NURSING HOME ABUSE AND NEGLECT - ELDER LAW
We are instructed in the Bible to care for and to respect the elderly in our society and at the Aldridge Law Firm we have taken that directive to heart. We believe it is important that older Americans be able to live their final years with dignity, and we have worked diligently for years to protect those in nursing and assisted living homes. There are, of course, good facilities around; however, many older residents have become dependent on others – essentially helpless in controlling their own lives – and are at the mercy of those who want to profit from this helplessness.
Major types of nursing home or elder abuse and neglect include:
Physical abuse is defined as the use of physical force that may result in bodily injury, physical pain, or impairment. It may include such acts of violence as striking, hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, shaking, slapping, pinching and burning. In addition, inappropriate use of drugs and physical restraints, force-feeding, and physical punishment of any kind are also examples of physical abuse.
Sexual abuse is defined as non-consensual sexual contact of any kind with an elderly person. Sexual contact with any person incapable of giving consent is also considered sexual abuse. It includes, but is not limited to, unwanted touching, all types of sexual assault or battery, such as rape, sodomy, coerced nudity, and sexually explicit photographing.
Emotional or psychological abuse is defined as the infliction of anguish, pain, or distress through verbal or nonverbal acts. Emotional/psychological abuse includes but is not limited to verbal assaults, insults, threats, intimidation, humiliation, and harassment. In addition, treating an older person like an infant; isolating an elderly person from his/her family, friends, isolation are examples of emotional/psychological abuse.
Neglect is the refusal or failure to fulfill any part of the person’s obligations or duties to an elder. Neglect may also include failure of a person who has fiduciary responsibilities to provide care for an elder, pay for necessary home care services, or the failure on the part of an in-home service provider to provide necessary care.
Neglect typically means the refusal or failure to provide an elderly person with such life necessities as food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, medicine, comfort, personal safety and other essentials.
Financial or material exploitation is the illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds, property or assets. Examples include cashing an elderly person’s checks without authorization or permission; forging an older person’s signature; misusing or stealing money or possessions; coercing or deceiving an older person into signing any document and the improper use of conservatorship, guardianship or power of attorney.
Malnutrition - Nursing homes are supposed to care for the needs of those placed in their charge, including basic issues such as nutrition and health. Sadly, far too many nursing homes do not provide even a minimum level of care and support for their residents. Simple neglect or intentional disregard for the well-being of elderly individuals can result in a wide range of serious problems, with malnutrition being among the most prevalent and the most dangerous.
Malnutrition can have devastating or even fatal consequences for elderly individuals, particularly those whose health may already be in decline. Malnutrition may lead to confusion and memory loss, weakness resulting in immobility, falls, bed sores and pneumonia, loss of muscle mass, impairment of organ function, infection, anemia and even death. That’s why it is essential that nursing homes that allow residents to suffer malnutrition be held accountable for such inexcusable wrongdoing. If your loved one has been the victim of malnutrition in a nursing home in Alabama or Tennessee, the Aldridge Law Firm understands the consequences it can have, and we work to help families in these situations take appropriate action to ensure that their loved one gets the care they need and the justice they may deserve.
Physical causes of Malnutrition can include:
- Illness, especially congestive heart failure, chronic lung diseases, liver impairment, and kidney diseases;
- Adverse drug effects, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cognitive disturbances, or sleepiness;
- Food and drug interactions, which decrease the ability of the body to absorb vitamins and minerals;
- Depression, which occurs in 8% to 38% of nursing home residents;
- Swallowing disorders, resulting from trauma to the head and neck, neuromuscular disorders, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease;
- Mouth problems, such as tooth loss, dentures that do not fit properly, mouth sores, and mouth pain;
- Tremors, dementia, or agitation which affect the residents’ ability to feed themselves.
Unfortunately, if individuals are already in a vulnerable state of heath, the effects of malnutrition can be even more pronounced and, far too often, have irreversible or even fatal consequences.
Dehydration - For individuals who depend on the care of others for their fluid intake, such as Alabama and Tennessee nursing home residents, they may suffer from severe dehydration if their caregivers are negligent or abusive. The dangers of severe dehydration are life-threatening, and no one should have to tolerate negligence that results in dehydration.
