Causes of Nursing Home Abuse

nursing-home-abuse-causes-sourcesIs your loved one the victim of nursing home abuse, and are you looking for the justice they deserve? At Nursing Home Law Center, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are ready to be their legal advocates to ensure those responsible for the harm are held accountable.

Call our nursing home abuse lawyers at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form today to schedule a free legal case review. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

What is Nursing Home Abuse?

Nursing home abuse is a serious issue that can leave victims with both physical and emotional scars. As the population continues to age, nursing homes will have an increasing number of residents who are at risk of elder abuse. Therefore, you need to be aware of the warning signs to know when something is amiss. 

Nurses may withhold food or medication from patients as punishment or refuse to administer necessary care such as blood pressure checks, feeding tubes, catheter insertions, and pain relief medications like morphine which amounts to nursing home abuse.

Nursing homes staff members might neglect their duties by refusing to clean up after toileting accidents or provide basic hygiene needs like showering and changing clothes regularly.

They might also verbally abuse assisted living residents by yelling or cursing at them or cause physical abuse on patients by leaving bruises and abrasions. Again, this is a form of nursing home abuse.

Financial Exploitation

Nursing home abuse or neglect can also occur. In addition, nursing home residents in need of assisted living facilities become the victims of theft, whether money from personal bank accounts or items like jewelry that can easily be sold on the black market for a quick buck.

Nursing home staff members might postpone their duties to give themselves breaks or spend time on their phones when they're supposed to be providing professional medical advice to a nursing home resident resulting in nursing home abuse.

Another form of nursing home abuse could be where employees might also falsify records or lie about providing necessary care to cover up a nursing home's neglect behavior. The unacceptable behavior could include not feeding patients, leaving them without clean clothes, or denying pain medication.

In addition, nursing home abuse or neglect can arise if understaffed nursing homes also leave nursing home residents in need of assisted living facilities without the proper attention they need during a shift, allowing things like bedsores to go untreated.

Leaving a nursing home resident abandoned because there are insufficient nursing home staff members could result in them experiencing a dangerous fall resulting in physical pain, which amounts to physical abuse.

Inadequate training could lead to catastrophic outcomes for nursing home residents in a nursing home, resulting in nursing home abuse. Nursing homes staff might not communicate with each other, leading to medication mix-ups or nursing homes residents being given food and drink that cause an allergic reaction or choking event resulting in horrific home abuse and neglect.

Nursing homes can also expose nursing home residents to infectious diseases if infection control is inadequate, leading to illnesses like hepatitis A or C leading to nursing home abuse or neglect. 

Numerous factors can cause nursing home abuse. Poor hiring practices, inadequate training for new nursing homes staff members, and lack of accountability could all lead to instances where injury or nursing home neglect occurs.

World health organization (WHO) statistics indicates that one out of six elderly persons aged 60 years or above experience elder abuse. In addition, World health organization figures indicate that two out of three nursing home staff have committed elderly abuse.

What Causes Nursing Home Abuse

The leading causes of nursing home abuse or neglect include lack of training for staff members, lack of supervision, and neglectful behavior. In addition, some facilities have a shortage of nursing assistants which may contribute to physical abuse and neglect. As there are more nursing home residents per staff member, it can cause tension and frustration among employees who may take out these feelings on the nursing home residents in their care resulting in nursing home abuse.

  • Physical Abuse: Staff members use excessive force during routine tasks such as moving nursing home residents or tending to their needs - often without warning. They may also use improper methods to transfer residents, leading to injury or falls leading to nursing home abuse.
  • Emotional Abuse: Staff members yell at, threaten, and humiliate nursing home residents to control them. Some may even make verbal remarks about a patient's condition or how it happened. For example, a nursing assistant may say, "If you kept your legs up after surgery as the doctor told you to, you wouldn't be in this situation!" which is an offensive remark that amounts to nursing home abuse.
  • Sexual Abuse: Residents have reported being raped or suffered sexual abuse from other nursing home residents and staff members. Nursing homes must have mitigative measures to curb sexual abuse. In many nursing home abuse cases, patients with Alzheimer's disease or dementia are the most vulnerable to nursing home abuse.
  • Financial Abuse: Nursing home residents may be charged excessive fees for basic services such as medical care, food, and amenities as part of their room and board agreement. These fees could leave them in a vulnerable financial abuse situation due to this home abuse. In addition, their family members might also have to pay large sums of money while the elderly patient is still living for them to stay there. 
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

