Nursing home abuse is a serious, nation-wide problem. Rates of abuse in the United States were so great that Congress commissioned a study seeking to examine the prevalence of emotional, physical and sexual abuse in nursing homes.
The two year study uncovered a seriously troubling epidemic: one in three nursing home residents were found to have been the victims of abuse. Congress called the rates numerous and the report found lower rates of abuse in not-for-profit facilities than in for-profit nursing homes.
Though family members spend a significant investment in time, money and energy in an effort to ensure that their loved ones are in the best possible place, nursing home facilities can end up being more interested in profits than they are in providing the compassionate care we expect from them.
Our loved ones have a right to expect safe, sanitary conditions and attentive care. When a facility takes payment for your loved one’s wellbeing and they do not provide adequate care, the responsible parties must be held accountable.
Common Forms of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse can take many forms, including physical, sexual and psychological abuse. No matter what form it occurs in, nursing home abuse is illegal. Abuse can include, but is not limited to:
It is important that a person with limited mobility, especially those who are confined to a bed or a wheelchair experience regular movement. Bedsores, also known pressure ulcers, pressure sores, or decubitus ulcers. The CDC defines bedsores as “wounds caused by unrelieved pressure on the skin.” In a nursing home, staff should ensure that patients experience regular changes in position so that pressure on the skin does not result in sores. If left untreated, they can lead to serious infection, which can result in serious consequences, including death.
Those who are in a nursing home often rely exclusively on the facility for their daily food needs. Some patients may have issues eating or digesting food properly. In these cases, it is the responsibility of the nursing home staff to make sure that vitamins and supplements are administered properly. Malnutrition results when the body is not given essential vitamins and minerals. Nutritional deficient can include digestion issues, skin problems, and even dementia.
Medical Errors (Overmedication / Incorrect Medication)
Patients in nursing homes are often prescribed a series of daily medications vital to their well-being. It is the responsibility of nursing home staff to administer the appropriate amount of the correct medication at appropriate intervals as a crucial part of care. However, ProPublica reports that roughly one third of patients in skilled nursing homes have suffered a medication error, infection, or some other type of harm related to their medical treatment. 59% of these errors were found to have been avoidable. Over half of the victims of error had to be readmitted to a hospital.
It is something most family members never want to think about, but sexual abuse has been reported to occur in nursing homes. In a study published by the National Institute of Justice, the majority of elderly Americans who experience sexual abuse are female and reside in a nursing home. Nursing home residents were more likely to be physically and mentally disabled than elderly adults living in their own homes, which are also characteristics that contribute to increased risk of victimization.
The American Psychological Association defines emotional abuse (also known as verbal or psychological abuse) as behavior that can range from name calling or giving “the silent treatment” to intimidating and threatening an individual. A caregiver can emotionally abuse a nursing home patient if he or she behaves in any way that causes fear, mental anguish, or emotional pain or distress. It can also include treating the patient like a child and/or isolating the patient from family members and loved ones through force, threats, or manipulative behavior.
Financial Abuse / Exploitation
In addition to psychological and physical abuse, nursing home residents are at risk of financial exploitation. This can include fraud, taking money under false pretenses, forced property transfers, taking money without knowledge/permission, or denying the resident access to his or her own funds. This can be low-level theft, such as removal of cash from a purse, but it can also include improper use of legal guardianship arrangements, powers of attorney, or conservatorships.
Neglect occurs when nursing home staff wilfully or unintentionally fail to meet the physical, social, or emotional needs of the older person. This can include failure to provide food, water, clothing, medications, and assistance with activities of daily living or help with personal hygiene.
The Role of Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
Laws and regulations regarding nursing homes can be complex, and vary from state to state, so it is incredibly important to consult with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer. Despite the many state and federal regulations which have been established to protect the elderly in these settings, violations continue to compromise the dignity of these vulnerable members of our society. State agencies are responsible for the licensing and regulation of nursing homes and should ensure staff involved in the abuse or neglect are better supervised, terminated, and prosecuting for criminal misconduct. When this does not happen, a nursing home abuse lawyer should be contacted.
The money spent on caregiving may be designated towards corporate profits rather than providing for vulnerable patients. Cost-cutting measures and overworked, low-paid, under-qualified employees can lead to serious preventable injuries and death. It’s important to hold those who may be responsible accountable. By pursuing legal action, you can help prevent the same thing from happening to another family.
The Dysart Law Firm can help navigate the legal system, advocate for you and your loved one and get the accountability and justice you deserve. In addition to expertise, a nursing home abuse lawyer has access to expert witnesses such as physicians and therapists, who can review the situation and provide critical testimony as to the quality of care provided by the nursing home.
If you chose to retain one of our nursing home abuse attorneys to pursue your action, we promise to spare no effort in securing justice for you and your loved ones. Moreover, you pay no attorney fees until we win compensation for you through settlement or award.
Don’t delay. Contact us today to ensure critical deadlines are not being missed.