The elderly population in this country should be among the most valued members of our society. Instead, they often suffer at the hands of a nursing home or other long-term care facility’s staff. Their needless physical and emotional suffering is inexcusable and must be put to an immediate stop.
The Canton nursing home abuse attorneys at Slater & Zurz are committed to holding those responsible for elder abuse and neglect accountable for their actions. We have seen first-hand the devastating effects of nursing home abuse and are fighting tirelessly to put an end to it. If you or your loved one were abused while in a nursing home or assisted living facility, you can rest assured knowing our dedicated legal team will work diligently to get you the justice and compensation you deserve.
The Rights of Ohio Nursing Home Residents
The Nursing Home Reform Act, which was enacted in 1987, established the rights of nursing home residents to ensure every individual receives the appropriate level of care and attention. The NHRA gives nursing home residents the right to:
- Be free from abuse, mistreatment, and neglect
- Communicate freely
- Be free from physical restraints
- Accommodation of medical, social, psychological, and physical needs
- Be treated with dignity
- Exercise self-determination
- Participate in resident and family groups
- Review their care plan and be informed of any changes in care
- Voice grievances without discrimination
Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes
Nursing home abuse is considered any act that causes physical, emotional, or psychological harm. A nursing home resident may face several types of abuse during their time at the facility, which include:
- Neglect – Neglect is an indirect form of abuse, which occurs when nursing home employees fail to properly care for the residents. Examples include forgetting to feed or bathe a resident, failing to administer necessary medication, and not answering a resident’s repeated calls for assistance. Neglect is often caused by understaffing or the inadequate training of staff members.
- Physical abuse – Physical abuse is considered any action toward a resident that causes physical harm. Hitting, kicking, scratching, and shoving are all forms of physical abuse. Another common example of physical abuse is the overuse of physical restraints.
- Emotional abuse – Emotional or psychological abuse involves a broad range of actions that include criticizing, humiliating, insulting, and harassing a resident.
- Sexual abuse – Sexual abuse includes any unwanted sexual contact. Residents who suffer from mental incapacitation, such as dementia, are at a higher risk of being sexually abused because they are generally unable to tell anyone about the abuse.
- Financial abuse – Financial abuse occurs when a nursing home employee steals or otherwise compromises a resident’s financial assets. This may include stealing cash, tricking a resident into signing over their property, and stealing a resident’s identity to establish lines of credit.
- Resident-to-resident abuse – This form of abuse occurs when one resident harms another in any of the above ways. Resident-to-resident abuse doesn’t necessarily involve a nursing home employee. Still, it can expose a nursing home to legal liability because the facility has an obligation to protect the resident from harm.
If your loved one has suffered any form of abuse, the nursing home or assisted living facility has likely breached its duty of care. You may be able to pursue legal action to hold them accountable and recover damages on your loved one’s behalf.
What to Look For if You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
Learning to identify the warning signs of nursing home elder abuse and neglect can help you protect the health and well-being of your loved one. Some common signs of abuse include the following:
- Unexplained cuts, bruises, and broken bones
- Poor hygiene
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Withdrawal from loved ones
- Unexplained falls
- Missing valuables
Perhaps, one of the most common indicators of nursing home abuse is the development of bedsores. Bedsores, also referred to as pressure ulcers, are injuries to the skin and underlying tissue caused by prolonged pressure. They generally develop on bony areas of the body, such as elbows, knees, heels, ankles, shoulder blades, and tailbone. Individuals most at risk of developing pressure ulcers are those with a decreased ability to change positions and those with limited mobility. Most pressure ulcers will heal with the proper treatment, but some may never heal completely. Bedsore symptoms include:
- Reddened, discolored, or darkened skin
- A patch of skin that is warm or hard to the touch
- Pain or itchiness on the affected area
- Localized swelling
- Pus-like draining
It is essential to treat bedsores immediately as they can quickly progress into serious health conditions, such as bone and joint infections, cellulitis, and sepsis. Treatment often includes reducing pressure to the affected area, keeping the wound clean and dry, removing damaged tissue, and in more serious cases, performing surgery to replace damaged tissue and skin.
Damages Available in Nursing Home Abuse Cases
Under Ohio negligence laws, if you or a loved one were injured because a nursing home failed to follow state or federal guidelines or provide the proper level of care, you are entitled to compensation. Victims of elder abuse and neglect may recover compensation for the following damages:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Rehabilitation therapy
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment
- Impairment or disability
- Wrongful death
In cases of deliberate abuse or extreme neglect, you may also be awarded punitive damages. Punitive damages do not compensate you or your loved one for losses. Instead, they are designed to punish the responsible party for their actions. Most personal injury cases do not involve punitive damages. However, it is more common in nursing home abuse cases because it aims to deter the facility and others from allowing future abuse to take place.
Nursing Home Abuse FAQs
Are bedsores preventable?
Yes. Bedsores, or pressure ulcers, are highly preventable with the proper level of care and attention. Bedsore prevention measures include:
- Regularly inspecting the skin for areas of redness
- Repositioning the resident every 2 hours
- Changing position every 15 minutes while in a wheelchair
- Providing soft padding in beds and wheelchairs
- Keeping skin clean and dry
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet
Are nursing homes in Ohio required to have a certain number of staff members?
In Ohio, a specific number of nursing home staff is not required. However, the facility must have enough staff on hand to meet the needs of the residents and provide each resident with at least 2.5 hours of direct nursing care each day.
How long do I have to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit?
In Ohio, the statute of limitations for filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit varies depending on the type of claim. You have two years from the injury or death to file a negligence or wrongful death claim. If the claim involves medical malpractice, you must file within one year. However, it is always best to contact a Canton elder abuse attorney as early as possible to begin the process.
Who regulates nursing homes in Ohio?
The Ohio Department of Health is responsible for licensing and overseeing all nursing homes within the state. The Division of Quality Assurance inspects each facility to ensure they meet state and federal standards. Action is taken against any nursing home that fails to comply with these standards. The division also investigates all claims of nursing home abuse and neglect.
Expert Legal Advice from a Canton Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
There is no excuse for nursing home abuse. Suppose you or your loved one has suffered abuse while in a nursing home. You have the right to pursue legal action. You can recover compensation for your losses and help stop future abuse by holding the facility accountable.
Our Canton nursing home abuse lawyers have been helping victims and their families for over 40 years. We take nursing home abuse very seriously and advocate aggressively for justice and elder abuse prevention. Our top priority is to make sure you or your loved one is safe and receiving the proper care and attention. Then we will tirelessly pursue every legal avenue to hold the responsible party accountable and recover maximum damages on your behalf. Schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today by calling Slater & Zurz at 888.534.4850.