It’s heartbreaking to think of our loved ones being mistreated by those we’ve entrusted their care to. Unfortunately, nursing home staff misconduct happens every day, sometimes with tragic consequences. In fact, in a study by the National Center On Elder Abuse, it was reported that 1 in 3 U.S. nursing homes were cited for violations of federal standards that had the potential to cause harm or that had caused actual harm to a resident.
If your loved one has been the victim of nursing home staff misconduct, it’s important to discuss the situation with an experienced elder care personal injury attorney who can guide you through the process of finding justice for your loved and to prevent others from being victimized as well.
Types of Nursing Home Staff Misconduct
Nursing home staff misconduct can fall under a variety of categories. The most common type of misconduct is neglect. However, in a study published in 2010, over 50% of nursing home staff admitted to mistreating older patients within the year prior to the study. This mistreatment included:
- Pushing, grabbing, and shoving residents
- Yelling at residents
- Insulting residents
- Swearing at residents
- Over or under-medicating residents
- Stealing resident’s medications
A 2010 National ombudsman reporting system study revealed some alarming discoveries about elder abuse in nursing home facilities. Of all of the abuse reported, aside from patient on patient abuse, nursing home staff misconduct included:
- Physical Abuse – 29%
- Psychological Abuse – 21%
- Gross Neglect – 14%
- Financial Exploitation – 7%
- Sexual Abuse – 7%
Effects of Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes
The effects of elder abuse in nursing homes can be short or relatively permanent. According to the Elder Neglect and Abuse and Mortality Risk In A Community-Dwelling Population report, elderly people who experienced abuse of any type or degree have a risk of death 300% higher than elders who did not experience abuse.
Abused elderly patients may suffer from physical and/or emotional effects of the abuse. Physical effects can include:
- Black eyes and extensive bruising
- Suspicious wounds such as cuts or lacerations
- Dislocations and broken bones
- Internal bleeding
- Spinal injuries
- Head injuries
- Chronic pain
Other health issues that can be an indication of abuse can include substantial weight loss, dehydration, bedsores, insomnia, and malnutrition.
In addition to physical symptoms of abuse, elderly patients can exhibit psychological symptoms such as:
- Refusal to take medications
- Refusal to eat or drink
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Staff Misconduct
Elder abuse may be difficult to discover outright, because nursing home staff tend not to abuse the residents in the presence of outside guests. However, there are certain behaviors that you may observe that may be indicative of elder abuse in the nursing home environment. The indicators can include:
- Nursing home staff treating the elderly patient like a child
- Nursing home staff refusing to let you see or talk to your loved one alone
- Significant change in the mood of the elderly patient when the abuser enters the room
- Receiving contradictory statements about the resident’s injury or behavior
- Failing to provide basic care or hygiene
If you witness any of these signs or even think that abuse is occurring, it is important to investigate immediately. If you find that abuse is occurring, it is best to remove the elderly resident from the facility and report the abuse to the authorities.
Reporting Nursing Home Staff Misconduct
Elder abuse is one of the most under-reported crimes in the nation. In order to stop the cycle of abuse and protect our elderly loved ones, it is critical to report abuse. For severe cases of abuse, call 911 and have an officer come to the nursing home. Other ways to report elder abuse in a nursing home are:
- Notifying the patient’s treating physician
- Using an Elder Care Locator to find assistance in your area (Hotline – 800-677-1116)
- Contacting the National Center on Elder Abuse
- Contacting the National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence
When making an elder abuse report, try to be as specific as possible about the injuries and behaviors witnessed. Taking pictures and video may be helpful in identifying abuse and punishing the abusers.
Seek the Advice of a Trusted Team of Attorneys
If your loved one is a victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C. Our team of elder abuse attorneys have the knowledge and experience required to hold the nursing home accountable while obtaining money damages for your family. Call us today at 1-877-737-4806 or fill out our online contact form for a free case evaluation. We will fight for you.