A nursing home should be an environment where your loved one can receive the care and they need to thrive. Although nursing homes have a duty to keep your loved one safe and healthy, many organizations fail to perform this essential responsibility. In the worst cases, your loved one may suffer from severe neglect and abuse that could cause lasting physical and psychological harm.
Every year, an estimated 5,000,000 people report experiencing nursing home abuse. However, this number may be significantly lower than the total number of abused residents. Many residents are unwilling to report abuse due to embarrassment, shame, or fear of retaliation. A resident may also be unable to report their own abuse due to a cognitive or physical disability.
Unfortunately, many nursing homes add to the ongoing problem of abuse, by failing to report or investigate residents’ claims. Nursing homes are legally required to notify government agencies about suspected abuse. However, a 2017 study found that nursing homes throughout the country only reported 1 out of 4 cases of abuse.
If your loved one is experiencing nursing home abuse, you cannot wait for the facility to issue a report, and you may not be able to rely on your loved one to tell you about this abuse. You need to take action as soon as possible to protect your loved ones, and the New York nursing home abuse attorneys at Finz & Finz P.C. are here to help. Our team has provided the following information to help you identify nursing home abuse and to offer you the tools to start your investigation.
Recognizing the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
The first step of your investigation will start when you identify that your loved one is being abused. Any nursing home resident may experience abuse, regardless of age, gender, or race. However, residents who are frail or have a disability are often at a higher risk because they cannot physically stop their abuser. In many cases, nursing home staff are responsible for abuse due to unrestricted and often unsupervised access to residents. Nevertheless, other residents and nursing home visitors may also commit acts of abuse.
Some types of abuse leave physical marks that you can see, such as physical or sexual abuse. However, in many cases, you may need to look for other indicators, that could signal neglect, emotional abuse, or financial abuse.
If your loved one is experiencing nursing home abuse, you may recognize signs such as:
- Unexplained injuries or hospitalization
- Bruises, cuts, or broken bones
- Sudden weight loss
- Poor nutrition or dehydration
- Difficulty sleeping
- Increased fear or depression
- Sudden loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Unwillingness to speak when staff members are present
Understanding the signs of nursing home abuse is an essential part of helping your loved one. When you are investigating suspected nursing home abuse, you should take photos and write down statements to document every sign of abuse you observe. Although these signs do not necessarily confirm that your loved one is experiencing abuse, they may function as evidence for your report.
Who Can I Report Abuse To?
Reporting abuse to the nursing facility’s management or directors may seem like the logical next step in your investigation. However, some facilities may already be aware of this abuse, and they may take steps to hide or destroy evidence that is crucial for your case.
Therefore, you should contact organizations outside of the nursing home to help you during your abuse investigation. If your loved one is in immediate, life-threatening danger, you should always call the local police first. Otherwise, you should contact local and federal authorities for support and guidance.
Numerous government agencies and private organizations exist to help you report, investigate, and end your loved one’s abuse. In New York, you can file an official nursing home complaint with the state Department of Health, to prompt an investigation into your loved one’s case and the facility as a whole.
For additional help during your abuse investigation, you can also contact:
- National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) – provides resources to identify abuse and advice about abuse investigations and reporting
- Healthcare professionals – medical personnel can help you understand if your loved one’s injuries or illness is the result of abuse. They can also provide medical documents and expert witness statements to support your case.
- Long-term care Ombudsman – nursing home resident advocates who can help explain the federal and state laws and take administrative action on your behalf
Any of these organizations can help you put a stop to your loved one’s abuse and ensure that the nursing facility faces consequences for the harm they caused.
How Can a Lawyer Support My Investigation?
Although state or federal investigations can make the nursing home face justice, these agencies do not provide individual support or compensation for your loved one. That is why you should also file a claim with the help of a nursing home abuse attorney. Your lawyer will help you take appropriate legal action, and they will fight for the compensation your loved one deserves.
A skilled attorney will help you identify the long-term impact of abuse on your loved one’s life, to determine the amount of compensation you should seek. They will spend their time gathering information, such as medical records, witness testimony, and photographic evidence, to build a strong case on your behalf. Most importantly, your lawyer will negotiate with all the parties involved to ensure that you receive the settlement you deserve.
When your loved one’s health and happiness is on the line, you cannot afford to take any chances with your claim. The nursing home abuse lawyers at Finz & Finz P.C. have over 35 years of experience protecting the victims of abuse. We are prepared to use aggressive legal tactics to protect your rights during this difficult time.
Contact Finz & Finz P.C.
When you suspect nursing home abuse, you have the power to take action and protect your loved one from further harm. Start working on your case right now with the help of the New York nursing home abuse attorneys at Finz & Finz P.C. Contact us at 855-TOP-FIRM or fill out our online form, to schedule your free consultation today.