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Nursing Home Abuse

The health care of our elderly, particularly our parents, is an issue of growing concern. Advances in medicine continue to prolong life. About 1.6 million U.S. citizens are functionally dependent and living in nursing facilities. That figure is expected to climb to 5 million in thirty years1.

One report estimates that 44,000 to 98,000 people currently die each year in the U.S. because of mistakes made by medical professionals2. According to Dr. Donald Berwick of the Institute of Medicine, these figures are an "underestimate." The Committee Chairman who wrote the Institute of Medicine’s Report had this to say:

These stunningly high rates of medical errors – resulting in deaths, permanent disability and unnecessary suffering – are simply unacceptable in a medical system that promises first to "do no harm". -- William Richardson, Chief Executive Officer of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan.

More people die from adverse events caused by their medical providers in the health care setting than from motor vehicle accidents and AIDS, according to the Institute of Medicine report. Other studies have concluded that 4-9% of hospitalized patients suffer serious or fatal complications caused by their therapy or treatment.3.

The injuries or complications caused by medical error are increased in the elderly population, who are often vulnerable due to illness and have long lengths of stay4. Congress found that between January, 1999, and January, 2001, more than thirty percent of the nursing homes in the United States – 5,283 nursing homes – were cited for an abuse violation that had the potential to create harm5.

Our law firm specializes in handling nursing home negligence cases and other cases involving allegations of medical malpractice. In these highly specialized cases, families often find that retaining a lawyer is their only recourse for honest answers and action following the death or serious injury of a loved one.

One reason that families must often investigate through their own counsel to accurately determine how an injury occurred is that government oversight of nursing homes is unreliable6. A guide published by the federal government reportedly misleads the public because it fails to consider tens of thousands of safety violations, according to a Congressional Report7. Another reason that families must rely on their own investigations is that facilities do not always honestly report abuse or negligence to authorities or families8.

Our elderly have a right to expect that the health care system will keep up with life-prolonging medical advances by ensuring dignity and quality of life in later years. This is the promise we make to our parents and all of our elderly: that we will honor their right to spend their last years in peace and dignity with a standard of medical care and treatment that is reasonable.

Unfortunately, our health care delivery system has not honored this promise to all of our elderly. If you have a general interest in elderly care, it is our hope that this web site will be a source of education and encouragement. If you are concerned about the health and safety of a parent or another family member who has received care in a nursing home or assisted living facility, we encourage you to contact us for a free discussion about your loved one’s circumstances and the family’s legal rights. We will do our best to make sure that you make the recovery to which you are entitled. And always remember, if we don’t win your case, you pay us nothing.9

NOTE: You are not a client of The Orlando Firm, P.C., until you have executed an attorney-client contract for employment of the firm, and the contract has been signed by a member of the firm.

1CBS News Healthwatch Report, “Tracking Abuse in Nursing Homes”, December 27, 2000.
2National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, Report.
3"Iatorogenic Complications in High-Risk, Elderly Patients", Lefevre, et. al., Archives of Internal Medicine, 152, Oct. 1992, 2074-2080; "Incidence of Adverse Events and Negligence in Hospitalized Patients", Brennan, et. al., The New England Journal of Medicine, 324(6); Feb 7, 1991: 370-376; "Preventable Deaths: Who, how often and why?", Dubois, et. al., Annals of Internal Medicine, 109, Oct. 1 1988: 582-589; "What is Appropriate Care?", Mulley, Journal of the American Medical Association, 260(4); July 22/29 1988: 540-541.
4"Iatrongenic Complications in High-Risk, Elderly Patients", Archives of Internal Medicine.
5Report of the House Committee on Government Reform, Rep. Henry Waxman (D- Calif.).
6CBS News Healthwatch Report, "Tracking Abuse in Nursing Homes", December 27, 2000.
7Atlanta Journal Constitution, "Nursing Home Guide Fails to List Complaints – Report finds major flaws in federal data," February 21, 2002.
8CBS News Healthwatch Reports, "One in Three Nursing Homes Cited for Abuse", July 30, 2001 and "Tracking Abuse in Nursing Homes", December 27, 2000.
9Nursing home cases are handled on a contingency fee basis unless otherwise agreed upon by the client and the firm. Other types of cases may be governed by fee agreements other than contingency fees.