An epidemic of neglect is killing thousands of nursing home residents amid the pandemic
Our West Virginia attorneys discuss a staggering rise in nursing home neglect.
Within the last year, nursing home residents across the United States were the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to AARP, nearly 40 percent of deaths linked to COVID-19 occurred in nursing homes.
The coronavirus isn’t the only thing killing nursing home residents. An article in the Associated Press (AP) unravels a chilling epidemic that is killing countless nursing home residents. That’s nursing home neglect, which nursing home advocates say killed tens of thousands of residents during the pandemic.
According to AP, neglect resulted in the death of a 75-year-old retired truck driver from Alabama. The man was fortunate enough to evade infection of the coronavirus. Yet he wasn’t able to evade malnourishment, dehydration, and septic shock.
Another resident from Long Island, N.Y. lost her life due to dehydration. “My mom went from being unbelievably cared for to dead in three weeks,” the resident’s daughter told AP. “They were in over their head more than anyone could imagine.”
Nursing home neglect linked to over capacitated staff
Stephen Kaye, a professor at the Institute on Health and Aging at the University of California, San Francisco, conducted a recent analysis on the causes of nursing home deaths during the pandemic. He analyzed data from 15,000 U.S. nursing homes and found:
- For every two nursing home deaths linked to COVID-19, there was at least one linked to other causes.
- Nursing home neglect deaths in the U.S. have likely reached more than 40,000 since the beginning of the pandemic.
- 15 percent more deaths have occurred in nursing homes each month within the last year than prior to the pandemic.
- Nursing homes that had the highest rate of coronavirus infections also had the highest rate of deaths due to other causes.
- Facilities with an infection rate of 30 percent or higher also had twice as many deaths linked to other causes than what was typical prior to the pandemic.
- Nursing home staff spent the majority of their time attending to residents infected with the coronavirus. Those who weren’t infected were usually neglected.
- Nearly a quarter of nursing homes experienced staff shortages in 20 states.
The daughter of a resident who died from Lewy bodies (harmful clumps of protein that form in the brain) discussed with AP the seriousness of the problem.
“What the pandemic did was uncover what was really going on in these facilities,” she said. “It was bad before, but it got exponentially worse because you had the squeeze of the pandemic. If we weren’t in a pandemic, I would have been in there … This wouldn’t have happened.”
How to recognize the signs of nursing home neglect
There are few things worse than discovering that your loved one is being treated poorly in a nursing home. There are several states that don’t allow families to visit their loved ones in nursing homes. Fortunately, nursing home visits are allowed in West Virginia, but not at assisted living facilities.
It’s important that you regularly communicate with your loved one during these times. It’s also important to understand the common signs of nursing home neglect and how to take action. These are the most common forms of neglect we see at Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC:
- Staff not providing food, water or basic needs.
- Residents not properly bathed or changed.
- Failure of staff to provide proper medical care.
- Medication mix-ups or improper dosages given to residents.
- Lack of resident supervision.
- Failure of staff to protect residents from physical or sexual assault.
- Ignoring the emotional needs of residents suffering from depression and anxiety.
Signs that may indicate that neglect has occurred include:
- Bacterial infections, urinary tract infections or sepsis
- Seizures, heart attacks or strokes linked to medication
Contact our West Virginia lawyers to get justice
We understand that nursing homes face challenges, especially during the pandemic. But the number one priority should be ensuring that nursing home residents receive the best care possible. Nursing homes also have an obligation to protect residents from harm. Far too many facility managers put profits ahead of the safety of residents, however.
If you’ve noticed any signs of abuse or neglect in a nursing home, don’t wait to take action. You can start by reporting the neglect to the facility manager and filing a complaint with the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services. Report any suspected violence or sexual assault of residents to police so a prompt investigation can be launched.
Most importantly, speak to our experienced nursing home neglect lawyers to find out how to demand legal action. The attorneys at Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC have helped nursing home abuse and neglect victims and their families recover millions of dollars in compensation. We have the case results to prove it. Contact our Charleston law firm online or call us to set up your free consultation. We’re here to help your family every step of the way.