Nursing Home Injuries – What Rights Do You Have in Massachusetts?

Nursing Home Injuries – What Rights Do You Have in Massachusetts?

When you entrust the care of a loved one to a nursing home, you have certain expectations that your loved one will receive quality care. Sadly, those expectations are not always met.

The early days of the COVID-19 pandemic shed a harsh light on a variety of care issues in our nation’s nursing homes, including significant staffing issues. Unfortunately, the staffing issues have not only failed to improve since 2020, but as reported by the American Health Care Association (AHCA), 75% of nursing homes surveyed indicated the staffing shortages have actually worsened since 2020. Massachusetts is no exception. Staffing shortages are a major concern as it often leads to tragic consequences for vulnerable nursing home residents.

Even with significant inspection backlogs, in 2023 alone, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found 3,166 documented instances of care deficiencies in their Massachusetts nursing home inspections, notably more than in 2022. The deficiencies were cited in such areas as infection control, nursing and physician care, medication administration, as well as cases of abuse, neglect, and exploitation. In 2022, the Massachusetts Attorney General reached a resolution with five nursing homes after findings of severe neglect, abuse, lack of proper training, and negligence that in some instances even led to resident death.

To minimize the risk of your loved one becoming one of these statistics, it is important to have consistent communication with your loved one as well as the nursing home staff and be alert to any signs of possible neglect or abuse, including:

  • Any changes in their behavior or mood
  • Any unexplained weight loss
  • Any unexpected injuries or bruises
  • Any voiced concerns about mistreatment

Further, under Massachusetts law, nursing home residents have certain clear rights. These rights include being treated with respect and dignity, to have personal preferences reasonably accommodated, personal and medical privacy, and active participation in their own medical care.

If you suspect substandard treatment, abuse or a violation of the resident’s rights, elevate your concerns immediately, including filing a complaint with the facility. If that fails to get results, Massachusetts has its own mechanism for filing nursing home complaints, including a long-term care ombudsman certified to actively investigate any issues that may arise and act as an advocate for residents.

Simply voicing concerns or filing a complaint, while helping to highlight and address issues to the facility and regulators of the nursing homes, will not provide legal redress or relief for any injury or harm to your loved one caused as a result of substandard care. In addition to filing complaints, nursing home residents or their representatives also have the right to seek legal action, including against the nursing home itself. However, legal action for medical malpractice is a complex process with its own set of procedural and legal requirements that require specialized knowledge and experience.

If you suspect your loved one was the subject of negligence or abuse in a nursing home, consult a personal injury attorney with experience in medical malpractice who can help determine if there is any legal recourse available.

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About The Author

A seasoned trial attorney, Attorney Wickenheiser has advocated for victims and their families injured because of medical malpractice, nursing home death, pharmaceutical liability, and product liability. She focuses her practice on representing those who have suffered catastrophic injury and has successfully negotiated numerous settlements, many over a million dollars. She has received many prestigious awards and recognitions. Attorney Wickenheiser is licensed to practice law in Massachusetts.