Making the decision to place a loved one into a nursing home or assisted living facility is never easy. Family members, friends, and relatives rely on the facility’s doctors, nurses, and staff to take care of the patient’s needs while treating them with dignity and respect. Unfortunately, many residents suffer neglect and abuse that is not always obvious or reported.
Advocates for those in residential care facilities continually lobby for new laws and regulations that protect these residents, but change has been slow moving. Many patients suffer from malnutrition, dehydration, medication mistakes, neglect, and bedsores. In some cases, a lack of supervision or mishandling of patients leads to broken bones, lacerations, and bruises from falls from a bed or wheelchair. Even more disturbing is the fact that some residents become victims of physical and sexual abuse.
It is the obligation of the nursing home or assisted living facility to protect residents from harm, and to contact family members when an injury or health incident occurs. In South Carolina, the Department of Heath and Environmental Control (DHEC) mandates regular inspections of these facilities, and requires written reports to be filed with the DHEC. However, the information is not readily available to the public.
Concerned family members need to petition the DHEC for copies of reports through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The process can take weeks. In the meantime, family members are kept in the dark about unsatisfactory conditions and cases of abuse found at a facility. If the reports were made available online to the public, the loved ones of residents in these facilities would be able to monitor conditions more closely, and better protect their family member from harm.
Investigations Raise Concerns
A local ABC News affiliate in Charlotte, South Carolina recently reported on a case wherein such information could have helped a family member protect a loved one. ABC4 recounts that a woman filed a report with the DHEC after her brother was injured in multiple falls at the assisted living facility where he resided. In one of the falls, the man was injured and required hospitalization. The woman reported that no one from the facility called to inform her that her brother was injured or in the hospital. Instead, nurses from the hospital called her 36 hours after the man had been admitted.
Upon further investigation, ABC4 uncovered 30 inspection reports with over 80 violations and close to $35,000 in fines against this facility and its affiliate in another county. One inspection reported insects crawling on patients and in beds, as well as deplorable conditions of the bathrooms at the home. The incident mentioned above was included in the report with a recommendation that the facility contact family members in the future when an emergency happens.
Had the victim’s family been able to access the reports online, they could have made a more informed decision on whether this facility was the right place for their loved one.
Columbia Nursing Home Neglect Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Advocate for Residents of Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facilities
If you suspect a loved one has been a victim of abuse or neglect in a nursing home or assisted living facility, the Columbia nursing home neglect lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. can help you claim justice. Call us at 803-929-3600 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today.
Our six offices located throughout South Carolina serve clients in Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the counties of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.