While many nursing home facilities care about their residents and provide outstanding care, others do just the opposite. A study conducted by the National Center on Elder Abuse paints a startling picture of just how widespread nursing home abuse may be across the nation. According to researchers, for every abuse incident that is reported, an estimated 24 go unreported. If you suspect nursing home abuse is occurring with a loved one, there are several things you should keep in mind, including signs to watch for that indicate abuse and making sure the abuse is reported to the proper authorities.
How Can Abuse Happen?
While the decision to place a loved one in a nursing home is always difficult, it is made infinitely worse when that person is abused by those entrusted with their care. Along with feelings of extreme guilt, family members wonder how abuse can take place in these facilities. Unfortunately, there are many ways that abuse can occur.
One of the most common reasons involves standard hiring practices at nursing homes, which are often set very low or even overlooked altogether. Since staffing shortages are common in nursing homes, facilities may hire people without checking personal or employment references and without performing criminal background checks. As a result, those with histories of physical and sexual abuse may gain employment as caregivers. If this is discovered to be the reason that led to your loved one being abused, don’t hesitate to contact KBA Attorneys to learn more about your options for pursuing a nursing home negligence lawsuit.
Signs of Abuse
Since nursing home abuse can be physical, emotional, financial, or sexual, there are a variety of signs friends and family members should watch for when visiting a resident. For example, if bruises, cuts, or broken bones seem to happen on a regular basis without reasonable explanation, physical abuse could be occurring. Also, if a loved one suddenly becomes very withdrawn during your visits, or perhaps appears fearful around certain staff members, abuse may be taking place. In any of these cases, never choose to look the other way. Instead, if something does not seem right, chances are it is not, requiring you take immediate action.
Who Must Report Abuse?
In all states, doctors, nurses, social workers, and other healthcare professionals are required by law to report their suspicions of nursing home abuse to the proper authorities. In some states, laws require anyone who suspects this type of abuse is happening to make a report to authorities. Whatever the case may be, it is important that these suspicions be reported as soon as possible. By hesitating in these matters, nursing home residents are put at greater risk of not only being subjected to additional abuse but also possibly dying as a result of the actions.
If you visit a loved one and notice a situation that is life-threatening, do not sit back and rely on those at the nursing home to handle the matter. Instead, call 911 immediately to request rescue personnel. If in your phone call you state that the situation may be due to abuse, law enforcement will likely also come to the scene. If this happens, a police report will be filed, which could be crucial should you choose to work with KBA Attorneys in filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit against the care facility.
Nursing Home Administration and Staff
If you suspect nursing home abuse against your loved one, always make your concerns known to nursing home administration and staff members immediately. Depending on the allegations and the facility, they may or may not take appropriate action. Therefore, once you have filed a report with administration and staff, do not think this will automatically solve the problem. Once you have done this, it is usually best to schedule a consultation with lawyers who are experienced and knowledgeable about nursing home abuse cases, such as those at KBA Attorneys.
Since any case of alleged nursing home abuse can involve many different issues, it is imperative that you and your attorney have as much evidence as possible to back up your abuse allegations. To start with, use your smartphone to take pictures of certain things, such as unexplained bruises and cuts, bedsores, soiled clothing or bed linens, medications, spoiled food, or any other aspects that may seem relevant. Along with this, you’ll want to make a video recording of your loved one if they are displaying unusual behavior, are suddenly withdrawn, or seem afraid of nursing home staff. Video evidence can be crucial when filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit.
Families who suspected abuse set up hidden cameras in their loved one’s room to catch nursing home staff acting physically and verbally abusive. In one case, the son of a nursing home resident caught a staff member abusing his father with a hidden camera. A nursing home employee can be seen throwing the elderly man in and out of bed, as well as making demeaning comments about his father.
In July 2019, a nursing assistant was caught on video raping a disabled nursing home resident. The family had placed a hidden camera in their loved one’s room after she told them she was being sexually abused.
Adult Protective Services
In most states, all social service agencies have an Adult Protective Services Division, commonly referred to as APS. If you suspect nursing home abuse is occurring with your loved one, always make sure you contact APS as soon as possible. Even if you are unsure if your beliefs about possible abuse are correct, it is always best to make your concerns known to professionals who deal with these situations on a regular basis. Once you make a report with APS, an agency investigator will sit down with you to discuss the situation, and will also look at any evidence you may have regarding your claims. Once this is done, the investigator will then visit the facility and your loved one, interview staff members, and assess what may be happening. Along with this, APS will also provide you with other resources that may be available to help you through this complex and stressful process.
Police and District Attorney
While APS will generally work closely with police and the district attorney’s office when investigating abuse allegations, you also have the right to contact the police and the DA on your own if you so choose. If you choose this option, have as much evidence as possible to present to detectives, since this will likely determine whether or not they choose to further pursue the case.
Hire a Nursing Home Attorney
Along with making sure you do not hesitate to report your suspicions of nursing home abuse to authorities, make it a point to schedule a consultation with experienced and knowledgeable nursing home abuse attorneys. By hiring an attorney as soon as possible, they will be able to examine any evidence you may have, assess your case, and explain the legal options you will have available. Rather than let unspeakable abuse continue against your loved one, contact KBA Attorneys immediately.
- David Landers. “Reporting Nursing Home Injuries and Abuse”, Nolo, https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/reporting-nursing-home-injuries-abuse.html. Accessed July 18, 2019.
- Medicare.gov. “Reporting & resolving nursing home problems”, Medicare.gov, https://www.medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers/what-part-a-covers/reporting-resolving-nursing-home-problems. Accessed July 18, 2019.