Nursing Home Abuse in Indiana

Indiana Nursing Home Laws and Regulations

Indiana has the dubious distinction of being one of twelve states having the greatest number of repeated, severe violations of nursing home laws. This is despite the fact that the state has very strict laws that govern nursing homes.

Duty of Care

Nursing homes in Indiana have a duty to ensure that residents are properly cared for, to assess the needs of each individual resident, and to develop a plan for his or her care. This plan is intended to be reassessed and modified periodically, and failure to do so constitutes negligence, which could be the basis for a lawsuit against the nursing home.

There are more than 150 federal regulations that nursing homes are required to abide by. In addition, nursing homes are licensed by the state. In Indiana, nursing homes are licensed under the Indiana State Department of Health, Long-Term Care Division. The department inspects every nursing home in the state annually, and investigates any complaints that may be filed against a home. When the investigation is completed, the results are contained in a survey report, and any citizen can obtain a copy of the report by requesting it from the Indianapolis office of the Department of Health.

Additionally, Indiana’s Ombudsman Program is available to answer concerns and assist patients and their families with ensuring that their rights are protected.

Identifying Abuse and Neglect

Nursing home residents are often unable to communicate their concerns, and families may find it difficult to report abuse or neglect for fear that the problem will simply become worse, or because they’re simply not sure exactly what constitutes mistreatment. Signs of abuse and/or neglect include the following:

  • Patient lives in an environment that is unsanitary
  • Patient’s personal hygiene is not looked after
  • Patient smells of feces or urine
  • Patient has bed sores
  • Patient is malnourished and/or dehydrated
  • Patient has cuts, bruises, welts, abrasions, burns, broken bones or unexplained swellings
  • Patient has other injuries that may not be visible
  • Patient displays sudden unusual behavior patterns or behavior changes
  • Patient is fearful or agitated
  • Patient is unwilling to communicate
  • Patient is depressed or withdrawn
  • Patient has been isolated, or restrained (either physically or chemically)
  • Patient is subjected to humiliating or derogatory comments by staff
  • Rude, humiliating, derogatory comments by staff

Under the NHRA (Nursing Home Reform Act), the patient is entitled to the right to:

  • Be treated with dignity
  • Be free from neglect, abuse and mistreatment
  • Privacy
  • Be free from restraints
  • Refuse treatment
  • Have access to personal medical records
  • Review his or her care plan
  • Communicate freely
  • Be informed about changes in treatment
  • Complain without fear of reprisal.

If any of these rights are violated, the resident or a family member acting on his or her behalf may have a cause of action under the NHRA.

If you or someone you care for has been the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse in the state of Indiana, you should contact an elder abuse attorney to make sure that your rights are protected. An attorney can obtain any relevant medical records and help you to determine if you have a valid claim under federal law or the laws of the state of Indiana. If your claim is successful, you can be entitled to monetary compensation for the harm that was done to you or your loved one. It is, of course, vital that your lawsuit be filed before the statute of limitations runs out.

The law in Indiana provides for strict sanctions against nursing homes that mistreat their residents, and an elder abuse attorney can help you to explore your options.

Sources:

http://www.nursinghomepatientrights.com/Indiana_Nursing_Home_Abuse_Resource_Center.htm

http://www.in.gov/isdh/21582.htm

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