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How Does New York Law Address Nursing Home Neglect?

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Nursing Home Abuse

Imagine the anguish of a family learning their beloved grandmother, placed in a nursing home for assisted living, has become withdrawn and fearful. What they discover is even more heartbreaking: due to neglect, she has developed painful bedsores and a head injury. This, unfortunately, is not an isolated incident. The National Council on Aging reveals that as many as 5,000,000 older adults nationwide experience similar abuse and neglect in nursing homes each year, highlighting a critical need for improved care and accountability.

A disturbing case in New York brought the issue of nursing home neglect to light. Attorney General Letitia James and the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District secured a total of $7.756 million in settlements related to the Saratoga Center for Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Care. Chaim Scheinbaum, who operated the facility without a license for years, was responsible for $656,000 of that sum, addressing his role in resident neglect and fraud. Residents of this 256-bed nursing home reportedly suffered from a lack of hot water, clean linens, proper care, and even experienced falls and pressure sores. 

Confronting the reality of nursing home neglect is crucial to protecting our vulnerable loved ones. This blog dives into relevant New York laws and empowers you with actionable steps if you suspect your loved one has experienced neglect in a nursing home setting.

At the Harrison Law Group P.C., our Long Island nursing home abuse attorneys recognize the devastating impact that nursing home abuse can have on the victims as well as their families and have over 30 years of experience handling nursing home neglect cases. Call us at (631) 465-9797 to schedule your free consultation if you suspect your loved one has suffered abuse.  Our legal team will fight to recover maximum compensation and seek justice on behalf of your loved one. 

What is Nursing Home Neglect?

First and foremost, let’s define nursing home neglect. While neglect involves failing to provide necessary care, nursing home abuse can encompass both overt and covert actions. Overt abuse includes physical violence like hitting, slapping, or pushing, as well as sexual assault and verbal abuse like threats or humiliation. Covert abuse, however, can be more subtle and include psychological manipulation, financial exploitation, or medication misuse.


Nursing Home Neglect in The Empire State

Unfortunately, nursing home neglect is a serious issue in New York. Some recent news headlines illustrate this:

These news headlines are just a glimpse into the widespread issue of nursing home neglect in New York. Every story represents a vulnerable individual and a family experiencing immense pain and worry. 

Types of Neglect

Nursing home neglect transcends mere oversight. It’s a spectrum of failures, intentional or not, that betray the basic care and trust entrusted to these facilities. At its core, neglect involves ignoring essential needs. This can look like:

  • Neglect of basic needs: Imagine a resident left unbathed and thirsty for hours, their call buttons unanswered. Dehydration, malnutrition, and skin infections can be the harsh consequences.
  • Medical neglect: A missed medication dose, an ignored doctor’s order, or untreated wounds – these failures can escalate into serious medical complications.
  • Social and emotional neglect: Residents isolated in their rooms, deprived of meaningful interaction, their emotional cues disregarded. Loneliness, depression, and even cognitive decline can result.
  • Environmental neglect: A facility with faulty heating, unsanitary conditions, or unsafe hazards becomes a breeding ground for falls, injuries, and illnesses.

While not all neglect involves overt abuse, it’s important to acknowledge its existence. This can include physical violence, like hitting or pushing, verbal abuse like threats or insults, and even financial exploitation.

Remember, the consequences of neglect can be severe, impacting physical and mental health. If you suspect a loved one is experiencing any form of neglect or abuse, don’t hesitate to act. Speak up, report your concerns, and seek help. Their well-being depends on your vigilance and timely intervention.

The New York Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights

New York’s Nursing Home Residents Bill of Rights, outlined in Section 415.3 of the state’s Public Health Law, is a key piece of legislation that safeguards the well-being of residents. Some key aspects of the New York Residents Bill of Rights include:

  • General Rights: Freedom from restraint and abuse, privacy, confidentiality, communication, religious freedom, participation in resident council, access to information, choice of physician, and grievance procedures.
  • Care and Services: Residents are entitled to individualized care plans based on their needs and preferences, including medical, dental, mental health, rehabilitative, and social services.
  • Quality of Life: Residents have the right to participate in activities of their choosing, maintain relationships with family and friends, enjoy their personal property, and live in a safe and sanitary environment.
  • Admission and Transfer: Residents must be informed of their rights and responsibilities during admission and transfer processes.

Why Nursing Home Neglect is a Crime According to New York Law

In New York, nursing home neglect transcends mere ethical transgressions; it’s a legal violation with potentially serious consequences. Here’s why:

A Breach of Trust and Duty

  • Residents entrust facilities with their well-being and basic needs. New York law recognizes this inherent trust and imposes a legal duty on nursing homes to provide residents with proper care.
  • Neglect constitutes a breach of this duty. Failing to meet essential needs, provide medical attention, or ensure a safe environment signifies disregarding their well-being, making it legally actionable.

