It is hard enough as it is when we have a parent or a family member residing in a nursing home. Still, learning that a beloved person suffered injuries in what we otherwise consider safe, nurturing, and professional environments is excruciating. Can we do something about this? Yes, and today we will learn how to approach nursing home injuries and what to do about them!
Learn about the Types of Common Injuries in Nursing Homes
The most common types of injuries a person can experience in a nursing home are trips and falls. In comparison to those residing in assisted living communities, seniors in nursing homes usually have complex health issues. From low mobility and flexibility to mild cognitive impairments and chronic diseases, the causes that elders are more vulnerable to accidents are many.
By state and even federal law, the nursing home facility where your family member resides has to notify the next of keen when a senior fell or suffered any physical injury. Failure of such notification raises a red flag for the family, who should start investigating for potential neglect or abuse from the nursing home’s staff. If that is the case, you need to immediately consult with nursing home abuse attorneys, who will make sure that everyone responsible will be held accountable for the misconduct.
In general, one accidental fall of a senior does not mean you have cause for concerns or legal action. However, if the falls increase in frequency or your family member displays other types of injuries, you are in your right to suspect abuse.
Nursing Home Injuries that Trigger Suspicion
In an ideal world, all the seniors living in nursing homes should enjoy decent lives, safe environments, and above-standard medical care, from both a physical and mental point of view. We leave them in the professional hands of trained people who treat our parents and family members with mindfulness, kindness, and concern.
Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world – quite the contrary. According to recent statistics, families, authorities, and attorneys face around 5 million cases of elders’ abuse in nursing homes. The gruesome numbers show that at least 1 in 10 seniors living in a nursing home experienced one form or another of physical, sexual, emotional, or even financial abuse and exploitation. With many elders in nursing homes not being able to report such abuses, it is your duty as a family member to pay attention to what goes on in the nursing home. Experts estimate that 1 in 25 abuse cases get the reporting and justice they deserve.
One of the first things to do is noticing the common nursing home injuries that warrant a closer investigation, formal notification, reporting to the authorities, and, most likely, hiring an attorney to defend the resident’s rights. With so many seniors suffering from neglect and abuse in nursing homes, having a lawyer consult you regarding the types, frequency, and intensity of the injuries is the wise step to take. Should you request compensation for your parent’s abuse, you need a legal team to see if there is a legitimate cause of action and make a case for you. Therefore, here are the most common nursing home injuries that deserve an investigation:
- Bone fractures and breaks occurring with or without significant falls;
- Bedsores – while frequently occurring in hospitals and nursing homes, you should be mindful about their intensity;
- Bruises, cuts, burns, and sores;
- Signs of emotional or sexual abuse – these are subtle and not always evident to family members. Still, they can include the resident’s progressive feelings of fear and anguish, anxiety, depression, nervousness, social withdrawal, changes in behavior, disrupted sleeping patterns, unresponsiveness, etc.
- Malnutrition and dehydration;
- Poor hygiene;
- Missing necessary medical devices, such as glasses, hearing aid, cane, medication, etc.;
- Missing personal items – wallet, photos, phone, etc.
- Medication errors and health complications related to medical mistreatments;
- Episodes of wandering and eloping;
- Infections and sepsis, etc.
It is best if you would notice all these signs and injuries and pay them the attention they deserve. Since most nursing home residents suffer from some forms of cognitive impairments, psychological problems, and even dementia, nobody tends to take them seriously if they report neglect or abuse. You should, however, consider these matters and even discuss things with a lawyer. The nursing home will most likely try to minimize the injuries’ severity, find excuses, and so on.
What to Do If You Suspect Neglect or Abuse in the Nursing Home
Fortunately, you have plenty of means and solutions to report seniors’ abuse or neglect and seek justice and compensation for their pain and suffering. Here are some ways you can go about this, from the bottom to the top!
- Report your suspicions and file an official complaint to the nursing home’s administration or board of directors;
- File a report/complaint to the Long-Care Ombudsmen in your state. Under federal law, each state has to have an Ombudsman Program to address complaints and advocate for rights and improvements in the long-care system;
- Alternatively, you can contact your state’s adult protective services (APS);
- Call the local police or law enforcement and file a complaint with them;
- Hire a lawyer to advise you regarding the grounds you have for a civil lawsuit against the nursing home or members of the nursing home’s staff;
- Get in touch with the District Attorney office to file a formal complaint if you want to go down the route of a penal lawsuit.
No matter how you decide to proceed, the first thing you need to do is notice all the accidents or changes in the health status (physical or mental) of your family member. Take your senior’s complaints seriously. If all signs point towards a case of negligence or abuse, it is time for you to take legal action.