Nursing homes are held responsible for providing care for patients and preventing injuries. However, approximately 90 percent of nursing homes are considered to be understaffed and an estimated 2.1 million seniors are victims of nursing home abuse or neglect each year in the United States. Understaffing issues create an environment that is conducive to nursing home abuse and neglect, as staff members may be left alone with patients more often, and may have difficulty spending adequate time with each patient to ensure that needs are met.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse may include physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, financial abuse, and sexual abuse. All of these types of abuse may lead to personal injury of the patients. In many cases, victims of elder abuse are unable to communicate the abuse to family members or authorities, and the abuse continues for long periods of time.
Abuse that is physical in nature is the most obvious cause of personal injury to patients. However, caregivers will often abuse patients in body areas that will be covered by clothing to avoid detection. Abusive caregivers may also blame injuries on the patient or make up situations to explain the injuries.
Patients can develop emotional disorders and can begin to inflict self-harm following incidents of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse may be verbal in nature, and can include intimidation by caregivers. Patients may require psychological therapy as well as medical care after enduring emotional abuse.
Neglect is very common in nursing homes that are understaffed, especially if the nurses on duty work overtime. Caregivers that are stressed or tired may become forgetful and may have difficulty taking care of all of each patient’s needs. Common injuries that stem from nursing home neglect include bed sores, infections, and muscle atrophy.
Financial Abuse can affect a patient both mentally and physically. Patients may suffer distress and psychological disorders after enduring financial hardships. Patients may also be unable to afford food to ensure that proper nutrition is received and may be unable to pay for medical care to treat conditions.
Abuse of a sexual nature may result in contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, injuries to private areas, and emotional distress. Patients are often afraid to report sexual abuse, which may allow the abuse to continue and conditions to worsen. Sexual abuse may include subjecting the patient to pornography, forcing the patient to watch sex acts, molestation of the patient, and rape of the patient.
Nursing Home Abuse Signs
Signs that a nursing home resident is suffering abuse or neglect may include:
- Unexplained or frequently occurring bruises and cuts
- Marks from restraints
- Bed sores and other skin conditions
- Continual sedation
- Torn clothing
- Fearful demeanor
- Depression or anger
- Self-harm actions
- Frequent rocking, mumbling, or sucking behaviors
- Unexplained revisions to wills and deeds
- Unexplained losses of money or personal items
Florida Nursing Home Abuse Charges
If a caregiver or staff member of a nursing home has committed acts of abuse against patients, the caregiver may face civil and criminal penalties. Certain states may require that elder abuse is reported to the police. Elder abuse is a serious crime, and offenders may face prison time and fines, as well as being barred from working in nursing homes.
Florida Nursing Home Abuse Claims
Nursing home abuse claims may be complex and difficult to prove. A nursing home abuse claim may be brought against the nursing home or against specific caregivers, depending on the laws and the details of the case. A personal injury attorney that is experienced in handling nursing home abuse claims may be able to provide advice and assistance.
Compensation which is recovered following incidents of nursing home abuse may cover:
- Costs of medical treatment
- Costs of physical therapy
- Reimbursement for financial abuses
- Expenses for emotional therapy
- Compensation for pain and suffering
“Frequently Asked Questions.” FAQs. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 6 June 2014.
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“Report Elder Abuse.” Department of Elder Affairs. Department of Elder Affairs State of Florida, n.d. Web. 6 Jun 2014.
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