Belsky Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC A Personal Injury & Workers’ Compensation Law Firm

The proper way to deal with nursing home neglect or abuse

When you've seen the signs that your loved one is being abused or neglected by the very people you trust and pay to take care of them, it's easy to react emotionally and rashly. While that anger should spur you to action, it's important that you stay calm and in control of your emotions until your family member is protected and properly cared for.

Know what to do if you have suspicions about nursing home negligence, neglect or abuse. This may include legal action if your loved one has suffered lasting harm.

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Why does nursing home neglect occur? What are the signs?

Some common signs of nursing home neglect include unexplained injuries, signs of poor hygiene, unresponsiveness or sudden changes in weight. Your loved one may also be agitated and tense when you are leaving or when members of the staff enter the room. 

The quality of the nursing home plays an important part in how your family member is treated. Some facilities are regularly cited for health code or patient care violations. Some care centers are great to elderly patients in relatively good health, but are not well equipped to deal with patient who are in frail physical health, mentally ill or emotionally disturbed.

Staffing is another common thread in nursing home abuse and neglect. Homes that are understaffed are unable to give the required attention to patients, regardless of their desire to do so. In understaffed homes, it is also more likely that caregivers and workers will burn out quickly and become agitated and frustrated more often. Patients languish for lack of attention. Medical conditions worsen from substandard care. Staff members get short with patients or even violent.

How to handle the situation if you suspect mistreatment

If you notice signs abuse or neglect, you need to become your loved one's advocate. But shouting and making threats is not the answer.

  • You should take notes and document every occasion where you feel your loved one isn't being taken care of. Ask the resident about their living situation, but keep in mind that he or she may not be reliable because of their compromised health or out of fear of retribution by staff member if the truth is exposed. 
  • If you feel your family member is being mistreated, immediately discuss it with a supervisor or facility manager. Document their response and follow up to see if your concerns have been addressed. 
  • The only time you should directly approach staff members situation before speaking to administration is if you feel your loved's life or well-being is in immediate danger. 
  • If nothing improves despite your complaints, you have the option to file a complaint with a state agency. At this point you should speak to a personal injry attorney who is experienced with nursing home and medical malpractice litigation. The attorney can explain your rights, the legal process and the best course of action.

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