Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is a growing problem in New York and many parts of the country. According to the National Council on Aging, one in ten elderly nursing home residents has been the victim of some form of nursing home abuse and neglect.
If your loved one has been the victim of nursing home negligence, it is important to understand what legal action you can take. Contact us at The Pagan Law Firm and schedule a free consultation. Our personal injury law firm has years of experience in malpractice and nursing home negligence claims. We will fight for you and your loved one and will get you the compensation you deserve.
Read on to learn about the different types of nursing home abuse and what you can do if your loved one is a victim. We’ll also go into the warning signs of elder abuse and the proper steps for filing nursing home abuse lawsuits.
What is Nursing Home Neglect?
Nursing home neglect is the intentional or unintentional failure to provide proper care to elderly nursing home residents. It occurs when the staff members of a nursing home fail to render long-term care services based on a standard of care.
By breaching the standard of care, staff members and the nursing home as a whole become liable for any injuries and emotional distress caused by negligence. If found negligent, nursing homes must compensate the elderly resident and the resident’s loved ones. They must pay for damages like pain and suffering and physical injuries.
Settlement amounts can increase significantly in cases of wrongful death. In such nursing home abuse cases, nursing homes are on the hook to compensate loved ones for other damages such as funeral costs and non-economic losses.
Nursing home abuse comes in many forms. In the next section, we will go over the different ways nursing homes commit negligence.
The Different Types of Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing homes can be liable for negligence in several ways. We’ll go into each of them in greater detail.
Abandonment is the broadest form of nursing home neglect. There are many ways a nursing home abandons elderly residents, including leaving residents alone for long periods of time.
They can also be guilty of abandonment by failing to attend to an elderly resident’s physical needs. An example of this is when staff members fail to regularly change a resident’s catheter or ostomy pouch.
Other forms of abandonment include relocating an elderly resident to an area outside the nursing home without notifying the resident’s family members. This is one of the worst forms of abandonment.
Failure to Provide Proper Medical Treatment
Many nursing home residents enter long-term care with pre-existing medical conditions. Of these conditions, many of them are chronic illnesses that require round-the-clock management and regular medication.
For this reason, nursing homes must ensure that residents with illnesses receive ample care and medication management. Nursing homes that fail to provide proper treatment become liable for neglect.
The failure to provide proper medical treatment leads to deterioration in a resident’s health. In the worst-case scenario, this form of neglect can lead to a resident’s wrongful death at the hands of staff members.
Failure to Prevent Medical Conditions
Some nursing home residents enter long-term care with pre-existing conditions that make them susceptible to other illnesses.
When a nursing home admits such residents, staff must provide a safe and healthy environment for them. Otherwise, the residents risk acquiring medical conditions that can lead to severe illness. In the worst-case scenario, the inability to ensure a healthy and safe environment leads to the death of a resident.
Any failure to do so constitutes a failure to prevent medical conditions. This is a form of neglect that can render nursing homes liable for injuries and wrongful death.
Often, the way to establish this form of abuse and neglect is to compare the resident’s pre and post-nursing home admission condition. This will involve conducting interviews with the resident and evaluating medical records.
If there’s any sign of abuse, a resident’s loved one can seek the services of a nursing home abuse lawyer. The lawyer can then file a claim against the negligent facility.
Neglect of Basic Needs
Another form of nursing home abuse is the neglect of a resident’s basic needs. Residents have more needs compared to other demographics due to their vulnerability to illness and activity impairments.
For this reason, nursing homes must ensure that residents have ample access to food, medications, and recreational activities. These facilities must also allow residents to move within their capacities and facilitate mobility wherever necessary.
Elderly abuse and neglect occur when a nursing facility fails to address a resident’s needs. Like with the failure to prevent medical conditions, a nursing home abuse lawyer can simply examine medical records to establish abuse.
Our nursing home abuse lawyers at The Pagan Law Firm are here if you suspect that your loved one’s needs are being neglected. Call us at 212-967-8202 now and have an experienced lawyer representing you in your claim.
Neglect of Personal Hygiene
Personal hygiene is a basic need of every nursing home resident. For this reason, the staff must help elderly residents meet hygienic needs. Failure to do so is considered nursing home abuse, and it’s one of the most common types of elder abuse in New York nursing facilities.
