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Nursing Home Negligence

Is Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes on the Rise?

Sexual Abuse in Nursing HomesSexual abuse in nursing homes and care facilities is on the rise. This form of elder abuse is arguably the worst possible kind, and although it’s mostly a hidden problem, it’s also a nationwide epidemic. If you believe that you or a loved one is a victim of nursing home sexual abuse, you are not alone, and there are ways to get help.

Sexual Abuse by the Numbers

The Administration for Community Living monitored sexual abuse in nursing homes in all 50 states, and over a 20 year period, the group received reports of over 20,000 cases of sexual abuse in nursing homes. That figure doesn’t take into account abuse committed by other residents, and it also doesn’t take into account the countless cases that go unreported every year.

A study by the minority staff of the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee, found that U.S. nursing homes were cited for 9,000 cases of abuse between January 1999 to January 2001. Shockingly, as 5,283 nursing homes were involved, that’s nearly one third of all nursing homes in the United States.

Most of problems included untreated bed sores, malnutrition, dehydration, preventable accidents, inadequate medical care, and lack of sanitation and hygiene, but 1,601 of the violations caused physical or sexual harm to the residents. In some cases, nursing home staff were accused of physical or sexual abuse, and in others, staff were cited for failing to protect residents from other residents. The report also stated, that nursing home abuse has increased every year since 1996.

Why It’s a Hidden Secret

With such high rates of abuse, it can be hard to figure out why nursing home abuse and sexual abuse in particular seem to be such a hidden secret. Sometimes, facility owners don’t want to reveal or deal with abuse because they’re worried about their reputations and profits. Families often don’t want to face the abuse or just may not believe that it’s actually happening.

Tragically, many sexual abuse victims have conditions such as Alzheimer’s that hinder their ability to communicate and alter their perceptions of reality. As a result, when these patients report sexual abuse, it’s often dismissed by the nursing home staff, the managers, and even the victim’s own family. Additionally, the low wages offered to most nursing assistants makes it nearly impossible for facilities to find and retain quality and qualified workers, and workers often lack the required training to spot sexual abuse, which also keeps offenses from even being reported.

In 2017, CNN reported that over 1,000 nursing homes had been cited for mishandling suspected cases of sexual abuse. But these reports also showed that the police tend to be reluctant to believe victims’ allegations of abuse, due to their failing memories or confusing allegations. Beyond that, regulators have failed to flag patterns of repeated allegations against single caregivers. These systemic failures make it difficult for victims to get justice, while also making it easier for sexual predators to get away with their crimes.

Was your loved one abused or neglected in a nursing home? Call us today at (855) 693-9084. We can help.

Know the Signs of Sexual Abuse

Again, due to age, dementia, fear of their abuser, or other conditions, victims of sexual abuse are not always able to tell their families or loved ones they’re being abused. For that reason, it’s important to understand the physical and emotional signs of abuse:

  • Unexplained infections or sexual transmitted diseases
  • Ripped or bloody underclothes
  • Unexplained bruising, particularly in intimate areas
  • Visible and excessive fear and apprehension around certain persons
  • The elder person blaming themselves for minor problems
  • Visible depression or anger, especially when these symptoms have not been present in the past
  • Rocking, sucking, or mumbling (referred to as false dementia)

It’s also critical to remember that both women and men are subject to rape and other forms of sexual abuse.

If you are a victim of nursing home sexual abuse or if you believe that your loved one is being abused, it’s important to report it. Always be careful about approaching the nursing home, unless you truly believe that the management will help you and not rush to cover the abuse. If you believe that the nursing home may be at fault, speak with an attorney and the police first. Notifying the nursing home may give them time to erase records and destroy evidence.

If the district attorney determines that there is substantial evidence to substantiate criminal behavior, the state will file charges against the nursing home. However, even if no criminal charges are brought forward, you may still be able to bring a civil suit against the nursing home or other liable entities.

Legal Help for Nursing Home Sexual Abuse

Unfortunately, lawsuits against nursing homes are difficult and complex. Many nursing homes are owned by corporations that avoid lawsuits by flooding the opposing legal team with paperwork. If you decide to bring a suit against a nursing home, you need to hire an attorney who is ready and able to handle the process. Ideally, you want a personal injury lawyer with experience in nursing home and sexual abuse cases. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us today at Mazow | McCullough, PC.

Nursing Home Abuse Ebook

Are Choking Accidents Nursing Home Abuse Cases?

Choking AccidentsThe National Safety Council reports that choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional injury death in the country. Of the approximately 5,000 people affected annually, over half are older than 74. Tragically, choking isn’t always an accident. In nursing homes, choking can be due to neglect. Often, caregivers ignore risks associated with choking, and they fail to supervise or assist patients who ultimately end up choking to death.

