Patients in nursing homes are vulnerable to abuse and neglect. They can be victimized due to
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Financial abuse and fraud
- Injuries due to unsafe premises
Physical abuse occurs when a patient is hit, slapped, kicked, pushed, improperly restrained, sexually abused, or otherwise physically assaulted by a caregiver.
Emotional abuse occurs when a patient is insulted, belittled, threatened, frightened, harassed, or tormented.
Financial abuse and fraud occur when a patient is robbed of money, property, or his or her identify.Identify theft is very common in a nursing home setting, and can involve taking out credit cards and running up debts in the patient’s name, without the patient’s consent or knowledge.Identity thieves can also file fraudulent income tax returns in a patient’s name (even if the patient doesn’t have any actual income) and then seize the refund checks.
Neglect occurs when a patient is denied food, water, medical attention, prescribed medications, hygiene (baths), clean clothes, clean sheets, exercise and recreation, or any other necessity.Neglect can also occur when a patient is handled roughly or carelessly – for example, if he or she is dropped when being moved out of a bath or bed.
Injuries due to unsafe premises occur when there are tripping and falling hazards on the premises, doors to dangerous stairwells are left open, and hazardous chemicals are used for cleaning and pest control.
In extreme cases, physical abuse, neglect, and unsafe premises can lead to a patient’s wrongful death.
One type of nursing home abuse involves the use of powerful antipsychotic drugs to “manage” the patients, leaving them unable to take any pleasure from life.Some of these drugs can also increase the risk of death or injury.
For example, although drugs like Risperdal, Seroquel, and Zyprexa have warning labels stating that some uses may increase the risk of death in patients with dementia, these drugs are widely used in nursing homes.
Signs of nursing home neglect and abuse can include:
- Unexplained bumps and bruises
- Broken bones
- Sprains and strains
- Bed sores
- Discharges and sores caused by sexually transmitted diseases
- Bites from bedbugs and lice
- Infections (such as urinary tract infections)
- Malnutrition and weight loss
- Lethargy and lack of interest in visitors and surroundings
Some family members have installed “granny cams” in family member’s nursing home rooms to assure that the family members are being properly cared for.These cameras can catch caregivers in the act of theft or abuse, or can reveal that a patient is being neglected.Such cameras may either be out in the open or concealed.
Financial abuse may be detected by going through a patient’s mail.Has he or she received unexplained credit card bills?Are bills marked “past due”?A check of the patient’s credit history or bank statements can also reveal financial abuse and fraud.
If you or a family member has been injured due to negligent or abusive nursing home care, contact our office for a free initial consultation.