Placing your loved one in a nursing home may be one of the most difficult decisions you'll ever make. We often place a considerable amount of trust in nursing homes in hopes that our loved ones will receive the best possible care. You may be wondering what you should do if you notice that something seems off. Perhaps your loved one has become more distant than usual or is acting in ways he or she doesn't normally behave. You want to get to the bottom of it, but you're not sure how.
Common types of nursing home abuse
The most common types of nursing home abuse we see at Kurle Justus, LLC include:
- Physical abuse. It's common for nursing home staff to experience frustration, especially when their duties go beyond their capacity and they don't receive the support they need. Some nursing home staff have a difficult time controlling their anger and they often take it out on residents. This includes hitting, beating, slapping or kicking residents. Physical abuse often results in bruises, broken bones, head injuries and damage to internal organs.
- Verbal abuse. Other ways that nursing home staff take out their frustration is by yelling at residents. Sometimes this includes bullying, threatening and saying things that cause serious emotional and psychological harm.
- Sexual abuse. Sadly, rape and sexual assault happen in nursing homes. Recently, in LaFayette, Georgia, a nursing home employee was charged with aggravated sodomy after sexually assaulting a resident. The resident reported the abuse to nursing home management, but police weren't notified until days later.
- Psychological abuse. Psychological abuse can take the form of verbally taunting or teasing residents, insulting them, or making fun of them. This can cause serious emotional distress, especially when patients aren't able to verbalize the details of the abuse and report it to someone.
- Financial exploitation. Nursing home staff sometimes take advantage of residents who aren't fully aware of their financial matters. This includes overcharging for nursing home services, charging for unprovided services, or even stealing money from residents.
Common types of nursing home neglect
Neglect takes a different form than nursing home abuse, but can be just as harmful to residents. Our law firm often sees residents suffer due to:
- Poor hygiene. Nursing home staff must ensure that residents are properly cared for. That includes ensuring that they're washed and bathed, their hands are washed, and they are provided with clean sheets and bedding. When nursing home staff fails to maintain proper resident hygiene, residents can suffer infections, bed sores, poor oral health and other conditions linked to poor hygiene.
- Malnutrition. Nursing home staff must ensure that residents are fed food that is healthy and nutritious. Sometimes the staff will fail to provide healthy meals or fail to feed residents. As a result, residents can lose dangerous amounts of weight and experience serious health conditions linked to malnutrition.
- Dehydration. It's the responsibility of the staff to ensure that residents stay hydrated. When they fail to do so, residents can suffer from organ failure, heatstroke and other health conditions linked to dehydration.
- Medication errors. Nursing home residents often rely on certain medications to manage pain, blood pressure, inflammation and other health conditions. Nursing home staff sometimes mix up medications or provide the wrong dosages. This can lead to serious and fatal consequences.
- Food contamination. When residents are fed food that is expired, contaminated with harmful bacteria, or has mold growing on it, nursing home residents can become seriously sick. Food-borne illnesses can result in hospitalization and even death.
- Failure to monitor. It's critical that nursing home staff regularly monitor residents to ensure that their health needs are met. If there aren't enough staff in a facility to adequately monitor every resident, then it's the responsibility of the facility management to hire more employees.
Warning signs of nursing home abuse and neglect
Identifying the signs of nursing home abuse and neglect is the first step to protecting your loved one. Here are some of the most common signs indicating that your loved one has suffered from abuse and/or neglect:
- Unexplained injuries such as bone fractures, bruises, cuts and contusions.
- Sudden mood changes, such as becoming withdrawn, unusual crying and unexplained sadness.
- Torn clothing, or blood stains on clothing and/or sheets.
- Unexplained infections, such as food poisoning, staph infections, sexually transmitted diseases, UTIs and other serious infections.
- Sudden and unexplained weight loss due to malnutrition or another serious health condition.
- Unexplained bills, expenses and missing finances.
- The facility reducing or canceling visiting hours, or even restricting certain visits in order to hide the abuse or neglect.
How to report nursing home abuse and neglect
If you have noticed any of the signs mentioned above, it's important that you never brush them off. An in-depth investigation will need to be conducted to find out if any abuse or neglect has occurred. If no action is taken, your loved one (as well as other residents) could endure more abuse and neglect. Here are the steps you should take if you suspect that your loved one was abused or neglected:
- Notify the nursing home management and seek prompt medical care for your loved one.
- Call the police if you believe that your loved one was physically or sexually assaulted.
- Report the suspected abuse and/or neglect to the Georgia Long-Term Care Ombudsman, who will work to resolve your complaint.
Contact an experienced Decatur nursing home abuse lawyer to take legal action
You don't have to deal with your nursing home abuse and neglect case alone. An experienced Decatur nursing home abuse lawyer at Kurle Justus, LLC would be glad to sit down with you and discuss the details surrounding your case. No matter how complex your questions may be, we have answers. Our legal team will get to the bottom of what happened and fight to hold the perpetrator(s) accountable.
In Georgia, you have two years from the date of the abuse or neglect to file a complaint. The sooner you get started, the sooner we can launch an investigation and help you build a strong case before the evidence disappears. Don't wait. Contact our Decatur law firm and schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.