Negligence at Mealtimes

In terms of choking, the most dangerous time in a nursing home is mealtime, especially for residents who require very attentive care. Sadly, a lot of nursing homes are understaffed, and they have employees who simply dish out plates of food without monitoring the patient’s consumption. This inattentiveness can result in malnutrition and dehydration, but also serious choking incidents.

Primary Causes of Choking in Nursing Homes

Elders, especially those in nursing homes, often suffer from medical conditions that heighten their risk of choking. Patients with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and various other conditions cannot eat safely on their own. It is imperative that nursing home personnel assist these residents while they eat to make sure they don’t fill their mouths too full and that they safely swallow their food.

Even though federal laws require that nursing homes keep adequate staff on duty, many patients don’t get the assistance they need. Nursing home residents may choke for any of the following reasons:

  • Ill fitting dentures
  • Inability to control muscles due to nerve damage or peripheral neuropathy related to strokes or neurological disorders such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
  • Dehydration causes a dry throat and a thick tongue, making it difficult to chew and swallow.
  • Epilepsy or seizures due to other conditions
  • Failure to accommodate dietary needs — for instance, if a patient needs foods cut into small pieces so they can swallow, failure to do that can lead to choking
  • Eating without supervision or assistance
  • Failure to perform the Heimlich maneuver or other life saving remedies in a timely fashion

As you can see from the examples above, swallowing food can be difficult for some nursing home residents. When nursing homes don’t enforce dietary restrictions or when they employ staff who fail to assist or supervise residents, they put people at risk of choking, which may cause serious injury or death.

Was your loved one abused or neglected in a nursing home? Call us today at (855) 693-9084. We can help.

Preventing Nursing Home Residents from Choking

Nursing homes are required to keep their patients safe, and that includes taking precautions to prevent patients from choking. Patients who have difficulties swallowing should also be examined to assess the severity of their conditions. If their doctor prescribes a specialized diet or monitoring to prevent choking, those instructions should be included in the patient’s chart and all nursing home caregivers should be made aware of these guidelines. If a staff member is underqualified or not properly trained and someone dies from choking, the nursing home could be held accountable.

Is Choking Abuse?

The National Center on Elder Abuse and the US Department of Health and Human Services defines elder abuse as “any knowing, intentional or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult”. Elder abuse can include physical and emotional abuse, exploitation, and neglect.

Similarly, nursing home abuse refers to knowingly or recklessly causing harm to a nursing home resident. There are many different types of nursing home abuse:

  • Harmful or unwanted physical contact
  • Physical restraint or isolation
  • The inappropriate use of medicine
  • Physical restraint, isolation, or inappropriate use of medical procedures used as punishment or against doctor’s orders
  • Inappropriate conduct likely to cause physical or psychological harm
  • Threatening or menacing conduct that results in fear or mental distress to a resident

Based on these definitions, allowing someone to choke when the situation is avoidable can be a form of elder abuse.

If you or a loved one has choked due to neglect from your caretaker or your nursing home, you may be entitled to compensation. Depending on the situation, you may be able to receive compensation for medical bills, physical pain, mental suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life as well as other damages. To learn more about nursing home abuse, contact us at Mazow | McCullough, PC for a free case evaluation.

Nursing Home Abuse Ebook

Elder Abuse Statistics

According to the US Census Bureau, there are approximately 47.8 million people over the age of 65 living in the United States. This group represents close to 15% of the population, and as more and more baby boomers reach retirement age, this number is only going to grow. Unfortunately, however, society is not caring for and protecting this vulnerable part of the population—elder abuse statistics are shocking and deeply saddening.

How Many People Are Affected by Elder Abuse?

Based on the most recent elder abuse statistics from the National Council on Aging, approximately one in ten seniors have experienced some form of elder abuse. Most officials believe that elder abuse statistics only tell part of the story. The vast majority of abuse never gets reported.

Estimates vary on how much abuse takes place, but the New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study found that for every report of abuse, there were 24 unreported cases.

How Much Abuse Happens in Nursing Homes?

Nursing homes should be caring facilities that help aging people through their final years, but tragically, a significant portion of nursing homes are linked to some type of nursing home abuse. A report presented to Congress in 2001 revealed that between 1999 and 2001, 5,283 nursing homes in the United States were cited for harm or neglect. That’s one-third of the country’s nursing homes. In fact, 1,600 of those nursing homes were cited for elder abuse that was linked to serious injury or death.

How Many Nursing Home Residents Face Elder Abuse?

Different studies and surveys put forward a variety of different elder abuse statistics, but none of them paint a positive picture of the situation. In a survey from the The Atlanta Long Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman Program, 44% of nursing home residents reported abuse, and 48% reported that they had been treated roughly.

