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Nursing Home Abuse/Neglect

When we make the difficult decision to place an elderly loved one in a nursing home, we rightfully expect that the facility staff will treat them with the utmost respect and care. Unfortunately, this does not always happen, and devastating instances of nursing home abuse and neglect can take place. When this is the case, elderly individuals might not only suffer physical trauma, but emotional turmoil as well through no fault of their own.

At Peck Ritchey, LLC, we believe that negligent and abusive nursing home staff members and administrators should be held accountable for these despicable actions. As such, our experienced team is dedicated to seeing that those responsible for perpetrating instances of abuse and neglect are held accountable for any and all harm they inflict on those in their care.

Nursing Home Abuse Cases We Handle

Nursing home abuse and neglect can take many forms, and at Peck Ritchey, LLC, our team is ready to put their experience to work in cases involving:

Nursing home staff members have an enormous responsibility to give our loved ones the best care possible. When they fail to uphold this responsibility, taking legal action may be necessary. At Peck Ritchey, LLC, we have the experience necessary to guide you through your legal options. We believe that elder abuse and neglect cannot be tolerated and as such, we are committed to helping you in your fight for justice.

Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Abuse doesn’t always leave tell-tale marks or bruises. Sometimes the signs of nursing home abuse are more subtle. Recognizing these warning signs as soon as possible gives your loved one a fighting chance to escape an abusive situation and break the cycle. Too often, individuals suffering abuse are unable to speak up. In many situations, abusers purposely choose victims with physical or cognitive limitations. Opting for that type of victim makes getting away with their crimes easier because they know the abused person doesn’t have the ability to complain or communicate. These victims are powerless to combat their abusers and rely on the keen observations of friends and family members to expose the abuse.

In other situations, loved ones may be bullied or threatened into silence. They may also fear retaliation from the abuser if their situation is ever revealed. Not only are these victims abused, but they also live in constant fear. This state of heightened anxiety can severely impact an elderly resident’s mental well-being and can lead to emotional and psychological disturbances.

While nursing home abuse is frightening, there is something that friends, family members, and other residents can do to help stop abuse. They can learn to spot the warning signs. Some of the most common warning signs of nursing home abuse include:

  • Unexplained bruises, cuts, or other marks
  • Frequent or unexplained falls
  • Frequent or unexplained infections and illnesses
  • Significant and unexplained changes in a medical condition
  • Bedsores
  • Bloody sheets or underwear
  • Poor hygiene
  • Unchanged clothes and bedlinens
  • Unchanged bandages
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Refusal to cooperate with certain staff or caregivers
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Withdrawing from favorite activities
  • Sudden change in appearance
  • Changes in appetite or sleeping habits
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition

Common Causes of Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are intended to be fully staffed, fully organized facilities that cater to both the needs of daily living and the medical needs of residents. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. As much as we’d like to believe that these facilities have the best interests of our loved ones at heart, some simply do not. Abuses can take place anywhere, in any facility.

Some of the most common causes of nursing home abuse tend to include:

Understaffing 

  • Chronic understaffing is one of the main problems contributing to nursing home abuse. Investigations have revealed that many nursing homes are not adequately staffed. This means that the caregivers on duty have less time to spend with residents, which may contribute to a lower standard of care. Overworked caregivers may also be more prone to forget or neglect residents. In addition, overworked and stressed-out caregivers may also have a tendency to lash out at residents, either physically or emotionally.

Inadequate Hiring Practices 

  • While staff shortages are critical, it is important that facilities hire the right people to fill those vacancies instead of just throwing a warm body at a vacancy in the duty roster. Caregivers and staff members working with elderly residents must be trained and certified for their positions. It is the job of the facility administration to properly screen all potential employees before they are hired. This may include running background checks and performing drug screenings, as well as making an investigation into a candidate’s educational and medical background.

