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What defenses can nursing homes use against abuse allegations?

Elder abuse allegations can damage the reputation and disrupt operation of any long-term care facility or nursing home. Additionally, it can jeopardize an individual worker's job and potential career. 

What steps are necessary to prepare a strong and proactive response against abuse allegations? And what should you do to defend your business in a potential lawsuit?

Lawsuits may arise for a variety of reasons, including issues related to physical harm to a patient, supervision and care of the patient, hiring and training of employees, and maintenance of the facility and equipment. Workers, managers and owners of care facilities can potentially be held liable for nursing home abuse.

The following are initial steps to take during a nursing home abuse case:

  1. Understand the complaint - After a plaintiff files a complaint with the court, you will receive a document detailing the involved parties, the facts that prompted the lawsuit and requested remedy (typically monetary). Read it thoroughly and take note of the required deadline for your response.
  2. Meet with an attorney - It is vital for all involved parties to understand their legal rights and options. Your lawyer can explain everything to you, help you build a strong defense strategy and fight on your behalf against abuse allegations.
  3. Identify possible defenses - Whether you are facing allegations as a nursing home owner, manager or employee, you need a strong defense strategy. Depending on the circumstances, this could include proving no abuse occurred, that there was a pre-existing condition that contributed to the injury, or that a facility conducts thorough background checks, staff training and supervision of employees.
  4. Gather evidence - Work with your lawyer to gather evidence to strengthen your defense. This can include various documentation, eyewitness accounts, and patient health records.
  5. Draft and file your response - Once you have a defense strategy and gathered evidence to support it, draft a response to the complaint. This answer needs to be filed with the court and a copy sent to the plaintiff.

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