Elder abuse in nursing homes is an unfortunate occurrence. This type of abuse encompasses the physical and mental abuse of individuals who reside in nursing home as well as the neglect of these individuals for the negligent failure to provide medical services says California Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorney Steven C. Peck.
There are various federal and state laws which are aimed at preventing nursing home and elder abuse. While some of the laws seek to ensure a safe environment by establishing monetary fines for failure to maintain a proper environment, other laws are criminal in nature.
- There is a substantial federal law which attempts to ensure the quality of nursing homes and prevent elderly abuse. The act is known as the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1987. In addition, the act is sometimes referred to as the Nursing Home Reform Act. This act contains provisions specifically aimed at nursing homes which participate in Medicare and Medicaid and receive payment from these programs. The act has companion regulations, contained in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). These regulations establish the specific duties of a nursing home, which include having adequate staff, developing comprehensive care plans for nursing home residents, assisting with the daily life activities of the residents, taking preventative measures to prevent bed sores and other types of infections, providing appropriate skilled nursing and non-skilled nursing services to residents, giving medications to patients as needed, ensuring patients’ privacy and maintaining updated records for each patient.
- Every state has laws relating to abuse in nursing homes and health care facilities where the elderly reside. These may include statutes which prohibit the use of restraints without an independent medical review of up to two doctors, establish a freedom from physical or mental abuse, as well as the right to be treated with dignity, to be involved in one’s own care and care plan, to have regular visiting hours, to receive mail and to manage one’s own affairs. There are other types of laws which may apply, but these are the most common provisions. Usually, with these types of state laws, the penalties are civil in nature; in other words, a violation of the law may result in a fine. In California the Nursing Home State laws are encompassed in Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations.
- Since elder abuse encompasses physical acts and neglect, there are criminal laws which apply to elder abuse. Rape, battery and assault are all covered by criminal law statues of the state in which the nursing home is located. Furthermore, more serious criminal acts, such as manslaughter and murder are all possible charges against individuals who commit crimes against nursing home residents. In California see California Penal Code Section 368.
Federal Elder Abuse Laws:
State Elder Abuse Laws:
Criminal Elder Abuse Laws:
The federal law discussed above, known as the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 or the Nursing Home Reform Act, requires that an ombudsman program be maintained by every state. An ombudsman is a person who serves as an advocate for nursing home residents. The person may assist in the disposition of concerns or problems, or intervene to assist in claims of elder abuse. The goal of the program is to ensure that nursing home residents have the ability to receive quality care and ultimately reduce elder abuse.
About the Author
Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.