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Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

In 2001, a congressional report stated that one-third of the country's nursing homes had been cited for nursing home abuse and / or neglect.

 

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Nursing home abuse and neglect once again came to the forefront on the nation's consciousness in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when several facilities were cited for cases involving wrongful deaths and other injuries due to the willful abuse or negligence by the owners, management or staff. Nursing home abuse and neglect can be physical, psychological, emotional, sexual, relational and financial.

While most of the nursing homes in this country provide adequate care, some do not and steps need to be taken to identify when cases of nursing home abuse and neglect have occurred (or at least are suspected) and insure first that the elderly patient will be safe and will not have to endure further pain and suffering.

The second step is to report the known or suspected abuse or neglect to the nursing home, local authorities and oversight agencies. The third step is to consider litigation for damages such as for the pain and suffering of the patient, medical care for injuries and expenses associated with moving an elderly patient to another care facility.

Many times, the elderly cannot advocate for themselves due to issues in decreased communication skills, fear of retaliation from the nursing home providers, alignment with abusers and other issues, so it is important that families or other third parties look after and advocate for the best interests of the elderly patients. Indicators of nursing home abuse can be broken down into five groups of signs including, signs of abuse, signs of neglect, behavioral signs, relational signs and financial signs.

Signs of Abuse

  • Presence of old and new bruises in the same place
  • Bruising with thumbs prints or finger print
  • Choke marks, scratches, cigarette burns, pinch marks
  • Suspicious marks that could be left by cords, ropes or belts used as restraints
  • Black eyes, bruising around breasts or genitals
  • Blank stare from over-medicatio
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Broken bones, fracture
  • Elderly patient reports being slapped, punched, bitten, raped
  • Heavy medication or sedatio
  • Restraints for the convenience of staf
  • Injuries requiring emergency medical treatmen
  • Unexplained or unexpected deat
  • One elderly resident injures another

Signs of Neglect

  • Poor hygiene, stained clothing or unkempt appearanc
  • Feces or urine on patient or laying in excremen
  • Unexplained weight loss due to malnutritio
  • Bedsores on buttocks, arms, legs and / or back
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Resident's illnesses not reported promptly to physician and family

Behavioral Signs

  • Emotionally agitated
  • Fear and paranoia
  • Angry outburst
  • Other abrupt changes in behavior
  • Uncharacteristically withdrawn and non-communicative
  • Wanting to be isolated from others
  • Sense of helplessness and resignation
  • Confusion and / or disorientation
  • Depression or non-responsiveness
  • Acting out towards family or friends in a humiliating, enraged, insulting, ignoring or threatening fashion

Relational Signs

  • Elderly patient not given opportunity to speak
  • Restricted activity and outside contacts
  • Conflicting reports from staff on condition of elde
  • Staff does not allow elder to be alone with anyone

Financial Signs

  • Improper use of resident's funds
  • Disappearance of valuable possessions
  • Cashing resident's checks without proper authorization
  • Unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money from elder's accounts
  • Unexplained changes in wills or other legal document
  • Discovery of elder's signature being forged

Any person, including family members and non-members can file a complaint of suspected abuse with the Department of Health Services and the Licensing and Certification Division in the state in which the nursing home is operating. In most of the states, the complaining party has the right to anonymity as well. In many cases, it is wise to contact an attorney specializing in nursing home abuse and neglect in order to investigate the possibility of civil legal action against the facility or just to see how the elderly patient's legal rights may rigorously be protected.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

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