When nursing home residents suffer injuries from abuse and neglect, facilities often attempt to hide injuries by lying to family members and covering up intentional wrongdoings to protect their own interests.
Neglect and Abuse Causes Injury and Death
Elderly adults in nursing homes and long-term care facilities are especially vulnerable to injuries from neglect and abuse by facility staff members and personal caregivers. Elderly nursing home residents rely on staff members in nursing homes to take care of their daily needs and protect them from harm. Many elderly residents can’t eat or drink, bathe, dress, sit up, stand, or walk without help. Unfortunately, residents who require the most help are often forgotten, abused, or neglected by the caregivers they rely on the most.
Many nursing home residents suffer injuries from abuse and neglect that’s often covered up to protect facilities and staff members from financial fines and violations. These injuries put elderly residents at great risks of serious health conditions that can lead to premature death when left untreated. Injuries from abuse and neglect commonly occur from the following:
- Lack of proper hygiene
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Untreated bedsores
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Physical and sexual abuse
- Mismanagement of medications
Residents who suffer injuries from nursing home abuse and neglect have a 300 percent higher risk of death compared to elderly adults who receive proper care. Incidents of mistreatment and neglect have a profoundly negative impact on the physical and emotional well-being of elderly residents. Verbal abuse includes intimidation and threats of violence that cause severe anxiety and depression. Physical and sexual abuse inflicts painful bruises, lacerations, fractures, and broken bones. Careless acts of neglect deprive residents of basic care and daily needs. When residents experience any form of abuse or neglect at the hands of their caregivers, they suffer from various emotional and physical injuries that may result in death.
Family members and friends of nursing home residents should be aware of the warning signs of abuse and neglect. Many elderly residents, especially those with cognitive disorders, can’t or don’t tell anyone about incidents that occur. Recognizing the signs such as physical injuries, significant changes in physical condition or mental status, personality changes, and abnormal behaviors are essential. Although physical or sexual abuse often leaves visible signs of injury, careless neglect of medical care can go unnoticed. Sudden changes in mood, personality or normal behaviors may be the only visible signs of physical or emotional neglect.
The Prevalence of Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes
Over the past 30 years, nursing homes and long-term care facilities have received thousands of reports of widespread, serious mistreatment of residents, including abuse, neglect, and theft of personal property. Although many reforms have instigated changes in nursing home care and regulations, abuse and neglect are still major problems in facilities around the country.
When incidents of abuse and neglect occur, many nursing homes do not report them to proper authorities, even though federal and state laws require it. It’s estimated that up to 30 percent of abuse and neglect incidents go unreported because facilities do not want to face violations and fines, job terminations, loss of funding, or potential closure. In many cases, staff members try to hide the incidents by glossing over the problems with family members or blaming residents for their own injuries. Common excuses for not reporting injuries include:
- Injuries were caused by an accidental fall
- Injuries were caused by an existing health condition
- No record of injury in the resident’s chart
- No documentation by a nurse or caregiver
- No recall of a resident’s injury
- Management was never informed
Long-term care facilities often blame someone else for a resident’s injuries. If a resident develops severe bed sores or dehydration from neglect, the facility may claim that they were never equipped to care for the resident in the first place because of his/her special needs or health conditions. Family members may be blamed for the resident’s pain and suffering, even though the facility never took any action to improve the resident’s situation.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Personal injuries that result from nursing home abuse or neglect may be grounds for legal action with a nursing home attorney in Nevada. Under federal and state laws, nursing homes must comply with regulations and provide proper medical care and treatment to all residents. If this is not done, a formal investigation by Adult Protective Services (APS) may warrant a civil lawsuit or even criminal prosecution.
In Nevada, the state Aging and Disability Services Division oversees nursing home regulations. Facilities are required to provide the highest level of care and well-being for every resident. This includes care that meets every resident’s individual needs, as well as the right to remain free from any form of abuse or neglect.