Albuquerque Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

Nursing homes are supposed to provide safe, supportive environments where residents can expect quality care. Nursing homes in Albuquerque that allow resident abuse violate a legal duty of care and betray patient trust. The nursing home abuse lawyers at Levin & Perconti hold abusive nursing homes accountable.

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New Mexico has the highest rate of deficiencies per nursing home in the United States, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican. Albuquerque is home to 10 nursing homes with below-average and much-below-average ratings.

If your loved one has been abused in an Albuquerque nursing home, a New Mexico nursing home abuse lawyer at Levin & Perconti can help.

Why choose Levin & Perconti?

Levin & Perconti has stood up for abused nursing home residents for more than 30 years, and is one of the first law firms to pursue this type of litigation on their behalf. Our attorneys are dedicated to ensuring our clients are protected and their voices are heard.

We consistently achieve extraordinary case results for our nursing home abuse clients, including the following:

  • $4.1 million record-breaking jury verdict for an 85-year-old nursing home resident whose medications were mismanaged
  • $2.9 record-breaking jury verdict for the family of a 57-year-old nursing home resident who suffocated due to the facility’s negligent care
  • $2.8 million record-breaking settlement for a 59-year-old nursing home resident who developed bedsores that took years to heal
  • $2.7 million jury verdict for the estate of a 67-year-old man who died from complications related to a fall in a nursing home

Levin & Perconti is proud to be widely recognized for our success in securing top-dollar settlements and verdicts for our clients. We have been honored with many accolades, but we are most gratified by the positive feedback we receive from our clients, such as the following:

The law firm of Levin & Perconti handled the lawsuit for my brother's death due to nursing home abuse with the utmost professionalism, courtesy, timeliness, and care. After my brother's death, I knew I had to seek out justice for his wrongful death. The lawyers and staff at Levin & Perconti demonstrated compassion and understanding regarding my brother’s case. I was and am appreciative of the settlement reached with the nursing home.

— Margaret Alsaraf

Why does New Mexico have some of the worst nursing homes in the United States?

According to ProPublica, New Mexico has the fifth highest percentage of nursing homes with at least one serious deficiency in the United States. ProPublica has also documented the following significant problems in New Mexico’s 68 nursing homes:

  • 25 have serious deficiencies
  • 57 have been cited for infection-related deficiencies
  • New Mexico nursing homes have paid $3.47 million in penalties
  • New Mexico nursing homes have had 29 payment suspensions

The poor quality of nursing homes in New Mexico may be due to a lack of accountability. States are responsible for establishing the monetary fines levied against nursing homes for failure to comply with regulations, and New Mexico imposes lower fines than other states.

Inspectors also inconsistently follow up to ensure deficiencies are addressed.

Genesis HealthCare owns 25 of the 68 nursing homes in New Mexico and accounts for more than half of New Mexico nursing home deficiencies, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

The nearly 1,000 violations in New Mexico Genesis HealthCare facilities during the last four years have included:

  • Staff incompetence in medical emergencies
  • Catheter tubes on the floor
  • Employees reusing dirty syringes
  • Staff dealing drugs that resembled white powder
  • Deficient practices leading to amputation due to gangrene
  • Failure to disinfect equipment
  • Deficient infection control practices in 80 percent of its facilities

Even before COVID-19, nursing homes were required to have effective infection control measures in place. The lack of staff, supplies, training, basic procedures, and poor regulations led to many failures in New Mexico nursing homes. The pandemic further exposed these flaws, with devastating consequences for the vulnerable nursing home population.

Albuquerque and Bernalillo County Nursing Homes

More than half of the nursing homes rated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid in the Albuquerque area have below-average or lower ratings. These ratings are based on the following three categories:

  • Health inspections
  • Quality of care
  • Staffing

Most of these nursing homes are for-profit facilities owned by large corporations that often inadequately staff their facilities to maximize profits. Understaffing in nursing homes is a significant predictor of nursing home abuse and neglect.

Albuquerque skyline

Lowest-Rated Nursing Homes in Albuquerque

The following facilities have received the lowest ratings available, at 1 star:

Genesis HealthCare owns all of these facilities except Princeton Place and Spanish Trails Rehabilitation Suites.

