Oregon Elder/Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

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When nursing homes first began applying to participate in the emerging Medicare and Medicaid programs in 1965, the United States Federal Government began developing nursing home guidelines and regulations. Since then, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has been granted jurisdiction over these programs and has provided additional regulations for nursing homes to follow in providing care for their residents, including definitions and prevention guidelines for elder abuse issues.

The state of Oregon operates under laws designed to protect nursing home residents from abuse, yet reviews meant to uncover abuse in nursing homes are not always adequate. If you have cause to suspect that a nursing home may be in violation of patients' rights, there are steps you can take to help remedy the situation.

Abuse is defined as a willful or reckless act by another person that has the potential to result in physical injury or death. Sometimes the abuse may only be found in the failure to take action to prevent injury or death, as in neglect. Bruises, broken bones, bed sores or a sudden decline or change in physical or mental health are warning signs that a resident may be in an abusive situation.

Hitting, punching, slapping, poking, or pinching of a nursing home resident are examples of some types of physical abuse that are against the law. A resident also has the right to sexual privacy. If body parts are touched or exposed for the purpose of anyone's sexual gratification, without the resident's expressed and informed consent, this constitutes sexual abuse.

Caregivers in the nursing home environment are not allowed to use threats of punishment, humiliation, or harassment against a resident. These have been defined to be emotionally abusive. Additionally, even if the patient's mental state or disability prevents comprehension, verbal, written or gestured messages that convey a negative or belittling sentiment are considered abusive. Preventing a resident from interacting with other residents or having access to his/her room except under brief, monitored circumstances, is also considered to be a form of mental abuse.

All facilities have an obligation to protect the rights of every single resident, as well as to provide an attractive, clean, and healthy environment. They are also obligated to treat all residents equally, with no discrimination based on race, religion, color, nationality, sexual orientation, ability or source of payment. Nursing home facilities are required by federal law to author a written Nursing Home Resident's Bill of Rights, and to make this available to any resident who requests them. This document should explain policies of the specific nursing home, and will include a statement that must be signed by the resident before admittance, indicating that they have read and understood these rights.

The Bill of Rights will include the right to be informed about one's specific medical condition and treatment, the right to participate in planning care and medical treatment, the right to choose a 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.

In the event that you have reason to believe that someone in a nursing home is in life-threatening danger from any type of abuse, you should immediately call 911 or the local law enforcement agency. If you believe a situation is not an emergency, but suspect that abuse is occurring nevertheless, it is appropriate for you to contact either the Oregon Health Division or an elder/nursing home abuse attorney who is experienced in providing counsel and protecting the rights of nursing home residents.


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