One of the most important decisions we can make for our elder relatives is to commit them to reliable round-the-clock care if the necessity appears. Many facilities across the Volunteer State help fulfill these needs, but families must be vigilant to prevent abuse or neglect among residents in nursing homes.

A nursing home in Tennessee has been forbidden from accepting new patients while authorities investigate a possible case of neglect for a disabled patient. The alleged victim, an elderly woman with dementia, was bedridden when she suffered a fall from bed and fractured both of her knees.

The problem became worse when she was returned to bed without seeing a doctor or received medical attention. The patient was reportedly in agony for nine days before she was sent to the hospital, although her health had declined to the point that she died a month later under care.

The Tennessee Department of Health cited the Knoxville residential facility and fined it $30,000 in connection to delays in the patient’s care. The department’s commissioner stated the nursing home appeared below state standards for administration, improved performance, nursing services, radiology and patient rights.

Citations, fines and even criminal charges against individuals or administrators may shift the conduct of nursing homes and their operators to make them safer and more comfortable for residents. Once it has already affected someone’s health and safety, however, a civil lawsuit may be the last resort to claim financial damages for a specific victim.

An attorney is often a powerful ally for the victims of nursing home abuse as well as their relatives. Consider legal representation to restore justice and dignity to residents in assisted care.