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Nursing home maintenance is critical to resident safety

In all the media discussions about nursing home abuse in New York and elsewhere in the United States, the conversation generally focuses on staff and how individuals treat the residents. However, the environment of the facility involves more than the ambience.

According to The New York Times, facility maintenance is an issue that a family member of a potential resident should investigate before choosing a home. This topic recently moved into the spotlight because of a failed air conditioning system that may have cost some residents of a Florida nursing home their lives. That facility had received citations in the past after two separate annual inspections revealed that emergency generators were not maintained properly.

A new federal law will soon require nursing homes to maintain backup power sources in case there is a failure of the electricity or other systems that regulate the temperature in the facility. Already, homes must have an emergency management plan, and staff should be trained and prepared to implement it. Family members should be able to review this plan, which must be filed with local emergency management officials.

FindLaw points out that a nursing home owner or its employees may be liable if premises or equipment are damaged or are not properly maintained. To prove that this constituted negligence, a person would have to be able to show that the lapse in facility maintenance was a breach of the duty of care owed to the resident. He or she would also have to have evidence that the resulting circumstances caused the resident's injury or death.

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