States are supposed to monitor the condition of nursing homes, but according to the US Government Accountability Office, 70% of federal comparative surveys find mistakes and deficiencies in state surveys. In 45 states, 40% or more state surveys overlooked issues, and these surveys aren’t just overlooking the small issues. Approximately 15% of federal comparative surveys found that state surveys failed to report issues of serious harm to nursing home residents.

Who Is Most Likely to Suffer from Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse affects a range of people, but there are certain risk factors that can make someone more susceptible to abuse. Female nursing home residents are more likely to be affected by nursing home abuse than their male counterparts. Abuse is also much higher among disabled patients, especially those with dementia. Additionally, elders in poverty, with low levels of social support, and previous histories of abuse are at a higher risk of facing abuse.

What Are the Results of Elder Abuse?

In addition to physical responses such as bruises, broken bones, and constant pain, seniors face a lot of other reactions to elder abuse. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates a direct link between nursing home abuse and increased mortality risk. On top of that, many elders suffer from emotional distress and depression, and based on the True Link Report on Elder Financial Abuse, financial abuse costs elders $36.48 billion per year.

Elder abuse statistics are shocking, but the fact that this situation is common does not make it okay. If you or a loved one has been affected by nursing home abuse, we can help. Contact Mazow | McCullough, PC today at (855) 693-9084.

Top 7 Facts About Nursing Home Abuse Against Women

Nursing Home Abuse Against WomenSadly, women are generally more likely to be affected by nursing home abuse than men. There are multiple reasons for the increased risk, and to protect yourself or your loved ones, you should understand the signs and be proactive in cases where you believe abuse is occurring.

1. The Majority of Elders Are Women

A primary reason more women are likely to face nursing home abuse than men is simply because there are more women than men in long term care facilities. There are only 89 men for every 100 women between the ages of 65 and 69, and the difference grows as people get older. For people over the age of 90, there are only 38 men for every 100 women. Overall, there are approximately 3.6 million more women over the age of 65 than men.

2. Women Often Have More Risk Factors Than Men

There are certain risk factors that are strongly linked to nursing home abuse, and women are more likely to have these risk factors than men. Women live longer, and age typically correlates with an increased risk of elder abuse. Additionally, many elder women are widows, and social or familial isolation can also cause someone to be more prone to abuse.

A prior history of abuse has also been linked to an increased risk of nursing home abuse, and throughout their lives, women have statistically faced more abuse than men. For example, 90% of sexual assault victims are women.

3. Many Women Face Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

Women often deal with physical, emotional, and financial abuse in nursing homes, but they may also face sexual abuse and rape in care facilities. There are limited statistics on the number of women who experience sexual abuse in nursing homes, but federal data shows 16,000 complaints from 2000 to 2017. That’s approximately 1,000 cases per year, but many cases go unreported so the actual numbers may be even higher.

4. Women with Disabilities Often Deal with Higher Rates of Abuse

When a woman has a disability, she may face an even greater risk of nursing home abuse. In one study of institutionalized adult women, 21% reported nursing home abuse in the form of interpersonal violence, but one third of women with disabilities reported issues. That is an increase of over 50%.

5. Many Nursing Homes Have Multiple Citations Against Them

The federal government has cited over 1,000 nursing homes around the country for sexual abuse. When you take into account that there are only 15,600 nursing homes in the country and that many cases of sexual abuse are never reported, those numbers are shocking. Additionally, 100 of these nursing homes had multiple citations related to rape or sexual assault.

6. There Are Many Signs of Nursing Home Abuse in Women

Generally, if a woman is facing nursing home abuse, there are often visible signs. Victims of physical abuse may go to the emergency room more often, and they tend to have unexplained bruises and fractures. In cases of sexual abuse, women may have urinary tract infections, pelvic pain, or bruises on their upper thighs.

These women may be reluctant to let anyone see their injuries because they often fear that their abuser may retaliate if anyone finds out about the abuse. They may start showing changes in emotions or behavior, and they may begin to recoil when friends or loved ones try to touch them.

7. Financial Abuse is a Factor for Women Too

Women often face financial abuse as well, especially in cases where a woman may be suffering from medical conditions that result in deteriorating memory or a decreased ability to communicate. The signs of financial abuse can be easy to spot if you know what to look for. For example, an elderly woman who is facing financial exploitation may not have enough money to pay her expenses. She may suddenly change her will, give possessions to others, or make unusual purchases with her credit card.

