When elderly persons become too frail to care for themselves, either as a result of a health condition or simply due to age, living within a nursing home may be the best choice for both the elderly person and their family members. Indeed, while family members may struggle with the decision to place an elderly person within a nursing home, doing so may be the surest way of ensuring good, around-the-clock care.
But nursing homes aren’t perfect, and while many nursing homes provide elderly persons with the care they need and deserve, some nursing home caregivers are abusive. Abuse in nursing homes is not only shocking and completely unacceptable, but also surprisingly common. If you are the family member of an elderly nursing home resident and you suspect abuse is occurring, our experienced personal injury attorneys can provide you with the representation you’re looking for.
PHYSICAL ABUSE IN NURSING HOMES – TYPES OF ABUSE
Physical abuse refers to all acts of abuse that involve physical contact, including sexual abuse. Types of physical abuse that a caregiver may use to intimidate, frighten, or control a resident include:
- Improper administration of medication;
- Refusing to provide necessary care, such as bathing a resident or helping them use the bathroom;
- Threatening with weapons; and
- Sexual abuse, including sexual assault, rape, or inappropriate touching.
RECOGNIZING THE SIGNS OF PHYSICAL ABUSE
When compared to emotional or financial abuse, the signs of physical abuse are often easier to recognize, as some of the damage is often visible to the naked eye. Signs of physical abuse might include, but are not limited to:
- Torn clothing or underwear;
- Bloodied clothing or underwear;
- Weight loss or significant changes in health;
- Unexplained injuries, such as bone fractures;
- Nursing home staff refusal to leave the resident alone with family;
- Displays of fear or aggression on the part of the nursing home resident; and
- Other obvious signs of deterioration in condition or emotional/behavior changes.
The effects of abuse on a nursing home resident can be tragic. Nursing home residents are already people with compromised health, and added physical and emotional stress can be dangerous. Indeed, physical abuse can lead to quick deterioration of condition, and may decrease longevity and lead to early death.
ABUSE VS NEGLECT – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Abuse and neglect are terms that are often used interchangeably. And while they can often have the same outcome–the deterioration of a patient’s condition and patient harm–they are not the same. Neglect refers to the failure to provide proper care, but in most cases, neglect is unintentional and is done as a result of human error, mistake, carelessness, or simply because there is not enough time in a day or enough staff members to attend to all patients. Neglect lacks intent.
Abuse, on the other hand, means to treat with cruelty and violence, and often involves intent. In many cases, abuse is not only ethically and morally wrong–and can result in civil consequences–but criminal as well. However, whether it is abuse or neglect that you suspect, taking action to report the event(s), ensure that your loved one is protected, and hire an attorney for legal representation is important.
STEPS TO TAKE IF YOU SUSPECT NURSING HOME ABUSE
If you suspect that nursing home abuse is occurring, you don’t want to wait to take action. Steps that you should take immediately include:
- Call 911 if you believe that the resident is at risk of imminent harm or death.
- Talk to a nursing home manager and discuss your concerns, ask for reports of patient care, and develop a plan to prevent abuse from occurring.
- Report the abuse to the proper agency. In Minnesota, you can file a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Health.
- Keep thorough notes in order to document all abuse. These notes can be helpful if you end up pressing civil or criminal charges.
- Contact a nursing home abuse attorney who can help you understand what steps to take next, including filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit to raise awareness, protect your loved one, and recover compensation for damages.
PHYSICAL ABUSE IN NURSING HOMES IS UNACCEPTABLE
When an elderly person and their family members decide that a nursing home is the best place for the elderly person to receive high-quality care, the last thing that they expect is for abuse to occur. However, abuse is prevalent, with one out of every three nursing homes reporting incidents of elder abuse, and a large percentage of residents reporting that they have seen others abused.
Nursing home abuse is unacceptable, and it should never occur. Whether with intent or not, all residents deserve to be treated with a high standard of care that is designed to improve their lives, treat their conditions, and alleviate the worst of their symptoms and discomfort. Compassion, care, and empathy are all critical amongst nursing home staff members.
When the duty of care that is owed to residents in a nursing home is breached, those responsible should be held liable for all damages and harm, ranging from loss of quality of life to pain and suffering to medical expenses and more.
OUR EXPERIENCED MINNESOTA NURSING HOME ABUSE ATTORNEYS CAN HELP
At the offices of the Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm LLC, our team knows how devastating learning of the abuse of a loved one in a nursing home is, and how distrusting of the system you may be feeling. When you call our law firm, we will get to work immediately to investigate the abuse, gather evidence, talk to witnesses, meet with nursing home staff members and managers, and calculate the amount of damages suffered. We can represent you in all conversation with the nursing home, negotiate for a resolution and damages, and ultimately take your case to court if we need to.
Nursing home abuse is horrific, and our lawyers are passionate about protecting nursing home residents in our state. To schedule a free consultation with our law offices, please call us or send us a brief description of your case using the online form found on our website.