The following behaviors are common indicators that something is amiss. If your loved one exhibits any of these signs, be sure to investigate further by having a discussion with the facility's staff or observing care as it's being provided before reporting any concerns to a supervisor since they may not occur consistently:

  • Unexplained bruises, welts, or cuts in various stages of healing
  • Broken bones that are the result of a fall or have no clear explanation as to how they happened
  • Unsanitary living conditions such as wounds that aren't properly dressed and lack stool and urine undergarments after bowel incontinence is present, which may indicate abuse in nursing homes
  • Unexplained fear or anxiety, particularly when speaking about the facility's staff members
  • An abrupt change in mood or increased agitation

Any depression and other psychological symptoms NOT present before moving to the nursing home, such as withdrawal from normal activities and loss of appetite, could indicate elder abuse.

Reporting Suspected Nursing Home Abuse

If you suspect that elder abuse is taking place, you should be aware of your rights as well as the legal process for reporting it. In most states, including Texas and New York, four key people can report suspected nursing home abuse:

  • A concerned family member or friend of a resident
  • A registered nurse employed in a facility (RN)
  • A licensed practical nurse (LPN)
  • A social worker, home health aide, physician's assistant, or physical therapist with knowledge of the incidents

In most nursing home abuse cases, you can file a report with more than one organization listed above, and it doesn't have to be in the order listed above.

You should always report your emotional abuse concerns right away and to the person in authority, such as the Administrator or Director of Nursing (DON). If they are not available, call their supervisor if it's on the weekend or after hours.

When filing a report, here is what you will be asked:

  • Give your name and contact information
  • Give the name of the facility where your loved one is residing and the address
  • Provide the name of the resident and their room number, if you know it
  • Describe your concern, what led to your suspicion, any incidents that have happened, and how often they've occurred
  • Provide the names of other nursing home residents or family members who may have been involved or witnesses to the nursing home abuse and neglect

If possible, provide copies of medical records or other documentation to support your claims

You can either file a report online or call the appropriate state agency. Always keep copies of all documents for yourself, as it will aid in your efforts to advocate for nursing home abuse victims and their families. Sometimes finding proof isn't possible, but that should never deter you from seeking help.

Contacting Law Enforcement

When filing a formal report, do not expect the police to be called automatically unless there is evidence of an assault or injury such as bruising, bleeding wounds, or pain.

Law enforcement is only involved if someone has been physically hurt, so your concerns may have to be addressed by state regulatory agencies so they can keep track of all similar incidents that have occurred.

If you're not satisfied that action will be taken, ask to speak to a supervisor in the department where you filed your report and follow up with phone calls if no response is received within a reasonable amount of time.

While it's important to file reports as this data is used for statistical purposes and can help uncover nursing home abuse patterns, it will NOT ensure that the necessary actions are taken to keep your loved one from harm.

You must also be proactive in advocating for their safety and well-being. You should also investigate finding a reputable facility where they can go if it's not safe to return home or stay at the current one.

What Can I Do to Help Ensure My Loved One's Safety in a Nursing Home?

If you suspect nursing home abuse is taking place at a nursing home, there are things you can do to help ensure your loved one's safety, including:

  • Ensure they have adequate food and water as dehydration and malnutrition are often the results of neglectful caregiving where an elderly individual is too frail to defend themselves or report the elder abuse as they cannot advocate for their safety.
  • Provide snacks and drinks that can be eaten without assistance if needed.
  • Encourage them to eat even if they initially refuse. However, keep in mind that the resident might have dementia, causing them to forget that they need to eat, and they may not realize that they are hungry and thirsty.
  • Remind them to use the bathroom on a schedule, so accidents don't happen. People who forget this can get infections due to a urinary tract infection or cause skin problems when incontinence occurs and their skin is continuously exposed to moisture.
  • Change bedding often, at least once every 24-hours, so their skin doesn't have a chance to become excessively moist or develop an infection.
  • Treat residents with dignity and respect with no yelling while speaking in a clear, calm voice or whispering if they are near-deaf due to age-related hearing issues.
  • Change their position every two hours, so they do not get bed sores. Bedsores can develop quickly if the person has medical conditions requiring more time than usual lying down.
  • Provide therapy or rehabilitation services where needed, including occupational, vocational, and physical therapies and speech-language pathology. The benefit of this is that it keeps their mind active because learning new skills stimulates the brain. It can prevent the onset of dementia or Alzheimer's and slow down or stop physical changes related to aging.
  • Encourage them to participate in board games, watching television, talking with family members or pets by their bedside, or taking a walk around the facility. They may lack motivation due to being cooped up in a room all day, even if they have access to activities. If this is the case, try to help them see that it's fun for you and will benefit their health, motivating them.