Personal hygiene is essential to elderly residents. Besides the fact that it’s a fundamental right, personal hygiene is also an important component of infectious disease control.
Without good hygiene, residents can suffer from various skin infections like Methicillin-Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA) infections. Diabetic residents are especially at risk since their chronic high blood sugar levels predispose them to various skin infections besides MRSA.
It’s not difficult to spot deficiencies in personal hygiene. All you need to look out for are signs of neglect like a messy appearance, unmade bed linens, and dirt on the face or other parts of the body.
You can also detect the nursing home’s neglect of your elderly loved one’s hygiene by using your smell senses. If you notice a recurrent odor that doesn’t seem to go away, it’s a sign that the nursing home isn’t addressing your loved one’s hygiene needs.
Our nursing home abuse lawyers at The Pagan Law Firm are here if you suspect abuse and neglect. Call our attorneys at 212-967-8202 and get aggressive legal representation for your lawsuit.
Emotional and Mental Abuse
Emotional elder abuse consists of treating residents in a degrading way. Nursing home staff may be liable for emotional elder abuse by yelling, belittling, or ignoring the requests of elderly residents. Another way nursing facilities commit this form of abuse is by humiliating a resident in front of other residents.
Emotional abuse is one of the most challenging types of abuse to identify. We can attribute this to two reasons.
First, the signs of emotional abuse will not be present with every visit. An emotional state is subjective. For this reason, you’ll have nothing more than your loved one’s non-verbal cues to go on if you suspect emotional abuse — and it’s easy to miss these cues or misunderstand them.
Another reason why emotional elder abuse is hard to detect is that certain conditions can make emotional expression difficult for elderly individuals. Degenerative medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease cause elderly people to develop “mask-like” expressions. These expressions make detecting emotional changes difficult.
With no reliable cues for emotion, you can only rely on what your loved ones say. If your loved one tells you that they’re suffering from abuse, don’t delay. Contact The Pagan Law Firm’s attorneys immediately to file an elder abuse claim.
Financial abuse occurs when the primary caregiver takes advantage of a resident’s decreased cognitive acuity and memory to extort money. Often, the perpetrators of this form of abuse will trick elderly residents into disclosing credit card details and bank account information to get access to the resident’s money. At times, the family members are guilty of this form of elder abuse. However, elderly residents in a nursing home facility may also be victims.
The Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
As mentioned earlier, the signs of nursing home abuse aren’t always easy to spot. Nevertheless, here are some things to look for.
The following are warning signs of abuse that are most commonly seen in nursing home neglect lawsuits. However, you don’t need to find all of these signs to claim abuse. Having one or two is reason enough for you to call a lawyer.
Signs of Physical Abuse and Neglect
One of the more obvious signs of abuse to look for are signs of physical abuse. This can occur in several ways. Nursing home staff can abuse residents physically by restraining, gripping, or mishandling them.
Because of the many ways in which physical abuse can occur, you must look for signs of physical trauma. Trauma will manifest itself as a bruise, cut, wound, or even broken bones. In some cases, elderly residents may suffer from joint issues due to repeated physical trauma. Bruises on the wrists and ankles can signal that the nursing home uses restraints — something no nursing home should do.
Other physical signs of abuse and neglect to look for are decubitus ulcers. Decubitus ulcers — or bedsores — are breaks in the skin, usually along the joints and bony prominences. These are common in bedridden residents. Also, these ulcers signal neglect, often indicating that bedridden residents remain in the same position for hours on end.
When you spot bedsores, the staff may be neglecting your loved one. The presence of bedsores and other signs of physical abuse is sufficient reason for you to call a lawyer.
Nursing facilities are supposed to be healthy and caring environments for residents. There should be no reason for elderly residents to feel any unease in their long-term care home. If your loved one always appears distant or agitated when you visit, consider it a red flag. Your elderly loved one may be the victim of elder abuse in the nursing home.
Agitation and anxiety are indicators of abuse. However, not all residents who experience these are victims of abuse. Some degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease predispose elderly individuals to disorientation, which can lead to anxiety, especially with new staff.
