As our parents and other loved ones move into the retirement years, they find themselves increasingly unable to enjoy the full range of physical activity to which they were accustomed when they were younger. Sometimes, physical deterioration progresses to the point where independent living is no longer possible or practical. When this happens, it is often necessary to place them in a nursing home or another assisted-living facility, where they should receive the care and attention they deserve. Tragically, this isn’t always the case. Nursing home abuse and neglect is more common than many people believe.

Nursing Home Facility Standards and the Law

In the state of Texas—as well as the U.S. as a whole—nursing homes are required to abide by the guidelines set forth in the federal legislation known as Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA), 42 U.S.C. § 1395 – 1396 (1999). This section of OBRA is also called the Nursing Home Reform Act. This landmark piece of legislation was inspired partly by a 1986 study, spearheaded by the Institute of Medicine, that found extensive inadequacies in the nation’s nursing homes.

Among other things, the Nursing Home Reform Act established a Residents’ Bill of Rights intended to protect persons who live in nursing homes. The Bill includes the following:

  • The right to be treated with dignity
  • The right to freedom from abuse and mistreatment
  • The right to voice grievances
  • The right to communicate freely

OBRA is widely credited with improving conditions in nursing homes nationwide. Even so, elder negligence and abuse in these facilities is far from unheard-of. Fortunately, help is available for victims of nursing home neglect. Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers, is staffed by experienced nursing home abuse lawyers active in the Houston, TX area, and we would be happy to hear from you.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse

What do we mean when we talk about negligence in nursing homes? Abuse can take a number of forms, but incidents can be generally classified in one of four main categories:

  • Physical abuse – Pushing, slapping, kicking, and similar contact.
  • Emotional abuse – Name-calling and verbal intimidation falls in this category.
  • Sexual abuse – This includes not just unwanted sexual contact but also inappropriate comments.
  • Exploitation – This can involve misusing a resident’s money or resources, often through coercion.

What to Look for If You Suspect Nursing Home Neglect

Sometimes residents sustain obvious physical injuries due to abusive treatment from their caretakers. Much of the time, however, nursing home abuse isn’t always easy to detect. The symptoms of elder negligence vary considerably, but any of the following is cause for further investigation:

  • Dehydration
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Bed sores
  • Cuts or welts
  • Infections
  • Unexplained moodiness
  • Unclean appearance
  • Reluctance to speak in front of caregivers
  • Reclusive behavior

Sometimes the presence of one or more of these conditions can be explained by factors other than abuse or neglect. By the same token, some residents who have experienced abuse do not show any of the above signs. If you have reason to suspect that a loved one isn’t receiving adequate care at a nursing home, it is important to be aware that the law forbids this sort of abuse. The nursing home injury attorneys at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers are here to help.

How SMSH Legal Can Help

In the state of Texas, elder negligence or abuse is a felony. But it is important to act quickly to file a claim, as the statute of limitations for these kinds of cases is only two years from the date the abuse was discovered. Contact Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers today. Our personal injury lawyers in Houston, TX can be reached at 713-364-0723. A free consultation is available.