As our loved ones age, many families in the United States turn to nursing homes for around-the-clock care and safety.
However, these facilities can potentially subject elderly individuals to neglect and abuse, with some staff members failing to meet residents’ needs or even intentionally inflicting harm.
In personal injury law, nursing home abuse refers to physical harm suffered by elderly individuals in long-term care facilities. This can include acts of violence committed by staff members, such as punching, kicking, or assaulting residents.
The impact of such actions can be devastating, as it leaves seniors traumatized, permanently disabled, or worse. That’s why it’s crucial to be informed about the common types of nursing home injuries.
What are some common nursing home abuse injuries?
Common nursing home injuries include:
- Bedsores: Bedsores occur when a resident stays in one position for too long, leading to skin damage and infections. These sores can be life-threatening if untreated. 2% to 28% of nursing home residents suffer from bedsores.
- Broken bones: Aging residents have weaker bones, making them prone to hip and neck fractures. Broken hips result in over 300,000 senior hospitalizations annually, with a high mortality rate.
- Concussions: Concussions are injuries caused by brain trauma, and can result in long-term health problems. Older individuals have a slower recovery time from concussions, and falls are a common cause. Sadly, falls resulting in concussions can be fatal.
- Falls: Slip and fall incidents are the leading cause of senior injury-related deaths. Falls can result in broken bones, concussions, or spinal injuries. Lack of supervision and inadequate care can contribute to these incidents.
- Infections: Long-term care facilities experience millions of infections each year, such as influenza and pneumonia. Failing to prevent and treat infections can result in additional health issues or even death.
- Spinal injuries: Spinal cord damage interrupts brain-body signals, resulting in breathing difficulties, loss of bowel control, and paralysis. Severity of injury depends on the spinal location.
Some injuries in nursing homes can result from overworked staff, crowded facilities, and improper treatment. However, it’s important not to downplay nursing home injuries as mere mistakes; they may indicate a failure to address a resident’s health and well-being, leading to severe injuries or wrongful death.
What are some signs of nursing home abuse and neglect?
If you suspect intentional harm rather than an accidental injury to your loved one, watch for these signs of potential abuse in nursing home settings:
- Bed-bound patients experiencing injuries.
- Emergency medical treatment or unreported illnesses.
- Dehydration or malnutrition, resulting in falls, infections, weakened muscles, depression, and difficulty swallowing or taking medication.
- Choking incidents due to insufficient monitoring of eating and drinking habits, especially for residents with chewing and swallowing difficulties.
- Blockage of breathing tubes causing brain damage or death.
- Frequent falls, which may suggest underlying health issues or environmental hazards.
- Head injuries from falls that occur often among a nursing home’s residents.
- Severe infections.
- Unexplained injuries like bruises, cuts, welts, or wounds. Severe burn injuries can also occur due to factors like smoking, excessively hot water, scalding food or drinks, spills, or fires within nursing homes.
- Broken bones or fractures.
- High levels of sedation or medication without proper explanation.
- Poor recordkeeping, negligence, or improper medical treatment, leading to incorrect prescriptions or dosages.
In addition to signs of physical injury, here are other indicators that your loved one might be experiencing abuse:
- Sudden withdrawal from social interaction, especially in once outgoing Individuals.
- Noticeable agitation or distress.
- Reluctance or refusal to speak in the presence of staff.
- Desire to be alone or isolate oneself.
- Unexplained fear of touch from others.
- Unusual behavior changes like biting or rocking.
While aging and other factors can account for certain emotional changes, abrupt and unexplained shifts warrant attention. Discussing the situation with your loved one may pose challenges, as they might be apprehensive about speaking up. Approach the conversation calmly, avoiding anger or yelling, which can evoke memories of an abuser’s behavior.
What should you do if you suspect nursing home abuse?
If you suspect nursing home abuse, we recommend taking immediate action to ensure your loved one’s safety and to hold those responsible accountable. Here’s what you can do:
- Contact Local Authorities: Reach out to the police or Adult Protective Services (APS) if you believe state or federal laws have been violated.
- Remove Your Loved One from the Situation: If you fear the abuse may continue, find alternative care.
- Consult with a Personal Injury Attorney: Seek a qualified attorney specializing in personal injury cases to guide you through the legal process.
- Financial Compensation: A qualified attorney can help you cover the costs of your loved one’s medical care by filing lawsuits against those responsible for the harm.
A personal injury attorney can help you recover the full value of your loved one’s injuries and mental distress. Protect your loved one from abuse in a nursing home by consulting a qualified attorney today.