When we can no longer provide our elderly loved ones with the care and supervision they need to live safely, we turn to nursing homes for professional help. Unfortunately, despite making promises to provide “nothing but the best for their residents, nursing home staff members frequently commit heinous acts of abuse against patients, ranging from physical violence to sexual abuse to financial exploitation. The sad reality is that nursing home abuse is a widespread problem that leads to countless deaths and injuries throughout the U.S. on a daily basis.
If you believe that your spouse, mother, father, grandparent, or other elderly relative is being abused at his or her nursing home, or if you suspect that your loved one’s recent injury, illness, or death was the result of abuse at the hands of a caregiver, you are urged to speak with a nursing home abuse attorney regarding your family’s legal options. While legal action cannot undo the harm your loved one has already suffered, you have a right to pursue justice and compensation for the wrongdoing against your family member. To talk about filing a nursing home injury claim or lawsuit in a free and confidential consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, contact Brent Wieand at (215) 666-7777.
What is Nursing Home Abuse?
Most people think of abuse as physical violence. But while violence is a common type of abuse in U.S. nursing homes, nursing home abuse can also take other forms, such as sexual abuse, emotional or verbal abuse, the intentional deprivation of care. Financial abuse occurs when staff members exploit their positions to gain access to residents bank accounts, credit cards, and assets. In other cases, staff members deliberately sedate or over-medicate “nuisance” patients, which is described as using “chemical restraints.” Sometimes, patients are even forced into isolation, or are made to wear physical restraints. In some cases, more than one type of abuse may be occurring.
It is vital to recognize the warning signs that a nursing home resident is being abused by a staff member or caregiver. Some signs of elder abuse are subtler than others, so it is crucial to be vigilant and attentive if you have any concerns, no matter how slight, that a loved one is being or has been mistreated. Examples of nursing home abuse warning signs and red flags include:
- Bedsores, which are also called “pressure ulcers” or “decubitus ulcers”
- Bruises, cuts, infections, dental problems, and bone fractures
- Cluttered, dirty, or unsanitary conditions in the resident’s room or other areas of the facility
- Depression, anxiety, fearfulness, irritability, and other unusual mood disturbances or personality changes
- Malnourishment/malnutrition and dehydration, which are usually accompanied by rapid weight loss
- Patients wandering off the premises without proper supervision (called “elopement”)
- Reluctance to speak in front of nursing home personnel
Nursing Home Abuse Statistics
It has always proven difficult for government agencies to obtain accurate statistics on abuse in nursing homes, simply because many of the victims are ashamed or afraid to come forward about the suffering they have endured. However, while conventional wisdom holds that nursing home abuse is systematically underreported, even conservative estimates produce shocking statistics.
For example, the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) cites National Ombudsman Reporting System data which shows that Ombudsman programs received more than 14,250 complaints involving “abuse, gross neglect, or exploitation” during 2014 alone. Meanwhile, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) reports that a stunning 10% of Americans age 60 or above “have experienced some form of elder abuse.”
When dangerous hazards develop or nursing home violations occur, they frequently go unreported and undetected, further heightening the risk that a resident will eventually be injured or killed. On this subject, the NCEA cites a 2008 study conducted by the U.S. General Accountability Office, which revealed that “70% of state surveys miss at least one deficiency and 15% of surveys miss actual harm and immediate jeopardy of a nursing home resident.”
What to Do if You Suspect Elder Abuse
If you believe that a family member or loved one has been or is being abused at a long-term care facility, there are several steps you should take. It is critical that you act right away, because the longer you wait to take action, the longer the abuse will continue, potentially jeopardizing the victim’s life.
Remember: nursing home residents’ rights are protected by numerous state and federal laws, so do not be afraid to be firm and persistent when you interact with nursing home management or staff members. You have a right to truthful answers, and your loved one has a right to quality care, free of intimidation or deceit.
- First, you should speak directly with staff or the manager of the nursing home about your concerns.
- If you still have concerns, you should immediately file a formal complaint about the nursing home. Every state has an online system to report elder abuse in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
- You should also contact a nursing home abuse attorney for legal guidance. You may have a cause of action, or legal grounds, to file a claim or lawsuit for personal injury or wrongful death. Your attorney can fight to recover compensation for financial losses, physical harm, and emotional harm suffered by the victim, which are called “damages.” It may be possible to recover compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, funeral costs, emotional distress, and other expenses or harm related to the abuse, including losses and expenses reasonably anticipated in the future.
Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer for Injury Claims and Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Our experienced personal injury lawyers have represent seniors and their loved ones in claims and lawsuits against negligent nursing homes and their employees. Our law firm strives to give a voice to our most vulnerable citizens when their rights are violated by the caregivers they trust. We take an aggressive, personalized, and proactive approach to each claim, and always works toward a clear objective: recovering the maximum compensation for injured seniors and the surviving family members of wrongful death victims.
If you believe a loved one was injured in a slip and fall accident, bedsore injury, mismanaged infection, medication error, pelvic fracture (broken hip), sexual abuse, financial abuse, or other types of abuse or injury, Brent Wieand can help you pursue the justice you deserve. To talk about your case in a free and confidential legal consultation with a nursing home injury attorney, contact our law offices at (215) 666-7777 today.