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Warning Signs of Nursing Home Neglect

Unfortunately, nursing home abuse in adult care facilities is a growing trend, as chronic understaffing, due to profit motives by providers, continues to create situations ripe for abuse. A survey conducted by the U. S. General Accounting Office, reveals that more than one fourth of U.S. nursing homes had deficiencies that either caused harm to residents or put them at risk for death or serious injury.

Many times, the very facilities that are entrusted with the care of loved ones break this trust, violating the rights and safety of nursing home residents. According to a study brought before the United States Senate over a decade ago, nearly one in every three facilities had been found guilty of abuse; the study also added that this rate could be expected to increase. If you have a family member or a friend in a nursing home facility, you need to be aware of the various forms elder abuse can take and their warnings signs, as well as how you and your Raleigh nursing home abuse lawyer can take action.

Whether it is from staff members or other residents, many nursing home residents are at risk for physical and sexual abuses, as well as verbal and emotional abuses.

Signs a family should look for when they suspect neglect or abuse:

  • Bed / pressure sores
  • Low self-esteem or depression
  • Use of physical or chemical restraints or psychotropic medication not consistent with that authorized by the physician
  • Bruising and/or fractures
  • Malnutrition
  • Poor personal hygiene

The above injuries occur from residents not being taken to the toilet properly, not fed properly, given insufficient fluids, over medicated, dropping residents causing bruising and fractures, ignoring requests from residents, from call lights not being answered properly, residents being left in bed all day or not moved while in bed. These are all forms of neglect which occur on a much more frequent basis in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Nursing Home Neglect Checklist

The following is a checklist that the justice center has developed for family members to look for if they have a loved one residing in a nursing home and/or assisted living facility.

  • Do you notice continued signs of dehydration or malnutrition?
  • Have you noticed the resident is less active or less able to move about?
  • Have you noticed emotional changes, mood swings, withdrawals, anxiety or other fears in the resident?
  • Are residents dressed appropriately for the season and time of day?
  • Are the residents living quarters clean?
  • Are the resident’s medical conditions being treated in a timely fashion?
  • Does the resident seem to be suffering from persisting viruses and/or infections?
  • Are all medications being administered in a timely and appropriate fashion?
  • Have there been delays between incidents and notification of the doctor and the family and/or guardian?
  • Has the resident been experiencing frequent falls, or broken bones?
  • Does there seem to be adequate staffing and supervision?
  • Are the caregivers speaking of the resident as a burden or treat the resident with indifference?
  • Does the caregiver react defensively to routine questions about the resident’s care?

Our nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys also prepared a list of possible criteria for establishing a case against a nursing home. If any of the below has happened to your loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility, contact the nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Whitley Law Firm as soon as possible.

Possible Litigation Conditions for Nursing Home Residents

  • A nursing home resident develops pressure sores or bed sores (decubitus ulcers)
  • A nursing home resident sustains an injury resulting in the need for emergency room treatment or hospitalization
  • A nursing home resident requires emergency room treatment or hospitalization and does not receive it or does not receive it in a timely manner
  • Any occurrence of a broken bone, especially a fractured hip
  • An injury or death sustained during, or shortly after, an episode of wandering (i.e. a confused or disoriented resident “wanders” away from the facility, and the staff is not aware that the resident is missing for some period of time)
  • If there are frequent episodes of a resident “wandering” even though no injury is sustained and/or if the staff does not quickly and promptly report all episodes of wandering to the resident’s family and physician. This is then staff inattention and qualifies as neglect
  • Any injury resulting from restraining (tying down) a confused or disoriented resident
  • Heavy use of medications to sedate a restless confused or disoriented resident without frequent supervision and recording of the resident’s condition by nursing staff
  • Heavy medication and sedation is used in place of adequate nursing care, nursing staff, and supervision
  • Failure of the medical staff to regularly review and re-evaluate the usage of heavy medication by licensed nursing staff, pharmacists, physicians, and psychiatrists and to inform the resident’s family of the situation
  • Failure of the medical staff to follow accepted safeguards when using heavy sedation, i.e. maintaining a safe environment for the sedated resident, frequent laboratory screening to assure that toxic levels of medication do not exist and physical monitoring of the resident for medication side effects (loss of appetite, difficulty in urination, constipation, etc.)
  • Resident sustaining an injury while sedated
  • The wrong medication was given to a resident or the resident fails to receive a prescribed medication
  • Rapid weight loss or weight gain by a resident without physician and family notification and a change in treatment being provided
  • Unexplained or unexpected death of a resident
  • Nursing home equipment usage results in an injury to a resident
  • One nursing home resident injures another resident
  • A nursing home resident is injured by or verbally/psychologically abused by a staff member or another resident
  • A nursing home resident is sexually assaulted by another resident or a staff member
  • A nursing home resident is frequently ill, and the illnesses are not properly reported to the physician and the resident’s family

Sometimes, a facility will take security measures too far, trying to keep a resident from wandering or leaving a spot by depriving a resident of access to crutches or a wheelchair. This abuse can lead to dehydration and malnutrition as well as emotional harm. Neglect in nursing homes can take many forms, and this can be just as dangerous as outright abuse. For instance, if a patient who needs help eating, and staff members forget to regularly help this patient, he or she can quickly face dehydration and malnourishment.

As for financial abuse, this can look like anyone who defrauds a resident, takes property, or even has a resident include them in a will or trust. If you notice a lot of money leaving a resident’s bank account, a lot of items going missing, or new estate plan documents being drawn up, you may need to investigate f there has been exploitation.

How You Can Respond to Possible Symptoms of Abuse

If you see anything that causes you to suspect that these criminal actions have occurred, or if you are told about instances of abuse, here is what you can do:

  • Investigate: Make sure you understood correctly, look for further signs, take pictures, find video footage, track down medical records, etc.
  • See if you can transfer your loved one to another facility
  • Report to officers or the DA: see what they think of the evidence
  • Submit a complaint: let social services know what’s happened
  • Talk to a lawyer: learn about taking legal action against a nursing home

If you are looking for a legal professional to pursue justice on you and a loved one’s behalf, you can rely on the Whitley Law Firm. Our dedicated personal injury lawyers in Raleigh have nearly 40 years of experience handling personal injury and wrongful death claims, decades of fighting for the rights of the injured and of families who have lost loved ones. We understand that this is likely a difficult time for you, and we are ready to provide compassionate and effective advocacy, to ensure that legal snags and technicalities do not get in the way of achieving just results.