Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect has become an epidemic in the United States in recent years. As of 2010, we had more than 40 million people over the age of 65 in this country—the highest number ever. It is estimated that as many as 10 percent of them have been abused in some way.
While many seniors are abused by their own family members, a growing number are facing abuse in nursing homes. There are several types of abuse, but the most harmful ones are physical abuse and neglect. These types of abuse can lead to serious injuries and even death.
Physical abuse can include beating, shoving, hitting, slapping, punching, kicking and use of restraints. These actions can lead to broken bones, head trauma, dislocations, internal bleeding and lacerations, all which can lead to death if not treated.
Neglect is also common in nursing homes. This includes malnutrition, dehydration, unsanitary living conditions, bedsores and dangerous living conditions. If a staff member doesn’t give residents required medications or mistreats a person in any way, this is also considered neglect. All of these can and have led to the wrongful death of nursing home residents.
NURSING HOME ABUSE IN MINNESOTA
Nursing home abuse has become commonplace in every state in the nation, including Minnesota. In 2016, the Minnesota Department of Health received 25,226 complaints of elder abuse in nursing homes throughout the state. The complaints included physical abuse, serious injuries and neglect. More than 4,000 of these incidents involved altercations between residents, while more than 2,000 involved physical abuse by staff members. Of these, only 3 percent were investigated. This means that an overwhelming majority were ignored by the state.
On the occasions that the Minnesota Department of Health did investigate the cases, key steps were not taken. In many cases, the victim was not interviewed and police were not called.
The abuse is horrific. Residents are being punched, choked, fondled, smothered with pillows and forcibly restrained. This is horrible news for the 85,000 Minnesotans who live in state-licensed homes for seniors
Many people are forgoing traditional nursing homes and placing their loved ones in assisted-living centers. This is causing abuse to become more commonplace. The residents in assisted-living facilities are generally sicker and older. They tend to have more mental problems as well, which makes them more vulnerable to criminal abuse. On top of that, these facilities do not have as many restrictions, which means that they can understaff the facility and get away with abuse.
When nursing home abuse or neglect does occur, family members are kept in the dark. They are not made aware of abuse until their loved one is seriously injured or dies from abuse or neglect.
WHAT CAUSES NURSING HOME DEATHS?
A nursing home staff member may accidentally or intentionally cause harm to a patient. In many cases, understaffing and negligent hiring cause deaths to patients. Nursing homes often hire minimal staff in order to save money. One person may be in charge of a dozen or more patients. This can lead to extreme stress. The employee may get confused or distracted and forget to feed a patient or give medications.
Negligent hiring is a common factor in nursing home abuse situations. Nursing homes experience high levels of staff turnover. Sometimes they hire staff without doing background checks. Many of these staff members have criminal backgrounds or are sex offenders. They may hire people who are not licensed and have no experience working with seniors. These new hires then mistreat the patients. They may have trouble controlling their anger and they lash out at the patients. They abuse these patients to the point where they suffer serious injuries or even death.
If your loved one has died due to nursing home abuse or neglect, don’t try to handle such a case on your own. Nursing home abuse claims are complex, and it’s important to have a competent personal injury lawyer on your side.
Your lawyer can assess your case and bring about a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death lawsuit must incorporate four elements:
- Negligence. It must be proven that the loved one’s death was caused by negligence or reckless behavior.
- Breach of duty. The nursing home staff member owed the resident the duty to provide high-quality medical care, and the staff member breached that duty.
- Causation. The breach of duty directly caused the loved one to die.
- Damages. The death led to damages, such as medical expenses and funeral and burial costs.
You may be wondering how much compensation you could receive from a wrongful death claim. Honestly, there is no clear-cut answer. Each case is different. The circumstances are never the same, and neither are the injuries or damages involved.
While no amount of money can bring your deceased loved one back to life, it helps you pay for expenses caused by your loved one’s death. In some cases, you may be able to sue for punitive damages, which serve to punish the wrongdoer.
CONTACT A MINNESOTA NURSING HOME ABUSE ATTORNEY TODAY
We expect our loved ones to receive the best care possible in a nursing home. We don’t expect our family members to die in a nursing home. If they do, you can’t sit and do nothing. You must take legal action to hold staff liable for their actions.
If your loved one has died at the hands of nursing home staff, the Minnesota nursing home abuse attorneys at the Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm LLC can help. We will assess your case and help you receive the compensation you deserve for your loved one’s death. Contact us at (763) 225-2319 today or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation and learn more.