Nursing Home Injuries Lawyers in Columbia Protecting Your Loved Ones
With life expectancies overall trending upward and advancements in medical care helping people live longer, the need for nursing homes as skilled care facilities has also increased. In the best of cases, nursing homes are safe havens for older adults who are able to live out their golden years with 24/7 care and an attentive staff who ensures that they stay comfortable. Unfortunately, this best case scenario doesn’t always happen.
Nursing homes often have high turnover rates for staff, which can mean that your loved one is being taken care of by someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience or just isn’t invested in doing their job properly. High patient censuses and staffing issues can also lead to unintentional errors that can have big consequences. In this article, you will find information on nursing home injuries, what to look for if you suspect nursing home abuse, and how to start taking legal action.
Suspected nursing home abuse should always be taken seriously. Call our office to find out more about what you can do when you suspect that nursing home injuries are a bigger issue and how we can help.
What Is Nursing Home Abuse?
When you think of nursing home abuse, you may think of someone physically striking a resident or withholding medications or food. And while these would definitely qualify, they aren’t the only kind of elder abuse that can happen at nursing homes. Take a deeper look at four types of abuse that nursing home residents may be victims of and how to spot the signs.
Physical abuse in nursing homes can be either direct action or happen through neglect. For example, a staff member hitting or burning a resident or using restraints improperly could all be nursing home abuse. However, it could also be not doing things that are required to maintain a standard of care. For example, not serving the resident proper meals, allowing their room to be too hot or too cold, or not providing medication as prescribed could all be examples of neglect that would fall under physical abuse.
Emotional abuse can be much more difficult to prove – especially in the courts – but it’s something that can often be added to a case where there is physical nursing home abuse. Anytime a resident is being abused, it is emotionally distressing for them, but there can be other scenarios that specifically focus on emotional abuse. For example, yelling or cursing at a resident could be considered emotional abuse. Threatening them or using fear to try to control them, such as a staff member telling a resident that they’re going to poison their food, would also count as emotional abuse.
Sexual abuse is especially difficult to think about, but it is something that happens. Perpetrators may purposefully choose residents who are too frail to fight back or who are experiencing mental decline that may make it harder for them to articulate what’s going on to report the abuse. Some signs that a resident may be experiencing sexual nursing home abuse are frequent urinary tract or yeast infections, complaining of pain in their private area, intense fear of certain staff members, and an abrupt change in disposition.
Financial abuse is another type of elder abuse that is unfortunately all too common but may not be at the forefront of people’s minds when thinking about nursing home abuse. Financial abuse in a nursing home often happens when a staff member gains the trust of a resident and gets access to their finances. For example, a resident may ask for help with writing a check, which would give the staff member access to the resident’s financial accounts. But it can also be seemingly smaller issues, such as manipulating the resident into giving them expensive gifts such as jewelry or money.
Financial abuse can be especially difficult to become aware of because it’s often disguised as an overly caring staff member, and it doesn’t present with many of the same red flags as the other types of abuse. If your loved one’s financials seem to be not adding up or possessions start to come up missing, it’s important to consider that financial abuse may be at play.
What Are the Most Common Types of Nursing Home Injuries?
Older adults are more prone to injury due to more fragile bones and loss of balance and coordination, but it’s important to be aware of the common nursing home injuries. Here are some of the common injuries that residents may sustain as a result of nursing home negligence or abuse:
Dehydration or malnutrition
Bruises from the bed rails
Injuries due to falls
It’s important to keep in mind that these injuries, particularly if it’s just a single random event, don’t necessarily prove abuse. There can be legitimate reasons for nursing home residents to sustain injuries, but it’s important to follow up and ensure that any injury is explained, documented, and handled appropriately. Going through this process can also help you better establish a pattern of injuries that could point to nursing home abuse.
What Is Involved in a Nursing Home Negligence Case?
Nursing home neglect and nursing home abuse cases are handled through the civil court system. In many of these cases, the nursing homes themselves are the defendants and not necessarily just one member of the staff. In general, you are required to show evidence that a few specific conditions have been met for your case.
For nursing home injury cases, you need to show that the nursing home had a duty of care. This is usually established easily through the contract and paperwork that is signed when the resident goes into the nursing home.
Next, you will need to show that the nursing home did not fulfill that duty of care. This is where you show that there was either neglect or outright abuse that results in a lack of proper care.
Lastly, you will need to show that harm was done to the resident as a direct result of not fulfilling that duty of care. This could be physical injury, emotional distress, pain and suffering, or financial loss. This harm is the basis for your monetary complaint against the defendant.
How Can I Protect Loved Ones Who Are Nursing Home Residents?
In some cases, putting a loved one into a skilled care facility, like nursing homes, where they have around-the-clock help and medical care is the best option. If you’re worried about the possibility of nursing home abuse, taking precautions to ensure your loved one is getting proper care can help. You may also want to talk to one of our nursing home abuse lawyers about what your options are if you suspect abuse is already happening.
Keep in Touch
In general, the more involved the family members are with the nursing home resident, the lower their chances of being a victim of nursing home neglect. This is because residents who have family who visit more often are more likely to notice changes in their loved one’s demeanor, which can be a red flag for nursing home abuse, and they are also more likely to notice unexplained injuries. Even if you’re not able to physically visit on a regular basis, talking with your loved one on the phone and staying up to date on what’s going on in their lives can help mitigate risk.
Know the Staff
It’s also important to be as familiar with the nursing home staff as possible. While it may not be realistic to know who is providing care at every minute of the day, especially if there are frequent staffing changes and turnover, being familiar with your loved one’s primary caregivers can make it easier for you to identify problematic staff members and potentially have someone else assigned. It’s also a good idea to know who the supervisory staff is for that floor or wing so you know who to raise any concerns to.
Understand Your Rights
Knowing your rights and what to do if you suspect that your loved one suffered an injury due to neglect or abuse is the first step. Nursing home neglect lawyers have experience with these types of cases and can help you understand what your options are and what your next steps should be once you suspect that your loved one is a victim.
At Cavanaugh & Thickens, LLC, we offer our potential clients a free consultation with one of our nursing home abuse lawyers. This allows them to ask questions about how our firm handles these types of cases and find out if they may have grounds to file a lawsuit. Nursing homes should be a safe haven for older people who are no longer able to care for themselves. If you’re experiencing a situation where that isn’t the case, call (803) 888-2200.