Types of Physical Abuse in Nursing Homes - Mazow | McCullough, PC
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Types of Physical Abuse in Nursing Homes

Nursing home abuse is a silent yet deadly epidemic that impacts the most vulnerable people in society.  This hidden crisis shatters the trust families have in the people caring for their loved one, leaving a trail of pain and heartbreak in its wake.

Physical abuse is a common presentation of this problem, causing both bodily harm and enduring emotional scars. Below, we explore the various forms physical abuse can take in long-term care facilities, how to identify the warning signs, and how you can get justice if your loved one was hurt in a nursing home.

Failure to Provide Basic Care

Neglecting to provide basic care is a serious issue in nursing homes. Most often, this is due to facility understaffing and the inadequate training of employees. However, it can sometimes be intentionally inflicted by caregivers as a means of punishment.

This includes things like:

  • Refusal to assist with daily activities and tasks like bathing, dressing, and eating.
  • Failure to administer medications on time and in the right dosage.
  • Refusal to provide adequate meals and hydration, especially to patients who need the most help.
  • Failure to assist residents with mobility and exercise.
  • Neglecting to address medical conditions or provide prompt medical attention when needed.
  • Allowing residents to live in unsafe or unclean conditions in the nursing home.

Physical Assault

Physical assault involves the intentional infliction of harm or injury and is a clear violation of a resident’s right to safety. Physical abuse is frequently carried out by staff members, other nursing home residents, and sometimes visitors, but is notoriously underreported for a variety of reasons.

Patients may be afraid of retaliation if they report abuse that happened to them or that they saw happen to someone else. Even though nursing homes are legally obligated to provide a safe and secure environment to residents, it’s rare that action is taken against long-term care facilities who are in violation.

Common forms of physical assault against nursing home residents include hitting, punching, slapping, kicking, and pushing. It can also include biting, hair-pulling, choking, burning, throwing objects, and spitting on residents.

Improper Use of Restraints

Physical restraints are designed to be used as a last resort to subdue patients that pose a risk of harm to themselves or others when alternative interventions have failed. However, many abusive nursing homes use restraints to make their jobs easier or to punish patients for disobedience. This improper use can cause serious physical and emotional harm to patients.

Some of the most common types of restraints that are used include straps, belts, bed rails, vests, jackets, handcuffs, mitt restraints, chemical restraints, and geriatric chairs. However, almost anything can be used to restrain, tie up, or strap down a patient. Patients who are subjected to the misuse of restraints often experience:

  • Dehydration and malnutrition
  • Pressure sores
  • Lacerations and bruising around the restrained areas
  • Broken bones
  • Medical complications
  • Psychological distress

How to Spot the Signs of Physical Elder Abuse

If your loved one is a nursing home resident, it’s important to be aware of the signs of physical elder abuse and how to identify them:

  • Frequent, unexplained, or uncommon injuries. Look for cuts, bruises, and other injuries that happen often, cannot be easily explained, or occur on parts of the body that are unlikely to be injured.
  • Anxiety and social withdrawal. Be aware of any new anxiety or desire to withdraw from previously enjoyed social activities. If your loved one experiences increased fear or nervousness around a particular person, this may indicate they are in the presence of an abuser.
  • Visible signs of physical restraint. Be especially wary of any injuries that resemble rope or handcuff marks, or of any other indications of being restrained for long periods or in improper ways.
  • Inconsistent or conflicting stories. If you ask your loved one about their injuries, they may provide conflicting explanations for what happened or avoid discussing the matter altogether.
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss. Look for other signs of physical abuse if your loved one has unexplained weight gain or loss that can’t be attributed to a medical condition.

Protect Your Loved One by Connecting with Our Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

Protecting your loved one from physical abuse in a nursing home is an important part of ensuring they have access to the compassionate care and medical support they need. If you suspect that your family member is being abused in a long-term care home, don’t hesitate to take action as soon as possible.

Our team of experienced legal professionals are available now to help you take the first steps to obtaining justice for your loved one and your family. Contact Mazow | McCullough, PC today for more information or to schedule your free consultation by dialing (978) 744-8000 or toll-free at (855) 693-9084.

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