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Fort Collins Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

Fort Collins Co Nursing Home Ratings GraphNursing home abuse is all too common due to understaffing, improper training, and burnout. Sadly, this abuse is a prevalent problem that can result in trauma, medical emergencies, and even death.

Have you or someone you love been a victim of nursing home abuse? Fortunately, there are steps you can take to hold the caretakers accountable for their actions by filing a lawsuit through the nursing home abuse attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center.

Contact an experienced Colorado nursing home abuse lawyer at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

Nursing home abuse is a serious problem everywhere in the United States, including in Fort Collins, Colorado. Thousands of older adults are abused, neglected, or mistreated in nursing homes every year.

Common nursing home abuse forms include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, financial exploitation, and medication errors.

Nursing home abuse can have devastating consequences for victims. It can lead to physical injuries, emotional trauma, and even death. In addition, nursing home abuse can be costly for victims and their families.

Victims may require expensive medical treatment, and families may have to pay for nursing home care out of their own pockets.

National Nursing Home Abuse Statistics

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), one out of every ten nursing home residents is a victim of abuse or neglect each year.

In 2019, state health inspectors identified 219,449 cases of injuries to nursing home residents due to medical errors. These mistakes are common in nursing homes because staff members often do not receive proper training or are overworked.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that an average of 1,000 nursing home residents die each week due to medical errors.

Colorado Nursing Home Abuse Statistics

Nursing homes have committed more than 850 abuse cases in Colorado in just the last two years.

For example, in 2019, state health inspectors found that a high number of complaints involved levels of understaffing in nursing homes, including failure to provide proper supervision and aid of residents.

Fort Collins Nursing Home Abuse Facts

The elderly are vulnerable members of society that are often at the mercy of others to ensure their health and well-being. Many families must deal with the legal issue of placing loved ones in a caregiving facility, often shutting them off from society, family, and friends at home.

Listed below are some statistics about the nursing home industry in the United States:

  • Approximately 100,000 Americans reside in 1,400 nursing homes across Colorado each year
  • More than 85 percent who live in private homes receive some form of assistance with daily activities, while only 42 percent of residents in nursing homes receive the same type of aid.
  • Unfortunately, only about half of all nursing home staff feel confident providing care for patients who require assistance to complete their ADLs.
  • A nursing home resident with a mental illness is more likely to experience serious injuries, abuse, or neglect than other patients because of their inability to communicate.

About one in ten residents in nursing facilities experienced some type of mental illness, but this statistic does not include patients with dementia or Alzheimer's, which are considered separate conditions.

Because these individuals cannot always coherently verbalize their pain or discomfort, families and nursing home staff members often fail to recognize the need for immediate medical attention.

A National Institute of Mental Health study revealed that nearly 12 percent of patients in nursing homes with depression do not receive the proper treatment because staff members fail to recognize the symptoms.

Nursing Home Residents Most at Risk

Some Fort Collins nursing facilities residents are more at risk for abuse, including the disabled or those with special needs. These residents may not be able to speak up for themselves or defend themselves from being abused.

A Fort Collins, Colorado nursing home resident with cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer's disease, is also highly at risk of abuse, neglect, and mistreatment. This type of person may not understand what is happening around them, leading to problems like elder neglect or sexual assault.

One viable solution to this problem would be making sure all staff members at the Fort Collins, CO nursing facility receive proper training to handle these situations and how best to care for the patient without any issues arising.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse

It can be difficult to determine whether nursing home abuse occurs, as the signs are often subtle and easy to overlook. However, there are some key indicators that families can watch for to identify abuse.

First, be aware of the different types of nursing home abuse. The most common forms of abuse include physical abuse, sexual assault, emotional trauma, and financial exploitation.

Second, watch for sudden changes in the victim's behavior or appearance. Victims of nursing home abuse may become withdrawn or isolated from their loved ones, or they may exhibit a physical injury such as a bruise, cut, or burn.

