Many San Clemente residents with elderly loved ones may know that elder abuse often occurs in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, and that it can happen at the home of a senior, as well (for a senior who still lives at home). Do we also need to be aware of elder neglect in hospitals and, in particular, in hospice settings? According to a recent report from California Healthline, older hospice patients can be victims of elder abuse and neglect, but many of us do not think about these risks as frequently. Neglect or abuse in hospice can be devastating. Although patients are facing terminal diagnoses, inattention to health needs by staff members can result in irreparable harm.
What do you need to know about elder abuse in hospice?
Elder Neglect Extends to Hospice
Most of us would like to assume that a patient in hospice is receiving palliative care in a properly staffed facility that knows the importance of frequent pain management. However, as the report indicates, many hospice patients suffer similar injuries as a result of neglect, not unlike cases of nursing home neglect. One woman reported that her husband was in hospice and needed pain medication, but it took days before he received attention from hospice staff.
As she explained, “they basically said they would provide 24/7 support,” yet her husband was neglected by the doctors and staff at the facility. This was at “one of the nation’s 4,000-plus hospice agencies, which pledge to be on call around-the-clock to tend to a dying person’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.” An investigation conducted by Kaiser Health News uncovered that the situation described above is not uncommon. To be sure, “families across the country, from Alaska to Appalachia, have called for help in times of crisis and been met with delays, no-shows, and unanswered calls.”
Need for More Oversight of Hospice Agencies
Advocates argue that we need more oversight when it comes to hospice agencies—a complaint often levied against nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in California—to ensure that patients are receiving proper care and are not sustaining additional injuries due to neglect. Moreover, hospice agencies need to be penalized, similar to nursing homes or assisted-living facilities with violations, when situations involving elder abuse or neglect occur.
Based on the Kaiser Health News investigation involving around 20,000 government inspection records, family members have been “shocked and angered by substandard care” and have filed thousands of complaints with state officials over neglect. Upon government inspection, the inspectors determined that 759 different hospices had serious deficiencies, and in more than half of those, the hospice agency had missed visits with patients or had failed to provide other services that had been promised. Few of these hospices received any type of penalty for substandard care. Not unlike skilled nursing facilities in California, hospices are short-staffed, and in some cases nurses and other staff members have intentionally ignored patients’ pleas for help and for pain medication.
Seek Help from a San Clemente Elder Abuse Lawyer
Elder abuse and neglect can be devastating. If you have questions or concerns about abuse in Southern California, an experienced San Clemente elder abuse attorney can speak with you today. Contact the Walton Law Firm for more information.
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(image courtesy of Jorge Lopez)