So you suspect that your loved one might be the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect?  Here are the top five things you should look for:

  1. Has the condition of your worsened since his or her arrival at the nursing home?
    • Did your loved one enter into the nursing home without bedsores and now he or she has one or even several?  Did your loved one entry into the nursing home without any broken bones and now has one or several?  Increased injuries to a patient or the aggravation of an injury to a patient can be a signal that the nursing home is not doing its job.  In this instance, it is important to aggressively coordinate with nursing home staff to ascertain the precise cause of a new injury sustained inside a nursing home so appropriate remedial action may be taken.
  2. Is my loved one considered a fall risk?
    • The Morse Fall Scale is a method that medical providers will often use to determine the degree to which someone is at risk for falling.  Since unprotected falls account for a large share of nursing home injuries, you want to make sure that your loved one has been assessed for the risk of fall?  You also want to ask if there are any indications, whether documented in the chart or not, that your loved one has already fallen.  And, if your loved one has been determined a fall risk, what are the procedures that have been put in place to prevent my loved one from falling?  Or, does the nursing home have a fall risk management program in place?
  3. Is my loved one at risk for development of a bedsore?
    • Under Indiana law, a nursing home facility must ensure that a resident who enters a nursing home facility without a bedsore does not develop one unless that patient’s clinical condition demonstrates that it was unavoidable.  In addition, a determination that a bedsore was unavoidable may be made only if routine preventative and daily care was provided.  Therefore, you should ask what the turning and repositioning schedule is for bedridden patients and also ask how often are patients assessed for the presence of bedsores.
  4. Is my loved one receiving proper nutrition and hydration?
    • Nursing homes frequently employ trained dieticians and nutritionists to ensure that residents are receiving proper nutritional care.  Be sure to ask about your loved one’s nutritional and hydration plan, whether the resident is losing or maintaining his or her weight, and what the staffing ratio is.  Ask to see your loved one’s nutritional plan and compare it against your loved one’s chart to help confirm appropriate nutrition and hydration is being received.
  5. Is the overall “quality of care” being provided to your loved one in accordance with their comprehensive assessment and care plan?
    • Per Indiana Administrative Code (410 IAC 16.2-3.1-37), each resident must receive “the necessary care and services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being in accordance with the comprehensive assessment and care plan.”  Nursing home facilities are also required to assist residents in obtaining transportation to doctor visits outside of the nursing home facilities.  They are requires to have adequate nursing care performed by nurses with state-mandated training.  Finally, nursing homes in Indiana are required to have written policies and procedures that prohibit neglect.  Ask to see those procedures and compare them against your loved one’s chart to confirm the highest practicable care is being received by your loved one.

Last, the most important action item not on the list above is speaking with a qualified attorney who is more knowledgeable about the process than you. By doing that, you entrust your case to capable hands and hopefully gain some peace of mind in what is very trying time.