The Pennsylvania Code, Title 28, Chapter 201 details laws applicable to the ownership and general operation of long term care nursing facilities (i.e., nursing homes) in this state. This law applies to both profit and non-profit nursing homes which provide skilled nursing care, intermediate nursing care, or both.
What is Nursing Home Abuse?
Under Pennsylvania law (Section 201.3), nursing home abuse is defined as follows:
Abuse—The infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation or punishment with resulting physical harm or pain or mental anguish, or deprivation by an individual, including a caretaker, of goods or services that are necessary to attain or maintain physical, mental and psychosocial well-being. This presumes that instances of abuse of all residents, even those in a coma, cause physical harm, or pain or mental anguish. The term includes the following:
(i) Verbal abuse—Any use of oral, written or gestured language that willfully includes disparaging and derogatory terms to residents or their families, or within their hearing distance, regardless of their age, ability to comprehend or disability. Examples of verbal abuse include:
(A) Threats of harm.
(B) Saying things to frighten a resident, such as telling a resident that the resident will never be able to see his family again.
(ii) Sexual abuse—Includes sexual harassment, sexual coercion or sexual assault.
(iii) Physical abuse—Includes hitting, slapping, pinching and kicking. The term also includes controlling behavior through corporal punishment.
(iv) Mental abuse—Includes humiliation, harassment, threats of punishment or deprivation.
(v) Involuntary seclusion—Separation of a resident from other residents or from his room or confinement to his room (with/without roommates) against the resident’s will, or the will of the resident’s legal representative. Emergency or short term monitored separation from other residents will not be considered involuntary seclusion and may be permitted if used for a limited period of time as a therapeutic intervention to reduce agitation until professional staff can develop a plan of care to meet the resident’s needs.
A Nursing Home Resident’s Statutory Right to be Free from Abuse
Under Section 201.29(j), which details the rights of nursing home residents, all residents “shall be treated with consideration, respect and full recognition of dignity and individuality, including privacy in treatment and in care for the necessary personal and social needs.”
Tort Claims for Nursing Home Abuse in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania tort law specifically recognizes the right of a nursing home resident to seek financial compensation for injury resulting from abuse, neglect, or accidents such as a fall accident (i.e., fall from a bed). Nursing homes may be liable for negligence in care, negligence in hiring/firing staff, and/or negligence in training staff on policies/procedures such as reporting accidents and injuries.
Injured nursing home residents may recover fair and reasonable financial compensation for physical and mental injuries, including medical bills, out of pocket expenses, and pain and suffering. If appropriate, an injured long term care facility resident may also be able to recover for lost wages. For instance, a disabled adult who lives in a care facility in Pennsylvania may receive financial compensation for lost wages which result from physical injuries suffered in an accident or due to abuse.
Why Nursing Home Abuse Occurs
One of the problems with nursing home care in this country, not only in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, is the number of nursing staff care hours per resident per day. Under federal recommendations, 4.1 is the minimum number of hours required to ensure quality nursing home care. Pennsylvania and New Jersey average just above half of the federal recommendations, at 2.26 and 2.3 hours respectively. See more about Pennsylvania’s ratings for nursing home quality.
Pennsylvania & New Jersey Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
Contact our lawyers for a free consultation for a nursing home abuse lawsuit in Pennsylvania or New Jersey. (215) 985-0777
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