Five Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Five Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Five Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

It is not a choice many families wish to make, but sometimes placing a frail senior in a nursing home facility is the only safe solution. Fortunately, there are over 15,000 nursing homes across the country, according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. The majority of these facilities are staffed with people who are able to look after America’s estimated 1.7 million nursing home residents with care and respect. Nevertheless, abuse can and does happen and, as the population continues to age, it is a growing concern.

Risk Factors

The risk factors for abuse are complex and involve conditions unique to both the resident and his or her caregivers. While no behavior excuses abuse, an elderly resident is at greater risk of being victimized if they suffer from dementia, have a tendency to be physically or verbally aggressive, and are socially isolated. Conversely, a caregiver is at risk of abusing the elderly if they lack training, have too many responsibilities, respond poorly to stress, or are otherwise poorly suited to their job. These risk factors are not necessarily easy to detect; therefore, it is important to keep watch for the five signs of nursing home abuse

Signs of Abuse

  1. Physical Abuse – Watch for unexplained or unusual injuries like tooth loss, broken bones, missing hair, sprains, or joint dislocations. Also, watch for signs of over-medication or marks on the person’s wrist, which may be an indication of physical restraint.
  2. Emotional Abuse – Sudden changes in behavior, such as rocking, sucking or mumbling, are of great concern. If staff is bullying them, elders may show increased anxiety, fear, guilt or embarrassment about their needs.
  3. Sexual Abuse – In addition to showing signs of physical and/or emotional abuse, victims may have bruises around their genitals or breasts, unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding, or torn and bloody underwear or bedding.
  4. Neglect – This is most likely to occur if the facility is understaffed. Elders may experience unexplained weight loss due to malnutrition or cracked lips and swollen tongue from dehydration. They may have untreated physical issues, such as bedsores, or have an unpleasant odor or appearance due to the lack of assistance with personal hygiene.
  5. Financial Abuse – While this is more often associated with at-home caregivers, elders can be the victim of healthcare fraud in nursing homes. Signs of fraud include double billing, evidence of under- or over-medicating, evidence of inadequate care despite bills being paid, and issues with the facility itself, including understaffing or overcrowding.

Family Advocacy

Even if an elder is capable of reporting the abuse, they may be reluctant to do so for fear of retaliation or the withdrawal of care. It is important that families act as advocates for their care in order to detect, and hopefully prevent, abuse from occurring. Calling and visiting the resident frequently, maintaining open communication with the caregivers, and monitoring the elder’s finances and prescriptions are helpful practices. In addition, families should familiarize themselves with the Nursing Home Residents’ Rights and ensure that they are respected by the care providers. In brief summary, these include the right to citizenship, dignity, privacy, personal property, information, freedom, care, residence and expression.

Detecting signs of abuse can be confusing and frightening and it can be difficult to know what to do. If an elder is in immediate danger or otherwise needs urgent medical attention, do not hesitate to call 911.

Legal Assistance

The attorneys at GreeningLaw P.C. are compassionate and will treat your case with both kindness and professionalism.

Contact us to book a free consultation. We will review your case and suggest a course of action that will provide the best chance for a positive outcome. Let us take care of you, the caregivers, so that you can focus on your family. “We fight the legal battle, so you have time for healing and renewal.” We are here to help.

Who is Liable for Nursing Home Injuries?

Who is Liable for Nursing Home Injuries?

When someone is injured in a nursing home, the natural assumption is that the proprietor is responsible. Much like the captain of a ship, we assume that those in charge of a facility are ultimately responsible for everything that happens within it. From a legal standpoint, however, liability is not always so cut and dried.

While a nursing home does have certain obligations to its residents, an injury can be the fault of more than one party, or no one’s fault.

Nursing home injuries are increasingly more commonplace due in large part to an aging population in the U.S. As life expectancy increases with advances in medicine and improved health care, we are simply living longer. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were 1.4 million residents in long-term care facilities in 2014.

Unfortunately, as we age, we are also more prone to injury. So, when an injury occurs in a nursing home facility, determining the cause, much less assigning liability, can be a complicated issue.

The National Center on Elder Abuse cites data from 2014 during which 14,258 out of 188,599 complaints from nursing home residents involved some form of abuse or neglect. The problem of abuse in nursing homes is undeniable, and growing.

Still, the question of liability is problematic for several reasons. Residents can be injured during recreational activities, or while getting physical therapy. A person not employed by or associated with the nursing home, such as a visitor, may have caused the injury.

Medical equipment operated by the staff is also maintained by third party vendors. An injury may simply have been the result of the injured person’s frailty or infirmness. Assessing legal liability, in other words, has a lot to do with identifying the cause of the injury, who is responsible, and under what circumstances the injury occurred.

Duty of Care

A nursing home has what in legal terms is known as a duty of care for its residents. What this means in layman’s terms is that the facility is responsible for providing its residents with adequate services such as medical care, security, nutritional needs and living conditions.

Whether a nursing home is itself liable for injury to a resident depends on whether the injury can be shown to be a result of negligence on its part.  A nursing home can be negligent in several ways:

  • The injury was caused by a staff member who was improperly trained.
  • The injury was due to negligent or inadequate care by a staff member who was inadequately screened for hire by the nursing home.
  • The injury was the result of deliberate abuse by a staff member.
  • The resident was the victim of abuse that could have been prevented if adequate security measures were in place.
  • The resident’s injury is proven to be a direct result of nursing home negligence to provide proper medical care, nutrition, etc.
  • The nursing home failed to monitor its staff.
  • Negligence in providing a safe and healthy environment.

Assigning the Blame for an Injury

If a nursing home is proven to have been negligent in its responsibilities toward its residents, it can be held fully liable for an injury. Complicating the task of assigning liability, however, is that any number of mitigating factors might have contributed to an injury, and could therefore be legally attributed to a third party.

For instance, the aforementioned medical equipment supplied by a contractor. If that equipment were improperly maintained, it may legally be shown to have caused the injury. An injury may have been caused by unsanitary conditions, which could be the responsibility of a commercial sanitizing contractor.

Even in cases where it might be argued that an injury was due to the nursing home’s negligence, there may be extenuating circumstances in which more than one party is directly responsible for the injury.

For example: a resident is injured while being provided physical therapy on an apparatus. The therapist administering the therapy, due to inadequate training, uses the equipment improperly. The equipment, which is maintained by an outside contractor, is itself defective.

When complications like these arise, disseminating the blame becomes an even more complex job. A personal injury attorney with solid experience is essential for the victim to get the justice they deserve.

Expert Help When and Where You Need It

If you suspect that a loved one is the victim of abuse or neglect by a nursing home in the state of Texas, you should contact Personal Injury Attorney, Robert L. Greening. You need the expertise and experience of a law firm that is dedicated to fighting for the rights of victims of negligence.

Abuse of the elderly is a serious offense and a betrayal of one of the most vulnerable segments of our society. Give yourself the best chance to receive the legal results and the compensation you deserve. Give Greening Law, P.C. a call and let us go to work for you.

We fight the legal battle, so you have time for healing and renewal.