North Carolina Elder/Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

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If you believe or have reason to suspect that someone in a nursing home is in life-threatening danger, you should immediately call 911 or your local law enforcement agency. Suspicions of any abuse in a nursing home facility located in North Carolina should be brought to the attention of the North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, or an elder/nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible to request a complete investigation.

Nursing home administration has been assigned to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a part of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, implemented in 1965. The scope of the guidelines and regulations for nursing home operation has since been expanded to include defining and addressing elder abuse issues. Every nursing home in North Carolina is subject to those laws.

In 2006, an 86-year-old North Carolina man died as a result of negligence of the nursing staff in his adult care home, as he developed pressure sores on his feet one week into his admittance, which were not taken care of. Instances like this demonstrate all too tragically the vulnerability of our elderly population.

Elder abuse occurs when another person acts in a willful or reckless way that may result in the physical injury or death of a nursing home resident. Failure to take action in order to prevent an injury or death, or simply neglecting the needs of a resident, is also included in the definition of abuse. Some of the signs of abuse include bedsores, bruises, broken bones, or a sudden change in physical or mental health. The presence of any of these should arouse suspicions that the victim is being abused.

Hitting, punching, slapping, poking, or pinching of a nursing home resident is considered to be physical abuse and is against the law. Without the expressed and informed consent of the resident, any touching or exposure of a person's private body parts for the purposes of sexual gratification is considered to be sexual abuse and this, too, is a violation of the resident's rights. The State of North Carolina has laws prohibiting any such abuses.

Threats of punishment and humiliation, or any form of emotional harassment, are all considered mental abuse. Even if a patient's mental state or disability prevents him/her from understanding what is meant by the remarks, the use of verbal, written, or gestured language that conveys a negative message or is in any way belittling to the patient is also prohibited. Secluding a resident so as to prevent interaction with other residents or access to his/her room may, except in the course of brief, monitored circumstances, also be considered a form of mental abuse.

All facilities have the obligation to protect the rights of every single resident, and to provide an attractive, clean, and healthy environment. They are also obligated to treat them equally, with no discrimination pertaining to the race, religion, color, nationality, ability or source of payment. Nursing home facilities are required by federal law to issue and provide upon request a Nursing Home Resident's Bill of Rights, which explains in depth the policies of the specific nursing home. Additionally, each nursing home is required to request the signature of its residents upon admittance, stating that they resident has read and understood these rights.

Specific rights covered under the Bill of Rights include the right to be informed about one's specific medical condition and treatment, the right to participate in planning one's care and medical treatment, the right to choose one's own physician, the right to manage personal finances, the right to privacy, dignity, and respect, the right to personal possessions, the right to be free from restraints and abuse in nursing homes, the right to voice grievance without retaliation, the right to be discharged or transferred only for medical reasons, and the rights of access.

Nursing home reviews conducted by the State of North Carolina have proven to be less than adequate. If you have reason to believe that a nursing home is violating a patient�s rights, it is important to seek out immediate assistance on behalf of that person. An elder/nursing home abuse attorney works to help ensure the safety and well-being of nursing home residents and is available to provide counsel regarding protection of a patient�s rights.


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