When Is a Nursing Home Liable for Elder Abuse and Neglect?
Taking a loved one to a nursing home is a difficult decision to make, but it can ultimately be the most responsible one to ensure your beloved elder gets the care they need. You definitely would not expect a nursing home to be the site of neglect, or of physical or psychological abuse.
Unfortunately for many well-meaning relatives, almost 1 in 3 nursing homes have been cited for violations that have the potential to cause harm, and nearly 10% of all nursing homes have been cited for causing actual harm. Worse, many instances of abuse go unreported. While 44% of nursing home residents report abuse when surveyed, 95% report seeing another resident neglected.
Fortunately, nursing homes are regulated by a strict duty of care and several state and federal laws. This means if your loved one has been abused or neglected in a nursing home environment, it can be fairly easy to hold the nursing home responsible – especially with the right elder abuse lawyer.
Signs of Elder Abuse
When any person is being abused or neglected, several signs of physical and psychological abuse may present themselves. This is true for senior citizens as well, although there are some specific indications to look for:
- Welts, bruises, cuts and other visible ailments
- Dental issues
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Exacerbated preexisting conditions
- Unexplained new illnesses or infections
- Pervasive physical pain and discomfort
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Sudden increase or decrease in appetite
- Lethargy, withdrawal and depression
- Confusion or contradictory statements
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Discovering these signs and symptoms in your loved one is often a horrifying experience, especially if you had trust in the nursing home and its staff. If you suspect abuse or injury, it is important to report the incident right away. You can find out where to report your concern with the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA). You may also want to contact an eldercare specialist or hire an elder abuse attorney.
Who Is Responsible?
Nursing homes are responsible for providing food, shelter, hygiene, and medical care to their residents. Staff prepare food, administer medication and medical care, and assist with therapy and physical activities. A nursing home may be found liable for abuse and injury in the following cases:
- When staff are not properly trained
- In cases of inadequate background checks and negligent hiring of staff
- When staff are not sufficiently monitored
- In cases of substandard security
- When daily necessities are not provided
- In cases of medical neglect or malpractice
- When residents are not protected from health and safety hazards
- In cases where residents are physically restrained with unreasonable force or equipment
- When staff members intentionally abuse residents
Essentially, if you can prove that the nursing home was in any way negligent, and the negligence contributed to your loved one’s injury, abuse, or neglect, the nursing home will likely be held accountable and forced to pay damages.
If you believe a nursing home or its staff members have harmed an elder close to you, schedule a free and confidential case review with Garcia & Artigliere.
How to Prevent Neglect and Abuse
There may be some ways to prevent elder abuse before it ever happens. Visiting as much as possible, at both regularly scheduled and random times, can help keep nursing home personnel on their toes. Additionally, you should have no qualms about holding your loved one’s facilities and caretakers accountable. The best way to ensure that the staff is providing sufficient care and attendance is to see it for yourself. If you notice something that doesn’t seem right, report it immediately. Providers should always be transparent with you, and you should always be allowed to monitor prescriptions, account statements, and the health and happiness of your loved one.
If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Feel free to call us at (800) 328-2630 if you have any concerns.