There are many signs of nursing home abuse or neglect, such as bruising or bed sores or other changes in the behavior of your loved one. Once you are aware of abuse or neglect there are several options to pursue, depending on the severity of the treatment, such as discussing the issues with management, reporting the facility to the police or state licensing board, or pursuing civil damages.
It is important to pay attention for signs of abuse or neglect and if you feel your loved one has suffered harm, reach out to the lawyers at the Sherman Law Firm, who are experienced in all aspects of negligence and personal injury lawsuits. Having brought numerous lawsuits against caretaker facilities and individuals, the Sherman Law Firm offers clients premier legal representation in nursing home abuse cases.
Know the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
Often in a nursing home situation, victims are afraid to tell anyone of abuse because their abuser is in a position of power and control. It is up to you as a family member to be vigilant and follow up on your instincts if you suspect harm. Look for these signs if you feel something is not right.
- Signs of physical abuse.
- Obvious signs of physical abuse include bruising, cuts, scrapes, and broken bones.
- Less obvious signs of physical abuse include tenderness or sensitivity during normal activity and behavioral changes such as fear, timidity, or withdrawal to normal touching such as hugs or physical assistance.
- Signs of neglect.
- Look for warning signs such as bedsores, weight loss, unsanitary conditions, poor hygiene, and odors, among others.
- Changes in health status. Meals and medications should also be delivered at pre-established intervals. If you notice a health change, this could be a sign your loved one isn’t eating or getting medications as prescribed.
- Staff inconsistencies. If you visit regularly, you should know the names of caretaker staff and see them around the facility. If you don’t, this could be a sign of neglect.
Pay Attention to the Situation
Often, signs of abuse or neglect begin after a loved one moves to a new care facility or is assigned a new caretaker. Caretakers often take advantage of new situations to hide their abusive tendencies. Your suspicions may not be unwarranted if they coincide with a move to a new facility or a change in caretakers.
It may also be helpful to talk to other residents in the facility. Often one patient may describe a caretaker as mean or scary based on uncomfortable but legitimate healthcare procedures. Talking to other residents can assist in determining whether a loved one’s claims about a caretaker are accurate or unfounded.
Getting to know the staff can also be helpful. Abusive caretakers take advantage of situations where family members are not involved in a patient’s care routine. Preventing abuse to your loved one may be as simple as being known throughout the facility for being involved and concerned about the quality of care.
How to Get Help
If there are obvious signs of abuse and you fear for your loved one’s safety, you should contact law enforcement and emergency services immediately, with the goal of getting your loved one out of the dangerous situation.
Discuss with Management
If your observations are minor, the first step to resolving an issue is raising the issue with management at the care facility. Request a meeting with management to go over your loved one’s care plan. A care plan covers the type of care your loved one is to receive, depending on his or her individualized circumstances and health condition. The care plan will also define when and under what circumstances the facility should contact you regarding your loved one (for example, whether you should be notified of a fall or some other event).
Report to State Licensing Body
If you have met with a manager and revised the care plan but don’t see any improvements or you suspect a more severe level of abuse or neglect, do not hesitate to reach out to the state nursing home licensing and governing body. In Texas, you can contact the Department of Health and Human Services, which operates a hotline for nursing home abuse and neglect cases. These regulating bodies will investigate any claims of nursing home abuse or neglect.
Seek Civil Compensation
Once you have made sure your loved one is safe and no longer in a dangerous situation, you may also have legal remedies for abuse or neglect. Aside from criminal charges for the actual harm, your loved one may be able to recover monetary damages through a civil lawsuit.
Claims against individuals and facility operators most commonly come in the form of tort claims (claims for acts against a person) or negligence claims. Tort claims include assault and battery while negligence is a claim for failing to provide an adequate standard of care. While an individual caretaker is often liable for the actual harmful act, a facility may also be liable as the caretaker’s employer or for failing to have appropriate safeguards in place to ensure no harm comes to the patients in its facility.
Although you may feel uncomfortable taking legal action against a caregiving facility, it is important to remember that often the only way to get companies to take notice of problems and institute changes is by filing a lawsuit. Lawsuits are expensive and companies often put policies and procedures in place to help avoid the risk of being sued. As such, lawsuits are important drivers to ensure care facilities follow policies and procedures that protect patients like your loved one.
Contact Our Houston Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Lawyer
If you believe your loved one was or is being abused or neglected at a caretaking facility you may want to seek the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney at the Sherman Law Firm. Our track record of successfully representing victims of nursing home abuse and neglect and other personal injuries will give you the confidence to make the best decisions for your loved one. Contact us today to discuss your options and our no upfront cost representation.