Nursing home abuse is a common type of medical negligence (also known as medical malpractice) that preys on elders who live live in long-term supportive residential settings. Unfortunately, these elders are some of the most vulnerable members of society because they are dependent upon their residential facilities for food, medicine, dental care, and general life maintenance.
For most people, nursing home abuse is something that you do not think about until it happens to you or someone you love. In fact, nursing home abuse is a silent but widespread problem. On any given day in America, there are approximately 1.6 million people living in nursing homes. According to research, these individuals face exponentially higher risks of abuse and neglect than older persons who live at home. Furthermore, it is estimated that more than two-fifths of seniors who turned 65 in 1990 or later will enter a nursing home at some point in their lives. More than half of these individuals will be in a nursing home for at least one year. The epidemic is wide and far-reaching.
Whether it is called a convalescent home, nursing home, or rest home, any elder care facility should be a safe place for some of society’s most vulnerable individuals to spend the rest of their lives in peace. It may be shocking and traumatizing to realize that someone you love is suffering from nursing home abuse. Fortunately, legal recourse is available. No matter where you are located in the United States, if you suspect that you or a loved one is a victim of nursing home neglect, you have the right to seek legal help from an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer.
At this point, you may be asking yourself: What exactly is nursing home abuse? The term “neglect” encompasses any act that doesn’t adequately attend to the victim’s needs. Elder abuse in nursing homes can manifest in many different ways: physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse, and neglect. Many times, these types of abuse may overlap. Physical abuse involves anything that enacts physical harm on the victim. Sexual abuse involves any sexual action that violates the victim’s consent, including making the victim watch pornography or take off their clothes. Psychological abuse involves any emotionally harmful acts against the victim. Financial abuse involves any threatening acts against the victim’s property or money.
Physical and sexual abuse are often the easiest to spot because they frequently manifest in visible injuries. These injuries may seem to be either minor or more severe, and they may happen repeatedly. In addition to these physical signs, the victim may be reluctant to see a doctor or even talk about their wounds. Sexual abuse may also be made apparent through torn, bloody clothes or sexually transmitted diseases. Psychological abuse may cause elders to act depressed, confused, withdrawn, or seem otherwise “different” than normal. Victims of psychological abuse may also have trouble sleeping or regress to childlike behaviors. Signs of financial abuse may include unexplained bank withdrawals, sudden changes in or disappearances of legal documents, or missing financial statements. Finally, elders who are victims of general neglect may seem messy or unclean, suffer from bedsores, and have unexplained weight loss. They may also have missing or broken dentures, eyeglasses, hearing aids, or walkers.
Any nursing home that accepts Medicare must follow certain federal regulations regarding the standard of care. 42 CFR sec. 483. 25 (h) is one of these. According to this regulation, any elder care facility that accepts Medicare must ensure that the facility remains as free of accident hazards as possible. Additionally, each facility must take care to ensure that each resident is receiving adequate supervision and assistant devices. This stipulation helps maintain that the environment is as hazard-free as possible.
There are many different instances that may lead to a viable nursing home abuse claim. Failing to adhere to these standard of care regulations is certainly one of them. If the facility is aware of any existing potential hazards in their domain and fail to be diligent in eradicating them, they may be held liable. Accident hazards may include anything from potential slip and fall accidents to conditions that may lead to residents attacking one another.
In order to prevent accidents, nursing homes must also take care to hire the proper personnel. Negligent hiring of abusive and/or neglectful employees can also pose a liability threat to nursing homes. This means that they must properly train and supervise employees in order to ensure that they will not intentionally harm a patient. Nursing home employees must also take all possible measures to properly supervise residents who may fall or otherwise injure themselves.
Nursing home managers and staff also have a legal responsibility to maintain adequate health and safety policies. In layman’s terms, this simply means that they must keep clean and sanitary conditions throughout the entire facility. This includes both resident rooms and common areas. Of course, they must also provide adequate medical care to their residents. In other words, they must take care that each resident receives proper and sufficient treatment for any of their conditions. A resident that suffers as a result of sub-standard medical care must also have a potential medical malpractice case against the facility on their hands.
The trauma that comes from nursing home abuse can be overwhelming, even if it did not happen directly to you. It can also be difficult to prove liability in such cases. Fortunately, you do not have to go through it all alone. If you or a loved one have been a victim of nursing home abuse, we at Injury Victim Law may be able to help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to assist victims all across the country. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our experienced nationwide personal injury attorneys. We know that the costs and scars of nursing home abuse can be long-lasting. Let us fight for you.