Many families trust nursing homes to look after their elderly loved ones. Unfortunately, nursing facilities often don’t deserve that trust. Nursing home abuse is tragically common and can lead to serious injuries, sometimes even deaths. These cases leave many family members wondering what legal rights they have.
Nursing homes owe a duty to keep their residents safe and free from unreasonable harm. When they fail to do so and cause injury or death, the victims and their families can seek legal recourse. Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. represents nursing home injury victims and helps put an end to abuse.
The Scope Of Nursing Home Abuse
It’s a sad reality that nursing home residents are often left to the mercy of staff members who either neglect them or actively do them harm. Injury and abuse take many forms, including:
Nursing homes should enact reasonable policies and procedures to keep their residents safe. Physical injury and abuse can happen in a number of different ways. The staff may fail to properly or timely administer medication or provide medical treatment in the event the resident gets hurt. Or the resident could be allowed to wander the grounds unsupervised or even leave the facility altogether. The resident may not be given proper bed care, clean clothing or adequate food and water. Active abuse, such as beating an elderly resident or intentionally depriving him or her of food, also occurs.
Sexual abuse is also prevalent in nursing homes. Victims sometimes fall prey to staff members or other residents. Not only is sexual abuse degrading and emotionally destructive, but it can also leave the victim with physical injuries such as sexually transmitted diseases. Abuse can range from rape and sexual molestation to forced nudity and spying on residents while they are undressed. Sexual abuse is a crime, but the facility itself may be held civilly liable for allowing it to happen.
Unscrupulous staff members often view nursing home residents as easy targets. Identity theft, stealing, fraud, forged signatures on estate documents, and other forms of financial exploitation happen regularly. It’s also common for predators to threaten victims into silence so their crimes aren’t exposed. But nursing home staff aren’t the only ones who engage in these activities. Sometimes, residents are victimized by other people living in or visiting the facility.
A nursing home resident deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Due to a variety of factors, however, staff members sometimes inflict intentional emotional abuse on their residents. They may use threats, verbal harassment, or yelling to intimidate and silence victims. The trouble with this form of abuse is that it’s far less obvious than other types. Yet the impacts are real: many emotionally abused nursing home residents struggle with depression, anxiety, and aggravated mental illnesses due to their experiences.
Signs Of Abuse And Injuries
If your family member resides in a nursing home, it’s important to be aware of the various signs that your loved one is being abused or neglected. Here are a few examples:
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Burns, blisters, and bruises
- Broken bones
- Unusual or unexplained injuries
- Poor hygiene
- Worsening medical conditions
- Sudden death
- Sexually transmitted diseases and infections
- Bruising in the thighs, breasts, and genital area
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding
- Torn, stained, or bloody clothing
- Difficulty walking or standing
- Unexplained mood changes
- Excessive fear around caregivers
- Loss of interest and enthusiasm
- Low self-esteem
- Missing personal property
- Missing funds in bank and other accounts
- Unusual cash withdrawals
- Suspicious bank transactions
- Sudden changes to life insurance, wills, and estate plans
- A caregiver displaying unusual interest in a resident’s wealth or property
- Unpaid bills and eviction notices
- Inability to afford basic necessities
Many of these signs overlap. For instance, a sexual abuse victim may suffer from emotional problems like depression or mood changes. As the resident’s family member, you are in the best position to judge anything unusual. Don’t hesitate to bring your concerns to the attention of an attorney.
How To Keep Your Loved One Safe
Keeping your relative safe in a nursing home takes active involvement. The most vulnerable residents are isolated and ignored by their loved ones. With that in mind, here are some tips for protecting your family member:
- Conduct background research on several potential nursing homes, including with the New York State Department of Health
- Visit the facilities in person
- Ask for personal referrals from friends and co-workers
- Make sure any nursing homes you are considering are properly licensed
- Talk to other residents about the facility
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions and look around for yourself
You should remain vigilant even after settling on a nursing home for your loved one. Regularly keep in touch with and visit your relative, since isolation tends to breed problems. Bring any concerns to the attention of staff members. And if your family member gets hurt, reach out to a nursing home injury and abuse attorney.
Be sure your loved one gets any necessary medical attention if he or she has been injured or abused. Next, document any expenses your loved one has incurred, such as medical bills. If any property has been stolen, make a detailed list of what’s missing. Your attorney will work to have the property returned to your family member or to demand compensation if it can’t be recovered.
Contact Our New York Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Our firm doesn’t tolerate abuse of those at the mercy of others like nursing home residents. When an injury victim retains Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C., we immediately get to work investigating what happened and building a case against all liable parties. Was your loved one injured or killed in a nursing home? Do you have questions about what your next steps should be? Contact our team today to get started.
Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. help clients with their nursing home abuse claims throughout New York including Nassau County, Suffolk County, Queens, and Brooklyn.