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Albuquerque New Mexico Personal Injury Law Blog

Common signs of nursing home abuse

The staff at New Mexico nursing homes have an obligation to provide quality care. Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen. Those who have placed there loved ones in a nursing home or similar facility may be able to find clues that abuse is taking place. For instance, an individual may be sleepy or confused because of a bad reaction to a medication.

Some residents develop skin problems because of too much time sitting in their own waste. This can be a sign that a person has not been cared for in a timely manner or is being ignored completely. Other signs of untimely care include increased body odor, unwashed hair or overgrown finger nails. Bruises, broken bones and other injuries may be the result of being handled inappropriately during feeding times or when being given medication.

The role of staffing levels in nursing home abuse cases

Those who have to put loved ones in nursing homes in New Mexico and throughout the country may go through an emotionally draining experience. It is easy to doubt whether a parent or grandparent is getting the care that he or she needs. A study from the New York Times and Kaiser Health News reveals that those misgivings aren't just the result of an overactive imagination.

The study found that there weren't enough registered nurses on duty and that assistants didn't work consistent hours. This may result in patients being neglected, which is different than outright abuse. Those who are considering putting a loved one in a nursing home are advised to ask about staffing levels on weekends. Neglect may manifest itself in failing to properly feed or bathe a resident. It could also include ignoring a resident when he or she calls for help.

Three signs to look for when touring a nursing home

If you are faced with helping a parent transition to a nursing home, you may have reservations about the type of care he or she may receive. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect are still legitimate concerns in some situations. However, you can help your parent choose a safe nursing home by touring his or her favorite options and being on the lookout for any negative signs about the care provided in those facilities.

Are there strong odors?

Protecting loved ones from nursing home abuse

With millions of people in New Mexico and across the U.S. living in long-term care facilities, the possibility of abuse is a serious one. A CNN investigation found that between 2013 and 2016, the federal government cited more than 1,000 nursing homes either for failing to prevent cases of rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse at their facilities or for mishandling those cases. Of those, nearly 100 were cited multiple times.

However, nursing home abuse goes under-reported and under-investigated. Dementia patients, both men and women, tend to be the most frequent targets. Those who rarely get visitors on at least a monthly basis are also vulnerable. Staff shortages at some facilities mean that employees are not always under supervision. Abusers can be caregivers, other residents or even friends or family.

What to know about cameras in a nursing home

Unfortunately, some nursing home patients in New Mexico get hurt or suffer from negligent care providers. In some cases, it's difficult to find out about negligence or abuse because the patients have dementia or similar issues. One way to keep tabs on a loved one in a care facility is to put a camera in his or her room.

In states such as Illinois and Oklahoma, cameras can be placed in a room as long as the resident and any roommates give their consent. In states such as New York and Pennsylvania, there are no laws on the books regarding cameras in nursing homes. While some state governments generally approve of the use of cameras to protect resident safety, care providers don't necessarily want them. The CEO of the Health Care Association of New Jersey said that he wouldn't recommend just giving them to anyone who asked.

Birth by disabled woman in nursing home suggests sexual assault

New Mexico families who entrust their loved ones to nursing facilities have been unsettled by the news out of a neighboring state about a woman in a vegetative state giving birth in a nursing home. The 29-year-old woman had been in nursing care since she was a toddler. Her conditions included quadriplegia, persistent pneumonia and seizures. According to anonymous sources in touch with staff members at Hacienda HealthCare, the woman would not have been able to defend herself from sexual advances or communicate her condition.

Law enforcement and health officials have initiated an investigation. The fact that the staff at the facility failed to notice the pregnancy until the birth has led people to believe that negligence contributed to the situation although authorities have not made any definitive statements. A media outlet has reported that police have secured a search warrant to obtain DNA samples from male staff members at the facility.

Protecting against nursing home negligence

Nursing homes in New Mexico or elsewhere that mistreat patients in any way could be charged with negligence. This is generally true whether mistreatment is physical or emotional. For instance, if a resident's requests for treatment are ignored, it could lead to negative long-term consequences such as depression. There are several steps that a person can take to make sure that a loved one is not abused or neglected in a nursing home.

First, an individual should research facilities in the area and ask for referrals from friends, family or independent agencies. It is also a good idea to visit any facility that a loved one may live in. Ideally, an individual will not put an elderly family member in any facility that is dirty or otherwise looks incapable of meeting that person's needs. After a family member is admitted to a facility, it is important to make frequent visits.

Wear seat belts in New Mexico to avoid liver damage in car wreck

When car crashes occur, the two organs of the human body most often injured by abdominal trauma and susceptible to heavy bleeding are the liver and the spleen. A person can live without their spleen, but the liver is an organ that is vital to life. Depending on the severity of the injury, the liver might be surgically repaired, but even then, deadly complications can result from severe liver trauma.

One study showed that using seat belts helped prevent catastrophic injuries to the liver about 21 percent of the time, and when airbags were also available, the odds jumped to approximately 26 percent. The two devices worked well together, but airbags without the use of a seat belt did not improve the likelihood of avoiding severe liver injury resulting from a motor vehicle accident.

Most frequent causes of drunk driving fatalities

New Mexico drivers should know that about a third of all traffic fatalities are related to drunk driving. At the highest risk of dying in drunk driving crashes are drivers under 24, motorcyclists and those with prior DUI convictions. Young adults are at a higher risk than older adults even when both have the same BAC. This could be because young drivers are inexperienced and tend to travel in groups, making them more prone to distractions.

It takes the liver approximately one hour to process an ounce of alcohol consumed. Until this happens, alcohol remains in the blood and can be measured via the blood alcohol concentration test. For those with compromised livers, the alcohol will remain longer. Throughout the U.S., the legal driving limit is a BAC of 0.08 percent. At this point, a driver's reaction times will be impaired.

How does New Mexico stack up in state DUI rankings?

During the times of year when people like to socialize – Independence Day, Thanksgiving, the Christmas/New Year’s holiday – it’s important to remember not to drink and drive or to make sure you arrange for alternative transportation if you do plan to imbibe.

It’s also customary for various organizations to publish rankings about how states perform when it comes to DUI arrests and DUI fatalities. Here are the results of a few of these rankings:

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