Nursing home abuse is something that has become quite common, regardless of the cost of a facility, the demographic of people in a facility, or the people who are working there. Bruises, broken bones, malnutrition, emotional abuse and signs of sexual abuse occur at nursing homes across the United States. Sometimes the signs of abuse are very obvious, but most other situations are a bit more confusing. The patient could show signs of a potential issue, but there may not be proof. Utilizing the help of a Maryland nursing home physical abuse attorney can be beneficial to protect your loved one.
Elderly nursing home residents are vulnerable to being mistreated by staff members, the people whom they rely on for every aspect of their daily lives. There are tens of thousands of complaints each year regarding possible cases of physical abuse of nursing home residents and many instances of abuse are not even reported at all because the residents are simply unable to do so.
Signs of Nursing Home Physical Abuse
The different types of nursing home abuse include physical, sexual, emotional, financial, and negligence. Physical abuse is the easiest form of nursing home abuse to spot. Families may be able to notice certain differences both on the bodies of their loved ones as well as other telltale signs that there is some form of physical abuse. Here are some indicators that there may be physical abuse occurring:
- Staff appears to be very rough or rude to the residents. This is an indication that something worse could be occurring.
- Staff refuses to leave the resident alone with family
- Residents shake or cower when a particular staff member is around them or approaches.
- There are sudden and prolonged changes in the resident’s mood.
- The resident stops eating and experiences weight loss.
In addition to the non-physical signs, there may be physical signs of abuse. If a senior has unexplained injuries that show up one or more times, it may be an indication that there is some physical mistreatment occurring. There may be bruises that can keep showing up on the resident’s body. Pay close attention to the residents’ wrists for any signs that they are being improperly restrained since those will show up on the wrists. Other signs of nursing home physical abuse include unexplained bloody wounds and broken or fractured bones.
Types of Physical Abuse in Nursing Homes
There are three main forms of nursing home physical abuse.
- Active Abuse – This is intentional abuse by a perpetrator who means to cause a resident pain and injuries. Active abuse includes punching, slapping, pinching, biting, burning, shaking, and shoving.
- Misuse of Restraints – Using restraints is only legal when it is used for medical reasons, however, nursing homes often use restraints in an abusive way. Restraints in nursing homes are sometimes used to discipline residents or simply because staff do not want to watch over them. Victims will suffer injuries when trying to get out of the restraints such as cuts and burns. Residents who have been restrained for too long may develop bedsores.
- Physical Negligence – This includes failing to provide food, water, clothing, and a sanitary living area.
Abuse By Fellow Residents
Physical abuse in nursing homes is not just limited to what is perpetrated by the staff against the seniors. Many cases of abuse are committed by fellow nursing home residents. Some seniors in nursing homes can be physically aggressive because their condition causes them to be agitated. However, nursing homes can be held liable for any injuries they cause.
Nursing homes are expected to be able to anticipate which residents may be at risk of committing physical assaults and take the appropriate action in order to prevent this from occurring. The facility’s liability will be all the more pronounced when a violent resident has already committed one attack and staff have not done anything to keep that senior from being violent with another resident. In that case, it is not the senior who is responsible for the act, but rather the nursing home.
Types of Nursing Home Physical Abuse Claims
- The nursing home failed to hire the appropriate staff by foregoing background and employment history checks.
- The nursing home failed to hire enough staff members to ensure proper care for residents.
- The nursing home failed to properly train staff members on how to provide the necessary care for residents.
- The nursing home failed to supervise and prevent any physical abuse from occurring.
- The nursing home failed to report and respond to complaints of physical abuse.
- The nursing home attempted to hide reports of physical abuse.
Nursing Homes Are Liable for the Conduct of Their Employees
Beyond being inexcusable and contemptible, abuse of vulnerable nursing home residents can give families grounds to file a nursing home physical abuse lawsuit. Regardless of the personal liability of staff members who committed the abuse, the nursing home that employs them must answer for their actions in court. Failure to properly supervise employees can give families an avenue to receiving financial compensation in a lawsuit.
It is important to note that the category of physical abuse in nursing homes does not encompass only situations in which staff have been physically aggressive or violent with a resident. Physical abuse can also include situations where there has been neglect of a senior that has caused injury. This is a form of mistreatment that can harm a senior.
Nursing Homes’ Obligations for Hiring
Nursing homes have strict legal obligations that govern how they hire staff members. Given that the staff works closely with seniors who rely on them for every single aspect of their care, it is imperative that those who become employees of the nursing home are stable and do not have a violent history. Nursing homes must perform the following:
- Background checks and criminal checks on all potential employees. Nursing homes cannot hire convicted felons.
- Employment history checks and call references to make sure that they do not have a history of violence.
