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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
An aging population in New Mexico and nationwide means that society will have to make elder care a priority. By 2050, demographers predict that 88 million people will be over age 65. That figure represents a doubling of the current elderly population. Caring for the elderly has always posed challenges, and the nursing home industry has long been prone to corruption and abuse. The prospects do not look good for the future.
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.
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.
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.
Many people in New Mexico are deeply concerned about the threat of nursing home abuse or neglect, especially if their own loved ones are cared for in a facility. U.S. Congress is looking into the problem across the country after media attention has shed new light on the types of abuses that people can suffer inside nursing homes. In particular, a woman in a coma for 14 years gave birth at a nursing home, proving that she was subject to rape and sexual assault while in the facility.