Sometimes, people who need help the most get the least attention. Disabled individuals of all ages are more likely to experience violence and abuse than other patients. Some people with physical and mental limitations experience institutional mistreatment throughout their lives. Others suffer physical injuries and humiliation later in life when they enter a nursing home for the first time.
Institutional Abuse of Disabled Americans
According to the 2010 American Community Survey, approximately one in eight Americans between the ages of 35 and 65 has at least one disability. Among adults over 65, this number jumps to 33 percent. This includes about 14 million people. In Georgia, nearly 200,000 older adults have multiple disabilities that prevent them from living independently and may force them to be placed in a nursing home setting.
Profit Margins Rule
Most nursing homes are for-profit corporations that must account for the high costs of labor, supplies and other expenses. In an effort to maximize their profit margins, nursing homes may cut corners in relation to the quality of care they provide to their residents. At the end of the day, it is the nursing home residents who suffer.
In 2012, an Atlanta man who ran three nursing homes in Georgia was convicted after collecting $32.9 million in Medicare and Medicaid claims for services that either weren’t provided or that were so deficient that they were worthless. Officials said that the man was using Medicare like his personal piggybank while subjecting the nursing home residents to “horrendous” conditions including food shortages bordering on starvation, major staff shortages and safety concerns, poor sanitary conditions, and leaking roofs. Nursing and housekeeping supplies were also virtually non-existent. The owner received a 20-year prison sentence.
Disabled and Elderly Abuse and Criminal Convictions
In 2015, the Georgia Legislature passed House Bill 72 to give law enforcement and regulators more tools to fight elder abuse. The Bill seeks to protect handicapped, disabled and elderly persons and to prevent the abuse of adults with disabilities. This law gives state prosecutors authority to gather more evidence during their investigations and to use this information in criminal trials. HB72 is groundbreaking because nursing homes can now be held liable for abuse of their residents based on the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. Thanks to this bill, abusers and corrupt nursing home managers face strict criminal convictions and penalties.
Nursing homes can be held civilly and criminally responsible when abuse occurs. Victims of nursing home abuse, financial exploitation or neglect need to make reports. Victims may also be entitled to compensation for medical bills, pain, suffering and financial losses. Punitive damages may also be awarded to punish nursing homes that harm vulnerable residents.
The Mabrey Firm, P.C. has extensive experience in successfully handling nursing home abuse and neglect cases. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation if you believe you or a loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse.