We all worry when we have a loved one who lives in a nursing home. We wonder if they will get the nutrition and care they need, and whether anyone will hurt, mistreat, or take advantage of them. You cannot be at their side 24 hours a day, and they are vulnerable to abuse. A nursing home abuse lawyer in Coconut Creek, FL can protect your loved one and fight to get them all the compensation they deserve.
The Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes
Five basic kinds of abuse that take place in nursing homes:
- Physical abuse: when someone hits, slaps, pushes or otherwise assaults a nursing home resident physically. Physical abuse can also be when the staff members intentionally leave a person lying in their own waste, fail to follow the medical protocols for preventing bed sores, or withhold food, hydration, or medication.
- Financial abuse: seniors are frequent targets of con artists. It is financial abuse if someone steals your loved one’s personal items or cash. Another example is when someone forces or tricks someone into signing a power of attorney and then fraudulently takes over the person’s real estate, car, credit cards, investments, bank accounts, or Social Security benefits.
- Emotional abuse: when someone hurts your loved one psychologically. Humiliating, harassing, or threatening a nursing home resident is emotional abuse. Ridiculing a person’s medical condition, impairments, religion, ethnic origin, intelligence, sexual orientation or identity, or gender are all types of emotional abuse. Saying hateful things to the resident can be considered abuse, such as telling them that their family does not love them.
- Sexual abuse: no nursing home resident should have to endure sexual impropriety from the facility’s employees or other residents. The home should investigate and take corrective and preventative action as soon as someone makes allegations of unwanted sexual behavior. Sexual assault is a form of sexual abuse. Engaging in sexual activity with a resident who cannot give consent is also sexual abuse.
- Basic rights violations: nursing home residents have guaranteed and protected rights in all facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid funds or certification, even if the individual resident does not receive Medicare or Medicaid benefits. These rights are a matter of state and federal law. When someone violates a nursing home resident’s basic rights, it can be abuse.
The Nursing Home Resident Bill of Rights
State and federal laws mandate that residents of long-term care facilities receive certain protections. The Nursing Home Resident Bill of Rights lays out what a resident is allowed to do and what the nursing home must do. For example, the resident has a right to:
- Make their medical decisions
- Participate in activities
- Manage their finances
- Have personal property in their room
- Enjoy appropriate privacy
- Spend time with visitors
- Receive respectful treatment
- Make complaints
- Form or participate in resident groups
- Have a designated contact person notified
- Contact the long-term care ombudsman
The nursing home must provide the resident with detailed information about the facility’s services and fees. The nursing home is not allowed to:
- Withhold medical treatment, including medication
- Restrain residents with chemical restraints (sedation or other drugs) or physical restraints
- Discriminate against a resident
- Hold back nutrition or hydration
- Prevent a person from exercising his rights as a U.S. citizen (such as voting)
- Improperly transfer or discharge a resident
Red Flags of Abuse in Nursing Homes
The signs of abuse will vary, depending on the type of harm the person has suffered. You should investigate the situation, notify the nursing home, get medical treatment for your loved one, or contact law enforcement (depending on the severity and facts of the individual case) if you observe any of the following warning signs of abuse in a nursing home.
Your loved one might be experiencing physical abuse if you see unexplained or repeated injuries like bruises, scratches, cuts, scrapes, sprains, or fractures. Also, weight loss or dehydration without a known cause should get immediate attention.
You should suspect financial abuse if your relative’s wallet, purse, checkbook, or credit cards are missing, or items from her room disappear. Other warning signs include unusually high credit card balances, lower bank and investment account balances than expected, or unpaid bills. Your relative might be worried about money more than usual or stop wanting to go on excursions like eating out at restaurants.
If your loved one seems to be more anxious, depressed, or more fearful than normal, he might be the victim of emotional abuse. Shame, evasiveness, hypervigilance, or increased confusion can be signs of psychological mistreatment. It is essential to get to the underlying behavior causing the emotional changes since the other forms of abuse often affect the victim’s mood and behavior, and you do not want to overlook physical, sexual, financial, or other abuse.
If you learn that your relative has developed a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or infection, or has an injury to the genital area, you need to investigate the possibility of sexual abuse. Be aware that this harm frequently causes behavioral changes in your loved one.
Observe how your loved one reacts to the staff members and other residents. If you notice that she slinks back in her chair, becomes quiet or fearful, gets angry, or shows other reactions, ask her about how those people treat her. The other person might be violating her basic rights.
How We Can Help Your Loved One
A nursing home abuse lawyer in Coconut Creek, FL can investigate and get the records from the long-term care facility to show such things as your loved one’s medication schedule, nursing notes, documents, and medical file. When appropriate, we can file a complaint with the nursing home and the state of Florida.
We can also report abuse to law enforcement and government agencies. The Florida Department of Elder Affairs works to protect seniors from abuse, and the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) handles complaints against nursing homes. Our state takes elder abuse seriously, so we can report the problem to the Florida Attorney General’s Office.
If your loved one passed away due to nursing home abuse, we can file a wrongful death action to get you the compensation you deserve. While this compensation will not bring back your lost loved one, they can help cover funeral costs and other damages you are facing.
Whether the guilty party is an individual, a long-term care facility, or both, we can file a personal injury lawsuit to stop them from mistreating your loved one and to pay for the harm they have caused. You can schedule your free consultation with a nursing home abuse lawyer in Coconut Creek, FL by calling the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine at 1-800-747-3733 today.