What Constitutes Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?
Elderly and disabled individuals who require around-the-clock care in hospitals and assisted-living communities are among the most vulnerable members of society. Tragically, they too often become victims of neglect and abuse. The causes are many, ranging from lack of skilled and adequately trained staff at the facilities to intentional mistreatment motivated by hopes of financial gain.
The Columbus personal injury attorneys and medical malpractice lawyers with Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman are always ready to help patients who suffer nursing home neglect and their families. As part of that mission, we offer the following tips on detecting evidence of negligent or malicious treatment, as well what steps to take when such inexcusable actions occur.
Neglect and Abuse Take Many Forms
Experts on aging warn nursing home residents and their loved ones to be alert for these types of mistreatment:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Financial abuse and fraud/exploitation
- Neglect and abandonment
- Sexual abuse
Most of these harmful acts occur out of the sight of anyone but the perpetrators and their victims. Signs that they may be happening include:
- Aggression and anger toward family members
- Bed sores that go untreated and the appearance of unexplained bruises, burns, and cuts
- Decrease in attention to personal hygiene and physical appearance
- Depression and confusion not explained by illness
- Loss of interest in hobbies and spending time with others
- Sudden weight loss
- Trouble sleeping
- Unusual withdrawals from bank accounts and unannounced sales of valuable property
Nursing Home Residents Deserve Protection
Medicare, which along with Medicaid covers a majority of nursing home care expenses in the United States, lists the following rights of long-term care patients:
- Be treated with respect
- Participate in activities
- Be free from discrimination as defined under local, state, and federal laws
- Be free from abuse and neglect
- Be free from restraints used for punishment or the mere convenience of staff
- Receive proper medical care, which includes remaining fully informed of procedures and care plans and retaining the right to consent to or refuse treatments for oneself or through a health care proxy/decision maker such as a spouse or adult child with power of attorney
- Make complaints without suffering adverse consequences
All nursing home residents have these rights, whether they pay for their own care, rely on private insurance or retirement plans, or depend on federal and state safety safety-net programs to pick up the tab. Violations of a patient’s rights can be crimes; they always merit attention, remediation, and compensation.
Report Nursing Home Neglect and Consult a Caring Patient’s Rights Attorney
Clear evidence of abuse and neglect should be reported to local police. That is, if you witness a nursing home staffer assaulting or stealing from a patient, alert law enforcement officials.
Suspicions of mistreatment should be taken first to facility managers and administrators. Family members and friends of the potential victim should also keep detailed records of their loved one’s physical and mental condition, and speak with other residents who may have more information about what is really going on than staff members are willing to divulge.
The Ohio Department of Health maintains this website to collect and disseminate reports of possible and confirmed patient neglect and abuse. Information is shared with state and federal agencies whose agents have the authority to investigate, bring charges, and compel improvements.
When making an official report of nursing home neglect or patient abuse becomes necessary, it is also time to contact an Ohio medical malpractice attorney. The physical and financial injuries inflicted by negligent or abusive health care provider and facility staff members can leave victims with seemingly insurmountable expenses. Those responsible for inflicting such hardship on already debilitated patients must be made to be pay.
To explore your options for holding organizations and individuals accountable for nursing home neglect, call Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman at (800) 678-3318 or complete this form to schedule a free case consultation.