Abuse and neglect take many forms, but the types that the personal injury and medical malpractice attorneys with Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman deal with most often involve nursing home patients and long-term care facility residents. The number one reason to report signs of abuse and neglect of elderly or disabled people is because the problems occur so frequently. Evidence of mistreatment and exploitation can never be ignored. To somewhat strain a metaphor, smoke shows fire in a shockingly high number of suspected abuse and neglect incidents.
Statistics cited by the National Council on Aging indicate that 10 percent of all U.S. residents older than 60 experience abuse or neglect. This represents more than 5 million people, and a significant proportion of the mistreatment happens in caregiving relationships. Bearing that out, research cited by the federal Administration on Aging’s National Center on Elder Abuse revealed that 90 percent of nursing home residents had witnessed a fellow resident being mistreated.
Recognize Warning Signs
Bruises, sudden weight loss, steep declines in health and/or responsiveness, and fearfulness can be signs of physical and emotional abuse. Unexplained spending or transfers of property can indicate financial exploitation. Neglect can be shown by the development of bed sores and an increased use of restraints.
Reporting suspected abuse or neglect can accomplish many positive things. The first is that it provides grounds for moving a mistreated nursing home patient or long-term care facility resident to a healthier environment while breaking a contract without penalty. Even if a relocation does not occur, identifying problems facilitates beneficial adjustments in personnel and therapies.
The reporting chain should look like this, with little time wasted waiting for improvements before moving to the next link in the chain:
Skip directly to the law enforcement officers and regulators if you suspect crimes such as sexual assaults and financial fraud have been committed. Also, do not hesitate to relocate a person you strongly believe is being injured or stolen from.
Protect Others and Hold Perpetrators Accountable
A confirmed report of abuse or neglect can lead to an arrest and civil lawsuit claims for compensation and damages. Health care workers and nursing home administrators found guilty of or liable for mistreating those in their care can lose their licenses, spend time in jail, and be ordered to pay victims and families. The intent of each possible penalty is twofold—to prevent the perpetrator from harming others and to deter others from acting in abusive or negligent ways.
To discuss any concerns you have over a family member being abused or neglected in a health care setting, contact the Columbus, Ohio, offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman by calling (800) 678-3318 or completing this form. An initial consultation will cost you nothing.