Nursing Home Abuse At some point in time, many people will need nursing home care because of becoming unable to care for themselves. Families in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and across the nation entrust their elderly loved ones to nursing homes and expect the staff to provide good care to them. Unfortunately, nursing home neglect and abuse are prevalent problems and exist in long-term care facilities across the nation. If you believe that your loved one is suffering from neglect or abuse in a nursing home, there are some steps that you should take to protect your loved one and to end the abuse that is occurring. The lawyers at The Lovely Law Firm can help you to end the abuse and to protect your loved one from further harm by filing a claim against the responsible parties.
What is nursing home abuse?
Abuse in a nursing home occurs when a person places a resident at serious risk of harm or causes actual harm to him or her. Abusers can include many different people, including nurses, aides, staff members, doctors, and other residents. Nursing home residents may be more vulnerable because of physical or mental impairments. In some cases, the abuse is intentional. In others, abuse results from negligence. When an elderly resident is harmed or placed at serious risk of harm because of a lapse of care, reasonable grounds exist for a claim against the home and the responsible parties to recover compensation for the damages the resident has suffered.
What is nursing home neglect?
Nursing home neglect occurs when there is a lack of adequate care provided for the victim. Examples of nursing home neglect may include failing to provide adequate medication, hygiene, food, water, shelter, or clothing. It can also include failing to provide adequate supervision or to protect the resident from harm. Nursing home neglect can be devastating. Signs of neglect can include bed sores, unexplained weight loss, dehydration, depression, and acting withdrawn. In some cases, severe neglect can result in serious injuries or death.
Causes of neglect and abuse in nursing homes
There are a number of different factors that can lead to abuse and neglect in nursing homes. The facilities may be understaffed and not have enough workers for the number of residents. The staff members may not have adequate training or supervision, and they are often paid low wages. This can lead to the workers feeling resentful and cutting corners or taking their anger out on the residents. Because of these and other factors, patients may be neglected or abused and develop dehydration, malnutrition, bedsores, and other injuries because of insufficient staffing. They may also become the victims of physical and sexual assaults, be financially exploited, and be victimized in other ways.
Liability of nursing homes for abuse and neglect
In South Carolina, employers are vicariously liable for the wrongful or negligent actions of their employees while their employees are working. This means that a nursing home may be liable to pay damages even when a single staff person abused or neglected a resident. The nursing home is responsible for training the staff, conducting adequate background checks, scheduling sufficient staff numbers, and disciplining the caregivers who work in the long-term care facility. If the nursing home fails in its responsibilities, it is the nursing home’s fault when a resident is injured as a result.
Types of nursing home abuse
Abuse in nursing homes can take several forms, including the following:
- Physical assaults
- Sexual assaults
- Financial exploitation
- Verbal abuse
- Emotional abuse
Prevalence of abuse and neglect in nursing homes
According to data collected by the National Center on Elder Abuse, approximately 10% of elderly adults suffer abuse or neglect each year. Many incidents of neglect and abuse are unreported, meaning the prevalence of elderly abuse and neglect is likely much higher.
The rights of nursing home residents
Nursing home residents have several rights, including the right to be free from abuse and to receive good care. They should not be subjected to physical or chemical restraints that are used to punish the residents. Restraints should not be used unless it is prescribed for a medical condition or when it is necessary to ensure the safety of others. All nursing homes, including both private facilities and Medicaid-funded homes, must follow the same laws. Abuse and neglect in nursing homes should never be tolerated.
What are the signs that abuse or neglect is occurring?
It is important for you to know the signs that abuse or neglect is occurring. The signs can be obvious or subtle. Some of the signs include the following:
- Broken bones
- Unexplained bruises
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bed sores
- Acting fearful or withdrawn
- Poor hygiene
- Checks written to a staff person
- Unsanitary conditions
- Signs of dehydration
If you notice any of these signs, you should seek help immediately. Report your suspicions to the authorities and to the state. You should also get help from the lawyers at the Lovely Law Firm to ensure your loved one’s safety and to pursue a lawsuit against the nursing home.
If your loved one acts fearful around a particular staff person, is more withdrawn than he or she used to be, or you are unable to visit privately with your loved one without a staff person always being present, These are signs that something might be occurring that should be investigated. Similarly, if you notice that your loved one’s personal property is missing or suspicious transactions have occurred, your loved one may be the victim of financial exploitation.
What to do
If you think that your loved one might be the victim of abuse or neglect, you should take action to end the abuse or neglect immediately. If your loved one is in serious danger, call the local police department or 911. If your loved one is not in immediate danger from the suspected neglect or abuse, report your suspicions to Adult Protective Services so it can initiate an investigation. If you believe a specific employee is abusing or neglecting your loved one, you can also report your suspicions to the facility’s management in a non-emergency situation.
Filing a lawsuit
When your loved one has been the victim of abuse or neglect in a nursing home, you can file a civil lawsuit even if criminal charges are already pending. The victim may recover monetary damages to compensate them for their losses. Filing a lawsuit against a nursing home may also allow you to hold it accountable for its actions and to prevent future harm to others.
Wrongful death caused by abuse and neglect
Many cases of abuse and neglect in nursing homes are not reported. Unfortunately, the victims may die because of the lack of care or because of their injuries. If you believe your loved one’s death was caused by abuse or neglect in a nursing home, talk to the attorneys at the Lovely Law Firm in Myrtle Beach. We can investigate what happened and pursue a wrongful death claim against the nursing home if your loved one’s death was caused by abuse or neglect.
Taking action when you believe that your loved one may be the victim of neglect or abuse is important. Report your suspicions and take steps to move him or her to a safe environment. Call The Lovely Law Firm today to schedule a confidential consultation.