Abuse, mistreatment, and neglect should not be tolerated in any setting – particularly in nursing homes. These are the very places that are supposed to provide safe and nurturing environments for our aging loved ones, but they are sometimes the sites for atrocities that must be exposed and rightfully punished.
Garcia & Artigliere is committed to fighting nursing home abuse across the U.S. When our clients’ rights are violated and they cannot defend themselves against their abusers, we are here to hit back even harder with the velocity and vitality needed to get the results they deserve.
To find out how we can help you, contact our proven nursing home abuse attorneys at (800) 328-2630 for a free, confidential review of your case.
A Track Record of Success in Nursing Home Abuse Litigation
Senior Partner, Stephen M. Garcia, is a leader in the field of elder abuse litigation. Over the span of his career, he has acted as an advocate for senior citizens, helped shape elder abuse law, and has testified in front of legislators on elder abuse issues. Garcia has served as a legislative analyst on behalf of elderly adults, as well as the caregivers that dependent senior citizens entrust their care to. Garcia has testified before the California Legislature in support of legislation advancing the rights and concerns of California’s elders.
The following are just a few of the victories won by Garcia:
- $38.6 million settlement, the largest settlement related to the Elder Abuse and Dependent Civil Protection Act (EADACPA) in California history.
- $5.4 million verdict for a Fresno senior who was unlawfully discharged from a long-term care facility and passed away from injuries present on discharge.
- $3.8 million class action settlement on behalf of elder and dependent adult residents of Pleasant Care Corporation long-term care facilities.
- $2.4 million compensatory nursing home verdict in Fresno County for an elder allowed to develop pressure sores due to abuse by a skilled nursing facility. Settled as opening statements were about to be given in punitive damages phase.
- $3.7 million class action settlement on behalf of elder and dependent adult residents of Sun Mar Corporation long-term care facilities.
- $1.3 million verdict by a Pasadena Jury In the case of an elder who developed pressure sores due to abuse by employees at a nursing facility.
- $775,000 verdict by a Torrance jury for an elder who developed serious burns due to unchecked scalding water in a residential care facility for the elderly.
What Is Nursing Home Abuse?
Long-term facility, assisted living, nursing home, or residential care abuse is any physical, emotional, sexual, or financial exploitation that happens while in residence. This can be from a mistake, neglect, or intentional abuse towards an elder.
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
If you think an elderly person is being abused or neglected while in long-term care, you should seek immediate help. Your loved one may be at risk. Abuse or neglect can take many forms, and all can put the elder person at risk of injury or even death.
The following are potential signs of abuse:
- An elderly person may act more withdrawn, depressed, anxious, angry, frightened, confused, or forgetful. You may need to investigate the cause for this sudden change. Pay close attention to any unusual scratches, bruises, or unexplained welts.
- An elderly person may start having an unusual odor, have stained or soiled clothing, dirty skin, or unkempt hair. Check their medication and dosage to make sure they’re receiving the correct prescription and amounts.
- Look for signs of developing or worsening pressure sores and bedsores. Unexplained weight loss in a short period of time can be another indicator of mistreatment.
- Unsafe environmental issues, such as lack of a call button or unmarked exits could be alarming.
- Another sign of neglect can be poor food preparation and unsanitary eating areas.
- Low staffing ratios, lack of training to handle stressful situations, inadequate supervision, or proper reporting procedures are all signs of possible neglect.
Types of Abuse in Residential Care & Assisted Living Facilities
Nursing homes and assisted living care are licensed facilities that must meet state and federal requirements. When they fail to do so, elder abuse can occur.
The following are potential types of nursing home abuse:
- Physical Abuse: Physical abuse is the non-accidental use of force against a dependent adult or an elderly resident in a nursing home that causes them pain, injury, or impairment. Physical abuse can include hitting, punching, slapping, shaking, pinching, burning, pushing, kicking, restraining, and unnecessary confinement.
- Verbal/Emotional Abuse: Yelling, insulting, humiliating, or psychologically intimidating an elderly person that causes them to be fearful, confused, angry, or withdrawn.
- Bedsores & Pressure Sores: Injuries to the skin and underlying tissue result from prolonged pressure on the skin. This can develop on areas like the heels, ankles, hips, or buttocks. Bedsores, pressure sores, or skin ulcers are not a natural part of the aging process and are caused by nursing home neglect.
- Malnutrition & Dehydration: This can happen if no one is carefully monitoring residents’ food or intake, if meals are rushed, or residents don’t get assistance eating. The elder is starving from not getting enough food or nutrients. Malnutrition and dehydration are inexcusable and can lead to greater health risks for an elderly person like infections, pressure sores, kidney disease, and fractures, and may even lead to death.
- Falls: Many elderly persons in nursing homes are susceptible to repetitive falls. This type of injury can have serious consequences including fractures, broken bones, head injury, spinal cord injury, and fatalities.
- Bowel & Bladder Injury: These infections can be very serious, even fatal. They are often the result of negligence, including dehydration, inadequate nutrition, lack of cleanliness, infrequent adult diaper changes, and improper catheter care. An elderly person who is bedridden or confined to a wheelchair may be more prone to bowel and bladder infections.
