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Understanding medical neglect in nursing homes

If you have a loved one who is in a nursing facility, then you know how complex a life change it can be. What you might not realize is that due to the nature of the nursing care system and the current state of regulatory oversight, neglect can happen in ways that are difficult to detect or remedy on behalf of your loved ones. This is mainly due to the fact that these facilities are full-time homes for their residents, but family and other loved ones only see a small slice of what is happening. That dynamic makes understanding the signs of neglect important, so you can act to rectify a situation before there are unforeseen consequences.

The difference between neglect and abuse

Fox Business outlines multiple signs of nursing home neglect in an informative interview with the CEO of the Medicaid Advisory Group:

  • When medications are often late or not administered due to supply issues
  • If your loved one's hygiene and personal care begins to suffer
  • When you see any signs of anxiety or depression in your loved one that has no clear cause
  • If new medications are prescribed without consultation or with minimal justification
  • If you are often pressured to make care decisions on the spot or on a short timeframe

These signs of neglect are distinctly different from signs of abuse, because while neglect can be abusive, it is more pervasive and often less explicit than other forms of abuse can be. Medical neglect in nursing homes will rarely look like physical abuse or intimidation. Instead, it will involve an unexplained decline in your loved one's well-being. That means you need to be ready to act on those signs quickly.

New regulations bring change

The Washington Post reported in December, 2016 that a new federal rule change is empowering patients and families by changing the orientation of the facilities toward what is known as "person-centered care." These new regulations allow patients and families to have much more input into the design of their care plans, which is one way to make them more responsive to the needs of patients. This level of involvement from the family also helps to keep everyone informed about the patient's care and current well-being, which will make it easier to identify when that care goes off-track.

The new regulations are rolling out in three phases, and while they will bring positive change, it will come slowly. If you believe that your loved one has been the victim of nursing home neglect, your best course of action is to consult an attorney. Not only can a lawyer tell you whether you have a case, legal advice can also give you guidance in protecting those you care about.

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