The frequency of neglect and abuse in nursing homes is alarming. When facilities do not properly train staff or hire enough qualified staff, patient care inevitably suffers. We’ve created this website to help you learn what steps to take if someone you love has been injured due to neglect or abuse in a long-term care facility. Please call us at any time to discuss the details of your loved one’s situation.

If a facility employee harmed your loved one, they have committed nursing home abuse or neglect. Abuse occurs when an employee of the nursing home harms a resident intentionally, for example by belittling or slapping them. Neglect is unintentional, and it occurs when a nurse or staff member doesn’t do something that would have kept a resident safe. Whether they suffered abuse or neglect, your loved one should have received better care.

The nursing home hurt my loved one- Can I file a lawsuit?

You may be wondering if you can file a lawsuit for a case of neglect or abuse. While the decision to take legal action is one that only you and your family can make, there are good reasons to do so in some cases. A successful lawsuit will ensure that you are compensated for the harm done to your loved one; the amount of compensation will be decided by the jury.

Are you already authorized to take legal action for your loved one? If not, you will need to file paperwork—either guardianship, medical directive, power of attorney, or conservatorship, or guardianship—to be able to act on a resident’s behalf.

Should you decide to move forward with a lawsuit, we’re here to help you every step of the way.

How much will it cost to sue?

When deciding whether to hire a lawyer to help you take action on a case of abuse or neglect, you’ll naturally be concerned about how much it will cost. Rest assured that most lawyers in this area work on contingency rather than being paid hourly, which means that we don’t get paid unless we win your case. Should you decide to file a lawsuit, you and your attorney will agree on the percentage they will receive if they win the case.

Filing a lawsuit will involve costs other than legal fees, some of which can become significant. Attaining medical records from multiple facilities, as well as expert testimony,  court, and arbitration fees can reach into the thousands, although the amount will differ case by case. Nursing home abuse attorneys will often these costs initially, with the understanding that you will reimburse them if they win the suit.

We are Schenk Smith, your Bainbridge nursing home lawyers.

At Schenk Smith, we do not handle custody, property law, or any area of the law that is not related to nursing home abuse and neglect. We have chosen to focus solely on the protection of your loved ones in long-term care facilities.

Founding attorney Will Smith was a certified nursing assistant in Georgia nursing homes for nearly ten years before going to law school. He knows what long-term care facilities must follow to keep residents safe as well as what can go wrong. Our expertise in this area is unmatched by other Georgia law firms that handle nursing home neglect or abuse. Whether you live near the Decatur County Historical Society, around the corner from Cheney Griffin Park, or close to the Twin Lakes, we’ve got you covered.

Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect in Bainbridge, Georgia – What you need to know.

Bainbridge, Georgia is located in Columbia County and has a population of 12,492 residents. Of those, 15.2% are aged 65 and older. In Bainbridge as in elsewhere in Georgia, neglect and abuse are not uncommon.

Are there specific symptoms of nursing home abuse?

Most of us know when something is wrong with our loved one—we feel it in our gut. Unlike in cases of neglect, which can be a more elusive problem, symptoms of abuse are fairly easy to spot. Physical and/or behavior changes may reveal that your loved one has been abused.

Physical Changes. If your loved one has injuries they cannot or do not wish to explain, someone in the facility may have abused them. If you spot any of the following, you should suspect abuse:

  • Serious injuries (bruises, welts, cuts, burns)
  • Stained or bloody linens or clothes.
  • Significant changes in weight
  • Poor hygiene or disheveled appearance

Changes in behavior. Is your loved one typically sociable and fun-loving, but now seems depressed or antisocial? Signs that he or she may have been abused include:

  • Unusual lack of interest in activities the resident typically enjoys.
  • Atypical moodiness.
  • Fear of certain staff members.
  • Listlessness or lack of energy.
  • Any other behavior that is atypical for the individual.

Are there injuries that happen more often?

As we age, we become more fragile, and thus we can be more easily injured. Some of the most common injuries in long-term care facilities come from residents falling, becoming disoriented and walking out of the nursing home, and getting bedsores.

Older adults tend to fall very easily. Failing eyesight and diminished strength and coordination can put residents at risk of dangerous falls. Residents with mobility challenges should be assisted when performing tasks such as going to the bathroom, and mobility aids such as walkers should be kept in good condition. Patients who are at risk of falling out of bed should have their beds positioned low to the floor and guiderails installed. Falling can lead to broken bones, head injuries, and in serious cases, even death.

