When you have a loved one who lives in a nursing home, you often find yourself concerned about whether she is getting the care she needs. Unfortunately, you also need to think about whether someone is mistreating her. Residents of nursing homes are captive audiences who are vulnerable to abusive treatment.
If someone hurt your loved one in a long-term care facility in Melbourne, Florida, a nursing home abuse lawyer can help. You can call the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine and its injury lawyers at 1-800-747-3733 today for a free consultation.
The Nursing Home Resident Bill of Rights
State and federal laws guarantee certain protections for residents of long-term care facilities. The Nursing Home Resident Bill of Rights states in detail the rights of nursing home residents and the responsibilities of those facilities.
The nursing home is not allowed to interfere with the rights of a nursing home resident to:
- Have personal property in his room
- Enjoy appropriate privacy
- Spend time with visitors
- Participate in activities
- Make his medical decisions
- Manage his finances
- Make complaints
- Form or participate in resident groups
- Have his designated contact person notified
- Contact the long-term care ombudsman
The nursing home has to provide all residents with detailed information about the facilities services and fees. It is a violation of the Nursing Home Resident Bill of Rights if a facility:
- Discriminates against a resident
- Holds back nutrition or hydration
- Withholds medical treatment, including medications
- Restrains residents with chemical restraints, such as sedation or other drugs
- Restrains residents by using physical restraints
- Improperly transfers or discharges a resident
- Prevents a person from exercising her rights as a US citizen, such as voting
What Constitutes Nursing Home Abuse
Residents of nursing homes can be the victims of one or more of these categories of abuse:
Physical abuse — When someone slaps, hits, pushes, or in some other way harms the victim physically. It can also be physical abuse when a staff member withholds food, hydration or medication. If a nursing home employee fails to follow medical protocols for preventing bedsores or intentionally leaves a resident lying in his own waste, the situation can rise to the level of physical abuse.
Psychological abuse — When someone hurts a resident emotionally. It is emotional abuse to humiliate, threaten, or harass a nursing home resident. Also, making a person’s medical condition, impairment, intelligence, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation or identity, or gender the subject of ridicule is emotional abuse.
Sexual abuse — Can take the form of either unwanted sexual behavior or engaging in sexual activity with a resident who does not have the capacity to give consent. Perpetrators of sexual abuse in nursing homes can include the facility’s employees, fellow residents, visitors, or outsiders. As soon as a nursing home receives allegations of any type of unwanted sexual behavior, the facility should investigate and take corrective and preventative action to protect the residents.
Financial abuse — Crooks and con artists love to target older Americans, whether the victim lives in an assisted living center or in the community. If someone steals your loved one’s personal items or cash, it is financial abuse. It is also financial abuse when someone fraudulently takes over an elderly person’s Social Security benefits, bank accounts, investments, real estate, car, credit cards, or other assets.
Basic rights violations — Federal law guarantees and protects the rights of nursing home residents in all facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid funds or certification.
It does not matter whether the individual resident receives Medicare or Medicaid benefits. All residents get the full protection of federal law. State laws also protect the basic rights of people who live in nursing homes. It can be abuse when someone violates a nursing home resident’s basic rights.
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Different types of abuse can have various symptoms, and people can vary in how they react when someone mistreats them. Depending on the severity and facts of the individual case, you should look into the situation, talk with the nursing home director, get medical treatment for your loved one, or call law enforcement if you observe any of the following warning signs of abuse in a long-term care facility:
- Physical abuse often presents as unexplained or repeated injuries, such as bruises, cuts, scrapes, scratches, burns, springs, or fractures. Also, if your loved one loses weight or appears dehydrated without a known cause, he needs immediate medical attention.
- Financial abuse can cause your relative to have unusually high credit card balances, unpaid bills, or lower balances in bank and investment accounts than usual. Your loved one might appear more worried about money than is typical for her. When items go missing from her room, an explanation is in order.
- Emotional abuse can cause psychological changes in a nursing home resident. He might become angry, depressed, anxious, or fearful. He might have increased confusion, hypervigilance, shame, or evasiveness. Since the other forms of abuse can also cause changes in mood or behavior, you do not want to overlook those things as potential triggers.
- One should investigate the possibility of sexual abuse if a relative has an injury to the genital area or develops a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or infection.
- If someone is violating your loved one’s basic rights, she might react in unexpected ways toward that person, whether the perpetrator is a staff member or a fellow resident. Open a dialogue with her if you notice that her behavior or mood change around certain people. For example, she might get angry, become quiet or fearful, or have other reactions.
How Our Firm Can Help Your Loved One
If you have concerns that your loved one might be suffering mistreatment at a nursing home, a member of our team can investigate the matter. Our nursing home abuse lawyers in Melbourne, FL can gather the records from the facility about things like your loved one’s medication schedule, nursing notes, medical file, and other documents. We can file a complaint with the nursing home and the state of Florida, when appropriate. We can also report abuse to law enforcement and government agencies.
The remedies do not stop there. Our nursing home abuse lawyers in Melbourne, FL can sue an individual, nursing home, or both to make them stop harming your loved one and to pay for their misdeeds. You can call the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine today at 1-800-747-3733 for a free consultation.