Placing a loved one in a nursing home is usually an emotional decision, but it’s one that will benefit your loved one because they will receive the care and attention they need in a community where they can have a high quality of life. When nursing homes don’t take care of their residents, the results can be devastating injuries or a downturn in mental health. Your loved one won’t have the quality of life they deserve, and an abusive or neglectful environment could put their life at stake. If your loved one is being abused at their long-term care facility in Maryland, a Baltimore nursing home abuse lawyer from Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC can help you with your claim.
With our lawyers at your side, you can rest assured that we will protect your loved one’s rights. We will fight to get them compensation for what they’ve endured. We won’t settle for anything less than what your loved one deserves and will take the case to court if necessary.
What Rights Do Nursing Home Residents Have in Maryland?
When choosing a nursing home, you may wonder about state and federal regulations. According to the Maryland Health Care Commission, every long-term care facility resident has certain rights. If you believe your loved one’s residence has violated any of the following rights, you have the right to take legal action on their behalf with the help of our attorneys.
All Maryland nursing home residents have the right to:
- Reside in a facility that provides reasonable accommodations to their needs and preferences
- Receive treatment, care, and services that promote a high quality of life
- A dignified existence with access to communication with individuals and services inside and outside their facility
- Be free from coercion, discrimination, and all types of abuse
- Choose a physician and pharmacy
- Participate in and be fully informed about their care and treatment and possible changes
- Consent to or refuse treatment
- Access to records within 24 hours
- Consent to or deny visitors
- Voice grievances without the fear of reprimand
- Share a room with a spouse
- Participate in social, religious, and community activity
As a family member, you also have the right to meet with the nursing facility, their residents, and the families of those individuals.
What Are the Types of Nursing Home Abuse?
Elder abuse can occur in several forms, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. While some of the abuse can happen because a person who is supposed to provide care has malicious intentions, it can also occur when a nursing home doesn’t have enough staff. Not having enough people can mean they’re overworked and can’t get to every resident to attend to all of their needs. This is no excuse for abuse or neglect to occur, but it does mean that some residences aren’t run as well as others.
The different types of elder abuse are:
- Physical. When a staff member uses physical force on an elderly person that causes pain, bodily harm, or impairment, they are physically abusing that resident. Common types of physical abuse include beating, shoving, biting, slapping, kicking, burning, using physical or chemical restraints, and force-feeding.
- Emotional/Psychological. Using verbal or nonverbal means to inflict pain, anguish, or distress is emotional abuse. This kind of abuse includes swearing, insulting, threatening, intimidating, harassing, or using negative language to put down seniors. There can also be a factor of keeping the elder from friends or social activities through isolation.
- Financial. This is when someone illegally uses a resident’s assets or other property. This could include forging signatures, stealing cash or possessions, or coercing someone to sign something they don’t understand for the financial gain of the perpetrator. Some seniors living in nursing homes may have dementia or another form of memory loss. Negligent employees can take advantage of their confusion or memory loss and use it to steal the elder’s money.
- Sexual. Assault, unwanted touching, coerced nudity, or any other form of sexual contact without consent is sexual abuse. Unexplained STDs or bruises may be signs of sexual abuse. Residents with memory loss or communication issues may not be able to verbalize what’s happening to them.
- Elopement. A confused nursing home resident may try to leave the premises because they’re uncertain of their surroundings. Nursing home employees should have training on this matter and have an established security system that alerts them of eloping residents. When negligent facilities do not have procedures or security in place, a resident could leave and end up getting hurt. This is especially dangerous in the winter when hypothermia is an issue.
- Abandonment. Long-term care facilities have a responsibility to take care of the residents in their charge. Negligent facilities who become frustrated with residents who have extensive medical needs may decide to abandon them. This could happen at a public place like a shopping mall or grocery store, or they could even leave the senior at a hospital.
Abuse Versus Neglect
You may have heard the words “abuse” and “neglect” used interchangeably in regard to residents who are harmed in their nursing facilities. These words, however, imply different types of mistreatment. When an individual faces abuse, the perpetrator is knowingly causing harm or serious risk.
General neglect is when a senior doesn’t get the care they need. This could be not getting their proper medication, failing to provide assistance with hygiene or doing everyday tasks, or not giving the senior what they need to have a high quality of life. Neglect can be passive or active. If an overwhelmed nursing home doesn’t have enough staff, the neglect could be passive in the sense that it is unintentional. When neglect is active, the perpetrator is knowingly disregarding the elder’s needs.
No one deserves this kind of treatment, especially those who may not be able to speak up for themselves. Our Baltimore nursing home abuse lawyers are dedicated to helping victims of nursing home abuse in Maryland. We’ll make sure their voices are heard.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
You may suspect that your loved one is being abused or neglected, but don’t know what to look for. There are a few signs you can check when you’re visiting. It may also help if you visit often and not during typical peak visiting times. Speaking to other families of residents may also give you a better idea of the home. Typical signs of abuse or neglect include:
- Unexplained Injuries. While an occasional bump may happen, multiple bruises, cuts, bedsores or other physical marks are not normal. More serious unexplained injuries like broken bones could be from falls, which could indicate a fair amount of neglect from staff. Falls usually happen when a senior who needs assistance with mobility tries to do something on their own because there isn’t someone there to help them, like getting up to go to the bathroom or reaching for something.
