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New Jersey law intended to fight nursing home medical malpractice

Many people in New Jersey are sometimes forced to face an unhappy truth -- that they are no longer capable of meeting the medical needs of their aging loved ones. Unfortunately, some people may have concerns about placing their family members in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes due to issues related to medical malpractice, specifically in the form of abuse or neglect. As a result, lawmakers have recently created a law that changes how care providers are expected to report cases of abuse.

Called "Peggy's Law," the law was named after a woman who passed away months after she was injured at a nursing home. While she was treated for broken bones in her face and wrist, the woman's daughter is skeptical of the nursing home's claim that the woman's injuries were caused by a fall. As a result, she lobbied for the law that will ensure cases of abuse are reported to police.

Under current law, employees who suspect neglect or abuse are required to contact the Office of the Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly. While this office will contact police, the reporting worker is not required to do so. The new law requires that workers contact police within 24 hours if a crime is suspected; if the crime results in injury, workers are required to contact police in two hours. Failure to do so could result in a fine against both the facility and the employee who failed to report it.

While most people who work at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are committed to protecting the overall well-being of the patients in their care, there are patients in New Jersey who fall victim to medical malpractice in the form of neglect and abuse. While this new law is designed to add extra protections to those vulnerable to such treatment, victims and their families also have the option of filing a civil suit. By doing so, they could also potentially protect other patients from similar treatment as well as receive a financial award to help cope with expenses that might stem from neglect or abuse.


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