Below-Average Nursing Homes in Albuquerque

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid has rated the following facilities as below average, with 2-star ratings:

Genesis HealthCare owns each of these facilities except Fiesta Park.

Albuquerque Nursing Homes With Average Ratings

The following facilities received 3-star ratings, which is considered average, from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid:

Genesis HealthCare owns Albuquerque Heights and Canyon Transitional Rehabilitation Center.

Highest-Rated Nursing Homes in Albuquerque

The following nursing homes received the highest rating available of 5 stars.

Despite the high ratings, these facilities may still have areas of concern. For example, South Valley Care LLC prescribed antipsychotic medication to a shockingly high percentage of long-term care patients. This could indicate that the facility misuses this type of medication as a substitute for care.

Furthermore, auditors with the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office reviewed 256 Medicare claims and identified 51 cases of potential abuse that nursing homes should have reported. Out of the 51 cases, 43 were not reported.

This data led the auditors to estimate that 6,608 high-risk ER Medicare claims associated with incidents of potential abuse or neglect of beneficiaries living in nursing homes were not reported to the Survey Agencies in 2016.

In a preliminary audit, the auditors found 134 Medicare beneficiaries in 33 states — including New Mexico — who may have been victims of nursing home abuse or neglect and were unable to determine whether 35 of the cases were reported to law enforcement.

The audit did not include cases where a resident sustained an injury at a nursing home but was not treated in an emergency room. Thus, the report concludes, “there is a risk that other Medicare beneficiaries who were potentially abused or neglected remain unidentified.”

Types of Nursing Home Abuse We Handle

Nursing home abuse may be committed by staff, visitors, vendors, or other residents. No matter who commits the abuse, it is always the nursing home’s responsibility to prevent abuse and ensure your loved one’s needs are met.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is any type of physical assault, such as hitting, kicking, punching, biting, or other intentional infliction of pain or injury. It also includes withholding food, water, or medications and the misuse of medications, such as antipsychotic medications.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse in a nursing home is any sexual act without consent. Nursing home residents with cognitive disabilities may not be legally capable of consenting to sexual contact, making all sexual contact a form of abuse.

Any sexual contact between a resident and staff member, whether consensual or not, is a form of sexual abuse due to the power dynamic between staff and residents.

Neglect by staff members that allows the sexual abuse of a resident by another resident is also grounds for a claim against the nursing home.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is difficult to identify because it leaves no physical evidence and may involve a variety of subtle behaviors. The victim may not recognize the maltreatment as abuse. Emotional abuse may be a course of conduct or a one-time incident.

Emotional abuse includes actions designed to manipulate a resident or cause a resident to feel fearful, unwell, depressed, guilty, humiliated, uncomfortable, or unwelcome.

Neglect

Nursing home neglect occurs when staff members fail to meet a resident’s physical, emotional, psychological, and social needs.

Negligent Hygiene

Nursing homes are responsible for maintaining resident hygiene by ensuring the residents, their clothing, and their bed linens are clean. Short-staffed nursing homes often neglect to administer regular showers and incontinence care.

Improper Supervision

Nursing home residents require supervision on various levels depending on each resident’s health condition. Failure to supervise can increase the risks of the following:

Nursing home staff are responsible for monitoring each resident’s health and notifying the physician and family members when a change occurs.

Bedsores

Bedsores are one of the most preventable injuries that occur in nursing homes. Bedsores occur when immobile patients spend too much time in the same position. Bedsores can be prevented by frequently repositioning patients and performing regular skin examinations.

Malnutrition and Dehydration

Elderly residents in nursing homes face a higher risk of malnutrition and dehydration than the general population. To prevent it, nursing home staff must closely monitor and document each resident’s food intake and develop a care plan for at-risk residents.

Financial Exploitation

Financial exploitation defrauds a resident of financial assets. Financial exploitation may include any of the following:

  • Theft of property
  • Unauthorized use of credit cards
  • Fraudulent access to bank accounts or other assets
  • Fraudulent transfers of assets

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Nursing home abuse and neglect are devastating to residents because many are incapable of reporting maltreatment. Some residents have dementia or other disabilities that prevent them from speaking up. Residents with the cognition to report abuse may fear reprisal.

