Central Pennsylvania Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
ATTORNEYS REPRESENTING CLIENTS IN LANCASTER & YORK
There comes a point in everyone’s life where they are unable to care for themselves. Some get by with help from an in-home nurse or caregiver, but some cannot. For those individuals, nursing homes provide full-time care without being in the hospital.
Nursing homes are supposed to be where disabled or elderly individuals can live comfortably and safely. Some nursing homes fail to live up to the standards of the Nursing Home Reform Law of 1987. Nursing home abuse and neglect begins when these laws are ignored.
In many cases, employees, the ones you trust, abuse or neglect your family members. These heinous actions can inflict serious health problems like malnutrition, dehydration, STD’s, severe depression/anxiety, and death.
There is hope. If you suspect your loved one or family member is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact the nursing home abuse lawyers at Hagelgans & Veronis. We can let you know if you have a case. If so, we’ll help you take legal action against the nursing home facility and seek financial compensation for your loved one’s pain and suffering.
What’s the Difference Between Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?
Though they sound similar, there is a stark difference between nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect. Abuse is defined as an intentional offense committed against a resident that causes physical or mental suffering. There are five main types of nursing home abuse:
- Emotional abuse is when caregivers or nursing staff humiliate, terrorize, ignore, or treat a resident cruelly. Emotional abuse can be devastating to any elderly individual, but especially those suffering from mental health problems.
- Physical abuse can be shoving, punching, kicking, biting, scratching, and even misusing bed restraints. It is the easiest form of abuse to recognize because it leaves marks and bruises. If you notice any unusual bruising, scarring, or bleeding, immediately document it with pictures.
- Financial abuse occurs when nursing home employees steal money or trick patients into providing personal information like bank account details, credit card numbers, or their social security number.
- Sexual abuse happens in nursing homes more often than you think. It becomes abuse when a sexual act or contact is performed on a patient without their consent. It can also be a result of the patient being tricked or threatened by nursing home staff.
- False imprisonment is when a nursing home resident is forcefully confined to their room or bed without just cause. Restraining a resident to their bed or chair, putting their wheelchair out of reach, or taking their crutches all constitute different forms of false imprisonment.
Unlike abuse, neglect can be intentional or unintentional. It is defined simply as: failing to care for properly. In most cases, nursing home neglect takes the form of the employee providing the patient with less treatment than required, failing to administer their medications, or neglecting to provide basic healthcare items. Below are some of the most common types of nursing home neglect:
- Emotional/social neglect is when a patient is ignored or verbally put down by nursing home staff.
- Dehydration/malnutrition neglect occurs when nursing home employees do not provide residents with enough food and water.
- Hygiene can be a big problem for nursing home residents. Many need help with going to the bathroom or changing their clothes. When a nursing home employee does not help with hygienic care, residents can develop bedsores, skin infections, dental problems, and bowel disease.
- Medical needs include things like bandaging and cleaning wounds as well as providing medication. If the nursing home staff fails to meet these needs, it can lead to infection, pain, a decline in health, and death.
How Can I Recognize Nursing Home Abuse/Neglect?
Some types of nursing home abuse or neglect are easier to recognize than others. One way to keep an eye out for abuse is by watching a nurse or employee interact with your loved one. If abuse is present, you may notice downcast eyes, flinching, or a change in mood in your loved one as the staff member enters the room. The employee’s refusal or reluctance to care for your family member while you are there is also a red flag that may indicate abuse.
Additional signs of nursing home abuse include:
- Weight loss
- Poor hygiene
- Unsanitary/unsafe living conditions
- Bruises, cuts, or welts
- Emotional withdraw
- Mood swings
- Broken bones
- Dehydration and/or malnutrition
- Refusal to speak
How Can I Fight for My Loved One?
If you think your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse/neglect, you must take action. If there is any evidence of physical abuse, document it with pictures. You should talk with your loved one. If they are able to talk about the abuse, whether physical, mental, or emotional, record their statement or write it down.
In some cases there is no physical proof or the family member is not willing to talk about their experience. If you suspect abuse, it is best to go with your gut instead of ignoring the problem. Whether you’re right or not, consulting with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney can help provide some direction and let you know if you have a case.
What Else Can I Do About Nursing Home Abuse/Neglect?
Speak up. Silence allows the problem to perpetuate. Talking about this issue can save thousands of elderly individuals from suffering the atrocities of nursing home abuse. It may even save lives.
If your loved one or someone you know is in immediate danger from nursing home abuse or neglect, call 9-1-1 immediately. You can also report nursing home abuse by:
- Using the S. Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locater to find state authorities and report abuse. You can also call them at 1-800-677-1116 or chat with them online.
- Contacting the Pennsylvania Department of Aging online or by calling their 24-hour hotline at 1-800-490-8505.
- Talking to your loved one’s doctor or primary care physician. They may be able to give you advice for handling the situation or report it themselves using other means.
Some nursing home employees are abusive or neglectful and some aren’t. Regardless, too many of them are overworked and undertrained, which leads to abusive behavior. The worst part is, much of the time, the family is completely unaware that their loved one is suffering.
You can try to tackle this problem on your own, but taking legal action is often the best or only way to make your voice heard. If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect, don’t hesitate to contact Hagelgans & Veronis. We’ll fight for justice on behalf of you and your loved one. Call us today at 1-877-454-8529 to schedule a free consultation.