For this reason, agitation and anxiety are early signs of abuse you must corroborate with other signs of abuse. Once you’ve confirmed the presence of abuse, don’t delay. Contact our attorneys at The Pagan Law Firm immediately.
Signs of Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is among the most disturbing forms of nursing home abuse. According to the Nursing Home Abuse Guide, more than two-thirds of all elderly sexual abuse occurs in nursing homes. Worse yet, the vast majority of abuse occurs at the hands of primary caregivers.
Sexual abuse won’t be easy to detect or prove. However, you can get an inkling of it when you notice your elderly loved one developing infections more frequently. Watch out for frequent fevers, flu-like symptoms, and blood when your loved one urinates.
Behavioral cues to look for include increased anxiety, guarding, and agitation when you’re about to leave. However, these behavioral signs may not always be due to sexual abuse. Nevertheless, these should alert you to the fact that something is going on. When you suspect abuse of any kind, reach out to our nursing home abuse attorneys at The Pagan Law Firm.
Medication errors are one of the most common forms of abuse and medical malpractice. When a nursing home commits errors with your loved one’s medications, the effects can be catastrophic due to your loved one’s age.
Excessive medications can lead to extensive liver and kidney damage in elderly individuals. Also, administering the wrong medication can lead to wrongful death, especially if the medication lowers the cardiac and respiratory rates.
Every assisted living facility must have trained staff and procedures in place to reduce errors. When a nursing facility commits errors with your loved one’s medications, file a complaint and call a lawyer for representation and guidance on what to do next.
What to Do if Your Loved One is the Victim of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
If you suspect elder abuse, you can file a claim against the nursing home that cares for your loved one. A successful claim will help you recover financial compensation that pays for medical bills, medical care expenses, and non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
To ensure the best possible outcome for your claim, you must follow the legal process for personal injury and elder abuse claims. By following the steps we’re sharing here, you’ll be a step closer to a successful nursing home abuse lawsuit.
Take Notes and Gather Evidence
The first thing you must do is document everything that points to elder abuse. Take photographs of your loved one’s bruises, cuts, bedsores, or anything that indicates physical abuse. Also, take note of any changes in your loved one’s behavior as these can indicate sexual or mental abuse.
Request For Your Loved One’s Medical Records
For documentation purposes, request a copy of your loved one’s medical or nursing facility records. Records will come in handy when you file a complaint with the New York State Department of Health’s Nursing Home Division. An attorney will also be reviewing medical records to build a compelling nursing home abuse case against a nursing home facility.
If the nursing facility refuses to release the records, you can call an attorney for assistance.
File a Complaint Before Calling a Lawyer
Before you call an attorney, you must first file a formal complaint. Representatives of the New York State Department’s Nursing Home Division investigate complaints of abuse in assisted living facilities.
You can file a complaint by calling the nursing home complaint hotline at 1-888-201-4563. You may also fill out the New York Nursing Home Division’s online form.
After you’ve filed a complaint, a representative of the New York City Nursing Home Division will investigate the facility, and the representative may interview staff and other residents. After the investigation, the division will take legal action if it finds that abuse occurred.
Call a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
The New York State Department’s Nursing Home Division takes action after a complaint has been filed. Nevertheless, to recover financial compensation in the form of economic and non-economic damages, you must call experienced personal injury lawyers who represent clients in nursing home abuse cases.
Your lawyer can do several things to bolster your case. First, they can establish and prove negligence on the part of the nursing home. From here, your attorney can cite facts and evidence to prove that the facility’s negligence caused injuries to your family member.
By showing the facility’s failure to follow federal and state laws for assisted living facilities, your case becomes more compelling. As a result, you’ll recover compensation that reimburses your expenses and covers future medical bills.
Do You Need a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer? Contact The Pagan Law Firm
Nursing home abuse takes place in all its forms in New York. If your loved one is a victim, don’t hesitate to reach out to a New York nursing home abuse lawyer.
The Pagan Law Firm has represented clients in various personal injury, medical malpractice, and nursing home abuse cases in the city. We’ve won many nursing home abuse cases for our clients because of our experience and client-centered philosophy.