Identifying the Various Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Detecting nursing home abuse harming a loved one can be challenging. Some of the common types of nursing home neglect, mistreatment, and abuse that occur at Fort Collins, CO nursing facilities include:

  • Physical assault: Many residents at Fort Collins senior centers are victimized through physical assault when hit, slapped, trip, or touched inappropriately by nursing home staff, doctors, administrators, visitors, families, friends, and other facility patients.
  • Sexual Abuse: Signs of sexual abuse in nursing homes include sexually transmitted diseases, vaginal trauma, bruising on the breasts or genitals, and genital sores. Some victims may also display withdrawn behavior or become hostile with staff members.
  • Emotional Abuse: Emotionally abusing a resident at a Fort Collins senior center is sometimes difficult to detect because they can't speak up for themselves. When family members visit, they may notice that the patient appears distant and uninterested in conversation and attention.
  • Financial Exploitation: Financial exploitation of nursing home patients sometimes goes undetected because it can be disguised as theft or an accident. However, this is often done on purpose by facility employees who steal money from victims who may not be able to account for lost funds.
  • Theft: Theft by nursing home staff members and residents is a common problem, as they sometimes steal money or other possessions from victims. Abuse can also happen when personal papers are destroyed or removed to keep the victim unaware of what is happening around them.
  • Negligence: Nursing home negligence occurs when the facility staff fails to provide proper care or treatment for residents. This negligence can range from ignoring medical needs, such as refusing to change an adult diaper, to denying medications or medical equipment needed by victims.
How Negligence Can Harm, Injure, or Kill a Nursing Home Resident

Neglect is considered one of the most common types of abuse experienced by residents in nursing facilities because it is pervasive across all American facilities.

Many residents are the victims of neglect and are often deprived of food, water, hygiene products, medical care, and treatments needed to keep them healthy.

Some studies show that neglect, mistreatment, and abuse at the hands of nursing home staff members can be extremely harmful to victims since their bodies are already in a weakened state.

Detecting Neglect

Negligence by the nursing staff generally involves failure or refusal to provide the care and provisions needed to maintain a victim's health, safety, and comfort. The neglect can be due to facility staff members' lack of supervision or monitoring. Still, it may also result from overcrowding at nursing facilities that fail to meet their basic needs.

The consequences of neglect can lead to serious injury or death for victims deprived of food, water, hygiene products, and safety equipment. Failure to maintain sanitary conditions also increases the risk of infection for victims whose immune systems are already suppressed or weakened.

Bedsores: The Devastating Consequences of Providing Substandard Care

Bedsores (pressure sores, pressure wounds, pressure ulcers, decubitus ulcers) can be catastrophic, leading to life-threatening conditions.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), bedsores are one of the most common consequences of nursing home negligence, but they can also occur in other healthcare facilities.

Because bedsores take a long time to heal, the consequences for victims are brutal. They may result in severe pain, infections, or other injuries that delay recovery, permanent damage or disability that affects their mobility, loss of limbs, and even death.

Bedsores are caused by a lack of blood flow to the skin that creates pressure on the tissues and damages the body's soft tissue due to prolonged exposure to moisture, friction, shear, or a sustained area of contact that prevents proper blood circulation.

Bed Sore Stages: Developing to Life-threatening

Bedsores are considered stage one through four pressure sores:

  • Stage 1 (Early): A Stage 1 Pressure Wound is an area of intact skin that has reddened or become discolored due to long-term pressure on the tissues. The wound may also exhibit thin, shiny skin, swelling, and fluid drainage.
  • Stage 2 (Partial Thickness): A Stage 2 Pressure Wound is tissue damage that involves the loss of the epidermis. In addition to redness and discoloration, the wound also exhibits open areas with a yellowish or gray color.
  • Stage 3 (Full Thickness): A Stage 3 Pressure Wound is an injury that involves damage to both the dermis and epidermis layers of tissue under the skin. The wound displays an open area of tissue that is brown.
  • Stage 4 (Full Thickness): A Stage 4 Pressure Wound is the most serious type of pressure sore and involves deep tissue damage that exposes muscle, tendon, or bone. The wound may also show signs of advanced infection with swelling, fever, and oozing pus. In addition, the wound may produce a foul odor.
  • Unstageable: An unstageable pressure sore is a wound covered by necrotic tissue or non-viable tissue.
Nursing Home Bedsore-Related Sepsis and Osteomyelitis

Inadequate care for victims of nursing home negligence can rapidly transform a pressure sore into a deadly infection that spreads throughout their body.

