The abuse of an elderly person who cannot care for him or herself without the assistance of another is a horrific crime. Not only may criminal charges be pursued in the event that nursing home abuse occurs, but compensation may also be recoverable in a civil action. Our experienced nursing home abuse attorneys are here to protect you.
Families turn to nursing homes and assisted living facilities to give their elderly loved ones the standard of treatment, supervision and care they need. Instead of being treated with respect and properly cared for, however, some of the elderly patients and residents in nursing homes across the U.S. are suffering from ill-treatment, abuse and neglect by their caregivers. Although there is not currently a single source of nationwide elder abuse statistics, it is estimated that between 1 and 2 million Americans aged 65 years or older have been subjected to some form of mistreatment by the very individuals they relied on for care and protection.
Perhaps the most notable study on nursing home abuse was included in a congressional report filed by Representative Henry Waxman of the 30th Congressional District of California. A review of state inspection records revealed that 5,283 nursing homes were cited for abuse violations from January 1999 to January 2001. This totaled approximately one in three facilities in the U.S. This number came as a shock to many Americans, who relied upon nursing homes to provide their elderly loved ones with the care and assistance they simply could not provide themselves.
What is nursing home abuse?
The term nursing home abuse may refer to various types of mistreatment that occur in a nursing home, which is a facility that provides residential accommodations and healthcare services, usually for the elderly.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Physical Abuse Physical abuse occurs when a person intentionally uses force against an elderly resident or takes any type of action against the person in order to cause him or her harm. Some examples include hitting, kicking, shoving, choking, punching, burning or striking a victim. An improper or excessive use of restraints may also be considered a form of physical abuse.
Sexual Abuse Any form of unwanted or nonconsensual contact of a sexual nature may be considered sexual abuse. In addition to including physical acts such as improper touching, intercourse or molestation, showing an elderly person pornographic material or making the person watch sex acts are forms of sexual abuse.
Emotional Abuse Not all abuse is physical in nature. Emotional or psychological abuse can be just as harmful. Verbal abuse, such as yelling or threatening the victim can cause emotional pain and distress. Other forms of emotional abuse include humiliation and isolation or humiliating, ignoring or ridiculing the elderly person.
Neglect In some cases, a facility or its caregivers may fail to provide proper care to residents. Neglect may lead to malnutrition, lack of proper hygiene, untreated medical conditions, dehydration and bedsores. All of these conditions have the potential to cause harm or even the wrongful death of a resident.
Negligence Similar to neglect, negligence is a type of act or inaction that constitutes a failure to provide a standard level of care. For a nursing home, this may include neglecting elderly patients, failing to perform proper background checks on employees in the hiring process or a lack of proper supervision.
Medical Malpractice In nursing homes where medical care is provided to patients, medical malpractice may be a possibility. Some examples may include giving a patient the wrong medication or the wrong dose, failing to diagnose a serious injury or illness, providing improper treatment of a medical condition or various mistakes or errors made by nurses, doctors or other caregivers.
All of the above can be severe, and should be taken seriously. While physical and sexual abuse may warrant taking immediate action, such as calling the police, the other forms of abuse can have far-reaching and long-term consequences, too. Emotional abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation can lead to withdrawal, depression, anger, weight loss, fear, and other health complications. In extreme cases, nursing home abuse can lead to early death.
Nursing Home Abuse and Medical Malpractice
Medical professionals, including both nurses and doctors, comprise a nursing home staff. When these medical professionals shirk their duties to patients, neglecting or abusing patients instead, they have committed an act of medical malpractice. As such, the abused victim has the right to file a civil action. Those who may be held liable in a civil action include an individual doctor or nurse, other staff members, or the nursing home facility.
What Should I Do if I Suspect Nursing Home Abuse?
If you have been the victim of nursing home abuse or believe that an elderly loved one is being abused, it is important to take action as soon as possible. Our attorneys can advise you not only on the proper steps to take to report abuse to the authorities but to hold the caregiver and facility responsible. Our goals are to stop nursing home abuse and help its victims seek the compensation they deserve.