As a result, a nursing home resident may attempt to conceal their abuse from concerned family members. Some of the telltale signs of abuse and neglect include:

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Changes to financial accounts
  • Social withdrawal
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Anxiety
  • New onset of depression
  • Bedsores
  • Poor hygiene
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Overall decline
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Frequent falls
  • Inappropriate medication
  • Bedsores
  • A gut feeling that something is wrong

Who may be liable for nursing home abuse?

Liability for nursing home abuse falls on the individual who perpetrated it, the nursing home owners and operators, and any other individual who failed to take reasonable preventive action, including nursing staff, physicians, therapists, and pharmacists.

Verbally abusing nursing home resident

New Mexico Laws for Nursing Homes

Nursing homes must provide a written training curriculum about incident reporting to all employees upon hire, with a refresher course every 12 months.

Incident reporting information must be posted in prominent areas where employees can view the contact information of reporting agencies.

Family members must also receive an orientation packet outlining incident management procedures.

Nursing homes must investigate suspected abuse, neglect, and injuries of unknown origin within 24 hours or by the next business day. The Department of Health Improvement requires the nursing home to investigate the incident and provide a follow-up report within 5 days.

Retaliation against a resident for reporting abuse is prohibited.

When an investigation occurs, nursing homes must provide investigators with full access to investigate abuse or face loss of license and other sanctions for failing to comply.

What damages are recoverable in an Albuquerque nursing home abuse case?

Nursing home residents who have suffered nursing home abuse and families whose loved ones have wrongfully died because of nursing home abuse may be entitled to pursue economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages compensate victims for documented financial losses stemming from abuse or neglect. It may include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Costs associated with transferring your loved one to a safer location
  • Future medical expenses if permanent or long-term damage was done

If your loved one tragically passed away because of neglect or abuse, you may be entitled to recover damages, including burial and funeral expenses, through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are compensation for pain and suffering. New Mexico limits non-economic damages to $750,000 for cases that affect one person, but this will be adjusted to $5 million for injuries that occurred in 2024, then adjusted according to inflation annually thereafter.

Punitive Damages

You may be entitled to punitive damages in nursing home abuse cases. These damages are awarded to punish the nursing home and deter other nursing homes from engaging in similar conduct. As a result, punitive damages may be substantial. New Mexico does not limit punitive damages.

What To Do if You Suspect Abuse in an Albuquerque Nursing Home

If you suspect your loved one has been abused in a nursing home, report the abuse immediately to the following parties:

  1. The nursing home administrator
  2. The New Mexico Health Facility Complaints Hotline at 1-800-752-8649
  3. The New Mexico long-term care ombudsman at 1-866-451-2901
  4. Adult Protective Services (Bernalillo County) at 505-841-4500
  5. The Albuquerque Police Department at 505-242-COPS (2677)

If you believe your loved one is in immediate or continued danger of abuse, call 911. If feasible, consider relocating your loved one to another facility permanently or until the threat is eliminated.

How can an Albuquerque nursing home abuse lawyer help?

An Albuquerque nursing home abuse attorney at Levin & Perconti will do the following:

  • Help you report the abuse and navigate your available legal options
  • Investigate your case and collect necessary evidence
  • Identify all liable parties
  • File your lawsuit and engage in discovery including document requests, depositions, and expert testimony
  • Obtain maximum compensation through settlement negotiations or prepare for trial and take your case in front of a jury
  • Collect and disburse funds
  • One critical function of a nursing home abuse attorney is to give the victim a voice when they otherwise may not have had one. At Levin & Perconti, we work hard to restore a loved one’s dignity and sense of justice.
Levin Perconti team meeting

When should I contact a New Mexico nursing home abuse lawyer?

The state of New Mexico has a three-year statute of limitations from the date of the injury. The statute of limitations may be extended in certain circumstances.

Nursing home abuse cases are complex, so it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible when you realize abuse has occurred so the statute does not expire, barring you from legal action. An attorney can review the specifics of your case and advise you on the best course of action.

If your loved one has been abused in a nursing home, contact Levin & Perconti today for a free consultation.