- Verbal Complaints. Your loved one may complain about treatment at the home or express fear or sadness when you’re visiting them.
- Malnourishment/Dehydration. Nutrition and hydration are essential for seniors to stay healthy and prevent illness. If you notice a significant weight drop or your loved one is visibly dehydrated, they may not be getting the care they need.
- Change in Mood and Behavior. Elder abuse can change a talkative and happy person to someone who’s withdrawn and moody. Sudden inability to communicate or lack of lucidity could be signs of overmedication.
- Poor Personal Hygiene. Your loved one should have baths and wear clean clothes regularly, as well as having fresh sheets in their bed. If you notice they’re in stained or soiled clothes, they’re not getting proper care.
- Unsanitary Environment. Look around the nursing home in general. It should be clean and sanitary to reduce the chance of disease and also to provide a comforting environment to the residents.
If you see one or more of these signs, it’s time to get in touch with a Baltimore nursing home abuse lawyer. They will help guide you throughout this process, so you can help your loved one get out of an abusive environment and in a place where they can get the care they need.
How Is Nursing Home Abuse Reported in Maryland?
If you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected, it is vital to report the abuse to the proper authorities. They can help you remove your loved one from their situation. The law requires certain professionals to report suspected abuse in Maryland. Health care employees, human service workers, and police officers are in that mandated reporter group. Anyone, however, has the right to report suspected abuse to the nursing home facility management and the appropriate authorities.
Individuals who report abuse or neglect are protected by law. If you believe your loved one is in immediate danger, call 911. In situations that are not emergencies, you should speak with your loved one’s facility and notify one of the following organizations:
- Local Long-Term Care Ombudsman. This organization works to resolve problems involving long-term care facility residents and quality of care issues.
- Maryland Office of the Attorney General. If you contact this office, ask for the Medicaid Fraud Control Division. They prosecute cases of nursing home abuse.
- Maryland Adult Protective Services. This program works to prevent and remedy abuse of elderly individuals who are unable to protect their own interests and are in immediate danger.
- Maryland Office of Health Care Quality. This agency will investigate complaints of resident abuse and assisted with criminal prosecution.
When you report the abuse, it’s important to include as many details as possible—which can also help your lawyer later. This will help speed the investigation along and help your loved one get out of a bad situation faster. When reporting, try to include the following information:
- The name, age, and location of your loved one
- Their current condition in regard to incapacity
- The names and any other information about the individuals who have allegedly abused or neglected your loved one
- Details about the abuse or neglect—including information about injuries
After you’ve reported the abuse and have ensured the safety of your loved one, do not hesitate to reach out to a nursing home abuse attorney. Our lawyers can guide you through the complicated legal process to make sure the negligent nursing facility is held accountable for their actions. It can be difficult to go up against a large facility like a nursing home, but our lawyers have experience and the law on their side.
How Can a Lawyer Help You Prove Your Loved One Has Been Abused?
Once you have contacted our Baltimore nursing home abuse lawyers, you’ll be able to file a claim. This claim is the first step toward seeking compensation and justice. Personal injury claims for nursing homes are multifaceted, and a lot of evidence will need to be presented to prove your loved one was wronged. Our attorneys can start an investigation, conduct interviews, and examine medical records to prove why the nursing home was negligent.
To prove injuries were the direct result of negligence in a long-term care facility, your lawyer will need to show that the nursing home owed the individual a duty of care, they breached their duty of care, and the resident suffered because of the breach. The elements may vary depending on who you’re going up against, but your lawyer will know how to present the facts to build a strong argument on your family’s behalf.
Once it has been proven that your loved one was abused, your lawyer can go about calculating damages, which are intended to compensate the resident for their sufferings. Generally, physical pain and suffering, mental trauma, distress, and the costs of medical treatment related to the injuries can be covered. Calculating a monetary value for emotional pain and suffering can be complicated, but your lawyer will make sure your loved one’s compensation is full and fair.
In addition to helping your family recover, your lawyer will also be dedicated to ensuring no other residents of the nursing home are abused. The negligent facility needs to understand that they cannot harm their residents in any manner.
How Can You Seek Justice for Your Loved One in Baltimore?
While recognizing that your loved one is being mistreated is upsetting and overwhelming, you can get help for them. The Baltimore nursing home abuse attorneys at Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC will investigate your loved one’s case and find evidence to support the claim. We will stand up for your loved one’s rights and hold the abusive nursing home accountable for their actions.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to review your claim. Our lawyers help you determine how to proceed, and you’ll have peace of mind that someone is looking out for your loved one’s best interests.