If your loved one is female and currently lives in a nursing home, it’s even more important that you are aware of the signs of nursing home abuse. If you suspect that abuse is happening, get help as soon as possible. Contact Mazow | McCullough, PC to learn about your rights and determine if you should bring forward a lawsuit.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse

When many people think of nursing home abuse, they immediately think of assault or neglect, but nursing home abuse takes a number of different forms. Victims face physical, emotional sexual, and financial abuse as well as neglect. The signs of abuse as well as the consequences can be different for each type of abuse.

Physical Nursing Home Abuse

Physical abuse can take the form of assault and battery, but it can also involve using restraints to prevent the patient from moving or handling the patient roughly. Essentially, physical abuse refers to any use of physical force that leads to pain or injury.

The signs of physical abuse can include the following:

  • Increased need for appointments with physicians or trips to the emergency room
  • Unexplained bruises, fractures, scratches, bites, burns, or other signs of physical injuries
  • Experiencing more falls or accidents than usual
  • Covering up unexplained bruises with inconsistent stories about injuries
  • Refusal to get treatment
  • Recoiling from the touch of loved ones or family members
  • Acting afraid to be alone with aides or nursing home staff
  • Unusual hair or tooth loss
  • Changes in emotional state such as showing signs of depression or withdrawing from loved ones

In many cases, you may seem the emotional signs of physical nursing home abuse first, as your loved one starts to withdraw from the rest of the family. Many people in abusive situations internalize the abuse and feel like it’s their fault. When that’s happening, victims are less likely to come forward. In other cases, elders may be afraid that no one will believe their stories or that their abuser will find out and hurt them if they come forward.

Sexual Nursing Home Abuse

Sexual abuse can range from verbal abuse of a sexual nature to rape, and sadly, the entire gamut of sexual abuse can take place in nursing homes. Residents may be subject to abuse from caretakers, other residents, and even strangers.

The nursing home is obligated to screen employees and deal with abuse allegations, but beyond that, nursing homes should monitor residents with previous histories of sexual violence and make sure that unattended strangers cannot get into their facilities.

If your loved one is exhibiting any of the following signs, they may be the victim of sexual abuse in their nursing home:

  • Unexplained blood stains on sheets or nightclothes
  • Ripped sheets or clothing
  • Unexplained pain while sitting or complaints of pain in the pelvic region
  • Vaginal or rectal bleeding or burning
  • Diagnosis of sexually transmitted diseases or genital infections
  • Withdrawing from friends or family
  • A sense of fear or anxiety when certain staff or residents are nearby
  • A sudden increase in self-soothing behavior such as rocking back and forth or regressive behaviors such as thumb sucking

Sexual abuse can be one of the hardest types of nursing home abuse for many residents to report. They may feel that they have somehow caused the abuse, or they may be embarrassed to talk about sexual encounters in general.

Emotional Nursing Home Abuse

Emotional or psychological abuse can happen on its own or along with other types of nursing home abuse. Emotional abuse can include verbal abuse such as humiliating or shaming the elder as well as demeaning the elder either in private or in front of other residents. Psychological abuse can also take the form of bullying, menacing, or terrorizing the elder.

In some cases, emotional abusers isolate the elder from other residents in the nursing home. They may even attempt to isolate the patient from their own family. This typically takes the form of telling the elder that their family doesn’t care, that they no longer love the elder, or that they see the elder as a burden.

Signs of emotional abuse in a nursing home include the following:

  • Reduced self-esteem and depression
  • Withdrawing from family and friends by avoiding eye contact, canceling meetings, and refusing to talk
  • Changes in attitude or personality such as an outgoing individual becoming withdrawn or a happy-go-lucky individual becoming angry or sullen
  • Unexplained shifts in sleeping or eating patterns
  • Not joining in nursing home activities

Emotional abuse often leads to more mental health issues than physical abuse, and if you notice sudden, unexplained changes in your loved one mental health, you need to talk with them about what’s happening. Remember, most victims shield their abusers, so you need to be prepare for multiple conversations. Also, because psychological abuse is harder to define than physical abuse, many victims are not even aware that they are being abused.

Financial Nursing Home Abuse

According to one study of elders in New York, financial abuse is the most commonly reported type of abuse in nursing homes, but that does not necessarily mean that it happens more often than other types of abuse. That simply means that patients are more likely to report this type of abuse.

Financial abuse costs seniors over $35 billion per year based on some estimates, and this type of abuse can involve stealing money directly or coercing seniors to give their money to the abuser. Signs of financial abuse include the following:

  • Inability to cover bills
  • Refusing usual services or canceling outings due to lack of money
  • Unexplained bank account withdraws or credit card charges
  • Missing possessions
  • Sudden changes to wills

When an elder faces financial exploitation, the experiences often snowball. For example, if an elder loses just $20 to exploitation, they are significantly more likely to lose $2,000 to another type of fraud. If you help your loved one balance their checkbook and you notice inconsistencies, it’s time to take action and dig deeper to ensure your loved one is not facing abuse.

