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According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA),[1] an estimated 3.2 million individuals reside in nursing homes or long-term care facilities in the United States. While nursing homes are expected to provide adequate and appropriate care for their residents, about 44 percent of residents surveyed stated they had suffered some form of abuse while living in a facility. Though Florida has strict laws[3] regarding the high standard of care expected from nursing homes, some staff members unfortunately cause negligent or intentional harm to residents, who suffer serious injuries as a result.

If you believe that a family member or loved one has suffered injury in a nursing home, you should call a dedicated nursing home neglect and abuse attorney at the Dolman Law Group for help as soon as possible.

Handling Cases Involving Different Kinds of Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse can take several different forms, all of which can cause physical, mental, emotional, or financial injuries. The following are the main kinds of nursing home abuse that may lead to a personal injury case:

Physical Abuse in a Nursing Home

Using physical force against an elderly person in a Florida nursing home is a serious issue. Signs that physical abuse is causing your loved one injury or pain and can include hitting, kicking, burning, shoving, or using inappropriate restraints.

Physical abuse in a nursing home can also involve inappropriate use of medications, physical punishments of any kind, forcing a resident or patient to eat, and using physical restraints.

Some signs of physical abuse can include:

  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Bruising, cuts, and welts
  • Open or unhealed wounds
  • Scars or signs of old wounds that have healed
  • Signs that your loved one is afraid, in general or of a specific staff member
  • Sudden changes your loved one’s personality or behavior
  • Refusal to have visitors

Sexual Abuse in a Nursing Home

Sexual abuse of an elderly is any type of sexual contact or behavior involving a resident that is not consensual. This type of abuse can involve any unwanted and inappropriate touching, exposure of private parts, rape, and much more. Sexual abuse in a nursing home often involves in sexual contact with a person who is incapable of consent because of incapacitation, mental deficiency, etc. This is a serious form of sexual abuse.

Some signs that your loved one is being sexually abused in a nursing home can include:

  • Sudden diagnosis of STDs or genital infections
  • Bruises or bleeding on genitals
  • Stained or torn underwear
  • Sudden changes your loved one’s personality or behavior
  • Refusal to have visitors

Emotional abuse in a Nursing Home

Emotional abuse of a person in a nursing home is defined as using words or other actions to inflict emotional pain or distress, and can include humiliation, threats, insults, intimidation, isolation from others, and more. Lots of emotional abuse in a nursing home takes the form of treating the elderly person like a child or like an annoyance. Emotional abuse can also take the form of isolation from friends or family, holding back meals, etc.

Signs that your loved one is suffering from emotional or psychological abuse in a nursing home may include:

  • Being agitated or upset
  • Lack of communication or unresponsiveness
  • Unusual behavior or statements
  • Sudden changes your loved one’s personality or behavior
  • Refusal to have visitors

Neglect in a Nursing Home

Nursing home neglect involves a failure or refusal to provide adequate care to an elderly individual, including water, food, shelter, hygiene, clothing, medicine, safety, comfort, and more. In general, nursing home neglect centers around a refusal or failure to provide a person with the care they need to live comfortably.

Signs that your loved one is being neglected in a Florida nursing home include:

  • Unsanitary conditions when you visit
  • Soiled clothing
  • Room too cold or too hot
  • Lack of necessity items
  • Bed sores
  • Malnutrition or dehydration
  • Untreated health issues
  • Untaken medicines
  • Medicated health issues not improving or worsening

Financial abuse in a Nursing Home

The financial abuse of an elder is defined as stealing money from a nursing home resident or otherwise using fraud or deceptive tactics to gain access to a resident’s financial accounts or money for the abuser’s wrongful personal gain. Of course, it is illegal to take money from an elderly person under one’s care. Elderly financial abuse can also include forging a signature, asking for cash, using the elder’s checks, abusing power of attorney, etc.

