Tampa Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
We place our loved ones in nursing homes to keep them safe when we can no longer care for them. Unfortunately, not all facilities are equal, and poor institutions make our elderly and disabled loved ones vulnerable to abuse. The National Council on Aging reports that each year in the United States, about 10% of our nation’s citizens over the age of 60 experience abuse – some five million individuals. Yet nursing home abuse is a silent problem; there are 13 unreported cases for each one receiving attention.
Defining Nursing Home Abuse
The National Council on Aging defines nursing abuse as any offense that hurts a person physically, emotionally, financially, or mentally. Though many nursing home residents are elderly, abuse also affects those with special needs, such as the mentally or physically disabled. There are several types of nursing home abuse:
- The law considers neglect as abuse when it can lead to possible or actual harm. An example of neglect in a nursing home setting is bedsores, which result from failing to turn patients regularly.
- False imprisonment occurs when a staff member prohibits a resident from leaving a designated area, such as their room or a common area. A person committing false imprisonment may keep residents from their wheelchairs or walkers if they fail to follow certain directives.
- Emotional and mental abuse may involve any kind of manipulation or harm that leads a resident to fear for his or her own safety or the safety of others.
- Financial abuse is becoming more common in nursing homes. A staff member may commit financial abuse when they coerce a resident to modify a deed, change a will, or charge excessive fees to their account.
Know the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Not all cases of elder abuse look alike. In fact, some experienced abusers may be able to mask some of the outward symptoms of nursing home abuse. However, there are some “red flags” that might indicate a loved one needs help:
- Bruising or bedsores.
- Dramatic weight loss.
- Mood swings or sudden changes in behavior.
- Broken bones.
- Any suspicious injury resulting from a “fall.”
- Changes in spending habits or modifications to a will.
- Excessive fear.
- Avoidance of certain people within a facility.
- “False dementia,” when a person may mimic the symptoms of dementia to control stress.
This does not encompass every symptom of nursing home abuse. If you suspect your loved one is in trouble, take immediate action.
What to Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
When you suspect someone is abusing your loved one, it’s essential to take swift action. Take the following steps:
- Corroborate his or her story with other members of the nursing home and ask for medical records from the facility. Take photos of any injuries you might notice and ask for a list of current prescriptions.
- If you suspect nursing home abuse, remove them from the situation as soon as possible.
- Contact the police. Call the district attorney’s office or the police station and ask to file a report. If they find enough evidence, they may be able to convict the abusing staff member with a crime.
Know When to Contact an Attorney
Nursing home abuse is a serious crime, and the wrongdoer should have to answer for his or her actions in a court of law. If a nursing home staff member has abused or neglected your loved one, you may be able to file a civil suit to pay for damages. For more information about filing a personal injury lawsuit against a nursing home, please contact us for a free case evaluation.