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What Is Nursing Home Malpractice and How Do I Stop It?

Nursing home malpractice is comparable to any other type of malpractice: a negligent act or omission by a nursing home professional that causes injury to a nursing home resident. Because nursing homes are so expensive that most residents “spend down” their savings within the first few months of admission to a nursing home, most nursing home patients end up relying on Medicaid to pay for their stay in the nursing home.

As a result, nearly all nursing homes accept Medicaid — responsible for 90 percent of nursing home revenues, by some calculations — and are governed by regulations propagated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. These regulations are designed to maximize the quality of care received by individuals in nursing homes, as well as limit abuses and neglect.

But many, if not most, nursing homes are run by for-profit institutions whose obligations to their shareholders may occasionally conflict with their legal and moral obligations to their residents. To save money, many nursing homes are perennially understaffed. Others have replaced better-trained and higher-paid nurses with lower-paid nurse's aides and licensed practical nurses, who may spend as little as one year training at a hospital, vocational technical school or community college.

The simplest way to prevent nursing home malpractice is simply to show up. Even if you cannot help care for your loved one, your presence indicates to nursing home staff that your loved one is not alone and defenseless. If you feel your loved one has already suffered from nursing home neglect or malpractice, you should work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to get some compensation for your loved one and to change the standard of care.