Neglect in Nursing Homes

Neglect refers to ignoring an elder and not providing them with the care they need. Neglect is very serious, and in a worst-case scenario, it can lead to death.

If you suspect that your loved one may be facing neglect, here are some of the signs you need to watch for.

  • Signs of malnutrition such as weight loss or dehydration
  • Bed sores or other untreated physical issues
  • Unsanitary conditions such as dirty sheets, soiled clothing, or body odors from not being bathed
  • Unsafe living conditions

Neglect can be an active form of abuse in cases where an attendant is purposefully ignoring or neglecting a certain resident, but it can also be passive where the nursing home is simply not filling its role as caretaker. In both cases, the nursing home is liable for the abuse. They are obligated to take care of the people in their care.

If you believe that you or a loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, you need to act quickly. Nursing homes often hide information to shield themselves from liability, and the sooner you act the better. To learn more, contact Mazow | McCullough, PC today. We have helped many clients get the justice they deserve after a case of nursing home abuse.

Wrongful Death In Nursing Homes

In a skilled nursing facility or a nursing home, wrongful death can include cases where attendants give patients the wrong medicine, neglect to feed them, or cause them physical harm that directly leads to death. Wrongful death in these facilities often involves patients being left on their own for days at a time, patients not being protected from falls or injuries as directed by state and federal guidelines, or patients being ignored when they complain about life-threatening health issues.

The Risk of Wrongful Death May Be Increasing

Over the next 20 years in the United States, a larger number of people than ever before will need to utilize the care of nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities. As the demand on existing resources increases, these facilities may hire quickly without proper training or continue to use poorly maintained facilities.

In these facilities, it is already common for residents to be left alone for far too long, to be ignored, or even to be dismissed as simply complaining when they discuss serious and sometimes life-threatening issues. Tragically, all of these issues make nursing homes the sites of many wrongful death cases, and as the population continues to get older, these threats will likely become even more pronounced.

The Potential for Wrongful Death Can Be Impossible to Detect

When you can no longer care for a loved on your own, you may have to make the decision to place them in a nursing home, and that can be a stressful time for many families. When vetting various long-term care centers, you do your best to ensure the facility and staff will take proper care of your elderly loved one, but unfortunately, you simply can’t predict the future.

Facilities may look adequate and their staff may seem caring, but they may have issues below the surface that lead to the abuse or neglect of patients. It’s impossible to anticipate many of the situations that can occur, and even nursing homes with the best reputations may subject patients to abuse, neglect, or medical malpractice, such as administering drugs in error or employing a new caretaker with a hidden history of abusing patients.

Nursing Homes May Ignore Federal Guidelines and State Regulations

A nursing home or skilled nursing facility must follow both state and federal guidelines for care. This includes the number of medical professionals they have on staff, the number of trained caregivers available for each resident, and the number of hours those caregivers must spend with each patient.

Despite these laws, however, many nursing homes do not provide adequate care. They often break laws out of what seems to be operational necessity. They may not be able to afford to hire enough staff to ensure a safe caregiver-to-patient ratio, or in other cases, a nursing home may not be enough well-trained staff to train new hires in proper procedures.

Many nursing homes that violate state and federal laws regarding care guidelines look fine on the surface. Families often don’t know that something is wrong until it is too late and their loved one is seriously injured or dies due to abuse or neglect.

Elder Abuse or Neglect Increases the Risk of Death

When elders face abuse, their risk of mortality increases significantly. In fact, in one study, the death rate among elders who reported abuse was 13.49 deaths per 100 people. The mortality rate for people in the study who did not report abuse was less than half that rate with only 5.91 deaths per 100 people.

In confirmed cases of elder abuse, the mortality rate was even higher at 18.33 deaths per 100 people. That is over three times the mortality rate associated with people who didn’t face abuse. The statistical link is clear, and to protect your loved ones from wrongful death at the hands of their caretakers, you need to monitor them for signs of nursing home abuse.

There are many indicators that your loved one may be neglected or abused, including but not limited to:

  • Sudden injuries that cannot be explained by their medical condition or other reasonable factors
  • Injuries obtained from falls
  • Bed sores
  • Poor hygiene and/or a room that has not been properly kept clean
  • Sudden weight loss
  • New or worsening anxiety and/or depression or changes in mood and/or behavior
  • A sense of fear when nursing home caregivers are around
  • Property of your loved one’s, including money or jewelry, that has gone missing

If you notice any of the signs of abuse in a nursing facility, it is critical that you reach out for help as soon as possible.

