It's no secret that Georgia nursing homes have struggled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the depth of the problem is staggering. According to a report in Georgia Health News, nearly 80% of Georgia nursing homes haven't had a comprehensive recertification inspection in 18 months. The pandemic certainly didn't help, but there was a significant lag in inspections even beforehand.
This is a huge problem: when nursing homes aren't regularly inspected, abuse and neglect can fester. Services such as medication administration, wound care, infection control, meals, and so on can lapse, and acts of abuse can fly under the proverbial radar. In an industry with significant turnover of both staff and residents, the quality of care can change rapidly, and residents can be seriously harmed.
The power of an independent investigation
Even when the state is inspecting nursing homes regularly, though, it's still important for families of injured residents to launch their own investigations to get to the bottom of what happened to their loved ones. This is one of the advantages of hiring an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney. When we investigate a nursing home, we look at all of the following:
- Medical records: we want to understand whether your loved one was given all their medications as prescribed, whether treatment was administered promptly, and so on. Gaps or discrepancies in the medical records could be a sign of medical neglect or even an attempt to cover up abuse.
- Financial records: the most common type of nursing home abuse is actually financial exploitation. Our investigation will look for evidence that your loved one was double-billed or billed for services not rendered. We also look for unexplained withdrawals or changes to estate planning documents such as a last will and testament.
- Hiring and supervision records: nursing homes need to conduct background checks on their staff and train and supervise them to provide high-quality care. Unfortunately, especially when turnover is high, lapses often occur. This can lead to abusive staff members being hired and allowed to harm residents with few consequences.
- Physical evidence: the state of the facility itself can contribute to neglect. For instance, poor lighting and clutter in hallways can lead to trip and fall injuries, and poor security can lead to assaults.
A key part of our investigation is interviewing witnesses, both other residents and staff, to find out what happened. Nursing home residents often have difficulty remembering or articulating what they saw, but we have the experience needed to uncover that evidence and cross-reference or corroborate their stories to build a stronger case. We also look for former employees of the nursing home who may be able to speak candidly about how your loved one was treated, or about how the nursing home operated in general.
We know how to hold negligent nursing homes accountable
A full investigation is an important part of a nursing home neglect or abuse case for two reasons. First, we need to show the nursing home was responsible for your loved one's injury in order to hold them accountable and recover financial compensation. Second, by identifying and seeking justice for abuse and neglect, we help to make nursing homes safer and prevent other families from suffering as yours has.
If you suspect your loved one has been abused or neglected in a Georgia nursing home, one of your first steps should be to contact us. We will listen to your story and launch a thorough investigation to find out what happened and why. Schedule your free consultation with Kurle Justus, LLC today.