These are just some ways that a dedicated family member can advocate for a loved one in a nursing home. If you're not able to visit your loved ones daily or it's not possible to take them out of the facility, there are still ways that you can help to protect them from nursing home abuse and make sure they receive the care that they deserve.

You should also know your rights as an advocate for your loved ones to protect them from emotional abuse. For example, if you suspect nursing home abuse occurs in a nursing home, you can do unannounced spot checks.

If you're not able to visit your loved ones daily or it's not possible to take them out of the facility, there are still ways that you can help to protect them and make sure they receive the care that they deserve. You should also know your rights as an advocate for your loved one.

The Nursing Home is Subject to Oversight by Federal, State, and Local Governmental Agencies

Nursing homes are subject to oversight by federal, state, and local government agencies such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), your state's department of health services, the State survey agency or local law enforcement agencies.

The federal nursing home abuse laws which help protect elderly residents of caregiving facilities include the Civil Rights Act of 1964, The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and The Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA). These are all federal civil rights laws that protect individuals based on their status as citizens of the United States against nursing home abuse.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, also known as Title IV of the Civil Rights Act, prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in federal financial assistance programs, including nursing homes that participate in Medicare and Medicaid.

Individuals who believe they have been subjected to racial discrimination can file a "private" or "public" complaint. The federal or state agency that receives the complaint will investigate and order sanctions if discrimination is found.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) forbids discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, and communications. People who believe they are subject to disability-based discrimination or harassment in a nursing home can file an informal or formal complaint.

The NHRA was passed as part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act and went into effect on November 28, 1993. It is also known as OBRA '93 or OBRA '90 (Public Law 101-508). This federal law requires that every nursing home that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding establish an ongoing quality assessment and assurance (QA) program.

The QA program sets forth procedures for nursing homes to follow to meet the federal requirements and guidelines for assuring compliance with federal regulations concerning resident's rights. In addition, the measures avoid the occurrence of nursing home abuse.

How Can You Prove Nursing Home Negligence?

A major cause of concern for nursing homes is the possibility of a lawsuit because of possible negligence. When you entrust a loved one to the care of others, you naturally hope that everything possible is being done to protect them from harm and nursing home abuse.

Sadly, this is not always the case. If your loved one suffers an injury or illness due to the negligence of a nursing home staff member or other individual entrusted with their care, you have every right to act against nursing home abuse.

Did your family suffer nursing home abuse because of negligence at a nursing home?
Act quickly and contact an attorney who specializes in this area. Avoid handling any court matters.

The Different Types of Nursing Home Negligence

There are several types of nursing home negligence, each causing harm to the resident in their way.

A major cause of serious injury or death in older people is medical errors, which constitute most negligence cases involving nursing homes. Even if your loved one does not have a pre-existing condition, they can still end up suffering at the hands of negligent staff members.

Some of the medical errors which can take place in nursing homes include medication mistakes. Failure to treat serious symptoms and conditions falls and fractures due to neglectful supervision or poor training, pressure sores (also known as bedsores), infection from unclean equipment used for routine activities, and even death.

The First Signs of a Developing Bedsore in Nursing Home Elderly Residents

If your loved one lives in a nursing home, it is important to be vigilant about nursing home abuse. Watch for any signs that they may be developing bedsores. Although skin injuries might seem like minor problems at first glance, they can quickly turn serious.

Bedsores often begin with an injury to the skin, which then becomes infected. If the wound severely damages the nerves in the area, it can become extremely painful for your loved one and cause other serious issues.

The first signs of developing bedsores include a lack of interest in their surroundings after moving to a new location and refusing to eat or drink. While these symptoms are not always indicative of bedsores, they should serve as an indication that something might be wrong and that you should pay extra attention to their condition.

Who Is Liable for Damages Caused by Negligent Behavior in a Nursing Home?

Negligent behavior on the part of anyone involved in your loved one's care can cause damage which ultimately requires payment for proper medical treatment and recovery. In most cases, this means that you will be able to file a lawsuit against the individual staff member and the facility itself.

