We’re Here to Protect Elders Against Neglect and Exploitation By Caregivers
For-profit nursing homes display a worrisome trend: Many of them choose to put money over healthcare, meaning patients are neglected and mistreated. For nursing home residents and their families who are paying high fees for treatment, caretaker neglect and abuse often come as a surprise. If you have been blindsided by a doctor, nurse, or facility team that does not provide adequate care, we can explain your legal options.
When nursing homes infringe on patients’ rights, we want to help you hold them accountable. Ashcraft & Gerel has been representing the injured since its founding in 1953. Aside from a wealth of experience, we bring significant skill and resources to each case we take.
The effects of nursing home neglect are rarely limited to one patient. Bringing a case can help protect others who are also suffering at the hands of unqualified or cruel caregivers. If you suspect a loved one is being mistreated, ask us how you can start a claim.
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What Does Nursing Home Abuse Look Like?
The Maryland Code includes a nursing home resident bill of rights that affirms all residents in these facilities are entitled to:
- Dignity and self-determination;
- Communication with people and organizations outside of the facility;
- Freedom from abuse of all sorts;
- The ability to choose their attending physician and pharmacy;
- Participation in their treatment/care planning; and
- Privacy in lodgings, communications, and visitors,
among others. Whenever these rights are infringed, a nursing home resident has cause to seek intervention.
However, one would not file a nursing home abuse case for minor infractions by the facility. If you are considering bringing a lawsuit, you must be able to show evidence of significant damages. Medical bills, psychological harm, reduced quality of life, and other physical and mental/emotional challenges are the core of any strong nursing home neglect or abuse claim.
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Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Because caregivers and staff members in nursing homes have authority over patients, unscrupulous employees can cause harm in many ways.
Complaints of physical abuse such as pushing or grabbing a resident are the most common according to data from the National Ombudsman Reporting System (NORS). Physical abuse may be perpetrated by caregivers, or co-residents who are violent or unstable.
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Verbal and Psychological Abuse
Verbal abuse includes actions like yelling or swearing at a resident. It can also be more insidious, consisting of repeated comments and actions meant to humiliate, blame, or intimidate a patient.
While bringing a case for this type of abuse alone is uncommon, it is often coupled with other types of mistreatment. Patients who face repeated verbal aggression or demeaning comments may develop emotional or mental health issues.
Sexual abuse is underreported for a variety of factors, but there is adequate evidence that it is a continuing issue in nursing homes. Perpetrators can be caregivers or co-residents, often those with dementia; victims are likely to be women with physical and/or mental impairment who are unable to manage their own finances. Aside from being a criminal offense, sexual abuse is highly traumatizing and has a higher chance of causing physical injuries among frail elders.
When a patient’s needs are not meant, they can struggle physically and mentally. This includes everything from providing enough food and water, helping residents use the bathroom and fulfill hygiene needs, ensuring a patient has taken their medications, repositioning movement-impaired patients to help stave off pressure ulcers, and assisting with other basic daily tasks. Neglect can also encompass a patient’s care team missing the signs of a health problem or failing to provide the necessary treatment.
Different from neglect, medical abuse involves actual mistreatment of a patient. Some nursing homes have been found to restrain “problem” members through physical or pharmaceutical means against those patients’ wishes. Providing the wrong treatment and/or denying a patient the right to informed consent is also illegal behavior that can result in serious harm.
Personal belongings are important to helping elders feel at home in a nursing home, but they are also at risk of theft. Especially if someone steals a resident’s checkbook or credit card, they may do serious damage to that person’s savings. It is also illegal to coerce or trick an elder into transferring assets. These abuses can be perpetrated by caregivers, administrative staff, or co-residents.
Identifying Nursing Home Abuse
Because patients may fear retaliation by their abusers or feel ashamed of allowing themselves to be taken advantage of, many victims do not report mistreatment or neglect. Family members can do their part by looking for warning signs of abuse.
Physical symptoms may include:
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Bruises, burns, or scars
- Lack of hygiene
- Development of bedsores or other preventable medical conditions
- Mobility issues
- Sexually transmitted infections, in cases of sexual abuse
Abuse can cause seniors to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or other mental health conditions. These may be characterized by:
- Withdrawal from social activities or previous hobbies
- Habitual sadness, lack of emotion, or confusion
- Unusual agitation or violence
- Trauma reactions like rocking back and forth
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
Family members may also spot behaviors like avoidance of a specific person, resistance to being alone around a certain type of person (e.g., male caregivers), or avoidance of specific situations.
Getting Help for Nursing Home Abuse
If you suspect your loved one is facing abuse, we urge you to visit the Maryland Department of Health and Maryland Department of Aging to learn how you can file a complaint. Every report will be investigated.
Then, reach out to a law firm like Ashcraft & Gerel to discuss your legal options. Filing a claim for nursing home abuse can help you recover damages like:
- Medical bills
- Future medical needs
- Therapy or rehabilitation
- Pain and suffering
- Mental distress
- Decrease in quality of life
If your loved one passed away because of the abuse or neglect visited upon them, we can help you file a wrongful death case.
We Fight for Those Who Can’t Fight for Themselves
Nursing home patients are uniquely vulnerable to abuse, which is why some caregivers choose to target them. We are here to help the elderly and their families fight back against anyone who tries to harm them. Let us guide you through the process of filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit.
Filing a nursing home abuse case gives you the chance to hold negligent caretakers and poorly managed facilities accountable for the harm they’ve done to patients. Financial compensation serves a double purpose by helping the injured heal and move forward and penalizing a nursing home that focuses on profits to the detriment of its residents. You can make a difference by starting your claim today.