Nursing homes are supposed to provide residents with the care and environment needed to live the highest quality of life possible. It’s important to note that a person’s potential quality of life will differ depending on any physical conditions, their mental status, and their age, but long-term care facilities have a responsibility to offer high-quality services and support. When a negligent facility fails to do so, intentionally or otherwise, they can be held accountable for their actions. That’s where a Rockville nursing home abuse lawyer can help.
At Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC, we’re dedicated to ensuring long-term care facility residents in Maryland are given the opportunity to hold negligent facilities accountable in the event they sustain injuries while living in one. We recognize that nursing home abuse can take quite a toll on a family, so we’re here to provide your loved one with the support and guidance they need to take legal action against the facility that wronged them and recover as fully as possible from what they were put through.
Filing a personal injury claim can be complicated, especially when you’re dealing with a facility like a nursing home. It’s likely they’ll try to refute what your loved one experienced or they’ll come up with excuses. Taking a case like that on by yourself is more likely to result in a poor outcome for your family. When you work with our attorneys, we’ll fight to ensure your older family member receives full and fair compensation for their injuries and other losses.
Elderly Population Statistics
Older people are one of the largest portions of the population in our country. According to the National Center for Elder Abuse (NCEA), 15 percent of the population is aged 65 years or older, and that number is only rising. By 2050, the elder population is expected to be nearly 25 percent. Comparatively, people aged 85 years and older are under 10 percent of the population currently but are projected to reach over 20 percent by 2050.
With a steadily aging community of people who are living longer than before, nursing home facilities are even more important. While people living longer is positive and most likely means they will be healthier for longer in life, they still will likely eventually need someone else to provide them with care. That’s where long-term care facilities come in. With the population of older Americans rising, facilities will need to increase in size and ensure the care they’re providing is adequate and efficient.
Facilities already have understaffing and overworking problems that can lead to unintentional or intentional elder abuse by their staff. Packing those nursing homes with more residents could only enhance those problems and increase the abuse perpetrated against elderly people. Standing up against nursing home abuse now when it’s detected is a way to change the culture in these facilities and deter abuse and neglect from happening in the future.
The NCEA reports that about 10 percent of elders have experienced abuse, whether it’s physical, psychological, sexual, or financial. However, that percentage is based on what’s reported. It’s been found by the New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study that elder abuse is largely underreported. This study found that for every case that is reported, 24 go unreported.
That’s why it’s important to report if you suspect your elderly family member is being abused in their care facility—the more cases go reported, the better nursing home abuse can be addressed and prevented in our country. With the help of our Rockville nursing home abuse attorney, you’ll be able to defend your loved one and ensure they get justice for the wrongful treatment they endured in their facility.
Let’s take a look at the warning signs of abuse so that you can better identify abuse in order to report it to the proper authorities.
Recognizing the Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
If you have a loved one residing in a long-term care facility, it’s important to be on the lookout for potential warning signs of abuse or neglect. You may be able to detect these as early as your first visit. Types of abuse include physical, emotional, sexual, and financial.
If your family member is being abused physically in their facility, it’s likely they’ll have unexplained broken bones, sprains, or bruising. They may seem to shy away from your questions regarding their injuries. You’ll also know there’s a problem if a caregiver like a nurse or other nursing home staff member refuses to let you be alone with your loved one.
Emotional abuse takes many forms, but it typically isolates residents from everything and everyone around them. Abusive staff members may call residents names, prevent them from attending social or religious activities, or exhibit controlling or threatening behaviors. Residents suffering from emotional abuse often become withdrawn and express little interest in activities they previously enjoyed.
Sexual abuse can happen between a staff member and a resident or between two residents. Signs of sexual abuse in the elderly include unexplained STDs, stained or torn clothing, and irregular behavior. If you suspect an elder care facility resident is being abused, it’s important to make a report immediately.
Financial exploitation can happen in a number of ways, but it’s most likely to be noticed if there have been changes in your family member’s financial situation or changes to the power of attorney. Negligent staff may steal money or valuables from residents’ rooms, or they could abuse their power to gain access to banking information.
While typically unintentional, it’s important to be aware of the issue of neglect. Residents suffer from neglect in long-term care facilities for a number of reasons, but inadequate training of staff members and poor hiring practices are the leading causes. Residents may go without meals, develop bedsores due to immobility, or go without necessary medication.
