Nursing Home Malpractice
When we place our loved ones in nursing homes, these facilities assume a duty to care for them. Unfortunately, poorly trained and inattentive workers sometimes fail to provide adequate care for the elderly. Worse, some nursing homes and elder care facilities employ workers who physically and financially abuse these loved ones’ trust. Estimates suggest that as many as 10% of elderly citizens suffer from neglect and abuse, although the number may be higher because many incidents likely go unreported.
As our nation’s population ages and it becomes harder to monitor the quality of elder care, victimization is likely to increase. The National Elder Abuse Incidence Study estimates at least half a million older persons were newly abused, neglected, and/or exploited, or experienced self-neglect, with many of these incidents occurring in nursing homes (see the full study here).What are the Types and Signs of Nursing Home Negligence and Abuse?
Even devoted loved ones may have trouble detecting the signs. Victims may be embarrassed about any incidents and claim not to remember what happened, or even blame themselves. Abusive staff members also intimidate and threaten their victims to protect themselves. Any of the following might indicate that a person is suffering from negligence or abuse:
- Physical and Sexual Abuse can result in bruises, scars, or reports of pain. This can occur due to a caregiver’s deliberate mistreatment or assault, but also from their failure to provide the care required of them.
- Emotional Abuse involves verbal of physical intimidation, threats, or humiliation, and can cause a resident to be depressed, anxious, or withdrawn from normal activities.
- Financial Abuse includes theft or concealment of funds and property. Caregivers earn the trust of their victims and prey on their trust. Often, victims do not know they are being lied to, but other times are too proud to admit they may have been cheated.
- Neglect involves the failure to care for a victim’s basic needs, and can result in bedsores, poor hygiene, unusual weight loss, and unattended medical needs.
In cases of suspected abuse, family members are usually the first to notice warning signs. Neglectful and abusive facilities are unable to or do not care to help.
If you notice any of these signs, you can contact Adult Protective Services in your state. You can find the APS reporting number for each state by visiting the State Resources section of the National Center on Elder Abuse or calling 1-800-677-1116. If you suspect a loved one is the victim of a crime, you should contact local law enforcement.
Unfortunately, state governments do not always have the time or resources to address this substantial and growing problem. Retaining a lawyer is sometimes the best option for protecting your loved one’s health, safety, and financial interests. An experienced lawyer can help investigate suspected abuse and prevent further loss or injury. In some cases, they can also help you recover costs suffered due to malpractice, abuse, and neglect.