A lack of treatment or failing to treat a pressure wound could lead to a catastrophic, life-threatening injury, including sepsis and osteomyelitis. These conditions involve:

  • Sepsis: Sepsis is a serious medical condition that occurs when the body's immune system overreacts to an infection. This infection increases the risk of heart, lung, or kidney failure and shock or organ damage. It can lead to septic shock, fatal if not treated quickly.
  • Osteomyelitis: Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone that may occur when bacteria enter a wound or burn, when there is an injury involving the bone, or when pressure on bones creates a lack of blood supply.
Providing the Best Wound Care Possible

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, victims cannot always recover from pressure sores even with state-of-the-art treatment methods. However, if staff members monitor pressure wounds daily, the chances of survivability increase dramatically.

The most important aspect in preventing pressure sores is to prevent the development in the first place. The nursing staff must provide safe patient handling techniques to minimize further injury during routine treatments, transfers, and repositioning throughout the day.

Preventing Pressure Ulcers

CMS states that nearly every pressure wound is preventable if the nursing staff follows established protocols, procedures, and policies. The nursing staff must routinely monitor every patient's skin to identify the first indicators of a pressure sore.

Bedsores are not only preventable; they are also treatable if they are discovered in time. However, they can cause serious injury and death if not treated quickly.

Victims of nursing home bedsore-related negligence may be entitled to financial compensation for certain damages, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of the companionship of a loved one, and funeral costs.

Do you suspect that your loved one has suffered an injury due to pressure ulcers or that they have been the victim of abuse, neglect, or mistreatment while confined in a Fort Collins, CO nursing home?

If so, you may be able to file a claim against those responsible for all damages your loved one experienced. Please contact the Fort Collins, CO legal advocates at Nursing Home Law Center at (800) 926-7565 for legal help or schedule a free consultation.

How Physical Abuse Harms and Kills Nursing Home Patients

Physical abuse is difficult to detect because nursing home staff members may not leave visible marks like cuts or bruises on their victims. But other signs can indicate that violence has occurred, such as:

  • Bruise and another skin injury
  • Broken bones or fractures
  • Cuts, puncture wounds, deep bruises, burns, and abrasions
  • Fractures of the hip and femur (thigh bone) caused by violent pulling on the patient's legs during transfers or repositionings
  • Lacerations and puncture wounds caused by forceful pulling of feeding tubes

A nursing home resident with dementia may be unable to understand the cause of their injury and become confused. Moreover, they will continue to think that an abusive caregiver can help them, leading to additional abuse and neglect.

If your loved one has suffered harm as the result of an act of physical abuse, you may be able to file a claim against those responsible for your loved one's damages. Please contact the reputable Fort Collins, CO nursing home abuse lawyers at Nursing Home Law Center at (800) 926-7565 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney.

The Difference Between Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

In a press release from the CMS, federal officials charged that lack of staffing was the primary cause of preventable injury, neglect, and even death at nursing homes.

In addition to providing appropriate levels of care for every patient needing assistance, CMS administrators stated that staffing must include properly trained staff members who are held accountable for their performance and patient care.

CMS officials warned that understaffing increases the risk of accidents and injuries invites nursing home abuse and mistreatment and violates state laws.

Understaffing Problems

Administrators also noted that low staffing levels contribute to overworked caregivers who lack the physical endurance needed to clean up after incontinent patients or lift them out of bed.

The risk of falling is also increased when staff members are not available to help their patients get up, walk to the bathroom, and exercise their muscles daily.

Because many nursing homes do not provide adequate supervision or properly trained staff members, falls will continue to be a serious cause of injury in these facilities.

Do you suspect abuse at your loved one's facility due to understaffing? Our law firm understands that when a nursing home fails to ensure adequate staffing, problems happen, and senior citizens get injured.

Our Fort Collins nursing home abuse lawyers can take immediate legal action against the facility through a personal injury lawsuit to protect your loved one's legal rights and ensure they receive maximum compensation for their damages.

American Health Care Association Findings

A recent American Health Care Association (AHCA) study revealed that nurses' number of hours per day spent on direct patient care dropped from an average of 12 hours to slightly over nine hours in 2019.

