Nursing home abuse is a tragic and unfortunately common occurrence across the state of Ohio. It is estimated that more than 115,000 seniors in Ohio alone are subject to nursing home abuse and/or neglect each year—and likely thousands more cases that go unreported. These types of injuries are very difficult for families and loved ones to accept and comprehend. How could people whose job it is to help and care for your loved ones deliberately ignore or cause harm to them? Seniors are one of the most vulnerable—and the most treasured members of society. When family members discover this type of abuse has occurred to their loved one, they are understandably angry and want answers and results.
At Slater & Zurz, we get it. Our Ohio personal injury law firm was created specifically for the purpose of seeking justice for those who have been harmed. We want to help you understand, recognize and take legal action against those who do harm to nursing home residents. Reach out immediately if you need a nursing home abuse attorney.
Why Does Nursing Home Abuse Occur?
The answers are complex and unfortunate. Despite federal and state-mandated requirements that these facilities employ experienced, trained, knowledgeable employees, many staff members at nursing homes and elder care facilities are overworked, improperly trained and poorly supervised. The facility may be understaffed and cut corners when hiring such as skipping background checks just so they can have enough people working to support the residents. Employees may be working under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. There are many possible explanations, all of which leave the door open for nursing home abuse and neglect to occur.
Senior citizen abuse and neglect cases can be difficult to detect. Staff may even work together on abuse of specific patients, and work to hide the evidence of abuse from family and loved ones who visit. Sometimes, abuse and neglect go on for an unfortunately long period of time before the mistreatment is discovered and identified.
Neglect Or Abuse?
Though the terms sound similar, unpacking the difference between nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect is important. Your loved one may have experienced one or both of these injuries, so understanding the difference can help you get a handle on what has happened.
Nursing Home Neglect
In Ohio, neglect is defined by law as “… recklessly failing to provide a resident with any treatment, care, goods, or service necessary to maintain the health or safety of the resident when the failure results in serious physical harm to the resident.” In a nursing home environment, this generally means that employees have not been taking the correct steps to routinely and properly care for your loved one. Neglect may sound unserious, but older people rely on the help and care of nursing home staff to keep them healthy, active and well, and neglect of proper care is a serious situation that can cause major injury.
Some examples of nursing home neglect:
- Not providing adequate food, water or other sources of nutrition
- Unsanitary living or resting conditions that can lead to illness or injury
- Failure to provide adequate or correct medical care
- Ignoring, overlooking or denying other basic care needs of a patient
Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse is a serious problem that is unfortunately more common than we would hope. A nursing home abuse lawyer can help you categorize the harm that has come to your loved one. Generally speaking, abuse involves purposeful actions that cause or contribute to harm and/or illness of the resident, and can encompass many types of injuries, including:
- Physical abuse/assault
- Sexual abuse/assault
- Verbal and/or emotional abuse, including name-calling, taunting, humiliating or yelling at patients
- Financial abuse, misuse or manipulation of a resident’s funds
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
Discovering, identifying and uncovering abuse can be very difficult. Sometimes, nursing home residents are fearful of what will happen if they tell someone about what has been happening to them. They may have been emotionally manipulated so that they are made to feel that the things that are happening to them are their fault so they keep quiet about their mistreatment. In some cases, residents are physically unable to communicate what has happened to them—older people with dementia are particularly at risk for abuse and neglect. But it can happen to anyone. In some facilities, staff members “gang up” on vulnerable residents, and work together to cover each others’ tracks and keep the abuse secret.
Watch for signs of abuse or neglect, including:
- Unusual changes in behavior, including lack of self-care or poor hygiene, acting child-like, fear of communication and withdrawing physically and/or emotionally
- Acting fearful or scared, especially when staff members are present
- Physical signs of abuse such as unexplained weight loss, signs of dehydration, bruises, scratches, cuts and other wounds—including wounds that are not healing correctly, such as bed sores
- Blood spots on clothing or bedding
- Hospital or clinic visits for injuries, malnutrition or wound care
- Immediate or unexplained death
- Financial charges that don’t make sense
What To Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse Or Neglect
Care facilities will tell you that they are subject to surveys to keep them on track, and that is true. However, 70% of state surveys miss at least one facility deficiency, and as many as 15% of nursing home and elder care facilities surveyed fail to uncover incidences and risk of actual harm and jeopardy to residents.
As soon as you suspect that your loved one is the victim of abuse and/or neglect in an Ohio nursing home, you should contact a nursing home neglect lawyer immediately. With their guidance and assistance, you’ll start the process of documenting any and all evidence of mistreatment, even if you only have suspicions of wrongdoing. You’ll note things like behavior changes or wounds on your loved one and the dates and times you observed these changes. If financial abuse is suspected, question any unusual financial transactions and document the outcome of phone calls or visits asking for an explanation.
Ohio Nursing Home Abuse Law Firm
If your loved one has been subject to abuse and/or neglect in an Ohio nursing home, you may be entitled to receive compensation for the damages, including punitive damages that are designed to punish facilities to prevent future cases of abuse or neglect. Nursing homes often have a lot of financial means and robust legal teams to defend them from these types of charges.
You need a law firm that not only understands the harm that has come to your loved one, but has the experience, knowledge and dedication to aggressively pursue justice for the resident as if their own family member had been harmed.