Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyers

Nursing Home Neglect Attorneys

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In recent years, the United States has experienced dramatic growth in its senior population. As the “Baby Boomer Generation” ages, growing numbers of older Americans are moving into long-term care facilities, where some will live for many years, or even decades.

nursing home abuse victims need support from attorneys

Unfortunately, as the nursing home population has grown, the number of nursing home abuse cases has also 

increased. Despite the increased enforcement of state laws and the oversight efforts of governmental agencies, more than one million residents experience nursing home negligence or abuse every year. 

Most cases of nursing home negligence are not reported because seniors are often unable to understand the care to which they are entitled.  In other cases, they may be physically unable to share information about the abuse. Tragically, as the recent COVID-19 pandemic has shown, seniors at nursing homes constitute the most vulnerable population in the United States. They need and deserve our help!

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    According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), nursing home neglect is often defined as the failure of a caregiver to properly provide for an elderly person, which can include the failure to provide proper care, food, supervision, medicine, medical care and treatment, clothing, and shelter.  Elder neglect includes many different circumstances that may jeopardize an older adult’s health and safety.

    Common forms of nursing home abuse include:

    • Physical injury from falls
    • Malnourishment or dehydration
    • Bed sores, pressure ulcers
    • Gangrene
    • Aspiration pneumonia
    • Over-sedation
    • Poor medical care
    • Medication mistakes
    • Lack of supervision
    • Financial exploitation 
    • Property theft
    • Abandonment
    • Ineffective equipment
    • Sexual abuse 
    • Coercion
    • Physical or mental abuse
    • Poor personal hygiene  
    • Bruises
    • Broken bones 
    • Urinary Tract Infections
    • Sepsis
    • Wrongful death

    Signs of Elder Abuse and Neglect

    Not all nursing homes have video surveillance. Moreover, those that have cameras may not always report the abuse. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the signs and symptoms of physical elder abuse at nursing homes.

    According to the Administration on Aging (AoA), signs of physical abuse can include but are not limited to:

    • Bruising;
    • Pressure marks;
    • Broken bones;
    • Abrasions; and
    • Burns. 

    Signs of neglect can also include broken bones (from an untreated fall, for instance), but generally speaking, the following are some of the most common signs of nursing home neglect:

    • Bedsores;
    • Poor hygiene;
    • Weight loss;
    • Unattended medical conditions; and
    • Lack of necessary medical products.

    Are you concerned that your elderly loved one may have been the victim of elder abuse or neglect? Contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney to determine your rights.

    Bed Sores and Nursing Home Negligence

    Bed sores, also known as pressure ulcers, are one of the most common signs of nursing home neglect.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 11% of nursing home residents suffer from bed sores, which are often a direct result of negligent care.  Depending on the severity of these pressure ulcers, older adults can experience severe repercussions.

    What Are Bed Sores?

    The CDC defines bed sores as, “ wounds caused by unrelieved pressure on the skin”  which typically develop over a person’s “bony prominences,” including elbows, heels, hips, shoulders, back, and in some cases even the back of the head.

    Bed sores are among the most serious medical conditions that occur at nursing homes, and their presence in nursing home patients is often an indication that a nursing home is not providing quality care.  

    Severity of Bed Sores in Nursing Homes

    Medical professionals use a staging system for rating the severity of bed sores.  Typically, these systems focus on the depth of the damage to soft tissue, which can range from “least severe” to “most severe.”  According to the CDC, the stages typically look like this:

    • Stage 1: a persistent redness in the skin;
    • Stage 2: loss of partial thickness of the skin, which can look like an abrasion, a blister, or a shallow crater;
    • Stage 3: loss of full thickness of the skin, which usually looks like a deep crater; 
    • Stage 4: loss of full thickness of the skin such that muscles or bones are exposed.

    The CDC suggests that “Stage 2” pressure ulcers are among the most common in nursing home residents who have been victims of neglect.

