Nursing Home Abuse...A Silent Epidemic

According to the federal government more than 3 million Americans rely on nursing home services at some point during the year. 1.4 million Americans reside in the nation’s 15, 654 nursing homes on any given day. The decision to place a loved one in a long-term facility is heart wrenching, and is made even worse when that loved one suffers abuse and neglect.

Nursing home abuse can be hard to detect, and for every reported case there are many more than go undetected.

Federal regulations define abuse and neglect as follows:

  • Abuse: an intentional infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, care/service deprivation or punishment that results in physical harm, pain or mental anguish.
  • Neglect: a failure, intentional or not, to provide a person with the care and services necessary to ensure freedom from harm or pain; a failure to react to a potentially dangerous situation resulting in resident harm or anxiety.

Abuse can take many forms, from physical to psychological to financial. Neglect can be unintentional and is often the result of inadequate staffing. Neglect takes place when a patient’s needs are not taken care of, such as personal hygiene or proper nutrition. Neglect can lead to a multitude of medical conditions including bed sores, malnutrition, and dehydration.

How can you tell if your loved one has been the victim of abuse?

Here are some warning signs:
•    Bed sores
•    Broken bones or bruises
•    Dehydration
•    Unexplained weight loss
•    Change in mental status
•    Infections
•    Withdrawal
•    Mood Swings
•    Unsanitary conditions
•    Frequent falls

What should you do if you suspect neglect or abuse?

It is important to take action as quickly as possible to protect your loved one’s rights. Lawsuits have time limits so it is critical to speak to a nursing home attorney as soon as abuse or neglect is suspected. Call The Law Office of Catherine J. Merrill for a free consultation.