This claim allows you to pursue compensation from both parties. In addition, it can help you achieve the best possible financial outcome, allowing your loved one to receive the medical attention needed despite having suffered a loss due to someone else's actions.

Many claimants who report nursing home abuse experienced:

  • Physical assault or sexual abuse by nursing home caregivers or other residents
  • Psychological abuse by nursing home employees and health workers
  • Elder mistreatment at the assisted living facility
Injuries Which Can Lead to A Lawsuit

Most cases involving nursing home negligence fall into one of the following categories: emotional or psychological trauma, physical injury, or pain and suffering.

Emotional or psychological trauma is one of the leading causes of nursing home negligence lawsuits. Did your loved one suffer emotional harm due to negligent staff members? If so, you can hold the right parties accountable for their actions and take legal action against them if necessary.

The effects of long-term emotional damage can often be as bad (if not worse) than the effects of physical injury.

When filing a claim for emotional damages, it's important to know the injuries your loved one has suffered do not need to be physically apparent to hold someone accountable for their actions.

Should they experience any form of mental or psychological damage because of negligence, contact a nursing home abuse attorney to discuss your options and determine how to move forward with the case.

Negligent Staff Members

Physical injuries for which you can file a lawsuit due to nursing home negligence include bedsores, malnourishment, dehydration, and broken bones. Should your loved one suffer from any of these conditions (or others) because of negligent staff members or others in nursing homes, you can hold the right parties accountable for their actions and pursue legal action against them for elder abuse.

Physical pain and suffering can affect your loved one even after recovering from any harm done because of negligent behavior. If you're pursuing damages through legal action due to nursing home negligence, this type of emotional distress is also a valid elder abuse claim.

Several factors determine the outcome of your elder abuse case, so it's important to act as soon as you can after suffering an injury because of negligence. If your loved one has suffered from any form of emotional or physical harm which meets the criteria for nursing home negligence, contact a professional today to learn more about your options.

Why a Negligence Claim Might Not be the Best Option

Although you can file an elder abuse claim against either the individual staff member or the nursing home itself, it's important to remember that not all negligence claims are created equal. Some cases (such as those involving elderly nursing home abuse) are more likely to result in a successful lawsuit than others.

Nursing home negligence claims can be incredibly difficult to prove, but it's important to speak with an experienced attorney before deciding where to file your elder abuse claim. However, if you know that it meets the criteria for successful litigation and you have strong evidence, this could be the best option for you.

Time Limit for Filing a Nursing Home Elder Abuse Lawsuit

One final thing to consider when filing a claim against negligent nursing home staff is that time limits apply. This time limit falls between two and four years from the last day of injury or harm suffered in most states.

Consider speaking with a professional before making this decision. However, it's important to remember that the sooner you file an elder abuse claim or take legal action against negligent staff members, the more likely you will see success.

How Can a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Help?

Having competent legal representation in a nursing home abuse case could mean the difference between success and failure, so it's important to reach out for help as soon as possible.

If you know your loved one has suffered from elder abuse and neglect while residing in a nursing home facility, contact an attorney today for a free legal case review to discuss the best course of action for moving forward with this elder abuse case. Your voice deserves to be heard, and some compassionate legal professionals are willing to listen.

As a result of negligence by nursing home staff, your loved one could have potentially suffered from physical harm or emotional distress because of negligent behavior. If filing this type of claim against the nursing home against elder abuse isn't an option for you, consider reaching out to experienced legal professionals who focus on proving wrongful death cases and other injury-related cases.

Hire Premier Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers’ to Obtain the Justice You Deserve

Was your loved one the victim of elder abuse while a nursing home resident? If so, you may be entitled to compensation for damages.

At the Nursing Home Law Center LLC, our nursing home abuse attorneys are committed to holding negligent staff accountable for their actions. Our legal team will also hold them responsible through nursing home litigation when they fail to meet their duty of care.

We Provide Personalized Legal Representation

We will provide a free case review and discuss your legal options when you hire our firm. There are never any upfront fees or charges for hiring us as your attorneys, and you'll pay us nothing unless and until we help you obtain compensation.

Nursing Home Law Center, LLC, represents clients across the United States. Call (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone call) today to schedule a free consultation with one of our nursing home abuse lawyers.

We accept all personal injury cases, wrongful death lawsuits, and nursing home neglect claims on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don't pay us anything until we help you recover financial compensation.

Learn more about your rights by contacting our law offices today!

Resources for Causes of Nursing Home Resident Abuse

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