When suffering from dementia or other kinds of cognitive decline, residents may become confused about where they are and “wander” off the premises of the facility. In a busy nursing home with lots of people coming and going all day, your loved one may slip away undetected into an environment that presents various hazards. Wandering is common and can be extremely hazardous to residents. Nursing homes must make sure that residents do not leave the building unsupervised.

Up to ten percent of residents in long-term care facilities are likely to have bedsores at a given time. This is especially a problem for residents who are in wheelchairs or otherwise spend long periods in one position. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services mandates daily checks of residents’ skin condition. Although bedsores can usually be prevented with basic hygiene and body repositioning, they are extremely common.

Why would nursing home staff commit abuse?

Working in a nursing home is very demanding. Although there is never an excuse for abuse, it sometimes occurs because nursing home staff have not been adequately prepared for the challenging situations they will face on the job. Staff work long hours for low pay, which is one reason there is high turnover in these jobs. Because this work is difficult and doesn’t typically pay well, it does not always attract the best candidates. High turnover can exacerbate the problem.

Even if staff members are conscientious and caring, they may eventually resort to abuse due to frustration. This may happen after a long period of becoming drained by the demands of the job, or relatively quickly when a facility is short-staffed. As founding attorney Will Smith has seen firsthand in his own experience as a nursing home CNA, even good people may behave badly under strain.

In particular, staff need to receive adequate training on how to interact with aggressive residents, diffusing aggression rather than fighting back. It can be difficult for staff member to control a physical reflex if a resident suddenly hits or pinches them. Residents who are in pain or suffering from cognitive disorders may not always be in control of their actions, but staff must learn to control their responses to them.

When abuse is perpetrated on residents, long-term care facilities are ultimately responsible. Nursing homes look for ways to save money just like all businesses, and cutting back on hiring or staff training may be identified as a way to save. Thorough background checks of candidates and thorough monitoring of current staff may go by the wayside. Abbreviated training periods may not prepare new staff for the difficult interpersonal situations they may encounter on the job.

My loved one was hurt in a Bainbridge nursing home – What do I do next?

If your loved one was severely injured or passed away at a Bainbridge, Georgia nursing home, then we recommend that you act as soon as possible to protect your loved one’s rights.

First, report the incident to the appropriate Georgia authorities

Georgia Department of Community Health

The Georgia Department of Community Health’s Healthcare Facility Regulation investigates nursing homes for neglect and abuse. Their offices also regulate and certify nursing homes in Georgia.

You can file a complaint with the Georgia Department of Community Health, Healthcare Facility Regulation online by clicking this link. Here is additional contact information:

Georgia Department of Community Health, Healthcare Facility Regulation

Complaint Hotline:       (800) 878-6442

Complaint Fax:             (404) 657-5731

Georgia Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman

Ombudsmen help resolve issues between residents and nursing homes. They may visit nursing homes at either party’s request to help mediate conflicts.

You can file a complaint with the Georgia Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman online by clicking on this link. Here is additional contact information:

South Ombudsman Program

335 West Society Avenue
Albany, GA 31701

Telephone:      (229) 432-1124

Fax:                  (229) 446-7899

You may also report physical assault or abuse to local law enforcement

You may file a police report if your loved one was injured in a nursing home. The South Georgia Judicial District Attorney’s Office may bring charges against the facility if they are found guilty of abuse or neglect.

For abuse occurring in a Bainbridge, Georgia nursing home, report the crime to the City of Bainbridge Police Department or to the Decatur County Sheriff’s Department.

City of Bainbridge Police Department

510 East Louise Street

Bainbridge, GA 39819

Telephone:      (229) 248-2038

Decatur County Sheriff’s Department

912 Spring Creek Rd
Bainbridge, GA 39817

Telephone:      (229) 248-3044

South Georgia Judicial District Attorney’s Office

122 West Water Street
Bainbridge, GA 39817

Telephone:      (229) 246-1823

Find another facility for your loved one.

If your loved one has been abused in a nursing home, you’ll likely want to relocate them as soon as possible. To find a facility that is within a reasonable distance, accepts Medicare and Medicaid, and offers a safe environment with well-trained staff, you can compare facilities using the website created by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). All federally funded nursing homes are included, and are rated on characteristics such as nurse-to-resident ratio and staff quality.

Click here to go to the Nursing Home Compare Website.

When you’ve found a facility that is potentially a good fit for your loved one, be sure to make an in-person visit. Take note of the atmosphere of the nursing home, and ask for a tour. If possible, chat with staff, nurses, and residents. If personnel are unfriendly or seem overextended, think twice about moving your loved one there.