No matter how your loved one has suffered in their nursing home, working with a Rockville lawyer is important if you’re looking to help them recover as fully as possible. We can investigate their injuries, and determine what happened and why. When it comes to determining what’s owed, we’ll look at how the resident was affected.
Common Nursing Home Abuse Injuries
Now that you know how to spot the warning signs of a nursing home resident being abused, let’s take a look at the different injuries they can suffer as a result of abuse. It’s important to remember that accidents can happen. Residents in nursing homes are older, which means they might have poor balance, easily bruise, and could suffer more severe injuries from something as simple as a fall. However, when the injury is a result of abuse, it should be reported to the proper authorities.
Here are some of the most common injuries that elderly people suffer from as a result of abuse in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities:
- Bruises. Older people can bruise more easily because their skin is thinner as they age. This means that even a staff member grabbing the resident too tightly can cause them to bruise. While this can happen accidentally, sometimes it’s not accidental, and your loved one gets bruises from a staff member or fellow resident grabbing them too tightly, nudging them too hard, or hitting them.
- Lacerations. If a nursing home resident encounters sharp edges in their room, they could get cut by them. Additionally, if they’re being abused by the staff members, they could get cuts from being handled too roughly and bumping into sharp corners within the facility and medical devices.
- Infections. If wounds aren’t treated properly and regularly cleaned, then residents can get infections. Infections are dangerous because they can easily spread throughout the blood and to other parts of the body and could turn fatal.
- Broken bones. Falls and rough handling can lead to broken bones for residents in nursing homes. Falls can happen while walking in the facility, showering, or any other time that a resident loses their balance. If they’re being neglected, they might try to get out of bed on their own and end up falling. This can lead to broken hips, which can prove deadly for older, more compromised residents.
- Bedsores. When a person is in bed for a long time, the pressure points of their body can deteriorate and become wounds from the bed. Not only are these uncomfortable, but they’re also easily infected. Depending on the grade of bedsore, the tissue can die, and cause even more health problems for your loved one.
- Concussions. Falls can also result in a person hitting their head on the ground. Or if a staff member or a fellow resident is physically abusing your loved one, they could be hitting them on the head. If there’s enough force, they could suffer from a head injury like a concussion. This can worsen their already bad mental state if they’re being neglected, abused, or if they have a condition like Alzheimer’s.
- Spinal injuries. When a resident falls, they might hurt their back, which could lead to a spinal cord injury or a broken back. This can further compromise their health and make their motions even more limited than they were before. If they become bed ridden from a spinal injury, they might also develop emotional injuries from being unable to leave bed or move around like before.
Even if the injury wasn’t intentional, but was the result of abuse or neglect, your loved one still shouldn’t have to suffer from the effects of abuse of any kind. That’s where we come in. One of our nursing home abuse lawyers will help you recover compensation for the injuries that you suffered so that you and your family can start healing.
The Effects of Nursing Home Abuse on Residents
When a resident is abused or neglected, the consequences have the potential to be long-lasting. Immediate effects are often related to physical abuse or neglect, like when someone sustains injuries. It’s likely hospital treatment will be required, especially in the event of internal injuries, broken bones, or incorrect medication. If the abuse continues over time, it’s likely for weight loss, malnutrition, insomnia, and increased vulnerability to infections to develop.
In addition to the physical effects, there are also psychological implications. Visiting family members may notice their loved ones acting strangely. Those who are mentally abused are more at risk for depression and other conditions like anxiety, eating disorders, and agitation.
In addition to the direct effects your loved one could face in a negligent nursing home, there’s also the cost. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), the direct medical costs associated with long-term care facility injuries add $5.3 billion to the nation’s annual health expenditures, which includes $2.8 billion per year in Medicare hospitals costs. Additionally, financial abuse costs seniors over $2.6 billion annually.
Knowing Your Loved One’s Rights
When you suspect that your loved one has been abused by an employee of their long-term care facility, you might see the abuse, know it’s wrong, but wonder how this all fits in with the rights of your elderly family member while under their care. Even though your loved one is under the care of this facility, they still have rights, and especially still have the right to be treated properly.
