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Albuquerque New Mexico Personal Injury Law Blog

Nursing home abuse victim may have faced multiple assaults

New Mexico residents who are worried about nursing home abuse should be aware of a case where an incapacitated woman gave birth in a health care facility in Arizona. A medical exam found that she had suffered sexual assault. Her attorneys are seeking a settlement for the victim and her parents with the intention of going to court if an agreement can not be reached. A separate case was opened against the health care facility's nurse, who was charged with sexual assault and vulnerable adult abuse after a paternity test matched his DNA to the baby.

The victim has lived in a health care facility since she suffered a near drowning when she was a young child. The health care facility's employees explained that they were surprised and shocked when the victim, who is unable to move without assistance and cannot speak, went into labor. The claim that she was abused is supported by documents such as medical records from the year prior to the birth that describe her condition, stating that she cannot sit without assistance and is unable to stand or walk. At that time, she was not making eye contact or smiling, and was defensive when touched.

Nursing home abuse statistics startling

We all want what's best for our aging parents and loved ones. When it seems it's no longer tenable for them to live on their own, sometimes we must make the choice to move them into an assisted-living facility.

A good nursing can bring joy and help our loved ones flourish in their twilight years. But a poorly run or even abusive nursing home can be extremely detrimental. Before choosing a nursing home for your loved one, it's important to know elder abuse facts.

How health care fraud can affect nursing home residents

Improper, inflated or unlawful medical billing practices are forms of health care fraud that could affect the quality of life of anyone receiving nursing home care in New Mexico. It's nursing home residents with their care funded partially or completely by Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance who are especially susceptible to this type of health care fraud.

Billing for services not performed, double-billing, billing more than the actual cost for services and billing for services or items not covered by insurance are examples of what may be considered health care fraud at nursing homes. Some offenders also offer kickbacks in exchange for residents' medical records or access to unused drugs. Under-staffing is considered a possible sign of both health care fraud and nursing home abuse if residents aren't even receiving basic care.

There's a reason for laws against using cell phones while driving

If you've been a licensed New Mexico driver for some time, you no doubt feel quite comfortable behind the wheel. Even if you were among those who thought the parallel parking test would be their demise, once you obtained a driver's license and became an experienced driver, your confidence probably increased, as well. Some licensed drivers are overly confident; in fact, they believe they're invincible.

Such people often take risks while driving or even disregard traffic laws and safety regulations. The problem is that their irresponsible choices can place you and your loved ones in harm's way. Driving while using a cell phone is a perfect example. Most states have laws against it, but many people do it anyway.

Why security cameras may not be best for nursing home residents

It is not uncommon to hear stories of nursing home residents being abused by staff members. Roughly 10% of Americans over age 60 have been subject to physical, financial or other forms of elderly abuse. One possible way to protect nursing home residents in New Mexico and elsewhere is to use cameras to record interactions between them and staff members. While it may give loved ones peace of mind that their relatives are safe, security cameras may also present legal and ethical dilemmas.

The Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research at Brown University conducted a survey looking at potential problems related to security cameras in nursing homes. It obtained feedback from 270 facilities in 39 states, and the results were published in AJOB Empirical Bioethics. Privacy was among the key concerns among facilities that took part in the survey.

Can you prevent various forms of nursing home neglect?

Putting your loved one in a nursing home may have been nerve wracking. You put your trust in the staff and facility. Even though you tried to pick the best possible home for your loved one, there is no real guarantee they will be safe and happy.

Finding out your loved one may have been neglected or even abused is horrifying. But could it have been prevented? What forms of neglect are most common in nursing homes?

Nursing home fines down under Trump administration

When President Trump entered office in January 2017, the nursing home industry lobbied his administration to change the way the government fines facilities that have harmed or endangered residents. The pressure worked, and the Trump administration rolled back regulations that were implemented by the Obama administration. As a result, fines against non-compliant nursing homes in New Mexico and elsewhere have dropped sharply.

In 2016, which was the last year of the Obama administration, nursing home fines averaged $41,260. However, under Trump, the fines now average only $28,405. This is because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, stopped fining nursing homes for each day they were in violation of a regulation. Instead, they began fining facilities just once for around two-thirds of infractions. Critics of the move say that it gives nursing homes less incentive to remedy dangerous situations and come into compliance.

Nursing home abuse reports rising

New Mexico residents may be concerned with the health and welfare of their elderly relatives, especially if they are being cared for in nursing homes. Reports of nursing home neglect/abuse have been publicized in many media reports. One Connecticut study indicates that elder abuse incidents in the state rose significantly between 2011 and 2017. While there were 11,123 reported elder abuse cases in 2017, there were only 3,529 in 2011. Of those, the state opened an investigation into 7,196 reports.

In addition, elder abuse reports linked to nursing homes and care facilities rose by around 15% between 2015 and 2017 alone. At the same time, there were also a number of reports indicating an attempt to seek help for lone elderly people who were not receiving any care in their homes. However, most incidents dealt with reports of different types of abuse by others, including nursing home neglect, physical or sexual abuse, financial exploitation or emotional abuse. Officials noted that they feared that many cases of significant neglect or abuse are never reported at all, particularly when elders are alone.

Car company using technology to prevent drunk driving accidents

A leading car company is on a mission to make the roads safer for drivers in New Mexico and elsewhere in the country by using technology to proactively detect questionable driving behavior. The European automaker plans to include in-car cameras and sensors on its vehicles to look for signs of intoxication or distraction. The new system, which will be installed on vehicles starting in the early 2020s, goes a step further by allowing the car to intervene when necessary.

If reckless driving is detected behind the wheel, the vehicles equipped with the new system could limit the car's speed or slow it down and park it in a safe location.

New studies from Risk Institute shed light on distracted driving

Many drivers in New Mexico, as elsewhere, use their phone or in-vehicle technology while behind the wheel. This can lead to accidents. The National Safety Council states that such accidents contribute to an average of 9 deaths and 100 injuries every day in the U.S. To combat the growing epidemic of distracted driving, the NSC has designated every April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

For April 2019, the Risk Institute at The Ohio State University has presented some research that could help in predicting and curbing deadly behaviors among drivers. In one study, the institute explored the ways that could encourage good habits, such as the giving of insurance discounts to those who practice safe driving. Researchers found that drivers are more likely to engage in distracting activities if they are more confident of their driving skills.

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