Is Failure to Treat Pain Nursing Home Abuse? - Mazow | McCullough, PC
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Is Failure to Treat Pain Nursing Home Abuse?

Nursing homes are designed to provide medical support and comfort during a person’s end of life stages. A significant component of this is pain management, but more patients than ever report that their pain is poorly managed by the professionals who care for them.

This raises concerns about whether the failure to adequately treat pain qualifies as nursing home abuse and if so, what families can do about it. Here’s what to know and how the experienced elder abuse attorneys at Mazow | McCullough, PC can help.

Assessing and Understanding Pain Management in Nursing Homes

Effective pain management is a cornerstone of compassionate and comprehensive healthcare in every setting, especially nursing homes and long-term care facilities that house some of the most vulnerable people in society. Understanding how pain is assessed and managed plays an important role in making sure your elderly loved one is being adequately treated.

Staff should be trained to recognize that pain experiences vary widely between patients and one patient’s level 5 could be another’s level 15. Pain assessments should include more than just the patient’s own report and incorporate observational assessments like facial expressions, behavior, activity levels, and body language to determine if they are consistent with someone in pain.

The Consequences of Failing to Treat Pain

Patients who are denied adequate pain relief suffer many consequences, including:

  • Physical decline. The absence of adequate pain management can result in patients being hesitant to engage in exercise or movement, causing loss of muscle strength and joint flexibility.
  • Difficult recovery from medical procedures or illness. Poor pain relief hampers the recovery process from medical procedures or illnesses. Pain is not only a symptom but can also impede the body’s ability to heal and make recovery more challenging.
  • Emotional distress. Denying nursing home patients sufficient pain relief can lead to anxiety, depression, and other symptoms of mental and emotional distress.
  • Cognitive deterioration. Chronic pain has been associated with cognitive decline and patients without enough pain relief may find it hard to concentrate, remember things, and hold conversations.
  • Disrupted sleep. Persistent pain can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to fragmented sleep and insomnia that exacerbates physical discomfort, fatigue, and emotional suffering.

Signs Your Loved One’s Pain Is Poorly Managed

There are many signs that your elderly loved one may be in pain or that they aren’t receiving enough pain medication for their condition. Here are just a few indicators of poor pain management in nursing home patients:

  • A sudden increase in irritability, aggression, or angry outbursts. This could be a result of unmanaged pain causing emotional distress and making it difficult for your loved one to control their actions.
  • Refusal to move around or participate in physical activities they once enjoyed. If their pain is poorly controlled, this can restrict their mobility and make it harder for them to get up and walk around or physically engage with others.
  • Clear expressions of pain or discomfort. If your loved one complains of persistent or worsening pain, or makes facial expressions or sounds that are obviously pain-related, this should be taken seriously. False reports of inadequate pain management are rare.
  • Increased usage of pain medication. Patients who are prescribed too little pain medicine to obtain relief may attempt to self-manage their discomfort with extra over-the-counter or prescription pain pills.
  • Weight loss or decreased appetite. If your loved one suddenly stops eating or starts losing weight with no explanation, this could indicate that high levels of physical pain are affecting their desire to eat.

How You Can Help

You may be able to help your loved one obtain pain relief just by communicating with their care team or nursing home administrators. Patients who have family members who are involved are less likely to face all types of mistreatment, including neglect, abuse, and failure to provide sufficient pain management.

If your elderly loved one continues to be denied proper medical care, you may need to involve law enforcement personnel or protective services agents who can put external pressure on the nursing home to comply.

When to Reach Out for Legal Assistance

If you suspect that your loved one’s pain is poorly controlled or that they are possibly a victim of any other kind of nursing home neglect or abuse, it’s crucial that you take action as soon as possible.

Contact our office today by dialing (978) 744-8000 or calling toll-free at (855) 693-9084 to schedule your free initial case consultation. Or, you can fill out our short call back form and we’ll reach out to you right away.

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