The Maryland Health Care Commission outlines the rights that a resident has while in an elder care facility. You should know these when you or a loved one is residing in a Rockville elder care facility. Residents in our state’s nursing homes have the right to:
- Reside in a facility that accommodates their needs and preferences, unless the preference endangers the health or safety of themselves or other residents
- Receive treatment, care, and services in an environment that enhances their quality of life
- Have a dignified existence
- Communicate with people and services outside of the facility
- Be free of physical, verbal, sexual, and mental abuse as well as involuntary seclusion
- Not be physically or chemically restrained
- Choose their attending physician
- Choose their pharmacy
- Be fully informed of their care and treatment, including changes in either
- Provide consent for the care and treatment
- Privacy about their personal records, medical care, and personal care
- Privacy in their room, written communication, on a telephone, and with visitors
There are many more rights that a resident has when they are in a nursing home, the list above is just the major ones that you should know before entering a facility. When your loved one is in a long-term care facility, it’s also important for you to have working knowledge of these rights so you can spot when your older family member’s rights are being obstructed.
If you suspect that your elderly loved one’s rights aren’t being respected while in their facility, then you will want to take action. A Rockville nursing home abuse attorney can help you hold the facility accountable and make a claim so you can stand up for your older family member who might not be able to do so for themselves. Your lawyer will know state and federal laws as well as the process for reporting the abuse.
Let’s look at what you can do to protect your loved one when their rights aren’t being protected and you suspect they are being abused or neglected.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Loved One in Maryland
It’s estimated that 93% of elder abuse cases, in and out of facilities, go unreported every year. If you have a family member living in a long-term care facility, it’s important to keep in touch with them as often as possible. Even if they’re unwilling to come forward as a victim of abuse, you may be able to recognize something isn’t right and prevent further harm.
If you believe your loved one is being abused or neglected or they’ve come forward with information, your first step is to file a report. With a nursing home in Rockville, you’ll want to file a report with the Office of Health Care Quality. If the abuse is related to finances, Adult Protective Services will look into the matter. If your elderly family member has Medicaid, the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit will also get involved. Additionally, you can file a complaint with the Maryland Department of Aging, Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.
After you’ve filed a complaint, you’ll want to get in touch with a Rockville nursing home abuse attorney. While you’re focusing on removing your family member from their current situation, we can begin conducting our own investigation to determine what’s been going on. After your loved one is safe and has begun recovering, we’ll work to help you understand the legal process and what your role will be in ensuring your loved one has the compensation they need to recover.
What Compensation Your Abused Loved One Can Recover
Once you’ve reported the suspected elder abuse to the facility, to an ombudsman, and the abuse or neglect has been proven, you might be wondering what compensation you can recover for your loved one who suffered injuries or other damages from the improper treatment. With the help of one of our lawyers, you will be able to get financial compensation for your older family member’s abuse.
We will fully investigate the situation to determine the elder abuse your family member endured, who was responsible for the abuse, and how much your loved one is owed. Here are some of the information we will take into account when we calculate fair financial recovery:
- Medical treatment for their injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
In order to properly calculate what you’re owed, we’ll look into the documentation of your loved one’s physical and emotional injuries from the abuse or neglect. That’s why it’s important to report the abuse with the proper authorities and seek medical treatment as soon as possible—the more documentation you have to prove the abuse and your subsequent injuries, the better chance you have at recovering compensation for the costs.
Even though financial compensation won’t change what your loved one went through, it can help them get back on their feet and recover from the bills they could be dealing with from their physical and emotional injuries. The money could also help them in finding a new facility with better care and treatment of their residents.
In order to get the full and fair compensation that you deserve, your best chance is to work with a Rockville nursing home abuse lawyer. When you work with our firm, our attorneys will fully investigate your claim and look into your documentation to calculate what fair compensation would be for your loved one. We will work to ensure your settlement is fair. If reaching a fair settlement isn’t possible, we’re prepared to fight for you in court.
Work with an Experienced Rockville Law Firm
Relying on a nursing home to care for your grandparent, parent, or other relative can be difficult, but learning they’ve been abused or neglected is crushing. That’s why our Rockville nursing home abuse lawyers are dedicated to helping victims recover from abuse. We work diligently to ensure negligent facilities address issues and prevent the harm of others.
Nursing home abuse claims can be lengthy, so the sooner you file with us, the better your chances are of having a successful case. We’ll speak with you and your loved one at length, so you understand your legal rights and options and have an idea of what to expect as we proceed. To schedule a consultation or to learn more, contact our office today.