Legal Protections

  • New York’s Public Health Law (Section 415): indicates resident rights, including freedom from abuse and neglect.
  • The New York State Department of Health, Division of Nursing Home and ICF/IID Surveillance: is responsible for investigating complaints about resident abuse, neglect, mistreatment and incidents occurring in nursing homes in the state that are related to a state and/or federal regulatory violation.
  • Penal Law Section 260.34: caregivers who intentionally or recklessly inflict serious physical injuries on vulnerable elderly, incompetent, or physically disabled individuals under their care commit a Class D felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Justice and Accountability

  • Holding violators accountable serves as a deterrent against future neglect and protects vulnerable residents. Legal repercussions send a clear message that neglecting those entrusted to their care will not be tolerated.
  • Civil lawsuits can also be filed against facilities or individuals responsible for neglect, allowing residents or their families to seek compensation for damages and suffering.

Beyond Legal Implications

  • Ethical and moral obligations reinforce the legal framework. The sanctity of life and human dignity demand proper care for our most vulnerable, regardless of legal mandates.
  • Legal action is just one facet of ensuring accountability. Reporting suspected neglect, advocating for residents’ rights, and supporting reform efforts all contribute to creating a safer and more just environment for those in nursing homes.

Remember, while legal action plays a crucial role in addressing neglect, staying vigilant, speaking up, and advocating for loved ones remains paramount. With informed action and collective effort, we can help safeguard the welfare and dignity of our elderly population within New York’s nursing homes.

Reporting Suspected Nursing Home Neglect

If you suspect your loved one is experiencing neglect in a New York nursing home, knowing what to do can feel overwhelming. But remember, you’re not alone. Here are the steps you can take to report your concerns and ensure their safety:

Gather Information

  • Document Details: Write down specific observations about your loved one’s condition, changes in behavior,and any potential neglect you witnessed (e.g., lack of hygiene, unaddressed medical needs, unsafe environment). Record dates and times, if possible.
  • Collect Evidence: Take photos (with permission) documenting your observations, if appropriate. Collect any relevant medical records or correspondence.

Report Your Concerns

  • Facility Administrator: Speak directly to the administrator of the nursing home and express your concerns in a clear and concise manner. Document the conversation, including date, time, and responses received.
  • New York State Department of Health: File a formal complaint online or by phone at (888) 201-4563. Be prepared to provide specific details and evidence.
  • Local Ombudsman Program: Contact the regional Ombudsman program at  (855) 582-6769 for confidential advocacy and guidance on navigating the complaint process.
  • Law Enforcement: If you suspect physical abuse or immediate danger, contact your local law enforcement agency immediately.

Seek Additional Support

  • Adult Protective Services (APS): Contact your local APS agency for further investigation and potential intervention in suspected neglect cases.
  • Legal Counsel: Consider consulting an attorney specializing in elder law for legal advice and representation,especially in complex situations.
  • Support Groups: Connect with support groups or advocacy organizations for emotional support, shared experiences, and information on resource navigation.

Pursuing a Nursing Home Neglect Case in New York

Discovering neglect in a loved one’s nursing home is deeply concerning. While reporting and advocating for immediate safety are crucial, seeking legal recourse can be necessary to hold the facility accountable and potentially recover compensation for damages. Here’s an overview of pursuing a nursing home neglect case in New York:

Understand Your Options

  • Civil Lawsuit: This can seek compensation for damages due to the neglect, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and potential punitive damages.
  • Administrative Action: Filing a complaint with the New York State Department of Health might result in fines or sanctions against the facility.
  • Criminal Charges: If evidence suggests intentional abuse or severe neglect, pursuing criminal charges with law enforcement may be warranted.

Consult with an Attorney

An experienced Long Island nursing home abuse lawyer can assess your case, explain legal options, and guide you through the complexities of the legal system. Their skill and experience can greatly benefit your case.

Do You Suspect Nursing Home Neglect? Let the Harrison Law Group Fight for Your Loved One’s Rights

Does your loved one seem withdrawn, their health declining in their nursing home? Wondering if neglect could be the cause? You’re not alone. At the Harrison Law Group, our experienced nursing home negligence lawyers understand the fear and frustration of suspecting nursing home neglect. We empower families to seek justice and ensure their loved ones receive the care they are legally and ethically entitled to receive.

Our law firm has been personally defending the rights of victims in Suffolk County, Nassau County, and throughout Long Island for over 30 years, and we are here to help you and your loved one too. Contact us today at (631) 465-9797 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your FREE consultation, and let’s work together to make a difference in the lives of our elderly loved ones.

Flexibility is key in our service; we offer appointments at your convenience, including evenings and weekends, and are equipped to meet with you in person or virtually. 

Choose Harrison Law Group for thorough, professional legal guidance, and let us be your voice in this crucial time.

Copyright © 2024. The Harrison Law Group, P.C. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

The Harrison Law Group, P.C.
445 Broad Hollow Rd. Suite 400
Melville, New York 11747
(631) 465-9797

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