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On behalf of Pat Crispi at Keogh Crispi PC

When we make the difficult decision to put our loved ones in a care home - usually because they are too elderly, ill or disabled to properly care for themselves - we expect that they will be in good hands.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. New York nursing home abuse and negligence claim a shocking number of lives every year. To make matters worse, the state is not doing nearly enough to investigate and remedy the problem.

A recent investigation by the New York Times found that one in every six nursing home deaths over the last ten years can be attributed to either unnatural or unknown causes. This figure includes both private and state-run care homes.

Most, if not all, of these deaths were eminently preventable. A number of residents died after choking on food, even though their care orders clearly stated that they were not to be left alone with food because of propensities to eat too fast or stuff food into their mouths. Some physically disabled residents drowned when they were left to bathe unsupervised. Others died after being improperly restrained by caregivers.

The list of tragic nursing home negligence deaths goes on and on. And yet, the state of New York has done little to address the problem. The state allows nursing homes to investigate their own deaths and generally relies on the determination provided by the home. Furthermore, it doesn't have uniform training standards for caregivers or other nursing home employees, even though such standards are encouraged by the federal government.

Unlike New York, other states have used nursing home residents' preventable deaths as a learning experience and a push to institute new rules that better protect vulnerable adults. In New York, unfortunately, similar deaths are swept under the rug. Without proper reporting - and consequences for malfeasance - there is little incentive for negligent nursing homes to change their ways.

Families May Have Legal Recourse

The news of these deaths comes in the wake of another New York Times investigation that uncovered pervasive patterns of neglect and abuse at state-run homes for the developmentally disabled. Again, in that case, there was little state investigation and almost no accountability for abusive caregivers.

All New Yorkers deserve a chance to live with dignity, and our vulnerable citizens are no different. Of course, many homes follow the rules and provide excellent care. But, not all do. The state needs to do more to ensure that nursing homes are properly supervised and that they are held accountable when a resident is mistreated.

In the meantime, mistreated residents and their families may have legal recourse to recover for the harm that was done to them. If your loved one has been injured or killed as a result of nursing home negligence or abuse, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you understand your rights.

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