Was your loved one the victim of nursing home abuse in Fayetteville or the greater Atlanta area? At Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C., we have experienced lawyers that will help you fight for the justice and compensation your family deserves.
Nursing homes are supposed to ensure the safety of their residents. There are federal and state regulations designed to protect the rights of residents and shield them from harm. If a nurse, doctor, or other staff member fails to fulfill their duties, and someone gets hurt, they could be held liable.
When a loved one is harmed by another’s abusive or negligent actions, it’s devastating. Your family member may feel scared for their safety, and you want to find out who’s responsible for the injuries. Our Fayetteville nursing home abuse lawyers will assist you with that. When you hire us, we’ll investigate the circumstances of the abuse and take on all the legal aspects of your case. You’ll be able to focus on transferring your loved one to a safe facility and getting them the medical treatment they need.
Call us at 770-205-2231 to schedule an initial free consultation. We’ll discuss the details of the case and advise you on the steps you should take next.
What Is Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse occurs when a resident suffers harm because of a staff member’s physical, emotional, sexual, or other unwanted acts. Unfortunately, this is common throughout the country. Older adults are vulnerable to injuries inflicted by their caregivers. Those with mental and physical disabilities are especially susceptible to harm. Most often, the patient fears their abuser and doesn’t want to come forward because of potential retaliation. Other times, there’s no one to advocate for them, and they think no one will believe their allegations.
There are common warning signs for each type of abuse that happens in nursing homes. It’s crucial that you pay attention to your loved one’s physical and emotional state and note any changes. You need to be the one to fight for them because they usually can’t fight for themselves.
Physical abuse occurs when one party physically injures another by performing violent acts, such as:
Signs that your loved one was the victim of physical abuse include:
- Dislocated joints
- Unexplained burns, cuts, and bruises
- Broken bones
- Hair or tooth loss
- Recurring injuries
- Fear of specific staff members
Risk factors of physical abuse in nursing homes include:
- Mental illness: Elderly patients with Alzheimer’s or another mental impairment are at higher risk of becoming victims of physical abuse than those without a mental illness. That’s because they require ongoing care and assistance with daily tasks, which could frustrate staff members who end up taking out their frustration on their patients.
- Isolation: Residents who don’t have family or friends that visit feel isolated and alone. Since there’s no one looking out for them, caregivers can get away with causing physical harm.
- Physical disability: Patients who need help walking to the bathroom or grooming can’t defend themselves against an attacker. It’s easier for staff to abuse someone who won’t fight back.
Emotional abuse occurs when someone causes another person psychological or emotional pain. This type of behavior can include the following:
Warning signs that your loved one is suffering from emotional abuse include:
- Appearing depressed
- Attempting to hurt others
- Low self-esteem
- Avoiding eye contact
- Mood swings
- Difficulty eating or sleeping
- Lack of communication with family and friends
- Withdrawing from social activities
Sexual abuse is an unwanted and forced sexual act. Common signs that this occurred include:
- Pelvic injury
- Panic attacks
- Bloody or torn underwear
- Emotional withdrawal from other people
- Appearing agitated
- Bruised inner thighs or genitals
- Trouble sitting or walking
- Diagnosis of an STD (sexually transmitted disease)
- Symptoms of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Engaging in unusual sexual activities
- Genital or anal bleeding
Financial abuse occurs when one party engages in the unauthorized, illegal, or improper use of another party’s finances.
Staff members that commit financial abuse against their patients typically participate in the following acts:
- Use cash, assets, or property without permission
- Forge signatures on checks and other financial documents
- Charge items to credit cards without authorization
- Transfer power of attorney, will, deed, or other legal documents by forcing a signature
- Steal expensive belongings
Elderly residents that are most at risk of this form of abuse usually have the following characteristics:
- Physically or mentally disabled
- Unfamiliar with finances
- Inexperienced with online banking
Some indicators that your loved one was the victim of financial abuse include:
- Evidence of unpaid bills or discontinued utilities
- Bank statements mailed to an unknown party
- Unexplained account transfers or withdrawals
- Lack of documentation for specific financial arrangements
- Unusual relationship with a staff member
- Personal property goes missing
- Forged financial and legal documents
Neglect occurs when a caregiver fails to provide adequate care to their patient. Four types could happen in nursing homes:
- Medical neglect: Failure to prevent medical issues or provide proper care.
