If you have a loved one who lives in a Houston nursing home, you expect the professional staff to provide the highest level of care. In some cases, however, the residential settings where elders should receive respect and compassion become more akin to prisons.
Elder abuse — from stealing money to verbal harassment and even physical violence — occurs when nursing homes mistreat their residents in some manner. Relatives who rely on nursing homes to care for their older family members may live far away or may not be in a position to continuously monitor living conditions. Unchecked, nursing home abuse can cause great emotional, financial and physical harm to seniors.
Nursing homes provide a variety of nursing and medical services, and elder abuse in institutional settings can qualify as medical malpractice. If you are a loved one of a senior who is suffering — or if the mistreatment is directed at you personally — it’s critical that you work with experienced legal experts to understand the options for stopping the nursing home abuse and seeking compensation that your loved one deserves.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Seniors can suffer abuse in many settings, including licensed nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities. Abuse also can occur in a variety of forms, including sexual, verbal, physical and financial.
Abusers in a nursing home can include staff members, vendors, other residents, and family members or friends of either staff members or residents. In some cases, abuse such as physical violence is apparent and may be observed by many people. However, other cases such as financial abuse may be more discreet and difficult to detect.
Other forms of abuse include false imprisonment and neglect, which can constitute abuse if it results in tangible harm to a senior. For example, failing to provide proper hygiene services can lead to infection, which can result in physical illness. False imprisonment occurs when staff or other individuals in a nursing home confine a resident to a certain area, sometimes by leaving the resident without a needed mobility device.
Financial abuse can include a staff member stealing money or personal property from a resident. A resident being pressured into signing a false will or deed also would be a form of financial abuse.
Emotional abuse can include intimidation and ridicule, and sexual abuse can occur when an elder is forced to undress, participate in sexual acts, or view objectionable materials against his or her will.
Nursing home staff members also may abuse residents by providing fraudulent medical care, including administering too little or too much medication.
A range of warning signs can indicate different types of elder abuse within nursing homes. Signs of physical abuse may include bruising, bleeding or other physical marks; rapid and unexplained weight loss; bed sores; broken bones; marks left from restraints; and sedation or confusion due to incorrect medications.
A senior who has been sexually abused may have bruising or bleeding in genital areas, or they may suffer from sexually transmitted diseases. If you are in the facility and notice a caregiver, a visitor or another resident exhibiting hostile behavior — including yelling, threatening, intimidating or controlling — you should consider it a possible sign of emotional or physical abuse.
A senior who is being emotionally abused or intimidated may exhibit behaviors similar to those of dementia, such as talking to themselves or rocking. If your loved one seems afraid of certain people in the nursing home, you should find the cause.
Take Action if You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
If you believe your loved one has suffered past abuse in a nursing home or currently is being abused, it’s vital that you act mow to stop the abuse. By working with an experienced attorney in Houston, you can ensure that you take the right steps to protect your relative and hold the nursing home accountable for any and all abuse.
Your Houston Tx Personal Injury Attorney will work with you to verify your loved one’s account of the abuse, gather medical records and other evidence, and speak to other residents and visitors who may have witnessed the abuse. If your relative is in danger, it’s critical to get the individual into a safe environment immediately, even if that means a move to another nursing home.
If you believe criminal acts — including physical violence, sexual abuse or theft — have occurred or are ongoing, alert local law enforcement authorities as soon as possible. The district attorney may file criminal charges against individuals at the nursing home if an investigation finds evidence of criminal behavior. Your Houston Texas Personal Injury Attorney also can assist you with filing complaints with the appropriate government agencies.
Federal, state and local laws hold nursing homes to a high standard of care. Nursing homes that flout their position of trust in the community and allow staff members, residents or visitors to perpetrate abuse on seniors open themselves up to criminal charges and civil litigation.
If you or a loved one have suffered abuse in a nursing home, it is vital that you work with a skilled legal team to receive fair compensation. To speak to an attorney about your case, please contact The Law Offices of Shane R. Kadlec today.