Nursing Home Abuse: What You Need to Know

It’s an unfortunate fact, but nursing abuse happens and causes senior Americans devastating harm and suffering every year. According to the Government Accountability office, there are a staggeringly high amount of nursing home abuse cases throughout the U.S. Choosing to place your loved one in a nursing home is an emotionally difficult and challenging decision, and you expect that your loved one will be provided with the proper care and treatment he or she deserves. However, this is not always the case, and your loved one could become a victim of nursing home abuse due to a variety of factors. 

If your loved one was the victim of nursing home abuse, you and your loved one may be eligible to receive compensation for the damages and suffering your loved one was subject to. You may be wondering where you stand in the situation, and not sure exactly who should be sued for the damages your loved one endured. 

In this article we will cover what nursing home neglect is, the different forms it can show up as, why it can happen, as well as how to navigate bringing an action against the right individuals or people to help you gain the compensation you or your loved one may deserve. 

What is Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect? 

Nursing home abuse or neglect is characterized by actions that cause harm to senior residents in a nursing home or long-term care facility. Nursing home abuse includes a variety of different type of injuries, ranging from physical abuse or violence, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual abuse, monetary exploitation or can even be due to neglect of behalf of the nursing home facility to provide the basic treatment that you or your loved one need. 

What are the Different Forms of Nursing Home Abuse?

It is vital that you determine the kind of nursing home abuse or suffering your loved one was subject to properly report the abuse and possibly win compensation for the suffering your loved one endured. 

The different forms of nursing home abuse include: 

Physical: Physical nursing home abuse is characterized by physical injuries including unexplained bruising, cuts, welts, or broken bones, or even mistakes with medication distribution. Many instances of physical abuse in nursing homes can go unreported or are covered up by other nursing home staff. 

Emotional: Nursing home abuse doesn’t have to only be of the physical kind to cause elderly residents severe harm. Nursing staff can be emotionally or verbally abusive to senior residents, creating traumatizing experiences for them that elevate their stress levels and cause severe emotional pain and anxiety. 

Sexual Abuse: Nursing home residents can also suffer from forms of sexual abuse at the hands of nursing home staff members through sexual assault or harassment, causing devastating physical and emotional harm. 

Neglect: Sometimes, nursing home abuse shows up through insufficient care or treatment of elderly residents. Even if the neglect was not intentional on the behalf of the nursing staff, it is still intolerable, can create severe harm for the senior residents and should be properly addressed. 

Financial: Certain staff members of nursing home facilities may be dishonest and greedy, and try to take advantage of vulnerable senior residents by stealing money or other financial assets from them or conducting other forms of financial exploitation, causing residents’ severe economic damages.

What are the Causes of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect? 

Nursing home abuse or neglect can occur due to a variety of factors. 

  • Understaffing or staffing shortages: 

It is possible that your loved one was not able to receive the proper care or treatment he or she needed due to an insufficient amount of staff on duty to look after the senior residents. It is important that the amount of nurses working at the facility is in proportion to the amount of residents. Staffing shortages cause great stress and pressure on the employees who are working there, leading to poorer overall health care and management of the residents in the facility. 

  • Insufficient Management or Supervision:

Sometimes, nursing home staff do not receive proper supervision in their facility. Without sufficient management from administrators or higher ups on staff, nurses may be careless, distracted or neglectful of their duties, and therefore fail to provide residents with the proper care and treatment that they need. This means that residents may also suffer neglect for prolonged periods of time, anywhere from hours to days on end. 

  • Financial or Monetary Exploitation

Senior residents of a nursing home facility may also endure monetary or financial forms of abuse due to wrongdoings of the staff. Nursing home employees may attempt to steal funds or other financial assets of well-off senior residents. Signs to watch out for that may point to these financial forms of exploitation include forged checks or missing credit cards, or staff members who are behaving in an unusually friendly manner to residents. 

  • Stressed Nursing Home Staff

The long hours and challenging work expected of the staff at nursing home facilities can take a toll on the staff. Taking care of the needs of the elderly can be quite difficult in itself, and the employees may take out their stress and frustrations on the residents in the form of physical, emotional or verbal violence and abuse. 

  • Corporate’s Financial Shortcuts Can Create Problems

Sometimes corporations that oversee several nursing homes try to maximize their gains by making cuts to certain resources in the nursing home facilities that can negatively impact the overall care and quality of the facility. An example of this can be scrimping on hiring experienced and skilled nursing staff, and instead hiring less experienced employees who lack the proper skills needed to provide the sufficient care the elderly residents may need.

Who Are the Right Parties to Sue in Your Nursing Home Abuse Claim?

It is important that you determine the right party or parties to bring an action against in your nursing home abuse or neglect case. Depending on your state’s guidelines, you may be able to sue the licensee and administrator of the facility, who oversaw management of the facility when the abuse occurred. You may also want to bring an action against the specific individual or individuals who were directly responsible for your loved one’s suffering. This could be the nurse, other staff members or administrator of the facility. Check with your state’s guidelines to determine the parties that are eligible to be sued.

Structural changes in the nursing home facility or turnover can happen often, making it more challenging to determine who is the right party to sue. It is essential that you choose an experienced attorney like the ones at Whittel & Melton who can help you determine the right parties to bring an action against as well as help you possibly gain compensation for the suffering and damages your loved one endured.

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