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Should I Contact a Lawyer for Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse?

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities fulfill a vital need for many people; however, nursing home neglect and abuse occur far too often.

Our population is living longer, yet families are unable to fully meet the needs of their elderly loved ones. As a result, many of the most vulnerable people in our society are placed in a nursing home or elder care facility, where we expect they will be well taken care of.

Whether an elderly person suffers because of neglect—when their most basic needs go unnoticed or overlooked—or are victims of blatant abuse, the issue is a serious one.

The consequences of nursing home abuse or neglect can include criminal charges as well as civil lawsuits.

Contacting a nursing home abuse lawyer to help with your claim not only provides you with fair compensation for the damages inflicted on you or your loved one, but also holds the nursing home or elder care employee responsible to prevent the abuse from happening to others in the future.

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Frequently Asked Questions

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), elder abuse is an intentional act or a failure to act that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult, age 60 or older.

Often, the perpetrators of elder abuse are caregivers or other people whom the elder person trusts.

Nursing home abuse and neglect can occur in many different forms. These forms of abuse include:

1.      Physical Abuse

Physical abuse occurs when someone intentionally uses physical force and causes pain, illness, distress, impairment, or death to an elderly person. This form of abuse includes acts such as pushing, slapping, hitting, kicking, or burning.

2.      Emotional and Psychological Abuse

Emotional and psychological abuse refers to either verbal or nonverbal behaviors that cause fear, distress, mental pain, or anguish to an elderly individual.

Some examples of emotional and psychological abuse include humiliation, threats, harassment, disrespect, and isolation.

3.      Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse includes any forced or unwanted sexual interaction of any kind with an elderly person. This form of abuse may also include non-contact acts like sexual harassment, as well as unwanted sexual contact or penetration.

Some elderly individuals are unable to consent to sexual acts due to medical conditions. Sexual interactions with an elderly person who cannot consent to the acts is also considered sexual abuse.

4.      Financial Abuse

Financial abuse includes any unauthorized, improper, or illegal use of an elderly person’s money, belongings, property, benefits, or assets for the benefit of someone else.

Other actions that constitute financial abuse include tricking or convincing an elderly person into adding the perpetrator to their will or financial accounts as a beneficiary.

5.      Neglect

Elder neglect is the failure to meet an elderly individual’s basic needs. Basic needs include things like water, food, shelter, hygiene, clothing, and necessary medical care.

Neglect can also include the failure to protect the elderly person from health and safety hazards.

If you are worried that an elderly loved one may be a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, there are some signs you should watch for including:

  • Bed sores
  • Unexplained bruising, cuts, or welts
  • Broken bones or fractures
  • Emotional outbursts and mood swings
  • Refusal to eat or take medication
  • Signs of dehydration
  • Frequent infections
  • Changes in mental status
  • Lack of proper hygiene
  • Reclusiveness or withdrawn behavior
  • Unexplained weight loss

Another indicator of elder abuse and neglect is when the elder individual is not given the opportunity to speak for themselves.

Social isolation or activity restrictions can be red flags that loved ones should watch for.

If you notice attitudes of indifference or anger toward your elderly loved one by their caregivers or nursing home staff, this could also be a concerning red flag that something serious is going on.

When one or more of these signs are present, it is worth taking a closer look at the situation. Knowing these signs can help you be prepared to take action if needed.

Reporting elder abuse and neglect is important as it may save the life of your loved one as well as other possible victims.

If you have concerns that an older adult is in immediate and life-threatening danger, call 911 right away.

Otherwise, call the Peck law Group at (866) 999-9085 as soon as possible. Time is of the essence in these types of cases. The Peck Law Group can help you find out if you have a case and if needed direct you to the proper resources that your unique situation requires.

Try and remember exactly who you talked to and complained to about your loved ones care. Take note of any pictures you may have of the incident such as bodily marks or injuries, and get together any other evidence that may prove that the abuse or neglect happened.

Always try to talk to an Administrator and / or a director of Nursing about your loved ones care.

You have a General Right to receive these records. The Privacy Rule generally requires HIPAA covered entities (health plans and most health care providers) to provide individuals, upon request, with access to the protected health information (PHI) about them in one or more “designated record sets” maintained by or for the covered entity.

A power of attorney is a legal document that allows one person to act for another person, but the authority comes with duties and responsibilities. The giver of the authority is known as the principal, while the receiver is referred to as an agent. Power of attorney is granted to an “attorney-in-fact” or “agent” to give that individual the legal authority to make decisions for an incapacitated “principal.” The attorney-in-fact is also responsible for distinguishing between the types of decisions he or she has the power to make and other decisions.

By signing an assisted or nursing home admission agreement that includes an arbitration provision, the parties are agreeing to give up their constitutional right to have a dispute, including neglect and abuse cases, decided in a court of law in front of a jury, and instead are agreeing to the use of binding arbitration.

This means that the decision of the arbitrator is final and there is no appeal.

Rather than having the issue decided in public by a jury of their peers in front of a judge, the matter will be decided in private, by a private (and very expensive) arbitrator.

Arbitration proceedings are not part of the public record and not subject to judicial review. DO NOT SIGN A PRE-DISPUTE ARBITRATION AGREEMENT.

You are entitled to information on services & fees, respect, freedom from abuse & neglect, freedom from restraints, medical care, and visitors to name a few.

It depends on the County. In California, the litigation process for nursing home abuse or neglect cases usually takes between 9 to 18 months.

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Red Flags to Look Out For in Nursing Homes

There are some other risk factors, more specific to nursing homes that you should keep in mind if you have a loved one living in one. These are also some things to consider before they move into a nursing home:

1.      High Patient-to-Staff Ratio

First, a high patient-to-staff ratio may be a red flag. This is a concern because the staff may be overwhelmed with taking care of more patients than they can handle. Staff members may not be able to provide adequate care, which can lead to neglect or injury.

2.      High Rate of Staff Turnover

A high rate of staff turnover may also be a red flag. Continuity of care will certainly be affected, and it also makes it difficult for staff members and residents to form a bond. Also concerning is the fact that there could be some underlying reason that so many staff members are quick to move on.

3.      Lack of Proper Staff Training

Lack of proper training for staff members is another red flag for potential elder abuse and neglect. Without proper training, staff members may not be able to appropriately handle difficult situations with residents that may lead to injury.

4.      Lack of Abuse Prevention Policies and Procedures

Another red flag is a lack of abuse prevention policies in effect at the nursing home. Without these types of policies and procedures, there may not be steps in place to help prevent abuse and neglect.

Do you have a question about nursing home abuse or neglect?

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