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Albuquerque New Mexico Personal Injury Law Blog

Oversight is key to preventing nursing home abuse

It can be difficult when a family in New Mexico decides that a loved one needs the care and supervision a nursing home is supposed to provide. Inevitable concerns will arise. One factor that few consider is that the facility will be negligent or outright abusive. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse does happen, and it can cause injury and death.

Statistics analyzed by the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, indicate that nursing home abuse is widespread. While nursing homes are expected to prioritize having a safe environment and caring for residents, the problem is getting worse. Approximately 1.4 million people are in nursing homes across the nation. With around 15,000 such facilities, it can be difficult to keep track of them and catch every incident. However, to stop the mistreatment and negligence, greater vigilance is required.

Nursing home residents lose government protections

Many New Mexico residents agonize over the decision to employ a nursing home to care for an elderly or disabled relative. However, it is likely that their houses or apartments are equipped with the resources to provide for people who need serious care, especially if memory or other cognitive issues are involved.

As a result, people rely on nursing homes to provide reliable, trustworthy care. Unfortunately, nursing home residents may be particularly vulnerable to abuse and neglect. People may have difficulty expressing themselves or presenting a coherent story about what is happening to them in a supposedly professional care facility.

Poor care at nursing homes and hospices

According to three reports, there are significant problems with the care patients receive in some hospices and nursing homes in New Mexico and the rest of the country. Hundreds of health care providers are providing inadequate and dangerous care that is being concealed from consumers. It is also important to note that there is a lack of state and federal resources to take action.

State and federal government agencies are unable to properly address the negligent providers due to years of sustained budget cuts. There is also resistance in the industry, which forcefully reacts to government regulation that's geared toward enforcement. While many nursing home and hospice centers are reputable, this stance against regulation tends to put all providers in a bad light.

For-profit group home company sued for systemic abuse

Families with seriously disabled children sometimes need to place them in group homes in New Mexico. A lawsuit against a large for-profit company that operates group homes for severely disabled minors highlights the worst fears of families who need these services.

According to court filings, the attorney general of an East Coast state has accused the company of tolerating filthy conditions, under-staffing facilities, failing to train staff, and physically restraining residents.

Medication errors: Problematic in some New Mexico facilities

If you're currently researching nursing homes to help an aging parent transition to assisted living, you might feel anxious or worried about finding a facility that's a good fit for your loved one's needs. Perhaps your family member has already moved into a new residence and you have noticed certain issues that are causing your concern. Sadly, nursing home negligence causes many injuries every year, some of which are fatal.

You can't be with your loved one 24/7. You have a right to reasonably expect that his or her caregivers are providing high-quality care around the clock, in accordance with New Mexico laws and accepted safety standards. Your loved one might be one of many nursing home residents who need medication. There are numerous ways to avoid errors when giving patients medicine. Problems can arise if a staff member disregards protocol.

The ethics of installing cameras in senior communities

New Mexico is one of several states that require senior living facilities to install cameras if residents request it. A dozen more states are considering whether or not they should pass similar laws. One state, New Jersey, has a program that loans video monitoring equipment to residents and their family members. While there is controversy surrounding the use of cameras in these settings, there is currently no federal law banning it.

The number one reason why residents, as well as their families, would want cameras installed is to prevent abuse. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have become notorious for elder abuse, but this issue is not unknown in private homes. Cameras can monitor staff and even be used as a training tool.

New Mexico State Police to launch July Fourth DWI crackdown

The New Mexico State Police are planning to launch a drunk driving crackdown during the upcoming Fourth of July holiday period. An NMSP spokesperson said that sobriety checkpoints would be set up at known drunk driving hotspots and saturation patrols will be deployed during peak periods. During the Independence Day celebrations in 2018, police in Carlsbad cited 117 motorists for driving while intoxicated.

The law enforcement effort has likely been ordered because the Fourth of July is the deadliest drunk driving holiday of the year. According to data from NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System, Fourth of July accidents caused by intoxicated drivers killed 1,192 people between 2010 and 2017. In 2017, the 237 drunk driving fatalities recorded by the agency accounted for 39% of the holiday period traffic deaths.

Elder abuse continues to go underreported

As the baby boomer population ages, more and more New Mexico families have difficult decisions to make. Whether one spouse is struggling to provide the necessary care for his or her mate or it is impractical to care for an elderly parent, some form of outside care is a likely choice. Depending on the level of needs of the individual and the financial resources of the family, residence in an elder care facility or some form of home health assistance are possible options. Unfortunately, neither choice ensures safety from the scourge of elder abuse.

Two recent government studies paint a bleak picture. The findings reflect a significant number of potential cases of elder abuse go unreported by both nursing care facilities and home aid workers who provide service under Medicare. This occurs despite the legal requirement to report any suspicion of neglect or abuse whenever it is observed. Making the matter even worse, many of the individuals are released back into the care of the facility once their immediate medical concerns are addressed.

Using ADAS means fewer traffic accidents, study finds

Residents of New Mexico who are unsure about the benefits of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, or ADAS, may want to consider the results of a study that J.D. Power conducted in 2018. More than half of new car owners claim that ADAS had helped them prevent a car crash within the first 90 days of owning their vehicle.

Blind spot alert helped avert an accident for 49% of respondents. This device uses sensors to detect cars in blind spots as well as oncoming traffic when drivers are backing out of parking spaces. Next, 42% claimed that backup cameras and parking sensors had prevented a crash for them. Backup cameras are now standard on all new U.S. vehicles.

Nursing homes can prevent wandering in dementia patients

When you met with your parent's doctor, you may have been upset to hear the diagnosis of dementia from Alzheimer's, stroke, Parkinson's disease or another cause. The symptoms related to dementia often progress to the point where the one suffering from the condition can no longer remain in the home without 24-hour care.

This may be what prompted you to find a skilled facility that has a designated area for those with dementia. Typically, these facilities have specially trained staff members and safeguards in place to protect your parent from one of the most serious side effects of dementia: wandering.

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