Deciding to place your loved one in an assisted living facility or nursing home is challenging enough as it is. Families want to ensure that their loved ones receive the highest-quality care possible when it is no longer safe for them to live on their own. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse persists as a problem in the United States. Nursing home abuse and neglect can take many forms, including physical abuse and neglect, financial abuse, and sexual abuse. This behavior often goes undetected and unreported, making nursing home abuse an extremely insidious problem. Victims of nursing home abuse may have legal recourse against the at-fault facility, however, so victims and their family members should be aware of the types of elder abuse and their warning signs.
At Tyroler Law Firm, we represent nursing home neglect victims and their families. Contact the Tyroler Law Firm today at 651-259-1113 for a free consultation. We work with our clients to achieve the best results possible.
Types of Elder Abuse
Though the term “elder abuse” may conjure an image of direct physical harm, there are unfortunately many different aspects that encompass elder abuse. The American Psychological Association (APA) identified seven types of elder abuse, including:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Financial or material exploitation
Although elder abuse is commonly committed by family members, the APA research also shows that elder abuse by institutions, such as hospitals and assisted living facilities, is a major concern. As of 2016, there were 15,600 nursing homes in the United States, with 1.7 million licensed beds. In 2015, there were 1.3 million residents of long-term care facilities. Some estimates expect that by 2030, there will be 5.3 million nursing home residents in the United States.
Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Victims of nursing home abuse may exhibit warning signs and symptoms. Because nursing home neglect and abuse so often go undetected, family members and loved ones should always be on the lookout for these signs to ensure the residents are receiving the care they are entitled to.
Some of the most common symptoms of abuse and neglect include:
- Wounds or injuries
- Bruising and bleeding
- Weight change or malnutrition
- Bedsores/pressure ulcers
- Inability or unwillingness to host visitors
- Personality changes including fear or anxiety
If your loved one experienced any of these signs of nursing home neglect or abuse, contact the Tyroler Law Firm today to help you better understand your legal rights.
Infections Are a Common Sign of Nursing Home Abuse
Infections are extremely prevalent in nursing homes. According to the Clinical Infectious Disease Journal, there are several reasons why nursing home residents may be at a heightened risk for infections. First, nursing home residents live in close proximity to one another, making the spread of bacterial and viral infections more likely, such as influenza or other gastrointestinal viruses. Second, people may become less responsive to vaccines with age because of changes to the immune system. Finally, there are often underlying conditions that require nursing home residents to receive implanted devices, such as catheters or other prosthetics, which are prone to becoming infected.
Although some infections are difficult to avoid, there are unfortunately many cases where the infection was the result of elder abuse or neglect. In these cases, the infection could have been prevented if the assisted living facility had exercised its duty to take care of its residents. Some of the most common infections found in nursing homes include:
Urinary Tract Infections
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the urinary system, such as the urethra, bladder, or kidneys. UTI’s are common in nursing homes because they are often associated with the use of a catheter, and around 10% of nursing home residents end up having a urinary catheter inserted while they are living at the facility. UTI’s are often preventable, however. For example, if a catheter becomes infected because the nursing home employee failed to properly wash their hands, monitor for infections, or take other necessary precautions, the infection may be a result of nursing home neglect.
Respiratory infections are also common in nursing homes because the residents live in a small grouped setting. Infections may take the form of the flu, sinus infections, or bronchitis. Because these infections are contagious, nursing homes must have protocols in place to detect and treat respiratory infections and try to prevent their spread. If respiratory infections are left untreated, they may develop into pneumonia, which is one of the top causes of nursing home mortalities. An untreated or worsening respiratory infection may be another sign of nursing home abuse or neglect.
Skin and Soft Tissue Infections
According to Aging Health Journal, as nursing home residents age, they may become more susceptible to skin infections because of physical changes to the skin. Dry and broken skin is prone to infection because it allows bacteria to enter the cracks and cause an infection. One condition that makes skin and soft tissue infections particularly common are pressure ulcers. According to the Mayo Clinic, pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores, occur when a patient cannot move easily, which requires them to stay in a bed or chair for prolonged periods of time. For bedridden patients, pressure ulcers often appear on the lower back, shoulders, heels and ankles, or the head. Nursing home facilities must ensure that they are preventing these wounds from developing in the first place and treating them diligently when they occur. Nurses should monitor these ulcers every day for signs of infection. If the facility fails to detect and treat pressure ulcers, they can lead to severe pain and discomfort, sepsis, or even death. According to Hopkins Medicine, the mortality rate for pressure-ulcer development in hospitals and nursing homes is estimated at 60% for those elderly persons that develop a skin or soft tissue infection within 1 year of a discharge from a hospital. Other skin infections may arise from untreated diabetic wounds or an outbreak of scabies or bed bugs.
Call an Experienced Minnesota Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer
When nursing homes fail to meet their duty of care, victims and families suffer. Nursing home abuse and neglect may cause intense pain and suffering, hospital bills, physical therapy and rehabilitation, or, in some cases, the untimely and unnecessary loss of a loved one. If you believe your loved one may be suffering from nursing home abuse or neglect, speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. At Tyroler Law Firm, we help victims and their loved ones seek compensation for nursing home neglect injuries. Contact us today at 651-259-1113 for a free consultation. We take pride in treating our clients with the utmost respect and dignity.