Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing Home Abuse / Neglect Lawyer
According to the Nursing Home Abuse Center, 95% of nursing home residents have been neglected or have witnessed some form of neglect. This figure may come as a shock to families who are doing their best to provide a safe and comfortable facility for a loved one who is unable to live independently and needs expert, around-the-clock care.
Elderly patients are vulnerable, many of them facing cognitive decline and mobility challenges that make them reliant on the care, compassion, and skill of nursing home staff and administration. When neglect occurs, it can compromise your loved one’s health and quality of life. In extreme cases, nursing home neglect can also result in death.
If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of nursing home neglect, contact Zweben Law Group for a complimentary consultation.
How Nursing Home Neglect Occurs
Studies have shown that for-profit nursing homes are typically better than their non-profit counterparts, but neither business model is immune to neglectful behavior. The neglect can be either physical, mental, or medical.
While every situation is unique, neglect can be the result of:
- Insufficient staffing
- An overworked staff
- Lack of experience or training
- Negligent hiring practices (not performing background checks)
- Poor supervision
Nursing Home Neglect vs. Nursing Home Abuse
The National Center for Victims of Crime found that of the nursing home abuse cases reported, 15.3% of them stemmed from neglect. While nursing home abuse might make a splashy headline, negligence can be just as dangerous, but it isn’t as well known.
Unsuspecting family members may assume that everything is okay as long as no one is being outright abusive to their loved one. While abuse is an intentional act, neglect is the result of not adhering to a duty of care to provide for and protect patient residents. This neglect is a form of abuse because it can have detrimental effects on one’s health.
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
At first glance, it might not be evident that your loved one is a victim of neglect, but there are some telltale signs that could indicate a problem. Common symptoms of such abuse or neglect include:
- Cuts, open wounds, or frequent bruising
- Damaged or missing personal items
- Sudden, unexplained weight loss
- Jaundice or an abnormally pale complexion
- Poor personal hygiene or strong fecal/urine odors
- Fleas, lice, rodents, or other pests or parasites in the room
- Frequent falls from a bed or down steps
- Failure to adhere to a medication schedule
- Lack of adequate security
Your loved one may be reluctant to report abuse due to feelings of embarrassment or not wanting to feel like a burden. In some cases, nursing home staff bullies or coerces a resident into silence.
In some cases, your loved one may be unable to report neglect due to mental or physical impairments, such as dementia, deafness, or vision deficiencies.
If your loved one is in a nursing home and exhibits any of these signs, he or she may be a victim of nursing home neglect, and you should act quickly and report your concerns. When nursing home abuse, injury, or death occurs, a thorough investigation and evaluation must be done immediately.
Identifying Emotional Neglect
Emotional neglect can be just as harmful as physical neglect. Many seniors feel isolated, and it can be lonely not having the comfort and familiarity of home. Nursing homes should, at a minimum, ensure that residents have an adequate amount of social interaction, and staff should be mindful of self-isolation tendencies or other behavioral issues.
Though more subtle than physical neglect, emotional neglect also leaves clues, including:
- Anxiety and depression
- Signs of withdrawal
- Worsening medical conditions (mental health can influence physical health)
- Shifts in behavior
What to Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Neglect
Once you discover the possibility that a loved one is the victim of neglect, it’s natural to feel angry. To help ensure that you can be successful in a claim and potentially recover damages, we recommend taking a systematic approach and following these seven steps:
- Remain calm. Tempers are running high, and you might even feel guilty. However, to protect your loved one from further neglect or retaliation, it’s essential to remain reasonable and seek a resolution that doesn’t include anger or violence.
- Question the staff. You can express your concerns to management and staff. Make sure you document the conversation.
- Gather evidence. If possible, visit the facility and take detailed notes and pictures about what you observe.
- Speak to your loved one. If possible, ask your loved one about their experience in the nursing home and inquire whether they feel neglected in any way.
- If the situation is dire, phone the police. If your loved one is in immediate danger, don’t hesitate to call the police and report the situation to the authorities.
- Report the facility. You can also contact the National Center on Elder Abuse to express your concerns.
Consult an attorney. Your loved one is entitled to feel safe and secure in a nursing home. Depending on the situation, you may be able to recover financial compensation. In addition to receiving financial damages, working with an attorney can help put a stop to elder abuse and neglect in nursing home facilities by exposing their actions and forcing legal change.
Contact an Experienced Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer
As the elderly population continues to grow in Florida and across the U.S., nursing home neglect is likely to become an even more pressing issue. If you suspect that someone you care about is a victim of nursing home neglect, it’s essential to get legal help immediately.
Our attorneys can devise a strategy to approach the nursing home, gather evidence, and file a formal complaint. Contact Zweben Law Group at (772) 223-5454 for a complimentary consultation. Based in Stuart, Florida, we serve you across all of Florida.
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