Nursing home abuse and neglect is a significant problem in the United States. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that more than 1 in 10 nursing home residents suffer abuse or neglect. Nursing home abuse and neglect can happen in many different ways, including verbal, physical, sexual, financial, and emotional abuse. No matter if the abuse is intentional or accidental, it is always harmful to the victims. If you or a loved one has been injured or suffered emotional trauma because of negligent care by nursing home staff, find out your legal options and if you need a nursing home injury lawyer.
Nursing Home Negligence and Other Forms of Emotional and Physical Abuse
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nursing home negligence is any action or interaction that causes an older adult’s basic needs not to be met. Neglect can sometimes go unseen; that’s why it’s always important to discuss with loved ones if their basic needs are being met. Most people think of physical and sexual abuse when they think about nursing home abuse. However, verbal and emotional abuse is far more common and can be just as harmful as physical abuse. Emotional abuse can be as simple as making a resident feel as if they are not as important as another resident. It can also include humiliating a resident by not allowing them to participate in activities or forcing them to eat their meals in a bathroom or another uncomfortable area. Emotional abuse can also mean preventing a resident from seeing family or friends or making them feel like a burden to their family. Emotional abuse is often a precursor to physical abuse and can sometimes lead to a resident or patient attempting suicide. Because emotional abuse can be harder to spot than other forms of abuse, it’s important that you regularly discuss with your relative if they are receiving quality care. If they seem hesitant or uncomfortable with this question, that may be a sign they are a victim of emotional abuse. Similar to emotional abuse, physical abuse has many forms, and it is far too common. In fact, Over 9% of nursing home caregivers admitted to physically abusing a patient, according to the World Health Organization. Common types of physical abuse in nursing homes include:
- Being pushed or shoved down
- Getting kicked or punched
- Being restrained with straps
In the most serious of cases, physical abuse and neglect of injuries can sometimes lead to death.
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Residents Being Abused and Neglected
It’s hard for many families to tell when their loved ones are being mistreated because the signs of nursing home abuse and neglect are often challenging to detect. Various warning signs can help you determine if your loved one is being abused. Physical abuse is often the easiest type of abuse to spot. If you notice any bruising, cuts, swelling, or pain in the resident’s joints, they might be victims of physical abuse.
You can also watch for signs of malnutrition or dehydration, which indicate that the abuser is withholding proper nutrition or food. Not all forms of abuse leave physical symptoms. If the victim of abuse cannot communicate, you can look for pain or discomfort in their facial expressions or excessive fear or anxiety. Additionally, if you notice that your loved one is unkempt, unbathed, or dirty, they might be victims of neglect.
Financial Exploitation of Seniors
Financial abuse is a common form of abuse in nursing homes. It includes the theft of money, property, and other valuables from nursing home patients by nursing home staff and other caretakers. It also consists of denying patients access to their funds and property by family members, attorneys, and nursing home staff. Additionally, theft of Social Security benefits, pension checks, or other government benefits by those responsible for the patient’s care is also considered financial abuse. This happens most commonly when family, friends, or caretakers sign a power of attorney and then steal the patient’s money and possessions. Many older people live on a fixed income, and the scammers know this. They come in and befriend seniors and talk them into signing over their power of attorney. Once given power of attorney, abusers can withdraw money from the victim’s bank accounts, charge their credit cards, and sell their possessions.
Legal Options for Victims of Nursing Home Abuse
Federal and state laws protect residents of nursing homes. The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects nursing home residents from willful and wanton neglect and physical abuse. The Rehabilitation Act and the Adult Protective Services Law also protect residents from neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. Also, a pleasant living environment, respect, and excellent treatment are all guaranteed by the New York State Department of Health for seniors. If you are worried about the safety of a loved one, you should contact the New York City Office of Adult Protective Services. If your situation meets the requirements for legal protection, your family or legal representative may be able to start a lawsuit for the injuries that you or your loved one may have been subjected to.
How Leav & Steinberg LLP Can Help You
There is no doubt that nursing home abuse has been rising in the United States in recent years. Luckily, there are options victims can use to fight back. For instance, you can hire a nursing home injury lawyer who is well versed in nursing home abuse cases and has the experience to bring the justice you or your loved one deserves.
In nursing home negligence cases, the associates and partners at Leav & Steinberg LLP are well-versed and can assist you in getting the reparations you deserve. Our attorneys who specialize in nursing home abuse and neglect work hard to help those who have suffered from carelessness or abuse. To discuss your case, call 917-983-7818 to set up a free consultation today.