Poor Administration Practices

  • A large number of nursing home facilities are for-profit businesses. They take money in exchange for housing and medical services. The strength and stability of their business rest on their profit margins. This is not necessarily a bad thing unless the administration values the dollar above the lives of their residents.
  • Poor administrative practices can mean cutting corners when it comes to staff member pay, personal protective equipment, and medical tools. Such practices can also result in negligent mismanagement of resources. These factors can all contribute to an increase in cases of abuse and neglect. In some cases, administrators can try to stall or bury abuse claims because the claims could hurt the facility’s reputation, ability to generate more profit, and Medicare standing. They may also bury abuse claims to avoid expensive lawsuits and government fines.

Improper Staff Training 

  • Nursing home facilities are charged with ensuring that all staff members are properly trained and follow all state, federal, and medical guidelines. When staff members are improperly trained, they may inadvertently abuse or neglect vulnerable residents. Improperly trained staff members may also be at risk of making devastating medical errors, such as giving patients incorrect medicals or incorrect dosages. It is up to the nursing home administration to ensure that all staff members are properly and adequately trained to fulfill the duties of their job.

Is Nursing Home Neglect Considered Abuse?

In a word, yes. Even though neglect is the absence of care, it is still considered a form of nursing home abuse by the National Center on Elder Abuse and other organizations. Neglect is not a caregiver forgetting to change the bedsheets on a Wednesday. Neglect is a perpetual and systematic pattern of behaviors that end up depriving nursing home residents of care for their basic needs.

As with nursing home abuse, there are several different types of nursing home neglect as well. They include:

Medical Neglect

  • Medical neglect is the failure of a nursing home or its caregivers to give proper medical attention to an elderly resident’s medical concerns or conditions. This could include neglecting to treat wounds or bedsores, leaving an immobile patient stranded, not administering a resident’s medication, or not rendering medical aid to treat an illness or other medical condition.

Emotional Neglect 

  • Humans are social creatures. They need interaction and stimulation from other individuals to remain healthy both physically and cognitively. Emotional or social neglect is a form of abuse that leaves residents socially isolated and alone.

Neglect of Basic Needs 

  • This form of neglect happens when a facility or caregiver ignores all a resident’s basic needs of living and functioning. This could be neglecting to brush their teeth or hair, neglecting a resident’s bathing needs, or refusing to change a resident’s clothing or bed linens. It also includes failing to provide a nursing home resident with meals, water, and a clean or safe environment.

Contact Peck Ritchey, LLC Today

If your loved one has suffered at the hands of a careless or malicious nursing home staff member, the legal team at Peck Ritchey, LLC, is ready to provide you with the experienced, aggressive representation you need. Call our offices today at (855) 328-5787 to learn more.

Nursing Home Abuse/Neglect FAQs

How can I determine if abuse is occurring?

The elderly are already more vulnerable to small injuries like scrapes and bruises, often resulting from normal levels of daily activity, which can sometimes make it difficult to determine if abuse is occurring or not. To make matters worse, many victims do not feel comfortable coming forward or fear retaliation from their abuser and often remain silent when they are being abused. In these situations, it is best to look for signs of abuse over time, such as continually unexplained or serious injuries, bed sores, and loss of interest in social activities or other symptoms of depression that often accompany abuse. It is also important to talk to your loved one about what has been happening and create an open dialogue in which they may be more likely to disclose information about abuse.

What is elopement and is it considered abuse?

Elopement refers to the act of nursing home patients wandering off of the premises without permission or supervision. This is usually an act of neglect on the part of the nursing home staff, which is a form of abuse. There should be adequate security measures and supervision to prevent elopement from happening, and elopement can have serious consequences for patients if they fall, become lost, or enter into a dangerous situation, which can result in serious injury and even death in severe cases. If you have a loved one who has been hurt as a result of elopement and neglect, there is legal help for your situation.

What are some common forms of nursing home abuse?

There are many forms of nursing home abuse and each may be characterized or manifest differently. Some common examples include bed sores and stiff muscles from neglect, physical abuse that results in abrasions and bruises, sexual assault, and theft from patients, many of whom may not even realize they are being stolen from. Additionally, the elderly may experience emotional or psychological abuse from their abusers, which is also a tactic that keeps victims from coming forward and seeking help to get away from their abuser. Nursing abuse can appear in a variety of circumstances, so if something seems wrong, it is always best to investigate.