The organization also reported that nursing assistants today spend less than four minutes each day working directly with patients, which is significantly lower than the seven minutes reported in 2015.

Finally, a recent study by MetLife revealed that only 42 percent of U.S. nursing homes provide residents with appropriate levels of care as established by CMS and state agencies.

In some cases, just one or two staff members are available to help more than 200 patients every day—an impossible task for anyone to complete successfully.

Holding a Fort Collins, CO Nursing Home Abuser Accountable

Ensuring a Fort Collins, Colorado nursing home resident's safety is everyone's problem, from the nursing staff to the patient's family and friends. The first part of reporting the problem is identifying the signs of physical abuse, sexual assault, emotional trauma, negligence, or financial exploitation.

In many cases, serious physical and emotional trauma suffered by a nursing home resident will be discovered long after the abuse was inflicted, making it difficult to see the connection between what happened and the patient's current condition.

Unfortunately, evidence of abuse may include bedsores, broken bones, bruises, or even signs of rape.

Physical abuse of a nursing home resident is defined as inflicting injury on the patient through a strike, force, and/or restraint.

Proving Physical Abuse

To prove physical abuse, it must be shown that the perpetrator intended to harm the victim and knew or should have known that the resulting injury would cause harm or pain to their victim.

Sexual abuse of a nursing home patient is defined as non-consensual sexual contact or relations with someone who lacks the physical, mental, or emotional ability to provide consent.

Emotional Abuse and Neglect

Emotional abuse involves subjecting an individual to verbal or psychological attacks, resulting in extreme anxiety and depression among nursing home patients. Generally, the abuse would include yelling at a patient, calling the patient names, or making threats against them, among other things.

Neglect of nursing home patients is often defined by a lack of appropriate food, water, clothing, shelter, and medical care for that person's needs. In many cases, neglect will result in a physical injury.

Financial exploitation of the patient occurs when someone steals their money, property, or resources without consent.

Do you suspect that your loved one is the victim of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation? If so, our Fort Collins personal injury law firm can help. Speak with a nursing home abuse lawyer today at (800) 926-7565 to schedule a free consultation with a legal professional who can help.

Reporting Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Involving a Fort Collins, Colorado Facility

If you suspect that a loved one is being abused, talk to staff members and workers before escalating the situation to higher authorities. Generally speaking, the longer an abusive situation exists, the harder it will be for you to prove it.

If you suspect that a nursing home patient is being abused, the first step you should take is to report your concerns to the state survey and certification agency at 800-624-8404 or 855-444-3911 (toll-free). You can also go to their website.

Do you suspect that your loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse in a Fort Collins, Colorado facility? If so, you may be able to file a claim against those responsible. Contact the Nursing Home Law Center at (800) 926-7565 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney.

The Laws Protecting Residents Against Elder Neglect and Abuse

In Colorado, certain laws protect elderly residents against neglect and abuse in nursing facilities. These laws include The Colorado Crime Against an At-Risk Adult Act, the Colorado Patient Safety Act, and the Nursing Home Care Act.

The Colorado Crime Against an At-Risk Adult Act makes it illegal for anyone over 18 to violate a duty of care owed to any at-risk adult with whom they have a special relationship. Special relationships include spouses, adult children, and parents.

The Colorado Patient Safety Act

The Colorado Patient Safety Act makes it a crime for any person employed by or volunteers at a public or private health care facility to engage in certain behaviors that put patients' safety at risk. The law prohibits behavior ranging from engaging in sexual contact with a patient to threatening them, stealing from them, or neglecting their medical needs.

The Nursing Home Care Act lists specific requirements that nursing homes must meet in order to be overseen by the state. The act requires nursing homes to properly care for residents and protect their health, safety, and welfare.

Every nursing home is required to have a whistleblower policy detailing how employees may report violations of the Nursing Home Care Act without fear of retaliation or discrimination.

It also requires nursing homes to post written notices detailing residents' rights and listing contact information for the Office of Long Term Care and any applicable ombudsmen.

The Protections Provided by The Federal False Claims Act

The Federal False Claims Act (FCA) punishes anyone who knowingly defrauds the United States government by seeking payment from Medicare or Medicaid for claimed goods and services stolen or not provided as claimed.

