What You Need to Know About Nursing Home Neglect

Usually, when a loved one is placed in a nursing home, we trust such places to give them good treatment and care. However, it very sad that this is not the case and some nursing homes can be negligent and even abusive to the residents. Today, neglect is one of the most pervasive kinds of nursing home abuse, which is becoming an extremely common occurrence across the United States.

What Is Nursing Home Neglect?

Nursing home neglect is the most common kind of abuse of elders that occur in nursing homes. Nursing home neglect is essentially when the care given to the elders is very sub-standard or when there is a breach of duty, which causes the patient harm. Very often, nursing home neglect is overlooked and results in the decline of the general health of the residents and even death.

Every year, in the US, around 2.1 million senior citizens are victims of some kind of abuse. And, the worst part is that for each case of nursing home neglect and abuse which is reported, there are around 5 cases that are unreported.

Nursing home neglect can occur practically anywhere and can occur in many forms. However, what makes it a serious cause for concern is that it can be overlooked or ignored and the signs of neglect can remain unseen, even after several visits to the nursing home.

Types of Nursing Home Neglect

There are different forms of nursing home neglect including:

Medical Neglect

Medical neglect is when the nursing home fails to adequately attend to the medical problems of the resident, which includes provisional care for mobility issues, bed sores, infections, lacerations, diabetes and cognitive disorders.

Neglect of Basic Requirements

When the nursing home does not provide the resident with a clean and safe atmosphere and a decent amount of food and water.

Personal Hygiene Neglect

Personal hygiene neglect includes the instances where the residents of nursing home do not have proper assistance with hygiene practices such as bathing, brushing their teeth, cleaning, laundry, etc.

Emotional or Social Neglect

Social or emotional neglect occurs when the resident of the nursing home is ignored or left alone without being attended to by the members of the staff or they are shouted at by a staff member who is overstressed.

What Typically Constitutes Nursing Home Neglect?

When the nursing or medical staff employed at any nursing home does not provide the proper standard of care that is legally required to patients, then this constitutes elderly neglect or abuse. There should be the existence of documentable damages.

Nursing home neglect can occur in various forms such as:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional neglect or abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Sexual abuse

Since most of the residents and patients who live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities are frail, old and vulnerable, they are usually more reluctant to complain about the negligent care that they are getting at these places, especially when it comes to voicing their concerns legally.

If you think that your family member or any loved one who is in a nursing home is neglected or being abused in any way, then the nursing home, as well as its staff, should be held responsible for their actions. You can sue them for failure to provide a safe environment, failure to offer the required medical treatment or standard of care or failure to maintain proper safety and health policies.

Nevertheless, the laws in this regard differ from state to state and consulting a nursing home abuse attorney who is well versed in elder abuse prevention can be of help in protecting your loved one.

Some Common Instances of Nursing Home Neglect

Intimidation Through Yelling and Threats

Emotional abuse of elders is when the residents of the nursing home are threatened, harassed, humiliated, ridiculed or intimidated by the staff members. This also includes control and emotional exploitation. Signs of emotional abuse are usually difficult to notice and may include instances of profanity, yelling or threats that are endured by the resident. And, these kinds of incidents amount to negligence in nursing homes.

3 certified nursing aides were indicted for abuse of patients at various residential care homes across New Jersey. An aide Cairy Chrisphonte was accused of hitting a patient aged 87, suffering from dementia on the head and arm in a nursing home in Clifton and Cairy faces charges of assault on an elderly person.

In another incident, Danny Brown punched a man in a wheelchair and threatened to break his neck. Danny was indicted on 3rd-degree charges of endangering a person and making threats.

Debra Matela kicked a wheelchair from under a 73-year old woman in Blackwood and has been charged with 3rd-degree aggravated assault.

Ignoring the Patient

Ignoring the elder resident is a form of nursing home abuse or neglect. This occurs when the members of the staff do not attend to the needs of the resident and ignore them even when they require some assistance, medication, help to do something, etc.

Woodcrest Health Center, New Jersey, was sued for neglect when an Alzheimer’s patient was ignored and she sat in her own excrement with it also on her face. There were other instances when the woman was not being fed at the facility and had fallen. The woman also suffered a broken hip when she tried going to the bathroom without assistance.

Giving the Patient the Wrong Medication

This type of neglect can occur when the nursing home is understaffed and when the overworked staff or nurses become careless and make mistakes. The resident may be given the medication prescribed for another resident. For instance, a resident receives another patient’s medication for diabetes instead of his own medication for high blood pressure. This is very dangerous, as not only are both patients not being treated for their medical conditions but also face the risk of side effects from drugs not meant for them.

Jon Bell was given a fatal dose of morphine that was actually for his roommate at a nursing home in Sacramento. An ambulance was called by Bell’s roommate, which was sent away by the nursing home in an attempt to cover up their mistake. This case highlights two major issues of poor care and medication error.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Most often, a family member will not witness the neglect or abuse, so it is important to know the signs that indicate neglect or abuse, which include:

  • Unexplained injuries or falls resulting in injuries.
  • Bed sores or pressure sores.
  • Overmedication of the patient.
  • Malnutrition and rapid weight loss.
  • Dehydration or cracked lips.
  • Sudden changes in the patient’s prognosis or behavior.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Sudden change in eating and sleeping patterns.
  • Unsanitary conditions and environment.
  • Wandering residents.
  • Poor quality of staff or understaffing.
  • Signs of sexual abuse, genital infections or venereal diseases.
  • Staff trying to delay family visits or refusing visits to the resident.
  • Emotionally disturbed.
  • Resident transferred to the hospital for malnutrition, infections or wound care.
  • Sudden unexplained death.

So, if your loved one or you are victims of neglect or abuse at a nursing home, then you can contact a nursing home abuse law firm, whose nursing home negligence attorney can help to get justice for the victim and also help to make things safer for other fellow residents of the nursing home. Or, if there is an instance of a death of a resident in a nursing home, nursing home lawyers can help you with a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home.