It’s difficult to put your elderly parents or loved ones in a nursing home, but sometimes if you’re unable to give them the care and attention they need, it’s the best option. You’ll do your due diligence to find a good home and then trust the nurses and managers of the facility to take care of them as you would.
However, nursing homes don’t always offer the high standard of care that you’d give. Since the majority of nursing homes are for-profit businesses, it often means far less individualized care. Reports of neglect in a nursing home are not uncommon.
For-profit facilities are too often more focused on the money than on caring for their residents, so they only staff the minimum number of nurses and offer minimal amenities to improve their profitability.
As such, nursing abuse and neglect happen far too often. If you suspect abuse in a nursing home, here’s what you can do about it.
Types and Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
There are more types of nursing home abuse than you might realize. Any of the following can fall into the category of abuse:
- Choking on food
- Dropped patients
- Elopement (patient leaving the facility without knowledge of staff)
- Sexual assault
- Unexpected death
- Medication errors
There are a few exceptions to the rule, but most of these incidents would be categorized as abuse. Nursing staff are required to provide a high-quality standard of care, and even something as simple as choking on food could be considered neglect since nurses are supposed to assess patients for choking risk upon entering the facility.
Signs that there may be abuse include physical manifestations of injury or infection. For example, pressure sores on the buttock and heels indicate that steps aren’t being taken to prevent these sores. Bloody or dirty clothing, stiff joints, bruising, cuts, fractures, burns, the sudden appearance of an STD, sudden weight loss, fatigue or lethargy, and other unnerving physical signs could also indicate abuse.
Report to the Department of Public Health
There are many laws that protect nursing home patients, including the Federal Nursing Home Care Reform Act of 1987 and any statutes set forth by your state government. Nursing homes must abide by these laws if they continue to operate, and abuse is unacceptable.
If you suspect abuse, contact your state’s department of public health immediately. They will record the evidence you’ve observed and dispatch officers to assess the situation. You might not be the only one to report signs of abuse, and multiple claims will contribute greatly to getting justice for your loved one.
After officers investigate and survey the facility, they’ll publish a report of their findings, ultimately concluding whether or not your claims against the facility are substantiated. If the report states your claims are unsubstantiated, and you believe the abuse is continuing, don’t give up. Continue making complaints, and speak with an attorney so your loved one is properly represented.
Consider Filing a Lawsuit for Your Loved One
If your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, you’re likely eligible for a personal injury or wrongful death claim. You can file a lawsuit to claim damages for medical bills and more.
To win your case, you’ll need proof. This means proving that a patient-provider relationship existed (meaning proof that your relative lived at a nursing home and was under the care of the defendant). You’ll also need to show that the defendant was required to give a certain standard of care and the defendant failed to do so, resulting in injuries.
In the case of wrongful death at the hand of a nursing facility, you’ll need to prove your relationship with the loved one who died, that the defendant caused the death, and that the death caused you damages.
If you have this standard of proof, you can and should file a lawsuit against the nursing home. This is not only important for you to get the compensation you need to care for your family, but also to help punish or shut down a facility that could bring harm to others.