Nursing Home Abuse is All Too Common
March 18th, 2016
Fighting to Keep the Elderly Safe in Massachusetts and Rhode Island Nursing Homes
One of the most difficult decisions a family ever has to make is how to care for a loved one who, because of advanced age or chronic medical conditions, is incapable of caring for herself. Younger family members tend to scour the area for the best care available. They discover that it’s expensive and, all too often, it can be harmful to the loved one. In spite of the family’s due diligence, the loved one can be abused or ignored.
Think abuse is rare? It isn’t. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), almost 85 percent of nursing homes reported at least one incidence of abuse or neglect in a recent year. The numbers are likely even higher since the Office of the Inspector General has determined that nursing homes only report 53 percent of the allegations made against them in any given year.
Types of Elder Abuse
What is elder abuse? The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) defines it as “willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or punishment with resulting physical harm, pain or mental anguish.” It includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Bedsores, open wounds, infections, and other chronic conditions that never seem to heal;
- Broken bones;
- Inadequate care in the distribution of medications; and
- Failure to address a patient’s frequent falls and/or unsanitary conditions.
While almost half of the reported incidents involve the neglect and abuse of residents by nursing home employees, another quarter comes from unknown assailants.
Physical Injury is Not the Only Type of Abuse
While physical injury to the patient is the typical kind of abuse that comes to mind, there are other forms:
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional or psychological abuse
- Resident-to-resident abuse
- Financial abuse
Signs of Abuse
One difficulty with elder abuse springs from the fact that it can be difficult to separate the effects of the abuse from other medical conditions afflicting the loved one. Nevertheless, there are some telltale signs:
- Other forms of unusual behavior, such as rocking back in forth without any apparent reason, or biting caregivers or even loved ones
- Refusal to communicate
- Statements of maltreatment by the patient
Neglect Often Leads to Abuse
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), recognizing and halting neglect is the first step to preventing abuse. While instances of abuse can be intentional, more often they are the result of other factors. For example, the No. 1 cause of neglect and abuse in nursing homes is poor staffing. Many nursing homes have high turnover in their staffs. With the turnover issues often comes poor training. Poorly trained and overworked staff members create a prescription for risk for nursing home residents. When picking a nursing home, talk to the staff and look into a facility’s credentials to help determine whether a facility is adequately staffed.
Has a Loved One Suffered From Abuse at a Nursing Home or Other Facility?
If a loved one has been abused at a nursing home or other health care facility, you need experienced, caring attorneys not only to investigate and bring your claim, but also to assist you in notifying the appropriate authorities of the wrongdoing. The attorneys at Bottaro Law Firm recognize that each elder abuse case is unique. Proof of abuse can be difficult. Collecting medical evidence that shows the abuse and its physical and mental harm is crucial. Bottaro Law Firm injury lawyers are skilled in all facets of documenting and prosecuting your claim.
While many abuse cases are settled prior to trial, it is important that your attorney have significant courtroom experience, since that will give additional incentive for the nursing home or insurance company to deal fairly with you and your loved ones. We have not only years of experience, but we will devote the necessary resources to investigate your loved one’s claim and fight to protect your legal rights. We will pursue your case at no cost until we win. Remember that delay can harm your case. For a free consultation, give us a call at 866-529-9700, or complete our convenient online contact form.