Nursing Home Abuse in Hawaii

Hawaii Nursing Home Laws and Regulations

Nursing home abuse and negligence has become a huge problem in Hawaii. In fact, the website SeniorAssistedLiving.net has flagged nursing homes in the state of Hawaii as being among the worst in the country. Injuries incurred in Hawaii nursing homes range from minor to serious, and sometimes even result in death.

A full 42% of nursing homes in Hawaii have been determined to have unsanitary conditions in their food preparation areas, and in more than 17% of Hawaii nursing homes, residents have been harmed. More than 33% of Hawaii nursing homes and assisted living facilities have been found to have environments that are not conducive to accident-free living, and in over 11% of nursing homes in Hawaii, patients have developed bed sores as a direct result of neglect.

The Law

Under the laws of the state of Hawaii, nursing homes are required to provide the best possible protection to our vulnerable elderly citizens. There are stringent civil penalties for neglect and abuse under Sections 28 through 94 of the Hawaii Code. Caregivers who are found to be in violation of the code can face penalties of anywhere from $500 to $1,000 for each day that the abuse or neglect occurred. They can also be made to cover the costs of any investigation that may be needed in order to prove the abuse or neglect.

The requirements for people bringing lawsuits on their behalf, or on behalf of their loved ones, are similarly stringent. The Statute of Limitations requires that a lawsuit must be filed within two years of discovering the injuries. Further, there is a cap on compensation for non-economic damages. Economic damages would be medical expenses, the cost of moving the loved one to another facility, expenses for physiotherapy or other treatments resulting from an injury due to neglect or abuse within the nursing home, and other quantifiable damages. There is no cap on damages for mental anguish.

Defining Abuse

Under Hawaii law, the term “abuse” has a considerable range of meaning. It can include physical injuries, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, and other types of mistreatment and negligent treatment. The Hawaii Code includes the following in its definitions of abuse:

  • Physical pain
  • Bruising, bleeding and other skin injuries
  • Burns
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Poisoning
  • Subdural hematoma
  • Bone fractures
  • Soft tissue swelling
  • Sexual assault (including the taking of pornographic pictures)
  • Mental distress
  • Withholding the necessities of life
  • Wrongful use of a resident’s personal assets
  • Misappropriation of an elderly person’s funds

When any of these kinds of abuse happen, the attorney general in Hawaii is empowered to launch a civil action against the abusive caregiver, on behalf of the state. Nursing home administrators and workers who suspect abuse are required by law to report it. If they fail to do so, they can be held liable.

It is, of course, also incumbent upon family members who suspect that a loved one is being abused to contact the authorities. It is also advisable that family members in this situation contact an elder abuse lawyer in the state of Hawaii for advice and assistance in stopping the abuse. Elder abuse is a serious offense, and the perpetrators of the abuse are subject to sanctions under the law. In the worst case scenario (i.e. where death has resulted from the abuse or neglect), the nursing home can be sued for wrongful death.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by neglect or willful abuse in a nursing home, you should contact an elder abuse attorney immediately in order to ensure that your rights are protected.

Sources:

http://www.assistedseniorliving.net/

http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/20110704__Abuse_goes_unpunished_at_Hawaiis_care_homes.html?id=124960019

http://www.elderly-abuse.com/wordpress/category/states/hawaii/

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