What is Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse is the neglect, abuse or exploitation of a nursing home or assisted living resident. While residents of these facilities have legal rights that protect them from abuse and neglect, their rights are effective only if the abuse is reported. Many victims are unable or too afraid to speak out on their own behalf – and doctors and other medical providers often fail to report suspected abuse, even though they are legally obligated to do so.
What are Examples of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?
Sadly, residents of nursing homes and other elder care facilities are often mistreated or taken advantage of by the very people they depend upon for daily care. Nursing home abuse comes in many forms.
- Financial abuse – Also referred to as financial exploitation, this involves the illegal or unauthorized use of a person’s money, property or other valuables.
- Emotional / psychological abuse – frightening, humiliating, shouting at, or swearing at the elderly individual. This abuse may take the form of accusing, blaming, constantly criticizing, being disrespectful, engaging in name-calling or ridicule.
- Physical abuse – includes administering excessive or improper medication, burning, confining/imprisoning, hitting, kicking, punching, pushing, or slapping the individual. It may also include misuse of restraints – both physical and chemical (inappropriate usage of sedating medicine to keep a resident subdued or unconscious).
- Sexual abuse – forcing the individual to participate in any type of sexual activity without their consent, including engaging in sexual conversations against their will. This may also involve individuals suffering from dementia who are unable to consent.
- Medical neglect – failing to provide medical care or failing to contact a physician.
Nursing Home Law/Residents’ Rights
Federal regulations mandate standards of care for facilities that receive federal funding. In addition to federal law, many states have also adopted more stringent requirements to crack down on negligent care. A nursing home abuse attorney can advise any client or relative of a client in a nursing home to take notice of their rights as guaranteed by the Nursing Home Reform Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, including:
- The right to information – information about the facility’s policies, procedures and fees, and access to communication and assistance in their own language
- The right to participate in their own care – the right to refuse medical treatment or medication, the right to review medical records, to be informed of their treatment and to receive treatment
- The right to choose their own physician and participate in resident activities
- The right to privacy concerning communication, access to an agency that provides social or legal advice, and confidentiality concerning medical records
- The right to be free of abuse and inappropriate restraint and the right to be treated with dignity and respect
- The right to manage their own financial affairs and to bring action against any abuse of property
- The right to be informed of any transfer or discharge
- The right to bring complaint or grievance without fear of reprisal
Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
If you do suspect abuse, there are agencies that oversee nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Each state appoints an ombudsman responsible for elderly affairs, and you can contact their office to lodge a complaint. Speaking with the director of the nursing home facility may be helpful – but you should keep detailed records of any conversation or contact. If you feel your concerns aren’t being addressed or you believe your family member has been harmed, don’t hesitate to contact a nursing home abuse attorney. Sometimes legal action is your best option for holding negligent or abusive homes accountable – and your loved ones deserve justice.
If you or a loved one has suffered from nursing home abuse, contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney today. You have only a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so you must act quickly.