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Boston Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

Was Your Loved One Mistreated in a Nursing Home?

You sent a loved one to a nursing home so that they could receive the care and services they need. The last thing you would want is to know that your loved one has been harmed in an act of negligence, neglect, or abuse at the very hands of the care provider. These willful or negligent acts are devastating. No one wants to believe nursing home horror stories could happen to them or their very own loved ones.

With the placement of the elderly in nursing homes and other residential care facilities becoming more common, According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, the prevalence of elder abuse is approximately 10%, including physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, and neglect. In 2017 alone, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs reported 9,800 confirmed cases of elder abuse and neglect throughout the Commonwealth - a roughly 40% increase over 2015.

Are there signs of abuse or neglect at your loved one's nursing home? Call (617) 934-3207 for a free consultation with our experienced nursing home abuse lawyers in Boston.

Nursing Homes Have a Legal & Moral Responsibility To Their Residents

A nursing home that accepts Medicare is required under federal regulation 42 CFR sec. 483.25 (h) to ensure that the resident environment remains as free of accident hazards as possible, and that a resident receives adequate supervision and assistance devices to prevent accidents. If you or a loved one was harmed by a nursing home, convalescent home, rest home, or elder care facility you may have a personal injury or medical malpractice claim. Abuse of an elderly person can come in many forms, including physical, psychological, financial, hospitalizations & disability, medical, and others.

Common behaviors that may entitle you to a legal claim include:

  • Failure by the care facility to keep the premises reasonably safe from hazards.
  • Negligent hiring of staff.
  • Negligent training and supervision of staff.
  • Negligent supervision of residents.
  • Failure to provide and maintain sanitary living conditions.
  • Failure to provide the medical standard of care expected for each circumstance.
  • Sexual assaults of residents.

Telltale Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

While physical abuse may be obvious, psychological, financial, or sexual neglect in nursing homes can sometimes go unnoticed due to intimidation, medical conditions of the abused, or distance from family members. It is important to keep a vigilant eye for any of the following signs and contact an attorney as soon as possible if you suspect abuse.

  • Bedsores
  • Soiled lines or clothes
  • Bruises, scrapes, and scratches
  • Missing personal belongings or strange financial transactions
  • Poor hygiene
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Uncharacteristic reclusive or quiet behavior, especially around certain staff members
  • Untreated injuries or medical conditions
  • Odors of urine or feces

Nursing Home Abuse Is All Too Common in Massachusetts

Over 25% of serious nursing home abuse cases go unreported to the police according to the Office of the Inspector General in the Department of Health and Human Services; despite laws requiring that serious nursing home abuse cases must be reported to the police.

Here in Massachusetts, on February 8, 2016, an elderly resident of the Woodbriar Health Center fell off her bed according to Boston Globe. Although she sustained no injuries and was shortly after placed back on her bed with the assistance of the nursing home workers, a physician ordered that the resident be checked on every two hours for signs of medical issues until the next day. But by 5:30 a.m. the next morning, this elderly resident was found dead in bed. After an investigation by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health into this death, it was found that no evidence of the checks was ever carried out. Following the investigation, the Department issued a letter to Woodbriar stating, “There was no evidence to indicate that following the fall, the facility’s policies and procedures regarding neurological checks were reviewed and that all staff were trained on assessing and documenting a resident’s status following a fall….” This facility was already under fire by the Department for another resident’s death that took place just days before. In the first incident, an elderly resident fell and dislocated a hip when he was supposed to be assisted in walking but received no aid.

Horror stories like these, unfortunately, are not uncommon, and according to the National Center on Elder Abuse have been acknowledged as a widespread concern since the 1970s. To address these issues of abuse and to protect the interests of nursing home residents, Congress established the State Long Term Care Ombudsman Program in the Older Americans Act Amendments of 1978. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, in 2014, about 7.6% of the complaints submitted to Ombudsman programs concerned abuse, gross neglect, and exploitation. In general, elderly who experienced abuse have a 300% higher risk of death.

Definition of Nursing Home Abuse in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts the definition of elderly abuse pursuant to M.G.L. c. 19A, § 14, is “[A]n Act or omission which results in serious physical or emotional injury to an elderly person or financial exploitation of an elderly person; or the failure, inability or resistance of an elderly person to provide for him one or more of the necessities essential for physical and emotional well-being without which the elderly person would be unable to safely remain in the community; provided, however, that no person shall be considered to be abused or neglected for the sole reason that such person is being furnished or relies upon treatment in accordance with the tenets and teachings of a church or religious denomination by a duly accredited practitioner thereof.”

In the event of suspected abuse, some people are required to make a verbal report the department or designated agency. The failure to do so would result in a fine. M.G.L. c. 19A, §15(a) states, “Any physician, physician assistant, medical intern, dentist, nurse, family counselor, probation officer, social worker, policeman, firefighter, emergency medical technician, licensed psychologist, coroner, registered physical therapist, registered occupational therapist, osteopath, podiatrist, director of a council on aging, outreach worker employed by a council on aging, executive director of a licensed home health agency or executive director of a homemaker service agency or manager of an assisted living residence who has reasonable cause to believe that an elderly person is suffering from or has died as a result of abuse, shall immediately make a verbal report of such information or cause a report to be made to the department or its designated agency and shall within forty-eight hours make a written report to the department or its designated agency. Any person so required to make such reports who fails to do so shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars.”

Compensation for Victims of Nursing Home / Elder Abuse

Your elderly or sick loved one is entitled to personal injury compensation for a wide range of economic and non-economic damages. Our Massachusetts nursing home neglect attorneys are prepared to zealously pursue your financial recovery and, if necessary, pursue litigation in court against the party or parties responsible for your loved one's mistreatment.

You may be able to recover compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost or stolen money
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Punitive damages

Massachusetts Statute of Limitations on Nursing Home Abuse

Massachusetts' statute of limitations on nursing home abuse claims states that you must file a lawsuit within three years of the alleged abuse - otherwise, you lose your right to take legal action. For this reason, it is imperative you contact an attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and preserve key evidence that can be vital to your claim.

Our Boston nursing home abuse lawyers here at Mitcheson & Lee LLP in Boston understand the difficult decision of admitting a loved one to a care facility and the difficulties in finding out that the loved one was experiencing abuse and/or subpar care. Our team is ready to fight for your rights and hold those responsible liable for their actions or inaction.

If you or someone you know was injured in a nursing home, please contact Mitcheson & Lee LLP at (617) 934-3207 to schedule a complimentary consultation.