Our elderly loved ones rely on nursing homes to provide consistent medical care when they are no longer able to care for themselves. Nursing homes should provide nurturing, safe environments for our aging relatives. Unfortunately, some people take advantage of nursing home residents, preying upon them due to their infirmities as easy targets.
When a nursing home fails to perform proper background checks on employees or provide adequate training, it may absorb liability in the event a resident suffers abuse.
Nursing home abuse can include physical as well as verbal or sexual abuse. The Houston nursing home abuse attorneys at Attorney Brian White & Associates, PC has a strong track record of success in various types of personal injury cases. Houston residents should learn how to spot nursing home abuse and contact our attorneys if they think loved ones have suffered any kind of abuse in a nursing home.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse can take many forms, and it’s vital to know how to identify and stop it. These types of injuries include:
- Physical abuse – hitting, slapping, or tripping an elderly resident, resulting in physical injuries.
- Sexual abuse – forced sexual activity or staff members taking nude photos of residents.
- Psychological abuse – ridicule, verbal abuse, and attempts to confuse or agitate them.
- Financial exploitation – stealing checks, cash, or valuables from elderly nursing home residents who may not notice for the loss for a long time.
If you suspect that one of your loved ones is a victim of nursing home abuse, contact a Houston injury lawyer now.
Common Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Injuries
Not all injuries sustained in a nursing home stem from negligence. Some injuries are pure accidents, with no party necessarily at fault. However, many injuries do result from negligence or abuse. Follow up any nursing home injury with an investigation into the cause and nature of the accident. If you detect anything suspicious, report your concerns to authorities at the nursing home, or the Houston Police Department.
Injuries that often stem from elder abuse and neglect include:
- Hand-shaped marks or bruises
- Bruises in areas that are usually covered, like the torso
- Burn marks
- Marks from improper use of restraints
- Unexplained injuries
- Slip and fall injuries
- Genital/upper thigh injuries (signs of sexual abuse)
- Bed Sores
- Poor hygiene
Nursing home injuries can take many forms, and some are simply unavoidable. Elderly individuals are more likely to suffer fall-related injuries and are less resilient from injury than younger people. Falling presents a major risk to elderly nursing home residents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of fatal falling incidents in the United States increased by 30% from 2007 to 2016.
One out of every four people over the age of 65 will suffer a fall each year, and falling once doubles the chances of falling a second time. Falling injuries can cause broken bones, severe contusions, brain injuries, and spinal injuries.
One factor that appears to be contributing to the number of falling injuries in nursing homes is over-prescription of Nuedexta, a medication designed to treat the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), one of the major side effects of Nuedexta is dizziness, which can easily cause a falling injury. It’s important for you to talk to your loved one’s doctor about Nuedexta if he or she has a prescription for it.
Many elderly individuals rely on several medications, and Nuedexta isn’t the only one that can cause problems. Medication errors can cause severe symptoms that may exacerbate your loved one’s condition.
Doctors must ensure they prescribe the correct medications in the correct dosages to their patients to reduce the risk of adverse reactions. Additionally, if the nursing home fails to provide medication to your loved one as prescribed, your loved one could experience severe medical complications.
Bedsores – A Common Nursing Home Abuse Injury
Another issue facing many nursing home residents is the possibility of developing bedsores. Bedsores are pressure ulcers that form when a person remains stationary for an extended time.
Many elderly individuals in nursing homes must remain in bed for most of the day, so nursing home staff must regularly reposition residents to prevent the formation of bedsores. Failure to do so will cause blood flow to slow down in the lowest part of the person’s body, eventually forming a pressure ulcer that may rupture or become infected.
Elderly individuals are more susceptible to infections than younger adults, so it’s crucial for nursing home staff to maintain clean living areas and address medical issues promptly. Infected bedsores can cause sepsis, a potentially fatal medical condition that causes inflammation and organ failure.
What to Do If Your Loved One Is Suffering Abuse
If you believe your loved one has suffered abuse in a nursing home, your priority should be to remove him or her from the dangerous situation. Depending on the severity of the abuse, a call to the police may be necessary to remove your loved one from the dangerous nursing home.
Once you have helped your loved one into a safer situation and addressed his or her medical concerns, an attorney can help you build a case to secure compensation for your damages. Nursing home abuse can lead to significant medical expenses, lost income from missed time at work, as well as property damages in the event of financial exploitation and other forms of compensation.
Your nursing home abuse attorney will help you gather the evidence necessary for building a strong lawsuit. Evidence that may support your claim can include:
- Testimony from other nursing home residents who experienced or witnessed abuse taking place on the premises
- Statements from nursing home staff
- Documentation regarding the treatment of your elderly loved one’s injuries resulting from abuse
As soon as you begin to suspect any type of abuse taking place, start documenting your findings by taking pictures of your loved one’s injuries and living situation and retaining copies of any pertinent correspondence.
Who Is Liable for Nursing Home Abuse?
Depending on the type of abuse your elderly loved one experienced, a nursing home staff member could face liability for the resulting damages, and the nursing home may absorb liability as well. If the nursing home allowed a dangerous individual to work in the home without conducting an appropriate background check, the nursing home will likely face liability if the individual harms any residents.
Nursing homes can also face liability for negligence, such as poor enforcement of sanitation protocols like bedding and clothing changes, failure to maintain a clean and safe environment, untrained staff performing medical procedures, or allowing parts of the facility to fall into disrepair. Nursing homes have a duty of care to their residents to provide safe and effective care. Negligence occurs when nursing homes violate this directive and allow their residents to suffer injuries.
Proving Negligence for Your Houston Nursing Home Abuse Claim
Most nursing home abuse claims will revolve around the concept of negligence. The plaintiff bringing the claim must prove that the defendant, either the nursing home, a staff member, or a combination of multiple defendants, failed to uphold a duty of care, resulting in measurable damages. Damages in most personal injury claims include economic losses resulting from the defendant’s negligence but may also include compensation for non-economic damages.
Economic damages can include hospital bills, the costs of any necessary corrective or restorative procedures following abuse, prescription medication costs, as well as any out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the abuse. If you or other relatives must take time off from work to handle your nursing home abuse claim, you can also receive compensation for the wages lost in that time. Other economic damages may also include the amount paid to a nursing home when they did not provide acceptable care.
Non-economic damages are more difficult to quantify, and these damages seek to compensate victims for their physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish resulting from nursing home abuse. Different courts use different systems for calculating pain and suffering damages, and the plaintiff in a nursing home abuse case will likely depend on testimony from expert witnesses to provide the jury with a reasonable idea of the victim’s experiences. This expert witness testimony will help the jury understand the severity of the victim’s experiences and encourage them to award an appropriate amount of compensation.
Hiring a Houston Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
The right attorney can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of your nursing home abuse claim. The Houston nursing home abuse lawyers at Brian White & Associates have a stellar track record of successful cases in the Houston area, and our abuse lawyers have the experience to handle any type of personal injury claim. If your loved one has experienced any type of abuse in a nursing home, contact our firm today to schedule a free consultation. After we review the details of your claim, we can let you know what type of compensation you could receive through a lawsuit.