicate abuse, neglect or misconduct.
- Failing to note injuries or health problems on a resident’s chart, such as bedsores, bruises, dehydration, malnutrition, or signs of mental or emotional distress.
- Failing to follow up on or investigate internal incident reports.
- Concealing signs of injury or cleaning up conditions that caused an injury.
- Threatening, intimidating, or punishing residents to keep them from complaining or reporting injuries or incidents of abuse or neglect.
All of these practices can make it even more difficult for families to learn the truth about their loved one’s care and treatment. Uncovering that truth often takes determination, tenacity, and an understanding of the tactics nursing homes use to hide from accountability.
Talk to an Experienced Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer
At Sommers Schwartz, the attorneys in our Medical Malpractice Litigation Group are relentless in our efforts to reveal mistreatment of seniors and hold wrongdoers to account for their conduct. We have the experience and commitment to protect seniors from nursing home abuse and neglect and get them and their families the justice and compensation they deserve.
If you believe that you or a loved one is suffering from abuse, neglect, or mistreatment in a Michigan nursing home or assisted living facility, please contact us today.