Inadequate Emergency Responses Can Lead to Wrongful Death

The way a nursing home responds to an emergency can also lead to wrongful death. For example, in the midst of Hurricane Irma, one nursing home lost power. The facility did not have a back-up generator to keep its cooling system running, and rather than evacuating residents to a safe environment such as the air-conditioned hospital across the street, the nursing home simply placed many residents in the hallway and removed some of their clothing.

When residents began showing signs of distress, the staff failed to contact emergency services until it was too late, and tragically, 11 residents died in these conditions.

While some emergencies are simply unavoidable, this tragedy likely could have been avoided or handled more professionally. If your loved one has died due to dangerous conditions in a nursing home or because staff failed to follow proper safety protocols in an emergency, you may also be facing a wrongful death suit.

Dementia May Increase Patients Risk of Wrongful Death

Sadly, patients with dementia often have the highest risk of facing abuse in nursing homes, and in some cases, this mistreatment leads to death. In particular, many nursing homes have given psychotropic drugs to patients with dementia. These drugs are designed to help curb disruptive or self-harm activities, but they are linked to fatality in patients with dementia.

If a nursing home has given these drugs to your loved one without your knowledge or consent, you should consider consulting with a nursing home abuse attorney.

Contact a Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawyer in Salem, MA

If your loved one was injured or has died as the result of elder abuse in a nursing home, contact a nursing home wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. Don’t delay – nursing homes often destroy evidence of any wrongdoing on their part, including falsifying records in order to make the injury or death appear as though it occurred naturally and not due to the nursing home’s negligence or carelessness. By hiring an attorney right away to work with you, you can help secure crucial evidence in your case before it is hidden or destroyed.

At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we fight to not only obtain justice for our clients through the courts, but to change the negligent practices of nursing homes to better protect you and the ones you love. We work hard to ensure that the nursing home responsible for harming your loved one is exposed for their carelessness and negligence, and we utilize every legal option available to ensure that the nursing home is forced to adopt better care practices and follow all applicable laws so the same thing doesn’t happen to another resident and family.

Please contact Mazow | McCullough, PC, today for a free consultation about your case. The right nursing home wrongful death lawyer makes all the difference. See our recent results here.

How to File a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit

If you or a loved one has been injured by nursing home abuse or neglect, you may want to consider a nursing home lawsuit. A lawsuit holds the nursing home accountable, helping to protect future patients. A successful lawsuit also helps you and your family obtain the financial compensation you deserve to cover medical bills, lost time at work, and pain and suffering.

How Does a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit Work?

While the specifics can vary from case to case, most nursing home abuse lawsuits start with determining damages by investigating what happened. Then, the plaintiff (the person bringing forward the lawsuit) makes a demand and files a formal complaint. The plaintiff’s attorneys and the defense attorneys working on behalf of the nursing home exchange information, and eventually, these two entities negotiate a settlement. You may agree to a settlement out of court, or in some situations, the case may go to trial.

How Do You Obtain Evidence for a Nursing Home Lawsuit?

Evidence from the plaintiff is one of the most important aspects of a successful nursing home abuse lawsuit. You need proof of the injuries, and which can be photographs, medical records, or witness accounts. For example, photographs of bed sores or medical records of treatments for dehydration would be pertinent. Beyond that, you need to be able to link the injury with the nursing home. In other words, your lawyer needs to prove that the nursing home caused the injuries or made them worse.

This often requires statements from nursing home employees or medical professionals. It can also include statements from the patient as well as professionals who work for Social Services or Adult Protective Services.

Who Can Bring Forward a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit?

A nursing home abuse lawsuit is a civil case, meaning it is brought forth by an individual rather than the state. Typically, the patient needs to initiate the lawsuit. To bring forward a suit on behalf of a loved one who is a patient in a nursing home, you usually need to have power of attorney. An attorney with experience in nursing home abuse lawsuits can help you determine if you have the right to bring forward a lawsuit.

In cases, where the patient has died, you may need to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Massachusetts, you need to be the estate executor or administrator to file a wrongful death suit. In contrast, in New Hampshire, any person “interested in the estate of the deceased” can bring forward a wrongful death suit.

How Do You Hire a Lawyer for a Nursing Home Lawsuit?

If you believe that neglect or abuse happened, you should hire a lawyer to help you. Keep in mind there are many different legal areas, and you need someone experienced with personal injury or medical malpractice in general and nursing home abuse in particular.

To get help, contact Mazow | McCullough, PC today. We have fought numerous nursing home abuse lawsuits for our clients, and we would like to help you get the settlement you deserve. We start with a free consultation to help you decide the best way to move forward. Call now at (855) 693-9084.

