Louisiana ranks as the second-worst state in America in terms of nursing home quality of care and the chances of elderly abuse rise significantly when such standards are low.
Louisiana also has the dubious distinction of being a state now plagued by elder abuse, which means lawsuits related to elder neglect or abuse have become more common as the standards of care dwindle.
Common causes for claim are linked to nursing home facilities maintaining only skeleton-thin staff, poorly trained staff, and poor facility essentials. It is because of these things that family and friends, as well as individuals within the care industry, must be vigilant to ensure elderly citizens are treated with dignity, respect, and the quality care they deserve.
That's why I'd like to review some of the most common causes for claim in elderly abuse cases, and what to do in the event that you, or someone in your family, suspects improper care of a loved one.
Regular staff supervision helps protect elderly patients from accidental slips and falls, and ensures they receive timely care dependent on their particular medical needs. Each facility is obligated to perform an initial fall risk assessment on each resident, to determine how likely they are to fall, and to then plan care accordingly. after any fall, they are required to evaluate the circumstances and institute additional fall preventive measures. Unfortunately, this very often does not happen, a resident is allowed to suffer additional falls and are often seriously hurt.
Pressure sores, sometimes called bedsores, are the result of limited movement and are common after a patient becomes either bedridden or chair-bound. If left untreated, pressure sores can become infected, causing damage to the underlying tissue, bone, and internal organs. Many bedsores are preventable, and can be prevented by simply rotating the resident on a regular timed schedule. Additionally, most bed sores will heal if properly and timely treated. Unfortunately, limited or negligent staff often leave pressure sores untreated for extended periods of time, or may not treat them at all, commonly leading to infection of both the sore and eventually the entire blood stream (sepsis). This is a common cause for elderly abuse cases in Louisiana.
Malnutrition is an issue for most seniors whether they’re living in a nursing home or not. Malnutrition can be mild or severe, but can ultimately lead to health complications if left unchecked. As is the case with falls, malnutrition is often a result of few staff members being responsible for a large number of elderly patients. A malnourished senior is proof of elder abuse, and evidence that the nursing home is not fulfilling its legal obligation to its members.
As is true with malnutrition, monitoring water intake can be very challenging at a nursing home that is understaffed or poorly equipped. Water should be easily accessible, and caretakers should practice vigilance in monitoring seniors to ensure they’re getting enough daily fluids.
Some elderly patients have special medical requirements, particularly those with forms of dementia like Alzheimer’s disease. Wandering is a common occurrence in these types of patients and requires special care to ensure they don’t accidentally put themselves in harm’s way. These patients must be protected from injuring themselves, and from injuring other patients.
It is the responsibility of the nursing home to ensure wandering does not occur, or at least to minimize the risk of wandering with a plan or course of action should it occur. Some facilities do not have a plan in place, and this is why wandering has become a common claim in many elderly abuse cases.
While it is absolutely essential that family members be aware of these common types of claims. Knowing what to do in the event of elder abuse is just as important. The state of Louisiana has also established a hotline to call in complaints and suspected cases:
If you have questions about nursing home abuse in Louisiana, or if you suspect a loved one may have been a victim of elder abuse, we at the Monroe Law Office of J. Antonio Tramontana, Attorney at Law, want to hear from you.
For a free case review, please fill out the form to the right, or call me directly at (888) 982-1290.
According to the Louisiana Department of Health, more than 7,300 cases of abuse involving older and vulnerable adults are reported in the state every year. However, it is believed that this number represents but a fraction of the total cases actually happening here in Louisiana.
Elder abuse is a violation of human rights. Federal recognition first appeared in 1987, in the amendments to the Older Americans Act, which is used as a guideline for individual state laws.
There are several types of abuse covered in these guidelines, including physical, emotional, sexual, exploitation, neglect, and abandonment.
Louisiana Law has its own rules and regulations regarding elder abuse, which protect adults aged 60 or older from acts or omissions resulting in physical or emotional abuse; state laws cover neglect, as well.
Louisianan law also protects older citizens from financial exploitation. Exploitation is the fastest growing type of elder abuse, primarily because it is not often reported.
This type of elder abuse is worth closer inspection, as the Louisiana Revised Statute requires all citizens to report cases of suspected neglect, abuse, or financial exploitation. It is a crime in the state of Louisiana to not report elder abuse.
However, the current statute offers protection, granting criminal and civil immunity to individuals who report these crimes on food faith.
Compared to physical and emotional abuse, elder exploitation is harder to recognize but equally offensive in the eyes of the law. Financial exploitation occurs when someone illegally or improperly uses an older adult’s money or belongings for personal gain.
How to Recognize Elder Abuse
Adults with disabilities are often among the most abused, neglected, and exploited groups in our country. Together, we must take a stance against elder abuse, and protect individuals from these predatory behaviors.
We must all be vigilant in this effort, and look for signs of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. This includes looking for signs of abuse inside both personal residences and professional care facilities, including nursing homes and hospice.
Common signs of elder abuse include bruises or skin discoloration, evidence of bed sores, refused visitor access, withdrawn behaviors, dirty clothing, no utilities, unsanitary living conditions, use of adult’s money or resources, large money withdrawals, and limited access to computers, cell phones, or other communication devices.
Louisiana ranks second to last in the United States for quality of care in nursing homes. This is due to a low number of personal nursing care minutes each day, few facilities, a dwindling staff of qualified nurses, as well as a high number of home facilities with insufficiencies in care programs.
Unfortunately, this has resulted in an alarming number of abuse and neglect cases throughout the state of Louisiana. Don’t let your loved ones suffer at the hands of poorly trained staffers, bad facility conditions, or belligerent negligence.
At the Monroe Law Office of J. Antonio Tramontana, we take elder abuse very seriously. If you suspect any type of abuse, it is your legal obligation to report it. Remember, it is a crime in the state of Louisiana to not report elder abuse.
We are based in Monroe and serve all of northeastern Louisiana. If you have questions about elder abuse or a personal injury claim, we want to hear from you. For a free case review, please fill out the form to the left, or call me directly at 318-340-1515.