As medical technology and our understanding of human biological processes advance, people are often living longer, healthier lives. While this is probably a good thing in general, it can also lead to some unintended consequences. Because our ability to maintain the functions of physical life outstrips our ability to treat some of the other effects of aging, some older individuals find themselves in situations where it is difficult for them to live independently, either due to conditions affecting their mental capacity, or simply needing more care than their family or loved ones can give. This means that more and more people have to make the difficult decision to place an older family member in a nursing home.
While most of these facilities do everything they can to provide adequate care for their residents, no system is perfect, and sometimes nursing home staff can end up abusing or neglecting their patients, either through inadequate training, staffing, or vetting of staff members. But what might constitute abuse in a New Mexico nursing home?
The State has some legal definitions that can help answer this question. One of these can be found in the New Mexico Administrative Code, Section 126.96.36.199A. This portion of the code provides several examples of what can be considered nursing home abuse. An intentional, knowing or reckless act that causes harm to the patient is abuse under this Section, and the Code goes on to give some examples. Physical contact that is likely to harm a resident, as well as the inappropriate use of restraint or isolation may be abuse. Medically inappropriate actions that cause physical or great psychological harm may also qualify. Further, unlawfully threatening or intimidating residents, which would result in reasonable fear or distress in a patient, is prohibited.
It should be noted that the above list is not exhaustive, and there may well be other conduct that could constitute nursing home abuse or neglect in New Mexico. Certain forms of negligent behavior or medical malpractice might also harm nursing home residents and may result in a legal right to compensation.