The law applies to any person or entity with knowledge of the false claims being submitted. This provision includes employees of nursing homes, medical providers, patients who a facility's misconduct has harmed, and even family members.

If a nursing home patient is harmed due to neglect or abuse, that could be considered false claims and therefore subject to reporting under the FCA.

False claims can include:

  • Falsely billing for services by failing to provide them, performing substandard services, or charging too much
  • Billing for more expensive services than provided
  • Falsifying records to support false claims
  • Or paying kickbacks for patient referrals

The damages associated with each false claim act upon the United States government $5,500 to $11,000. It could include repayment of three times the actual damages or $10,000 per violation, whichever is greater.

In addition, a person who violates the FCA may be fined up to $11,000 for each false claim and imprisoned for up to 5 years. In cases where a violation results in a loss to the government of more than $100 million, an individual may be fined or even imprisoned for up to 10 years.

If any portion of a false claim is based upon an untrue statement of a material fact, the maximum penalty increases to 10 years in prison.

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Do you suspect that your loved one died in a nursing facility as a result of negligence, abuse, or mistreatment? If so, you and other family members may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit, citing mistreatment.

Qualifying family members could include the surviving spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, siblings, and others. If the decedent had not yet designated a guardian or representative of their estate, the court would appoint one.

A wrongful death suit is a civil suit filed against those responsible for your loved one's death. The purpose of these lawsuits is to seek justice and collect maximum compensation for the resulting damages and send a message that this mistreatment will not be tolerated.

Contact a Fort Collins, CO nursing home abuse attorney today at (800) 926-7565 for immediate legal help to seek justice or obtain compensation for your loved one. Our law firm attorneys have a comprehensive understanding of Colorado laws and how the legal profession is necessary to resolve any legal issue involving medical malpractice, abuse, or neglect.

Types of Damages in Nursing Home Abuse Cases

Compensable damages in a Fort Collins nursing home abuse lawsuit can include any of the following:

  • Medical bills (past and future)
  • Funeral costs
  • The decedent's pain and suffering up to the moment of death
  • Loss of anticipated earnings (and loss of the ability to earn money in the future)
  • Loss of benefits (pension, retirement accounts, etc.)
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Cost of hiring a caretaker
  • Mental anguish for the family

In addition, if the court finds that the death was intentional or due to willful misconduct, even if it involves medical malpractice, you may also receive punitive damages in an amount up to double the compensatory award.

Any family member of a loved one being abused or neglected should speak with a Fort Collins nursing home abuse attorney to discuss legal resources and options.

Forms of Punitive Damages

These damages are also known as "exemplary" damages and are awarded to punish defendants for their reprehensible behavior. They can be awarded in addition to any other damage awards made by the court. The purpose is to compensate plaintiffs and send a message that this behavior will not be tolerated. They can be awarded in addition to any other damage awards made by the court.

Punitive damages can include:

  • Any financial losses resulting from institutionalization
  • Financial compensation for mental anguish suffered by the family

The types of behaviors that could result in punitive damages include:

  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress
  • Fraudulent acts
  • Willful or wanton acts
  • Actions that are both intentional and malicious

These damages cannot be awarded in cases of ordinary negligence but may be awarded where the defendant's behavior is shown to be willful, wanton, reckless, criminal, or beyond all possible bounds of decency.

Hiring a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney to Resolve a Personal injury Claim or Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Do you suspect that your loved one is a victim of abuse or neglect? Hiring Fort Collins nursing home abuse lawyers can help.

It's best to work with the legal profession who understands how to build a case around nursing home abuse. Contact our personal injury law firm today at (800) 926-7565, or use the contact form for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation.

Our trial lawyers accept all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits through contingency fee agreements. This arrangement ensures you pay nothing until your nursing home abuse lawsuit is resolved.

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Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa
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After I read Jonathan’s Nursing Home Blog, I decided to hire him to look into my wife’s treatment at a local nursing home. Jonathan did a great job explaining the process and the laws that apply to nursing homes. I immediately felt at ease and was glad to have him on my side. Though the lawsuit process was at times frustrating, Jonathan reassured me, particularly at my deposition. I really felt like Jonathan cared about my wife’s best interests, and I think that came across to the lawyers for the nursing home. Eric