Nursing Home Abuse Rates Increase
Nursing home abuse is not new, and it is a growing problem as more elderly people are entering such facilities. The lack of adequate caregivers alongside social norms and the dependency that exists between the abuser and the abused all account for the rise in cases of abuse. Let’s take a look at this problem from several perspectives as we try to understand this unfathomable act.
Incidence of Nursing Home Abuse
The number of nursing home abuse cases in the United States has risen from 258,000 complaints in 2007 to roughly five million in 2020. This increase is the result of many societal factors the least of which is a rise in ageism and violence in the country. Another problem is the lack of adequate accounting since only about one in 20 cases of abuse are reported.
Reasons for Nursing Home Abuse
As indicated above, the number of people entering nursing homes has increased over the last 10 years. However, the staff has not increased to accommodate the needs of the residents. This means the nursing homes are critically understaffed. In some nursing homes, there are 30 patients assigned to each nurse’s aide.
Studies that examined the number of aides needed in a nursing home found that there is a wide discrepancy between the number of aides currently employed and the number that are needed. They found that at mealtime the ratio should be one nurse’s aide to three residents, and at other times the ratio should be 1:6.
Incentive Is Lacking
Staff at many nursing homes are given little incentive to weed out abusers. That is because of significant understaffing and the inability to find workers. Pay is generally low, and this fuels the lack of job applicants. In addition, management fails to provide a system for internal complaints by staff to be heard in spite of a rise in the yearly cost for residents.
Because of the high staff turnover, the need for new aides and other caregivers is rising. The downturn in applicants has complicated the situation. Nursing homes are not providing the training that is necessary due to this and, in some cases, a lack of programs that deal with updated regulations that are instituted to protect residents.
Taking a Nursing Home Abuse Case to Court
After a lawsuit is filed, many nursing homes choose to settle out of court. This is often done to protect their name in the community. Aside from this, the case is resolved quickly, and justice is still served. The nursing home agrees to pay the financial costs lost by the plaintiff or injured party. Some of these expenses are:
- Medical bills
- Other costs
- Punitive damages
The average settlement in a nursing home abuse case nationwide is slightly over $400,000. Cases are resolved for greater and lesser amounts, and punitive damages are awarded in some cases. Punitive damages are meant to punish the wrongdoer and to keep abuse from happening in other nursing homes.
Elements That Help Determine the Settlement Amount
Besides the specifics of the case, several factors influence the settlement amount. They are:
- Whether the case involves personal injury or wrongful death makes a difference in the settlement amount.
- The amount that similar cases in the area settled for in nursing home abuse plays a role in the final settlement amount.
- The county or state where the abuse occurred affects the settlement amount.
Travis Law Firm
The Travis Law Firm is adamant about protecting the rights of nursing home residents. If you believe that abuse has occurred, contact us at (814) 277-2222 to schedule a free case review. If it is easier for you, contact us online. We will be able to answer your questions and let you know the options you have going forward.