Placing a loved one in a nursing home can be a difficult life event for the person and the family. Nursing homes should be places in which elderly and incapacitated individuals receive competent, skilled, and compassionate care. The nursing home and the staff members are entrusted with a loved one's care, and that trust should not be violated.
Unfortunately, at our Kansas City nursing home law firm, we see this is the case all too often in nursing homes in Kansas City and throughout Missouri and Kansas. If you suspect that your loved one has been abused or neglected at a nursing home, you should consult with an experienced nursing home attorney to make sure the legal rights or you and your loved one are protected.
Nursing Home Patient Abuse and Injuries
Nursing home abuse and injury can occur in any situation. Elder abuse is not just a problem limited to government-operated long-term care facilities or lower-income facilities. Even the so-called “best” nursing homes that have expensive rates and boast of the best quality care and staff can have incidents of abuse and injury.
One report found that more than one in four cases of nursing home abuse involving potential sexual or physical abuse when unreported to law enforcement officials. Abuse is not limited to sexual abuse or physical abuse. Nursing home abuse can also include verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and financial abuse.
Because nursing home residents may be afraid to say anything or they may be unable to verbalize what is happening to them, family members and friends should be aware of the signs of nursing home abuse. Carefully monitoring your loved one for signs of abuse can alert you to a problem.
Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect
Some common signs of nursing home abuse include:
- Signs of physical abuse or injuries from falls or unexplained causes, including bruises, broken bones, pressure marks, sprains, strains, dislocations, new scars, welts, burns, abrasions, and cuts.
- Infections, including sepsis or sexually transmitted infections and diseases
- Depression or unexplained withdrawal from activities
- Sudden changes in finances or missing money and property
- Poor hygiene
- Unusual weight loss
- Unattended medical needs
- Refusal to eat
- Fear of being left alone with a staff member
- Unusual or repeated requests to leave or not be left
- Unexplained long periods of sleeping or appearing to be dazed or “out of it” most of the time
- Broken eyeglasses
- Signs of being restrained, such as welts or bruises on wrists and ankles
- Signs of agitation such as mumbling and rocking back and forth
- Caregivers who refuse or limit visits or remain in the room during visits
- A death while in a nursing home's care that is unexpected, unexplained or otherwise suspicious
Any unusual or unexplained change could be a sign of abuse. If you are unsure, talk to a doctor or law enforcement officer.
Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect
Neglect may not be intentional abuse, but inadequate care can be just as painful and dangerous for a nursing home resident. Nursing homes have a duty to provide for the care and safety of their residents, including taking necessary steps to prevent falls, ensure patients eat, and ensure patients take their medications. Patients who are neglected may develop life-threatening conditions, including malnourishment, dehydration, infections, and bedsores. They may fall more often, which can lead to debilitating injuries. Residents who are neglected may become depressed and develop emotional disorders.
Nursing homes can be held liable if patients are injured or develop conditions because of neglect. Substandard medical care, failing to have safety and health protocols, failing to prevent injury hazards, negligence in supervising patients, and failing to develop and enforce regular patient checks are other signs of nursing home neglect.
What Should You Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?
If your loved one is in immediate danger, call 911 to report the abuse to law enforcement. You may also contact the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services or the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services.
Contacting a Kansas City nursing home abuse attorney can also be helpful. Many nursing home abuse attorneys, including our law firm, will offer a free, no-obligation case consultation and can advise you on how to protect your family member, including what steps to take to protect your family member’s legal rights.
A nursing home can be held legally liable for abuse and neglect. Your family member may be entitled to compensation for injuries and damages. While money will not undo the damage, a settlement can help provide additional care, treatment, and therapy. A claim also sheds light on the problem and warns others of the nursing home’s wrongdoing.
Contact a Kansas City Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
The Law Office of Kevin J. McManus represents nursing home residents and families in the Kansas City area and throughout the states of Missouri and Kansas. If you still have questions or want more information, please do not hesitate to call 816-203-0143, for a free consultation with our Kansas City nursing home abuse lawyer.