- Neglect of personal hygiene: Failure to assist with things like bathing, laundry, and dental care.
- Neglect of basic needs: Failure to provide water, food, and other essential items people need to survive.
- Emotional or social neglect: Failure to provide opportunities for social engagement and fulfill emotional needs.
Warning signs of neglect could include the following:
- Poor hygiene
- Dirty living area
- Unexplained injuries
- Lack of or loss of mobility
- Psychological problems, such as depression
Neglect can lead to severe injuries and medical conditions. If you notice any signs that your loved one has become the victim of neglect, you should report it immediately and get them to a safe place. When a nurse doesn’t check on their patients regularly or provide appropriate treatment when necessary, it could cause the following problems:
- Amputation from infection
- Poor hygiene
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Urinary tract infection
- Medical errors
Why Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Occur
Various issues could lead to a nursing home staff member abusing or neglecting their patients. Sometimes it’s the result of caregivers who lack experience or feel undervalued. Other times it’s because management doesn’t provide adequate training or fails to repair hazardous living conditions.
One of the most common causes of abuse and neglect is understaffing. When there aren’t enough employees in a nursing home, it could lead to:
- Employee burnout
- Tension between staff members
- Mistakes while providing care
- Skipped steps while checking on a resident
- Delayed medical treatment
- Anger and frustration
Nursing facilities all have specific protocols staff must follow to ensure every resident receives the care they need. Administrators and senior-level employees are supposed to train new staff members. If they don’t provide training or the training isn’t thorough, the following problems could arise:
- Inability to perform CPR
- Failure to check patients for bedsores
- Administering medication incorrectly
- Failure to change a patient’s clothes or bedding
- Improper treatment of infections, injuries, or diseases
If nursing homes don’t provide adequate wages to their staff, they end up with inexperienced caregivers. They won’t know how to treat their residents properly, and even worse, they won’t care. Most of the time, low wages cause staff members to exhibit anger towards their patients, which often leads to physical and emotional abuse. If they don’t care about their jobs, they won’t want to ensure their patients’ safety and good health.
When nursing homes are hiring new employees, they’re supposed to perform thorough background checks. They must verify education, training, licensing, and certification. They also need to check if there’s criminal history or issues at a previous nursing home. If they don’t adequately screen new staff members, it’s easy to get away with abusing residents. Those with a history of violence will continue that behavior by physically harming their patients. Someone who lied about their experience as a nurse could cause severe injuries and fatalities.
What to Do If Abuse Occurred in Your Loved One’s Nursing Home
If you believe your loved one was the victim of abuse or neglect, you should follow the following steps:
- Report the incident to management and request a copy of the incident report. If necessary, file a report with local law enforcement.
- Take photos of hazardous property conditions, unclean living area, visible injuries, and other relevant evidence.
- Transfer your loved one to a hospital for treatment of their injuries.
- Find new living arrangements to ensure their safety.
- Request copies of all medical records before and after the abuse.
- Hire a Fayetteville nursing home abuse lawyer. We will help you file an insurance claim or lawsuit for financial compensation of your loved one’s damages.
At the law offices of Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C., we know how devastating it is to discover someone you love was the victim of abuse. You’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know what to do next. When you hire us, we’ll relieve your burden and handle everything for you. While we’re working on the legal aspects of the case, you can focus on helping your loved one recover.
To discuss the nursing home abuse case, call us today at 770-205-2231. One of our Fayetteville nursing home abuse lawyers will be happy to meet with you for a free consultation and provide legal advice.