Bed Sores

Bed sores, or pressure ulcers, are wounds that appear on the skin when someone has been lying or sitting in one position for long periods of time. Unfortunately, bed sores are not uncommon in many nursing homes, but you don’t necessarily have to accept them as an expected occurrence. Bed sores can be a sign of nursing home abuse and neglect, and the nursing home may be liable. Here’s what you need to know.

What Causes Bed Sores?

As indicated above, bed sores are caused by pressure. For example, if someone lies in a bed or sits in a chair for an extended period of time, the pressure prevents blood and oxygen from getting to that part of their skin. That damages the tissues and breaks open the skin. This happens most often in bony areas that don’t have a lot of fat or muscle, such as near the hip bone, on heels, by elbows, along the spine, and in similar areas.

Additionally, when skin is fragile, friction can also lead to bed sores. For example, bedding or clothing can rub against the body and create a bed sore. This can happen when the fabric moves, but it can also happen when the patient slides up or down in bed, creating friction between their skin and the bedding.

How Can You Prevent Bed Sores?

To prevent bed sores, you simply need to remove the pressure from the skin. Ideally, nursing home patients should change their position every 15 minutes, and if they aren’t able to move on their own, a nursing home attendant should shift their position every two hours or as recommended by the patient’s doctor.

Pillows can also help to remove pressure. Use pillows to add cushioning between the knees or to reduce pressure in other parts of the body. Keeping the skin clean is also important, and in a nursing home, attendants should ensure that patients are given baths or sponge baths on a regular basis. Finally, exercise (when possible) can also help to keep bed sores at bay.

What Are the Stages of Bed Sores?

Whether they are caused by nursing home abuse or another culprit, bed sores usually go through a few different stages.

Stage 1: The skin appears red and feels painful, but it has not broken yet. When you press down on the skin, it doesn’t turn white as usual.

Stage 2: The bed sore becomes an open wound. Blisters often occur, and the area surrounding the wound is red and sore.

Stage 3: The open sore becomes deeper and almost crater-like. The skin tissue is so damaged that you can see body fat behind the skin.

Stage 4: The bed sore is significantly deeper. Damage to muscles, bone, tendons, and joints may be apparent.

In most cases, the earlier you catch the bed sores, the easier they are to treat.

How Do You Treat Bed Sores?

Generally, you need to start treating a bed sore by cleaning the skin, gently patting it dry, and applying a bandage. You also need to flush out the wound to remove any damaged or infected tissue. In some cases, health care professionals use negative pressure therapy (also called vacuum-assisted closure). These techniques use suction to clean and close the wound.

Bed sores can be extremely painful, and the patient may need to take some pain relieving medication. Typically, an over-the-counter NSAIDS work fine, however, if NSAIDS are contraindicated or the patient is in a great deal of pain, a doctor may prescribe stronger medication. The patient may also need to take medications to fight infection in that area. Finally, dietary changes can also be useful—a healthy diet promotes healing and helps to make the skin more resistant to future bed sores.

What Should Nursing Homes Do When a Patient Has Bed Sores?

If you or your loved one are experiencing bed sores, you should report them to nursing home staff. When someone is in a nursing home, their care team should also work together to heal their bed sores and prevent future ones from appearing. A care team may involve a specialist in wound care, a physical therapist to help with exercise and movement, an occupational therapist to assess and modify the patient’s bed and sitting surfaces, and a dietician to help with the nutritional aspects. The patient may need to see a surgeon and a dermatologist as well.

If a nursing home does not assemble a care team or if they are not taking action to adequately treat existing bed sores and prevent new ones from forming, this may be considered nursing home neglect.

Are Nursing Homes Liable for Bed Sores?

The role of a nursing home is to take care of their patients. In some cases, things happen that are out of the control of the nursing home staff, and in those cases, the nursing home may not be liable. However, if the nursing home’s practices or employees were negligent, they may be held responsible for bed sores.

Bed sores can lead to extremely serious issues such as pain, infection, and in some cases, even death. If you or a loved one has suffered from bed sores, you may be entitled to compensation for medical treatment as well as pain and suffering. To learn more, contact Mazow | McCullough, PC today at (855) 693-9084. We serve clients throughout the Massachusetts and New Hampshire area.

 

How to Report Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse is sadly not uncommon and can be physical, sexual, psychological, or financial, and can also include neglect. If you or a loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, you need to report it. Here are some of the options.

File a Complaint with Health and Human Services

If you are seeing signs of nursing home abuse, you can file a complaint with the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services. To file a complaint, download the consumer complaint form from the department’s website and fax or mail it to the office. Alternatively, you can contact someone directly over the phone at 1800-462-5540.

Note that if you are not the elder’s medical power of attorney, you can report the abuse, but you may not be able to get information on the outcome of the investigation. To ensure you can access that information, talk with the elder about becoming their power of attorney or ask them to sign a HIPAA form that allows you to access their medical records.

