Many families turn to use a nursing home for an elderly relative when medical attention is needed and the burden of day-to-day care becomes too much. Unfortunately, far too many of our elders are being subject to substandard care and, in some cases, neglect and physical and mental abuse.
A study that took place recently by an organization called Families for Better Care found that not only did many nursing homes fail to reach an acceptable standard but Mississippi’s nursing homes were some of the worst in the country. The study looked at factors that could have an effect on the standard of care. These included the number of complaints made by families of residents, inspection scores, and staffing levels.
Mississippi’s score for staffing levels, for example, received a ‘D’ rating, putting it at 35th in the country compared with other states (all 50 states were studied). Poor staffing levels mean that residents are not getting sufficient attention. Many nursing home residents are incapable of moving themselves or feeding themselves and may not be able to articulate clearly when they are sick or unwell. One of the most common health problems in nursing homes where there are low staffing levels is the development of pressure sores (also called bed sores). These can cause ulcers and may result in skin infection if undetected. Pressure sores that are not tended to may lead to serious illness and death. Residents may also fall or suffer an injury that might not be detected for hours without sufficient staffing levels.
The average number of hours in Mississippi that residents receive in direct care is around 2.4 hours a day. 40% of nursing homes provide fewer hours than this. 60% of nursing homes in the state have less than average RN staffing levels, with the average being just 0.7 hours per resident per day.
Mississippi ranked 41st out of the 50 states studied for the number of verified complaints. This is a measure of how many complaints by family members are justified when investigated. Nine out of ten complaints made against nursing homes in Mississippi have been verified.
The state ranked 32nd in the country for health inspection reports. 66% of Mississippi nursing homes received less than average health inspection reports.
A report by Medicare into 205 of Mississippi’s nursing homes found that 31% (63) of the homes that are routinely inspected were failing to provide a satisfactory level of care and that serious deficiencies in care were leading to harm being caused to the residents at those homes.
Family members must raise the alarm over the abuse of their loved ones
While there is an expectation that a nursing home will look after your loved one in the evening of their life, it is an unfortunate fact that you must keep a close eye on how your elderly relative is being cared for. The very fact that you are an observant visitor may help to avoid potential abuse, but if you do notice anything worrying, you should take action as soon as possible. The first step would be to let the management of the nursing home know what your concerns are and it is best to back this up in writing. Keep a record of every visit you make and include any concerns you have about the level of care and how the management or staff responds to concerns raised or complaints made.
The Mississippi Department of Human Services is meant to ensure that all nursing homes provide adequate care for residents under the state’s Vulnerable Adults Act. If there is any concern about the level of care being substandard or that you think that your loved one is being abused or is in danger of their life you should call the Mississippi Centralized Intake Unit to register your concern.
Negligence claims in Mississippi
If you can prove that your relative has suffered serious neglect or abuse or who has died from substandard care while a resident at a nursing home, you have the right to sue the home for negligence or for wrongful death depending on the circumstances. You have 3 years in Mississippi to file either category of claim. You may be able to claim a maximum of 1 million dollars for a claim of this type. If you have proof that your loved one has suffered from medical malpractice while in the care of a nursing home, you may be able to claim a maximum of $500,000.
Always use an experienced personal injury attorney to help you with a claim
You are advised to get professional legal advice if you are considering suing a nursing home for negligence or after the untimely death of your loved one. In Jackson, contact the Diaz Law Firm for expert personal injury claim advice and representation. You can call the office to make an appointment at 601-607-3456.