Signs your loved one is being financially exploited in a nursing home include:

  • Finding or receiving financial documents with caregiver’s name on it
  • Caregiver’s name on elder’s bank card
  • Missing money in a bank account
  • Misleading fees or services
  • Undiscussed changes to will
  • Missing ATM card
  • Missing possessions
  • Seemingly forged signatures on documents
Florida Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys

All of the above forms of abuse can cause serious injuries to a victim.

Be Aware of the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys FloridaNursing home abuse can be particularly dangerous because many victims do not report that they are being abused. Some nursing home residents do not have the mental or physical capacity to report abuse, while others may be too afraid to do so. Nursing home abusers may threaten additional harm to the resident or their families or may otherwise intimidate abuse victims to keep them from reporting their injuries.

Because a great number of nursing home abuse cases go unreported, family members and other loved ones should always keep a close eye on nursing home residents and should know how to recognize the signs of different types of nursing home abuse. Some common signs include the following:

  • Cuts, bruises, or other unexplained wounds in various stages of healing
  • Broken bones or fractures
  • Markings or bruisings from restraints
  • Strains or sprains
  • Soiled bedding or clothes
  • Diagnosis of sexually transmitted diseases
  • Signs of malnutrition
  • Having untreated medical issues
  • Not having the correct number of pills left in the bottle
  • Loved one acting withdrawn, afraid, or experiencing other personality changes
  • Not being allowed to meet with your loved one alone
  • Sudden unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Being fearful of physical contact

These are only some examples of signs of abuse, as every abuse victim can react in different ways.

It is always important to inquire into any unexplained or unusual circumstances involving a nursing home resident to be sure they are healthy and safe.

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What to Do if You Believe Your Loved One Has Been Abused or Neglected

Nursing Home Abuse Attorney FLIf you have noticed signs of abuse, you should always report your concerns through the proper channels in the nursing home administration. If no action is taken to remedy the situation, you may need to alert law enforcement authorities to help protect your loved one. Additionally, you should contact an experienced attorney to discuss how your loved one can receive just compensation for their injuries and hold the nursing one responsible for the abuse.

Holding Nursing Homes Liable for Negligence

Nursing homes can be held liable for the actions of their employees and for other negligent acts that may have lead to the abuse or allowed the abuse to occur. The following are some common claims of nursing home negligence:

  • Negligent hiring of potentially dangerous or unqualified individuals
  • Failing to adequately train staff members
  • Failing to provide adequate security for residents
  • Failing to properly monitor staff, impose rules and policies against abuse, or to appropriately discipline staff members for violating policies
  • Not providing the necessary shelter, food, water, or medication for residents
  • Not providing necessary medical care
  • Allowing hazards or dangerous conditions to exist in the nursing home, leading to falls[4]or other injuries

If a nursing home has allowed any of the above to occur, it has not met the standard of care it owes to all of its residents and should be held responsible for any abuse, neglect, and related injuries to residents.

*The above information was written and reviewed by either Attorney Matthew Dolman or another injury lawyer at the Dolman Law Group which has a combined 90 plus years of experience practicing Florida personal injury law. Matthew Dolman himself has been practicing personal injury law in Clearwater and St. Petersburg for the last fifteen (15) years. The information provided comes from extensive research and years of experience trying legal cases in courtrooms throughout Florida.

An Experienced Clearwater Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Can Help You

There is no excuse for a nursing home having an environment that encourages, allows, or perpetuates abuse and injury to its residents. If you have noticed signs of any type of nursing home abuse, you should never delay in reporting the problem through the proper channels, getting the authorities involved if necessary, and contacting an experienced attorney to discuss how to hold the nursing home liable for any losses your loved one suffered. At the Dolman Law Group, our Clearwater nursing home abuse attorneys are committed to helping injured victims fully recover and they understand how to prove negligence in abuse cases. Consultations are always free, and we never charge any fees unless you win your case.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, please do not hesitate to contact the Dolman Law Group at 727-451-6900 or use our online contact form available here to schedule a free case evaluation.

[1] http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/index.aspx
[3] http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2012/Chapter400/Part_II
[4] http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html

Call our office today at (727) 451-6900 or contact us online to set up your free appointment.

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