The Kansas City Star recently reported on a study of how the civil justice system is the best way to protect nursing home patients. The new study from the American Association for Justice, an industry organization of personal injury attorneys, shows that litigators like our Pennsylvania nursing home negligence lawyers are the best equipped to hold accountable corporate nursing homes and insurance companies that abuse the elderly.
The AAJ report estimates that as many as 1.5 million seniors are abused every year. Frighteningly, violations that put patients in "immediate jeopardy," at risk of serious injury or death, went up 22 percent between 2000 and 2008, and over 90 percent of all nursing homes were guilty of at least one violation. Often, these violations happen because nursing homes are emphasizing profits over patient safety by keeping their staffing levels low. High patient-staff ratios create serious problems. Harried staff members don't read patients' charts, and then fail to take safety precautions specified in the charts, resulting in horrible but preventable accidents like the eye-gouging one man suffered. Poorly trained, underpaid staff members may also not move patients as often as they should, resulting in bedsores that can turn into serious health problems.
In my work as a Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer, I have helped many families who noticed signs that nursing home staff were neglecting their loved ones -- signs like bedsores or over-medication. Regulatory agencies and legislative bodies don't always follow up on or respond to abuse reports effectively, but trial attorneys can hit greedy corporate nursing homes where they will feel it -- in the wallet. After a victim receives a settlement or a verdict that forces a nursing home corporation to pay out thousands of dollars for its negligence, that nursing home corporation may be much more careful in the future to avoid repeating its expensive mistakes.