- Burns: These are serious injuries that can be painful and susceptible to infection. They can result in scarring, skin grafts, amputations, and fatalities. If you suspect a burn was caused by negligence or abuse, you should act immediately.
- Fractures: The probability of fractures and broken bones increases with age. Symptoms can include swelling, bruising, deformity, and inability to use the limb. When a nursing home fails to prevent fractures, it may be responsible for elder abuse. They also may be guilty of neglect if the elderly person doesn’t get immediate and appropriate care.
- Infections: One of the most frequent problems in long-term residential care is infections. There are several types of viruses that can result from poor staff and residential hygiene; these include meningitis, streptococcal infections, staph infections, and MRSA or other antibiotic-resistant bacterial diseases. The untreated infection can lead to sepsis, septic shock, and even death.
- Restraints: Elderly persons need to be treated with dignity and respect. Very rarely is the practice of using physical or medical restraints necessary, or in their best interest. Particularly at risk are those who have Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
- Wandering Off/Elopement: It is essential the nursing home is always a safe and secure environment for patients and staff. In certain circumstances, especially involving Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, it is unsafe for a patient to leave the facility unsupervised. Lack of training to handle stressful situations, inadequate supervision and improper reporting of care can all lead to neglect and abuse in long-term facility care.
- Sexual Abuse: Any non-consensual sex act with a dependent adult or elderly person is sexual abuse. It may include coercion using threats, force, or deception. The sexual act may be thrust upon someone who is incapable of giving their consent. Dependent adults and elderly residents in a nursing home are vulnerable. They may have emotional or physical challenges that make them easier to manipulate or overpower. Victims may be unable to advocate for themselves or too ashamed and terrified to seek help.
- Dependent Adults: There are times when adults between the ages of 18-64 require extra support and assistance due to physical/and or medical limitations. These situations may be temporary or permanent. Either way, they are physically and emotionally stressful on both family members and the victims. Regardless of the person’s future, for the time they are considered a dependent adult by the courts, it is recognized that they are vulnerable and need special care. If you feel a loved one has been mistreated or abused in a dependent care facility during this time period, contact our nursing home abuse attorney, we can help.
Medication Mistakes & Negligence at Nursing Homes
According to the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine, “preventable medication errors result in more than 7,000 deaths each year in hospitals and tens of thousands more in outpatient facilities.” Medication mistakes are caused by negligence and carelessness of a skilled nursing facility. When it happens, it can be shocking and overwhelming. Medical oversight can result in giving the patient wrong medication, a combination of medications, or the wrong dosage. Medical inconsistencies can also be the result of misread medical script, the wrong prescription all together, allergic reactions to the medication they were prescribed, or incorrect charting of the medication by the staff.
When you pay a nursing home for the care of your loved one, you expect a high level of care. Nursing home facilities are expected to follow state and federal guidelines. When an elderly resident of a nursing home or a dependent adult receives medical care that falls below the accepted standard of care and suffers serious injuries and fatalities, it is considered medical negligence or medical malpractice.
The following are examples of medical negligence at nursing homes:
- Failure to provide an examination, evaluation, or treatment
- Failure to provide a test an elderly person might need, or notify the elder and their guardian that they need a particular test
- Delay necessary treatment
- Provide the wrong treatment
- Failure to follow up on the medical condition
- A misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis
- Performing unnecessary surgery
- Prescribing unnecessary or wrong medication
Financial Abuse at Nursing Homes
Financial exploitation and scams can take many forms. Financial abuse in nursing homes can happen when the use of deception, trickery, false pretense, or dishonest acts occur that allow financial gain for an unauthorized person(s).
False claim schemes are the most common type of health insurance fraud, which results in undeserved payment for a claim or services to a claim such as:
- Using unnecessary services such as test or procedures that aren’t needed
- Misrepresenting a patient’s diagnosis, charges, or conditions
- Billing for unnecessary services, supplies, and/or procedures
Many elderly people may not have the capacity or capability to maintain their finances and become vulnerable to fraud. They must rely on a trustworthy party to oversee their financial needs. If you think a loved one has been a victim of financial or medical fraud, contact the nursing home abuse lawyers at Garcia & Artigliere.
Protecting the Rights of the Elderly & Infirm
If you feel an elder person has been abused or neglected, it is important to get help right away. Our elder litigation professionals of Garcia & Artigliere have extensive experience handling nursing home neglect and elder abuse cases. When you contact our offices for a free consultation, you can find out more about how we can help you and your loved one get the quality of care they deserve and expect.
The case is drawing a line in the sand. Through this case we are telling these operators who think that our elderly relatives’ and friends’ value is determined by how much money the operator can make off of them. We won’t stand for it anymore. It is time to stop this egregious abuse of the law and our elders.
- Stephen Garcia
Have you or a loved one suffered from elder abuse? We have offices in Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, and Louisiana and serve clients on a national level. Call us for a free and confidential consultation at (800) 328-2630. Se habla español.