Dehydration can have severe consequences if it is not treated promptly, especially when it affects an elderly individual. For instance, some of the dangerous consequences of dehydration might include any of the following:
- Heat injuries
- Brain swelling
- Kidney failure
Bed Sores, Pressure Ulcers or Decubitus Ulcers - Bedsores are also called “pressure sores”, “pressure ulcers” or “decubitus ulcers”. They are painful and potentially deadly injuries that can occur among people who are bedridden or continuously in wheelchairs, as many Alabama and Tennessee nursing home residents are. Bedsores occur because the constant pressure of a stationary patient’s weight reduces blood supply to the skin and underlying tissue. This causes tissue to die and break apart, leaving an open wound. An open wound is an invitation to infection and a high potential for serious complications if not treated promptly and properly.
Patients who cannot move on their own should be assisted or turned on a regular basis by their caretakers. A nursing home resident who develops pressure sores has been neglected by staff members who are being paid to care for them.
Bedsores are often found on the spine, tailbone, shoulder blades, hips, heels and elbows. Left untreated, a bedsore can cause infection, including a potentially deadly infection of the cardiovascular system known as “sepsis,” contracted from bacteria entering the bloodstream through an open sore.
If your loved one has developed bed sores because of insufficient care in a nursing home, you need to contact the Aldridge Law Firm and take action in order to pursue justice and send an important message to those responsible that such negligence will not go ignored and unpunished.
Falls – Between 50% to 75% of nursing home residents fall each year, with about 1,800 deaths resulting from falls of people living in nursing homes each year. That is a staggering statistic when nursing homes and skilled care facilities are mandated to provide a Quality of Care which ensures that the resident’s environment remains as free of accident hazards as is possible and that each resident receives adequate supervision and assistance devices to prevent accidents.
Falling can be a sign of other health problems. People in nursing homes are generally frailer than older adults living in the community. They are usually older, have more chronic conditions, and have more difficulty walking. They also tend to have thought or memory problems, to have difficulty with activities of daily living, and to need help getting around or taking care of themselves. All of these factors are linked to falling.
Some of the most common causes of nursing home falls are:
Insufficient staff levels
Environmental hazards such as wet floors, poor lighting, incorrect bed height, and improperly fitted or maintained wheelchairs.
Medications can increase the risk of falls and fall-related injuries. Drugs that affect the central nervous system, such as sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs, are of particular concern.
Difficulty in moving from one place to another (for example, from the bed to a chair), poor foot care, poorly fitting shoes, and improper or incorrect use of walking aids
Regardless of how the fall may have occurred, if your loved one did not receive appropriate care or treatment, or negligence on the part of staff or managers caused the fall to occur, legal action may be called for.
Medication Errors - Any time that a person is given the wrong medication, or they’re given the correct medication but in the wrong dosage, the effects can be devastating. However, the consequences of a medication error on an elderly individual can be even more severe, as these people often rely more heavily on their medications to remain healthy. Similarly, they are less likely to be able to recover quickly from a medication error. As the Aldridge Law Firm knows, nursing home workers in particular make damaging medication errors all too often.
Whether a worker was overworked, confused, or simply careless, if your loved one was harmed because of a medication error in a nursing home, it is essential that you take legal action. Not only can doing so help you secure compensation and justice for this horrible incident—it can also shed light on dangerous nursing home conditions and prevent other incidents like this from happening.
You trusted your loved one’s health to the care of a nursing home facility. If this trust was misplaced and your loved one suffered harm because of a medication error, we are ready to help you take action. We have years of experience helping people just like you in cases involving medication errors related to:
- Incorrect Dosage
- Wrong Medication
- Missed or Delayed Dosage
- Dangerous Drug Interactions
Because pharmaceuticals are so important to some individuals’ health, even one missed dose or one encounter with the wrong medication could have devastating effects on the well-being of a nursing home resident. If your loved one suffered because of the inexcusable negligence of nursing home staff, take action today.
Residents in Alabama and Tennessee nursing homes should be provided with the high-level of care that they deserve. When nursing home staff fails in this regard and life-threatening medication errors occur, they need to be held accountable. If you or your loved one has suffered because of a medication error in a nursing home or other assisted-living facility, let the Aldridge Law Firm fight for you.