legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Fort Collins Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Nursing home abuse is a prevalent problem that can result in trauma, medical emergencies, and even death.
Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is all too common due to factors like understaffing, improper training, and burnout. These issues can cause staff members to take out their anger on the people they should be caring for or prevent them from responding to urgent situations.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take if an older person you love has suffered from nursing home abuse. You can hold the caretakers accountable for their actions by filing a lawsuit through the personal injury 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 every were in the United States, including Fort Collins, Colorado. Every year, thousands of elderly people are abused, neglected, or mistreated in nursing homes.
Some common forms of nursing home abuse 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, one out of every ten nursing home residents is the victim of abuse or neglect each year.
In 2013, state health inspectors identified 219,449 cases of injuries to nursing home residents due to medical errors. These kinds of mistakes are common in nursing homes because staff members often do not receive proper training.
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
In Colorado, nursing homes have committed more than 850 abuse cases in just the last two years.
For example, in 2016, 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 shunning them from the 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 members 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 verbalize their pain or discomfort in a coherent manner, families and nursing home staff members often fail to recognize the need for immediate medical attention
A study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health 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 residents in Fort Collins nursing facilities are more at risk for abuse, including those who are disabled or have 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, which can lead 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 nursing facility receive proper training so they know how 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 is taking place, as the signs are often subtle and easy to overlook. However, there are some key indicators that families can watch for in order 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 any 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 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 a 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 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 to be one of the most common types of abuse experienced by residents in nursing facilities because it is so pervasive across all facilities in America.
Many residents are the victims of neglect and are often deprived of food, water, hygiene products, medical care, and treatments that are 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.
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 a lack of supervision or monitoring by facility staff members, but 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 who are 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 and 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 results in damage to 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 as well as 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 that have 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 in color.
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 that is 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 increases the risk of heart, lung, or kidney failure as well as shock or organ damage. It can lead to septic shock which is fatal if not treated quickly.
Osteomyelitis: Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone that may occur when bacteria enters 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 are not always able to 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 of one 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 is required to 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 a serious injury and lead to deaths 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 a Fort Collins, CO nursing home abuse attorney at (800) 926-7565 for legal help for 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 other skin injury
- Broken bones or fractures
- Lacerations, 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 violent pulling of feeding tubes
A nursing home residents suffering from dementia may be unable to understand the cause of their injury and become confused. Moreover, they will continue to think that an abusive caregiver is there to help them, which leads to additional forms of 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. Contact the reputable Fort Collins, CO nursing home abuse lawyers at Nursing Home Law Center at (800) 926-7565.
Schedule a free consultation with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney from our law firm.
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 a 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 an accident and injury, invites nursing home abuse and mistreatment, and is a violation of state laws.
Administrators also noted that low staffing levels contribute to overworked caregivers who may 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 as a result of understaffing? Our personal injury law firm understands that when a nursing home fails to ensure there is 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 the number of hours per day spent by nurses on direct patient care dropped from an average of 12 hours to slightly over nine hours in 2010.
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 2005.
Finally, a recent study by MetLife revealed that only 42 percent of US 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. Identifying the signs of physical abuse, sexual assault, emotional trauma, negligence or financial exploitation is the first part of reporting the problem.
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.
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 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, a Fort Collins personal injury law firm can help. Speak with a nursing home abuse lawyer today at (800) 926-9565 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 first 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) or go to its 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. Please contact legal advocates 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 the age of 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 who is 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 that were 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 have been harmed by a facility's misconduct, and even family members.
If a nursing home patient dies as a result of neglect or abuse, that death 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. This 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 will appoint one.
A wrongful death suit is a civil suit filed against those responsible for your loved one's death. The purposes of these lawsuits is not only to seek justice and collect maximum compensation for the resulting damages, but also to send a message that this mistreatment will not be tolerated.
Contact a Fort Collins, CO nursing home abuse attorney today at (800) 926-9565 for immediate legal help to seek justice or obtain compensation for your loved one. Our personal injury 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 to hire a caretaker; and
- 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 not only to compensate plaintiffs, but also to send a message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.
Punitive damages can include:
- Any financial losses resulting from institutionalization; and
- 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 and/or willful acts;
- Willful or wanton acts; and
- Acts 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 national trial lawyers accept all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits through contingency fee agreements. This arrangement ensures you pay nothing until our law firm resolves your nursing home abuse lawsuit.