Many different types of evidence can be used in a claim for nursing home abuse, including violations of OBRA standards. Retaining an attorney is the best way to learn what type of evidence will help you build a solid claim for compensation.
The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA), also known as the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, is federal legislation that sets standards for nursing home care and is interpreted within the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (42 CFR Part 483). The legislation was signed on December 22, 1987 by President Ronald Reagan after the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging conducted extensive investigations into the quality of care seniors were receiving in long-term care facilities across the country.
The law's impact was seen immediately. Facilities were required to eliminate physical or chemical restraints unless they were medically necessary, avoid the routine prescribing of antidepressants, and improve monitoring of medication therapy.
Today, individual states are responsible for certifying that their nursing homes meet OBRA criteria. To certify facilities, states must conduct extensive surveys no more than 15 months apart that include multiple resident interviews. If a specific complaint has been filed against a facility, a targeted survey must be conducted as part of the investigation.
Nursing homes that don't meet OBRA standards aren't allowed to participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs. They also face heavy fines, the appointment of temporarily assigned facility managers, or the permanent closure of their facilities. Specific penalties are determined by the nature and severity of the violation. In some cases, facilities are given a chance to correct the issue before a penalty is assessed.
Key OBRA Guidelines for Nursing Home Care
The most essential parts of OBRA guidelines are sometimes described as a Resident's Bill of Rights. Key points include:
- Create comprehensive care plans for each resident's unique needs upon admission, then update plans periodically
- Respect the dignity of each resident, regardless of mental or physical limitations
- Allow residents reasonable personal privacy
- Let residents communicate freely and voice grievances without fear of reprisal or discrimination
- Provide services that enhance each resident's quality of life to the fullest extent possible
- Allow residents the right to choose appropriate schedules, activities, and healthcare services
Some of the specific requirements that related to potential claims of nursing home abuse include:
- Provide balanced meals that maintain good nutrition and a healthy weight
- Promote fluid intake to prevent dehydration
- Take steps to prevent pressure sores, and properly treat any sores that do develop
- Provide grooming and personal hygiene services as needed
- Provide appropriate care to residents with urinary incontinence, but restore bladder function if possible
- Take steps to prevent falls, poisonings, and other accidental injuries
- Allow residents to use assistive devices as needed
- Take steps to prevent significant medication errors
- Keep complete, accurate, and easily accessible clinical records
- Have the nursing staff at levels sufficient to meet care needs
- Allow residents to safely bank funds for personal use
Using OBRA Violations to Support a Claim for Nursing Home Abuse
OBRA outlines the minimum level of accepted care for nursing home residents. If a nursing home violates OBRA standards and this violation is linked to your loved one's injuries, you have a valid nursing home abuse claim.
In this type of civil action, you can seek compensation for medical expenses related to the abuse and any pain and suffering your loved one has experienced. If your loved one has died due to improper care, you can seek wrongful death compensation for medical expenses and pain and suffering up to the time of death, as well as funeral and burial costs. Punitive damages may also be available, depending on the circumstances.
Retaining legal representation is the best way to protect your loved one's rights throughout the process of resolving your claim. The award-winning attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault are dedicated to helping Louisiana residents obtain justice for their loved ones who have been harmed by nursing home abuse. Contact us online or call our office directly at 318.588.6303 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.