Report Abuse to Nursing Home Administrators

You should formally report nursing home neglect or abuse suspicions to facility administrators. Submit your report in writing and keep a copy, along with the date you reported the abuse and to whom you reported it. This information can be invaluable should you decide to bring a claim against the nursing home for the past or continued abuse of your loved one.

Consult Other Care Providers

In many cases, elders have healthcare providers who are not part of the nursing home staff. You may want to talk with these professionals about your concerns. In particular, consider talking with the elder’s primary care doctor or social worker. Many nursing homes also have a long-term care ombudsman on staff to help with these issues.

Contact the Elder Abuse Hotline

In cases where your loved one is not living in a nursing home, you can report abuse to the elder abuse hotline. For instance, if you believe that a home healthcare provider or a relative is abusing your loved one or an elder in your neighborhood, you should contact Elder Protective Services. You can call EPS directly at 1-800-922-2275 on behalf of people over the age of 60.

Call 911

If you witness someone assaulting an elder, this is considered an emergency situation, and you should call 911 or contact the police as soon as possible. You should also contact 911 in any case where an elder is in immediate risk of harm or injury. This can be the fastest way to get the authorities to intercede in the issue.

Elders deserve respect, but unfortunately, in many cases, these vulnerable people are being abused. If you believe that a loved one is dealing with elder abuse, report the situation and consider getting legal help. Contact the law firm of Mazow | McCullough, PC at 855-693-9084.

Nursing Home Neglect

Nursing home neglect falls under the umbrella of elder abuse. Abuse involves intentional acts against an elderly individual, such as physical, sexual or mental assault. Neglect, on the other hand, is the failure to provide proper care and it can be intentional or negligent. Whether it arises from overworked staff who overlook routines or an intentional lack of empathy, nursing home neglect can be actionable in civil court.

The National Council on Aging estimates that one in 10 Americans over 60 face elder abuse and neglect but only one in 14 cases are reported to authorities. If your loved one lives in a nursing home, you need to be aware of the types of abuse that may arise.

Malnutrition and Dehydration

In 2015, an article published by the National Institute of Health estimated that 20% of nursing home residents suffered from some form of malnutrition. Dehydration is also a significant concern. When patients are unable to feed and hydrate themselves, they require the careful attention of caretakers to assist them. In crowded and understaffed nursing homes, patients may not receive the hydration and nutrition they need.

This issue can also arise from a patient feeling depressed, having difficulty swallowing or suffering another medical or mental health condition that keeps them from eating. However, in neglect situations, staff and doctors may fail to discover this and treat it properly.

Additional Resources:

Dehydration

Bed Sores

Also known as pressure sores, bed sores are most likely to develop where there is little padding between the bone and skin. They are common with patients who are bedridden or confined in a wheelchair who cannot shift positions on their own.

However, bed sores are easy to prevent. That involves moving the patient periodically so the pressure eases from vulnerable spots. However, if caretakers skip this routine, bed sores can develop quickly.

Sores start with being red and sensitive. At this stage, shifting the patient will cease further development. In their last stage, bed sores become dead tissue that continues to damage healthy tissue. If they are not addressed quickly, patients suffer greatly and may even require surgery.

Additional Resources:

Bed Sores

Medication Errors

This is a mistake that can turn deadly. Sometimes, it involves missing medication for days and even weeks. Other times, it involves staff members mixing up medications and patients fail to receive the correct type for their health conditions.

If you notice your loved one’s condition is deteriorating, ask about medication routines–especially if they were feeling better before.

Falls and Injuries

Patients may fall out of bed or take a tumble because they attempt to be mobile without assistance. A mere attempt at a bathroom trip can result in critical and even deadly injuries.

The primary cause of falls and injuries in nursing homes is lack of supervision. If a patient has to wait hours for assistance to get a meal or take a bathroom break, they may decide to try the task on their own. Patients may also fall despite staff being nearby and able to prevent the fall, which is another possibility for a negligence claim.

Health and Safety Hazards

With many vulnerable people around, nursing homes should be clean and hygienic. There should also be a lack of hazards and an effort to prevent slip and fall accidents.

Staff may be aware of the hazard and fail to address it until it is too late. Or pure exhaustion or bitterness keeps staff from providing a safe environment for your loved one. If you notice a hazard, always report it.

Contact an Experienced Nursing Home Neglect & Abuse Lawyer Today

Nursing home negligence is a serious issue among the aging population. If your loved one has suffered neglect at the hands of a long-term care facility, don’t hesitate to get help. Contact Mazow | McCullough, PC at 1-855-693-9084 and schedule a free case evaluation today.

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