It might start with a feeling that something is just not right. Your loved one might be acting differently, or you might even notice bruises or weight loss. Whatever the first signs of potential abuse or neglect are, it's important not to ignore them. Even if your loved one says nothing is wrong, you owe it to them to investigate further. If you suspect that the staff is neglecting or abusing patients, your first step should be to talk to a nursing home abuse lawyer.
At The Blankenship Law Firm, we represent the most vulnerable people in personal injury lawsuits against negligent, abusive, and careless nursing homes in the Seattle area and beyond. Contact us to find out what you should do if you suspect that your elderly or disabled loved one has been harmed by someone who was supposed to take care of them.
Forms of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Abuse and neglect of the elderly and disabled can take many forms. These kinds of actions can occur in assisted living facilities, full-care nursing homes, and senior day care programs. Whether neglect is systemic due to short staffing or a single staff member is committing abuse, the institution and its parent company can be held liable for the resulting harm.
Types of nursing home abuse and neglect include:
- Physical abuse. This can take multiple forms, including hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, or restraining residents forcefully. Violence should never be used against nursing home residents.
- Emotional abuse. Verbal threats, humiliation, intimidation, isolation, and constant belittlement are forms of emotional abuse that can cause a resident to suffer from depression or shut down in fear
- Sexual abuse. Sadly, sexual abuse is not unheard of in nursing homes. It may take the form of inappropriate sexual contact, assault, or coercion and include unwanted touching, rape, or forcing residents to engage in sexual acts against their will.
- Financial exploitation. Thieves working in a nursing home could misuse or steal a resident's financial resources, property, or assets through unauthorized withdrawals, forging signatures, coercing residents to change their wills or grant power of attorney, or using their credit cards or bank accounts without permission.
- Neglect. All too common in understaffed care homes, neglect is defined as a failure to provide necessary care, attention, or support to nursing home residents, leading to harm or deterioration of their physical or mental health. This can include neglecting basic needs such as food, water, hygiene, medical care, and medication management.
- Medication errors. Nursing home staff is responsible for managing patients' prescriptions. When someone administers incorrect medication dosages or types, fails to administer medication as prescribed or neglects to monitor and manage residents' medications properly, they could be held liable.
- Inadequate staffing. It is up to the management of a care facility to ensure that it is adequately staffed. Insufficient numbers of qualified staff members in nursing homes can lead to neglect or inadequate care for residents due to overwhelming workloads or the inability to attend to residents' needs promptly.
- Lack of hygiene and sanitation. Failure to maintain clean and sanitary conditions throughout the facility, including resident rooms, bathrooms, and common areas, can lead to an increased risk of infections and health issues.
- Social isolation. Nursing homes have a duty to attend to the emotional well-being of their residents. Isolating residents from social interactions, activities, or contact with family and friends can result in loneliness, depression, and a decline in overall well-being.
- Medical neglect. Nursing homes are medical facilities and are duty-bound to provide medical care to patients. Failing to provide necessary medical attention, timely treatments, emergency care, or follow-up care can lead to worsening health conditions, untreated illnesses, or avoidable complications.
- Staff-to-resident ratio violations. There are state laws regarding staff-to-resident ratios in nursing homes. Violating these regulations leads to inadequate supervision and care for residents.
- Inadequate training. Failing to provide proper training to staff members regarding resident care, safety protocols, recognizing and reporting abuse, and emergency procedures compromises the quality of care provided.
- Violation of resident rights. Disregarding residents' legal rights, including the right to privacy, dignity, autonomy, and the right to be free from abuse or neglect, is a form of abuse.
- Discrimination. Treating residents unfairly or differently based on factors such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability can cause emotional harm and could lead to unequal treatment.
Where Can You Turn When Your Loved One Has Been Harmed in a Nursing Home?
Representing victims in Washington, Oregon, and Alaska, we fight for the rights of nursing home abuse and neglect victims. These are difficult cases, and we treat our clients with compassion and respect. If you or a loved one has experienced nursing home abuse or neglect, the civil litigators at our firm can help you hold the abusers accountable. Fill out our contact form to find out if we can help you, too.