For many families across the United States, the time may come when a loved one’s illness or other health issues leave no other option for care other than a nursing home. While many facilities across the nation offer the highest levels of care and respect for their patients, others do just the opposite. Unfortunately, many nursing home residents find themselves becoming victims of abuse by nursing home staff members. Whether this is through intentional abuse or simply neglect and carelessness on the part of staff members, residents in these facilities can suffer serious consequences, including death.
Defining Nursing Home Abuse
Elder neglect and nursing home abuse is not something that started only a few years ago. In fact, documented cases of nursing home abuse and neglect go back as far as the 1970s, and more than likely existed long before then. Since many cases of abuse and neglect go unreported, most experts agree that the number of known cases is only a small percentage of what has occurred. Since nursing home abuse in Wayne, PA can take many forms, it can lead to such problems such as mental health issues, physical problems, and death. Different types of nursing home abuse include:
Since it is likely that a combination of these types of abuse will take place with a typical victim, it is imperative that family members contact a nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as possible. By letting us help, we can put a stop to the abuse, and make sure those responsible for it are held accountable for their actions.
Why Do Abuse Cases Go Unreported?
When a person is being abused, most people believe the victim makes it known to others immediately. However, in elder abuse situations, that rarely happens. Far too often, residents choose to say nothing and continue to tolerate unspeakable abuse out of fear that the abuse will only grow worse if they attempt to make trouble for staff members. Since patients in these situations are essentially powerless over their abusers, they believe nothing can be done to help them. Because of this, family members and friends must be vigilant in noticing anything unusual about their loved ones. From unexplained bruises or injuries to changes in emotions or personality, reporting these to facility administrators can be a first step in stopping the abuse. Along with this, contact a nursing home abuse lawyer in Wayne, PA to guide you through this complex process and make sure you and your loved one’s legal rights are fully protected.
What Causes Nursing Home Abuse?
According to studies conducted over the past several years, in 2012 one in four nursing home residents reported being physically abused by a staff member at least once. As for what causes nursing home abuse, there are a variety of factors at play, including:
- Staff shortages leading to burnout and poor working conditions
- Lack of proper staff training
- Lack of proper management and supervision
- Poor hiring practices at the facility
In many cases where elder abuse in Wayne, PA takes place, staff members are angry about personal and professional issues, and unfortunately choose to take out their anger on innocent and helpless residents where they work. Along with this, staff who are not properly trained in procedures involving care, medicine, and other important areas can make mistakes or simply forget about patients, leading to life-threatening situations. Also, since it can often be difficult to find enough employees to work in these facilities, some nursing homes greatly reduce their hiring requirements or fail to perform adequate background checks. As a result, they sometimes hire individuals with criminal or mental illness backgrounds, putting residents at an even greater risk.
Recognize Warning Signs
To make sure loved ones in a nursing home are treated with the care and respect they deserve, family members and friends should make it a point to visit as often as possible. However, they should not do so on the same day and time each visit. If they can be counted on to arrive at the same time each visit, an abusive staff member will figure this out, and will likely be able to hide their abusive behavior and actions until the visitors have left. To keep this from happening, visitors should always vary the days and times of their visits. By doing so, staff will never know when to expect them, which will keep any potential abusers on their best behavior. To recognize signs of abuse, look for things such as:
- Broken bones
- Malnourished or dehydrated
- Poor hygiene
- Withdrawal and fearfulness
- Crying and complaining of poor treatment
If these or other signs of elder abuse are present, contact us immediately for assistance.
Documenting Evidence of Abuse
If family or friends suspect nursing home abuse is taking place on a loved one, they should always attempt to gather as much evidence as possible. Since these cases can be very complex and often pit the word of one person against another, being able to document evidence of abuse can often swing a case in favor of the plaintiff. Therefore, family and friends should use smartphones to take photos of bruises or other injuries, changes in a person’s emotional behavior, soiled bedding, lack of food or spoiled food, medications prescribed to the resident, and any statements the resident makes about poor treatment or abuse from staff members.
By having this evidence, family members can contact a nursing home abuse lawyer in Wayne, PA to discuss their situation. In our years of experience, we have found that by having as much evidence as possible against a nursing home, the chances of having a successful case increase.
Reporting Nursing Home Abuse in Wayne, PA
When the time comes to report suspected nursing home abuse, family and friends have many options available to them. First and foremost, calling 911 is an option if it is believed the person’s life is in immediate danger. Along with this, complaints can be filed with nursing home administrators, as well as with local, state, and national authorities. In many cases, this can begin the process of holding the nursing home and its staff accountable for their actions, and also help keep others from suffering additional abuse.
Reports of nursing home abuse in Wayne, PA are filed with the local social services agency’s Adult Protective Services division. Once a report is filed, a case worker will conduct an investigation into the alleged abuse. If necessary, they can also involve local law enforcement in the investigation, especially if sexual abuse is suspected. Along with these options, many families choose to hire experienced and knowledgeable lawyers to assist in filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit against those responsible for the abuse of their loved one.
Working with a Nursing Home Negligence Attorney
If a victim’s family chooses to contact our law firm for assistance in these matters, we can help in many ways. To begin with, we can sit down with family members and friends and discuss the case in great detail. By doing so, we can get a better idea of what may be transpiring at the nursing home, examine evidence such as photos or victim statements, and explain the legal options that may be available.
File a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit in Wayne, PA
If a loved one is suspected of suffering from elder abuse in Wayne, PA, it is critical that an experienced attorney be brought into the matter as quickly as possible. By doing so, the victim’s rights can be protected immediately, and the nursing home can be put on notice it is under investigation. So instead of letting parents or other loved ones continue to suffer degrading and possibly life-threatening abuse, contact KBA Attorneys for a free consultation as soon as possible.
- Kurtis Hiatt. “9 Warning Signs of Bad Care”, U.S. News, https://health.usnews.com/health-news/best-nursing-homes/articles/2013/02/26/9-warning-signs-of-bad-care. Accessed July 12, 2019.
- Jordan Rau. “Most nursing homes are not adequately staffed, new federal data says”, Kaiser Health News, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/most-nursing-homes-are-not-adequately-staffed-new-federal-data-says. Accessed July 12, 2019.
- RAINN. “Elder Abuse”, Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, https://www.rainn.org/articles/elder-abuse. Accessed July 12, 2019.
- Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken. “Sick, Dying and Raped in America’s Nursing Homes”, CNN, https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2017/02/health/nursing-home-sex-abuse-investigation/. Accessed July 12, 2019.
- David Goguen. “Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law: Basics”, Nolo, https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/nursing-home-abuse-neglect-basics.html. Accessed July 12, 2019.
- CDC. “Elder Abuse: Definitions”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/elderabuse/definitions.html. Accessed July 12, 2019.
- NCOA. “Elder Abuse Facts”, National Council on Aging, https://www.ncoa.org/public-policy-action/elder-justice/elder-abuse-facts/. Accessed July 12, 2019.