Not performing any of these steps can merit punishment from regulators. However, nursing homes do not always perform the required checks before hiring and sometimes will hire staff that is violent. Many nursing homes do not have sufficient staff because they have chosen to cut back on nurses and aids because they are trying to maximize profits. This means that staff is overworked with many different demands and not enough help to make sure that they provide the residents with their needs. As a result, some staff members may be curt and rude
Nursing Home Physical Abuse Cases
Here are a few instances of real nursing home physical abuse cases.
Autumnwood of Livonia
Hussein Younes, 89-years-old, was being physically abused by nursing home staff in 2015. Younes was admitted to the Livonia nursing home after he underwent bowel obstruction surgery. After Younes’ son noticed bruises, cuts, and weight loss, he hid a camera near his father’s bed. Younes’ family documented over 100 disturbing clips of the staff aggressively throwing Hussein onto his bed, yanking him out of his wheelchair, and forcefully grabbing his head. Staff members also spoke to Younes in abusive and demeaning ways and took away his emergency button.
Seacrest Retirement Center
A resident was hit in the face by a nursing home staff member. The employee was fired and the facility was fined $1,530.
Surveillance video recorded Joey Cason, a 55-year-old man with a mental disability, getting beaten with a belt by a healthcare staff member. Cason was hit 30 times with a belt and punched while on the ground. The staff allowed other residents to hit Cason. The video also shows staff taunting Cason with food and laughing at him.
Why Families Must Be Vigilant
While nursing home physical abuse may be all too prevalent, many instances of this treatment go unreported. A high percentage of seniors at skilled nursing facilities have dementia or other forms or cognitive diseases and may not be able to report what has happened to them. Many seniors do say something and, despite the nursing home’s obligation to report and investigate all allegations of abuse, the facilities do not do anything in response. Some nursing home administrators simply refuse to believe the seniors, even though they are obligated to investigate.
When Should You Contact a Physical Abuse Lawyer?
There is no need to wait when it comes to contacting law enforcement and an attorney on suspicion of potential nursing home abuse. While you have the option to speak with someone who works at the nursing home facility in question, you have to remember that they have a reputation to protect. The person in charge at the facility could attempt to cover up the problem. Information such as this is not something that a facility wants to be leaked to the public.
You don’t want to wait too long to contact an attorney. While there are physical signs of abuse present in the patient, there is also evidence present that will benefit the case overall. The patient in question may be capable of expressing what is going on. They may vocalize that they are being intimidated by an employee at their nursing home. Patients who are unable to communicate are often the most abused. Although they are not able to explain what has been going on, it’s important to trust your judgment and act on a potential situation.
The Benefits of Utilizing a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Finding the right lawyer in your area will help with the process of documenting abuse and taking steps toward justice. A civil lawsuit can be used to seek compensation for the victim. Let our experienced team analyze what is going on with your situation. Not only will we pinpoint the best course of action, but you will be involved in the whole process regarding what the best course of action would be at each stage. It’s important to take these steps to stop the immediate abuse and to prevent other people from being abused in the future.
It’s ideal to use a reputable and trustworthy attorney in your area for a nursing home physical abuse case. This will ensure that the proper steps are taken to obtain the best outcome from the situation.
A nursing home physical abuse lawyer can help with the following:
- Filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit
- Research related laws and regulations that the facility has violated
- Preparing evidence to be presented in court
- Negotiate a fair settlement for financial compensation
- Help clients understand the complex litigation process
Nursing homes will have experienced counsel since they are often defendants in lawsuits so families will need a lawyer of their own who has the experience and skill of their own to deal with opposing counsel.
Speak with a Maryland Nursing Home Physical Abuse Lawyer
The Maryland nursing home physical abuse lawyers at KBA Attorneys litigate aggressively on behalf of their clients when the situation calls for it. We have represented nursing home residents and their families for various types of abuse and negligence.
Begin the process of filing a legal claim against the nursing home so your injured loved one can find the justice that is deserved. Call us today or fill out an online form for a free consultation.
- David Goguen. “Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law: Basics”, Nolo, https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/nursing-home-abuse-neglect-basics.html. Accessed July 11, 2019.
- CDC. “Elder Abuse: Definitions”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/elderabuse/definitions.html. Accessed July 11, 2019.
- NCOA. “Elder Abuse Facts”, National Council on Aging, https://www.ncoa.org/public-policy-action/elder-justice/elder-abuse-facts/. Accessed July 11, 2019.
- Brian K. Payne. “Physical and Emotional Abuse of the Elderly”, Arizona State University, https://www.popcenter.org/content/physical-and-emotional-abuse-elderly. Accessed July 11, 2019.
- Robert M. Hoover and Michol Polson. “Detecting Elder Abuse and Neglect: Assessment and Intervention”, American Family Physician, https://www.aafp.org/afp/2014/0315/p453.html. Accessed July 11, 2019.
- Associated Press. “Livonia nursing home sued over abuse caught on video”, The Detroit News, https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/wayne-county/2018/03/06/nursing-home-lawsuit-livonia/32660689/. Accessed July 11, 2019.