Elder Nursing Home Resident Sexual Assault and Abuse
It’s difficult enough being a caretaker, and it’s even more difficult to entrust the care of your loved one to another when you realize you can’t do it yourself. You can go through every review, interview the nursing home director, and take every precaution to ensure your loved one is going to receive excellent care, but this does not extinguish the guilt you may feel if you find out that she was abused in a nursing home. Nursing home residents who can’t afford quality care face physical, emotional, and psychological abuses—as well as sexual assault. So what can you do to protect your loved one from suffering sexual abuse while in nursing care, what are its signs, and how can you seek compensation on her behalf?
Florida Nursing Home Statistics
Seniors ages 65 and older make up a large percentage of Florida’s population. Although seniors should enjoy the weather and carefree living Florida has to offer, the rising population of seniors choosing to spend their remaining days here gives rise to an extensive, and often unmet, need for quality, affordable nursing home care.
Did you know that the average annual cost for a private room in a Florida nursing facility is about $97,000, much of which may come out of your pocket? Furthermore, the law holds facilities for dependent seniors, especially those with dementia, to a higher standard of care. (For example, middle-aged patients may not want bed-rails, which might prevent them from getting up to use restrooms, but senior citizens may need bed-rails to prevent them from falling and incurring potentially fatal broken hips.) Even so, nursing home abuse and negligent remains one the leading causes of wrongful death and medical malpractice cases in the United States. Meanwhile, the increasing demand for skilled nursing help has forced many facilities to lower their education and training standards to meet this need. Accordingly, nursing home malpractice cases are not uncommon in Florida.
Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes
Some of the most common types of nursing home injuries in Florida include, but are not limited to, physical abuse of elderly dementia patients, emotional and non-verbal abuse of patients, and neglect. CNN, however, recently exposed sexual abuse and rape in America’s nursing homes. Unfortunately, CNN’s report, “Sick, Dying and Raped in America’s Nursing Homes,“ reported that sexual predators find elderly patients easy prey because they are weak, often helpless, and may suffer from mental disorders that would discredit their stories. For example, CNN found that nursing home officials are quick to dismiss a resident’s sexual abuse claims as hallucinations or fantasies. If your loved ones suffer from dementia, then, assess them for such abuse each time you visit. Sometimes, due to confusion, verbal communication is not enough. Accordingly, you should always look for the following general signs of abuse in your loved ones:
- Unexplained cuts
- Burns, welts, sores, bruises, and discoloration
- Defensive wounds on arms
- Changes in mood
- Unexplained or abnormal behavior
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
The largest percentage of elder sexual abuse takes place in nursing homes, so as unlikely as it may seem, you should specifically look for the following signs of sexual abuse in your loved one:
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Pain or difficulty sitting or walking
- Unexplained pelvic injuries
- Bruises on inner thighs
- Bleeding or irritation
- Bloody or stained undergarments
- Extreme agitation
- PTSD or suicide attempts
Nursing Home Malpractice in Florida
Under Florida law, you can make a claim against a nursing home for a resident’s personal injuries, sexual abuse, and death when these injuries stem from rights violations. You can also make a claim for medical malpractice if the nursing home did not adhere to the acceptable standards of care for patients and in hiring employees. However, before filing a claim, you must:
- Notify the facility by certified mail of an alleged violation
- Identify the specific rights that you allege they have violated
- Identify the negligence that you allege has caused the injuries or wrongful death
- Describe the injuries sustained
- Include a certification from an attorney that you are making the claim in good faith
You must mail the notice 75 days before you file a claim to provide time for an insurance investigation to determine liability. This notification and subsequent investigation are intended to assist in the settlement process and reduce litigation in Florida courts. However, if you suspect a case of sexual abuse, such as rape, you should also contact the local authorities and file a police report.
Contact a Florida Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Attorney Today
An overwhelming feeling of guilt may accompany the knowledge that your loved one was abused, injured or neglected in a nursing home facility that you specifically chose to help improve her quality of life. But you are not alone. Even at a top-rated facility, one poorly trained or negligently hired employee can cause injuries to your loved one. Don’t let it stop there. Assert your rights and the rights of your loved one against the facility so that you can get the compensation you deserve and protect future patients from abuse and neglect. If your loved one suffers from dementia, take extra care to look for signs of sexual abuse.
The Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA has the experience you need to file your Florida nursing home malpractice and negligence notices and claims in the greater Tampa Bay area. Their nursing home and home care malpractice and neglect lawyers understand the patient rights at issue in nursing home cases, and they can also help you look for signs of abuse and neglect in a loved one. Contact us today at (727) 451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation about your loved one.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA