The Signs of Neglect or Abuse in a Nursing Home
You have a loved one who is living in a nursing home for care and attention during their twilight years, but you worry that the staff may be neglecting, mistreating, or abusing them. You’re not sure what to do.
Mistreatment and outright abuse in nursing homes are, unfortunately, not uncommon. Some 15,000 cases of abuse are reported every year. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC), the most common types of reported abuse are physical (29 percent), resident-on-resident (sexual or physical) (22 percent), psychological (21 percent), gross neglect (14 percent), sexual (7 percent), and financial exploitation (7 percent).
Who’s at fault? A World Health Organization (WHO) study in 2020 found that 64 percent of nursing home staff members admitted to committing some form of abuse or neglect. The other source is fellow residents who are abusive. In 2021, a nursing home resident who was also a sex offender assaulted another resident multiple times, and the nursing home administrators turned a blind eye and failed to report the abuse to authorities.
Unfortunately, nursing home residents themselves who are abused may be reluctant to speak up for fear of worse consequences, so it takes the vigilance and concern of their loved ones to discover what’s going on, report matters to authorities, and perhaps launch civil lawsuits, while also finding better facilities for their abused relatives.
If you have a loved one who you suspect is the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse in or around Louisville or Lexington, Kentucky, contact the attorneys at the Slechter Law Firm, PLLC.
Mr. Slechter and Mrs. Slechter will meet with you, hear your story, investigate, and advise you of your best options going forward to ensure the safety and welfare of your loved one. They will help you hold those responsible accountable through all means available, including civil and possibly criminal actions.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Physical abuse may be the most obvious form of malfeasance in a nursing home setting, but abuse comes in other forms too. Nursing home abuse can fall into one or more of the following categories:
PHYSICAL ABUSE: Signs and symptoms can include but are not limited to broken bones, dislocations, or strains; bruising, scars, and welts; failure to administer medications; signs of restraint such as wrist rope marks; broken eyeglasses; and the refusal of caregivers to allow you to see your loved one.
EMOTIONAL OR PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE: Controlling, threatening, or belittling behavior by caregivers; could include verbal abuse and manipulation
SEXUAL ABUSE: Genital infections or STDs (sexually transmitted diseases); bruising near the genitals or around the breasts; stained, bloody, or torn underwear; vaginal or anal bleeding without medical explanation
CAREGIVER NEGLECT: Leaving the person alone for long stretches; unsafe living conditions such as lack of heating or air conditioning; fire hazards, lack of running water; not bathing the person or leaving them dirty; soiled bedding, dirty clothes, bugs
FINANCIAL EXPLOITATION: Overcharging for medications or unneeded medications; unexplained bank withdrawals; changing beneficiaries in life insurance policies, insurance, or titles to property; cash missing from the person’s room; unexplained ATM withdrawals; goods, services, or subscriptions bought without the elder’s knowledge
HEALTH CARE FRAUD: Receiving too little or too much medication; duplicate bills for the same services or devices; lack of sufficient staffing; untrained staff
Liability for Abuse
In most cases, administrators, caregivers, or even fellow residents are the ones liable for the abuse or neglect of your loved one. A lot of abuse stems from understaffed facilities and/or facilities that do not properly train their employees. It’s a tough profession, and not all people are suited for caregiving. Choosing employees who lack the empathy or the emotional stability to do the job can lead to abuse borne of impatience, misunderstanding, frustration, or downright malice.
However, it is also possible that a third party could be at fault as well. Sometimes equipment, such as wheelchairs, can be responsible for physical abuse. A wheelchair may have been designed improperly or inadequately maintained by an outside contractor. Also, a physical therapy apparatus may malfunction or a medicine-dispensing device may go awry. An outside security contractor who is supposed to prevent incidents may fail to perform their duties as expected.
What to Do If You Suspect Neglect or Abuse
If the situation seems dire enough, you should call 911 and get immediate medical attention. In all cases, you should report what you find to local authorities who can investigate. In Kentucky, you should contact Adult Protective Services (APS) or even the attorney general's office. Certainly, if you’re suspicious of the facility’s standards and enforcement of proper care and safekeeping, you can and should find another facility.
You also, of course, can file a civil lawsuit to recover damages (compensation) under the principle of neglect. The nursing home owes a duty of care to its residents, and if that standard is ignored or breached, a civil lawsuit for damages is possible.
Seek Legal Guidance Immediately
If you suspect your loved one is a victim of neglect and/or abuse, seek legal help and guidance immediately. You don’t want to leave your loved one suffering in silence.
Contact the Slechter Law Firm, PLLC for help. Mr. Slechter and Mrs. Slechter will take charge of finding out the truth and holding the responsible parties accountable through every available legal channel.