Elder and Nursing Home Abuse in Pennsylvania: What You Need to Know

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Here’s the good news: Americans today are living longer. But as the Grateful Dead once sang, every silver lining has a touch of grey. And in this case, the bad news is that sometimes the final years of life are affected by medical issues that make it necessary for older Americans to live in nursing homes.

Unfortunately, as the number of Americans seeking the services of nursing homes is increasing, so does the number of cases related to nursing home neglect or abuse.

While state and federal social services agencies have, in many cases, strict rules governing the operation of nursing home and other skilled-care facilities, there are still an increasing number of incidents of nursing home neglect or abuse.

Consider this:

  • According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, one in 10 seniors reported having been abused in the past year
  • Seniors diagnosed with dementia are at a greater risk of abuse and neglect
  • A 2000 study revealed that – of 2,000 nursing home patients – 44 percent said they had been abused
  • In that same study, 95 percent of the nursing home patients surveyed said they had been neglected or had seen a fellow resident being neglected.

Nursing home neglect or abuse comes in many forms, but the most common is bed sores (also known as pressure ulcers).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • In 2004, about 159,000 current U.S. nursing home residents had bed sores – that’s about 11 percent
  • Residents aged 64 years and under were more likely than older residents to have pressure ulcers

Because of the prevalence of nursing home abuse, the personal injury attorneys at Pribanic & Pribanic wanted to pass along some tips from the Pennsylvania Department of Health for folks who are concerned about whether their loved one is the subject of nursing home abuse.

If you are concerned about the quality of care at a nursing home where your loved one is a resident, you may want to:

  • Talk to the nursing administrator. The person in this position is both licensed and responsible for the operation of the facility. And it should be noted that nursing homes are absolutely required to have a system in place to address those types of concerns and develop resolution.
  • Call the Area Agency on Aging in your county.  The staff at these non-profit organizations are trained in these matters, and can help you with resources and procedures.
  • Contact The Department of Health. One of the department’s responsibilities is to ensure the safety of nursing home residents. If you believe that someone you care about is a victim of nursing home abuse, you may want to consider filing a complaint with the department. To do that, just email c-ncomplai@pa.gov or use the online complaint form and include some basic info: the name of the facility, the issue you are concerned about, and details that will help the Department of Health complete and investigation into your complaint. For those who would rather call, the department has a toll-free number set up for folks who would like to report suspected nursing home abuse. If you call, the state Department of Health asks that you leave your name and telephone number so that a staff member may call you back to discuss your concerns. That number is 877-401-8835.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, call the Pittsburgh personal injury attorneys at Pribanic & Pribanic today at 412-672-5444 or toll free at 800-392-4529 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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