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The State of Nursing Home Abuse in Milwaukee

Wisconsin law defines elder abuse by a third party as the willful infliction of physical pain, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, and neglect. While elder abuse may occur anywhere, nursing homes are uniquely rich grounds for potential abuse because those providing long-term health care are basically strangers. Moreover, there are those who may have the propensity for abusing their fellow residents.

Nursing homes are compelled to comply with federal and state regulations, which include reporting incidents of neglect or abuse that result in injury or death to residents within a prescribed period to the state health department. However, the state only gets to hear about many of these incidents when a complaint is filed by a family member, and there is no way of knowing how many incidents go unreported.

This is a serious problem for existing residents and those who will be going into the system. Family members are uninformed about which nursing homes may have a high incidence of abuse, and will only find out when something happens.

There are currently nearly 300 personal injury lawsuits that have been filed in Wisconsin against nursing homes for medical practice, wrongful death, and negligence since 1986. Of these, 15% (46 cases) involved nursing homes located in Milwaukee. These may not seem like a big number over 27 years, but it must be remembered that these are only the actual cases of nursing home abuse where a family member filed a suit. In many cases, abuse was not even suspected because of the typically frail health of the victim. In others, there was not enough evidence to file a case.

It is estimated that about 25% of nursing homes in Wisconsin certified by the federal government have significant problems meeting safety and health standards. This poses a serious threat to an elderly resident’s well-being. It is estimated that Wisconsin will have approximately 1.3 million people over the age of 65 by 2030, prime candidates for nursing homes and whatever abuse prevails there.

It is a mistake not to take legal action when a family member is abused in a nursing home. The elderly is a vulnerable class that must be protected, and the only way to do this is to strive for change by holding those who abuse them accountable for their actions or inaction. If you suspect nursing home abuse of a family member in Milwaukee, contact an experienced personal injury in the county and get it on record. At the very least, it should make the state aware of a potential problem and do something about it.