Nursing Home Abuse in Maine

Maine Nursing Home Laws and Regulations

Maine is a small state with limited resources. Unfortunately, this means that Maine is becoming known for inadequate nursing home care. Nationwide, nursing homes often operate with inadequate staff and find it difficult to provide services for their residents, and Maine is far from the exception. Further, we contend that with an aging population, crowding becomes a problem in nursing homes – residents are packed in, but economic constraints prohibit hiring more staff or paying for services. Overworked, stressed staff are simply not able to maintain a proper standard of care.

The Law

In Maine, nursing home negligence has become a serious issue. Negligence and abuse are perhaps not commonplace, but still problematic. In order to address these issues, Maine has developed an Adult Protective Services Act that is modeled after similar laws in many other states. Its purpose is to protect nursing home residents and to bring the full force of the law to bear upon people who either abuse nursing home residents or fail to report the abuse. If a nursing home worker sees a resident being abused, and then does not report that abuse (or worse, knew that it happened regularly and still didn’t report it), he or she can be subject to penalties under the law.

Maine law mandates that any nursing home resident has certain rights when it comes to his or her care. These rights include, but are not limited to:

  • Be free from restraints, both physical and chemical
  • Be treated with dignity
  • Be free ofneglect, abuse and other types of mistreatment
  • Privacy
  • The ability to choose one’s own doctor
  • Review his or her care plan
  • Refuse treatment
  • Have access to one’s own personal medical records
  • Be informed about changes in treatment
  • Communicate freely
  • Complain freely

Who Has to Report?

Under the Adult Protective Services Act, the requirements are very similar to the requirements that are in place regarding the reporting of child abuse. Many people are identified as being required to report suspected abuse. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Doctors
  • Psychologists
  • Social workers
  • Physical therapists
  • Speech therapists
  • Dentists
  • Podiatrists
  • Medical examiners

Once the judiciary in the state of Maine is made aware of a possible case of abuse, the court has the power to enter an emergency order into the record. What this means is that the resident who is being abused can be placed in another nursing home for his or her protection. Then, the court can take whatever action it sees fit to make sure that the resident won’t incur any more harm.

Sanctions

Nursing home administrators often don’t realize that they can have privileges taken away if neglect or abuse is occurring in their nursing home. For example, they may be prohibited from bringing Medicaid or Medicare patients into their nursing home, and they may be declared ineligible to receive disbursements that would cover costs of patient care.

What You Can Do

If you believe that cutbacks in your Maine nursing home, or the facility in which your loved one has been placed, have resulted in an unacceptable quality of care, you could have remedies under the law. A nursing home lawyer in Maine can help you to get your loved one out of a bad situation, and can also collect information from the nursing home administrators that will enable him or her to begin the process of launching a lawsuit. You or your loved one may be entitled to compensation under the law for injuries, illness, neglect or abuse incurred in the nursing home.

Source:

http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/oads/aging/aps/recognizing.shtml

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