For your convenience, a list of all nursing homes located within Bainbridge, Georgia is located below, along with their contact information and inspection scores.

Get the medical records from the hospital and the nursing home.

To file a lawsuit in a case of nursing home abuse, you will need to get the resident’s full medical records. To determine whether the long-term facility is to blame for your loved one’s injury, you’ll need detailed information on their medical diagnosis and treatment, including at the nursing home. Because privacy protects patients from having their medical records shared, you will have to become authorized through a healthcare directive, a durable power of attorney, or guardianship designation. If you are not so authorized, you will not be allowed access to the records.

If your loved one suffered harm at a nursing home in Bainbridge, Georgia, they were probably taken to an area hospital. The contact details for the hospital medical records request departments in Bainbridge hospitals are listed here:

Memorial Hospital And Manor, (229) 246-3500

Begin the probate process if your loved one has passed away.

When you’ve lost a loved one, the task of handling their affairs can add stress to an already emotionally difficult time. Whoever is in charge of the individual’s estate will have to work through the probate court to settle their affairs or, if warranted, file a lawsuit.

If your loved one left a will, it will likely contain instructions on who should be in charge of the estate and probate proceedings. If not, an individual close to the deceased—usually a spouse or close family member—can petition the court to represent the estate. Once given authorization by the court, the representative may bring a lawsuit against the long-term care facility and will also take care of any existing debts and owed to the deceased.

If you are the individual who will be executor of the estate, you’ll need to contact the probate court in the county where your loved one passed away. This will typically be the county where the nursing home is located.

Click here to initiate the process with the Decatur County Probate Court.

Decatur County Probate Court

112 West Water Street
Bainbridge, GA 39817

Telephone:      (229) 248-3025

Nursing Homes in Bainbridge, Georgia

Trying to find the vest nursing home for someone you love? Be sure to do ample research, as conditions can vary widely among facilities. The following is a list of nursing homes in Bainbridge, Georgia, along with detailed information for each. This information is taken from CMS’ Nursing Home Compare Website.

Bainbridge Health and Rehab

(229) 243-0931

1155 West College Street

Bainbridge, GA 39819

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 (Above Average)

Number of Beds: 100

Number of Residents: 71

RN hours per resident per day: 27min (GA Avg: 34min)

Health Inspection Rating: 3 out of 5 (Average)

Staff Rating: 2 out of 5 (Below Average)

Quality Measure Rating: 5 out of 5 (Much Above Average)

Most Recent Health Inspection Date: 07-13-2017

Number of Health Citations: 1

Average Number of Health Citations in Georgia: 3.2

Number of Complaints in previous 3 years resulting in citation: 2

Federal fines in previous 3 years: 0

Memorial Manor Nursing Home

(229) 246-3500

1500 East Shotwell Street

Bainbridge, GA 39819

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 (Below Average)

Number of Beds: 107

Number of Residents: 99

RN hours per resident per day: 12min (GA Avg: 34min)

Health Inspection Rating: 3 out of 5 (Average)

Staff Rating: 3 out of 5 (Average)

Quality Measure Rating: 1 out of 5 (Much Below Average)

Most Recent Health Inspection Date: 07-27-2017

Number of Health Citations: 6

Average Number of Health Citations in Georgia: 3.2

Number of Complaints in previous 3 years resulting in citation: 2

Federal fines in previous 3 years: 1 ($1,500 on 08-12-2015)

Why Choose Schenk Smith as your Nursing Home Lawyers?

There’s certainly no shortage of lawyers who handle nursing home law. Why should you pick us?

  • Dedication: We don’t handle any type of law other than nursing home abuse and neglect. Should you choose to work with us, you’ll be able to rest assured knowing that our attention is fully concentrated in this one area, allowing us to keep extremely current with developments in nursing home law.
  • Passion: Our founding attorney, Will Smith, comes to the practice with nearly ten years of experience working as a CNA in Georgia nursing homes. We are devoted to fighting abuse and neglect cases in the courtroom, as well as educating the wider community about current issues in long-term care. We have been received “Rising Stars” designation from the Super Lawyers legal recognition program for our work in the community.
  • Satisfied clients. Our clients appreciate the personal attention and dedication we devote to their cases. Our Google reviews are the best of any law firm focused solely on nursing home abuse and neglect in Georgia. Check out our client reviews to see what they have to say about us.

If your loved one was injured or died in a Bainbridge, Georgia nursing home, please call us at Schenk Smith (678) 823-7678 for a free consultation. You can also check out hundreds of video FAQs on our website.