    Complications Arising From Bed Sores

    Bed sores can cause a number of medical complications, including:

    • A variety of different types of infections, such as cellulitis (skin), osteomyelitis (bone), endocarditis (heart lining), meningitis (cerebrospinal fluid), sepsis (blood), and even different forms of necrotizing fasciitis (commonly referred to as flesh-eating bacteria);
    • Septic arthritis, a form of joint disease caused by bacterial infection;
    • Abscesses, a type of skin and soft tissue lesion; 
    • Heterotopic bone formations, a medical condition where bone deposits form in the soft tissue, typically around the hip joints, resulting in pain and impaired mobility.

    Facts, Figures and FAQs About Nursing Home Bed Sores

    Nursing Home Infographic thumbnail

    Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Signs Infographic

    How often are nursing home residents diagnosed with a bed sore?  Based on data collected by the CDC, more than 10 percent of nursing home residents have suffered from a bed sore or pressure ulcer.  Of those patients, about half of those diagnosed had Stage 2 bed sores.  

    Some other significant facts and figures include:

    • Age: nursing home residents aged 64 years and younger were actually more likely than older residents to be diagnosed with bed sores.
    • Time of Residence: residents who were at a nursing home for one year or less were more likely than long-term residents to be diagnosed with a pressure ulcer.
    • Weight Loss: about 20 percent of nursing home residents with recent weight loss also had a bed sore.
    • Wound Care Service - More than one-third of all nursing home residents with bed sores rated as “Stage 2” or higher required “special wound care services.”

    Medication Errors

    According to a study published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, up to 27 percent of nursing home residents suffer from medication errors. Some of the most common causes of medication mistakes and medical malpractice are:

    • understaffing, which forces nursing home staff to work when they are fatigued and more likely to make mistakes.
    • careless mistakes, when nursing home care workers make preventable mistakes such as misreading prescriptions and administering the wrong medication. 
    • misdiagnosis, when a nursing home fails to take the resident’s personal medical history into account.

    Financial Elder Abuse Facts and Figures

    How widespread a problem is financial elder abuse? According to data collected by the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA), about 5 percent of all older adults have indicated that they have been victims of some form of financial mistreatment.

    Who typically commits elder financial abuse? Nearly anyone involved in the life of an older adult can be implicated in financial exploitation schemes. More often than not, the elderly are victimized by people they believe they can trust, such as:

    • Family members, including their children;
    • Doctors, nurses, medical staff, and other caretakers;
    • Neighbors, friends, and acquaintances; or
    • Financial advisors.

    In addition to crimes committed by those already involved in the life of an elderly victim, strangers also prey upon older adults with financial scams. These can include lottery or sweepstakes scams, home repair scams, charity scams, telemarketing scams, and many others.

    Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

    Family members should be on the lookout for common signs of elder abuse and neglect at their loved one’s assisted living facility.  Common signs of abuse and mistreatment include:

    • changes in a resident’s behavior or personality 
    • demeaning or controlling behavior by staff members, or significant tension between a resident and the caregiver, which may be a sign of emotional abuse
    • unexplained broken bones, welts and bruising, and if the caregiver refuses to allow family members to be alone with a resident, which may be a sign of physical abuse 
    • unsanitary conditions in the resident’s room

    Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney for a Free Case Review 

    If you have an elderly loved one who was recently diagnosed with bed sores or has shown any of the signs or symptoms of other forms of neglect or abuse, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced lawyer.

    It is important to act in a timely manner. Statutes of limitations limit the amount of time that an injured individual can file a lawsuit to seek justice and financial compensation for his or her damages.

    It is impossible to make generalizations about the value of any nursing home case without knowing the details of the injuries and how the abuse took place. The law allows recovery for a wide range of situations, many of which may not be readily apparent to the injured party. This includes past medical bills, future medical and rehabilitation costs, therapy, lost past wages, lost future income, punitive damages, pain and suffering, and more. An experienced personal injury attorney will fight to obtain money for you to compensate you for all of your damages, past, and future.

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