The Signs of Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect

Friday, August 9, 2013 - 16:18

The decision to place your loved one in a nursing home or managed care facility can be gut wrenching. You trust that the people responsible for overseeing their day-to-day care are doing the right thing, but this is not always the case. Unfortunately, reports of serious physical, sexual and verbal abuse are increasing around many of the nation’s nursing homes. In fact, 30% of nursing homes in the United States were found to have nearly 9,000 instances of abuse over a two-year period. Nursing home neglect such as failure to give residents the proper attention leaving them in helpless situations is also more common than we would hope. Know what to look for in terms of the signs of neglect and abuse. The most common instances of neglect are:

  • Falls. Falls are the most common cause of severe injury in the elderly. Make sure your loved one’s nursing home staff are observing them regularly. In facilities without proper observation, it is possible that a resident could lie on the floor for hours which could worsen a serious injury related to a fall.
  • Strangulation & Suffocation. The chance of injury increases as the elderly lie in bed for longer periods of time. The possibility that a resident may become trapped between the hospital bed rails is increased. 20 to 30 deaths have occurred in nursing homes each year because of strangulation or suffocation. Make sure you speak with your loved one’s care taker to ensure they are checked up on regularly.
  • Bed Sores. Patients who spend a long period of time in bed may be subject to bed sores. The stages of bed sores can range from minor to severe and some may even be lethal. A bed sore is a red irritation to the skin that can result in a wound that penetrates the skin and muscle and may introduce infection into the bone. Bed sores are a major sign that the resident is not receiving the proper attention and care.
  • Dehydration. Dehydration can be lethal. It can be avoided by maintaining a schedule and assuring that staff regularly addresses the dietary and hydration needs of the residents.
  • Malnutrition. Improper nutrition can result in weakness which can increase the residents’ risk of falls. Malnutrition may also compromise the immune system, leaving the body unable to fight off infection caused by bedsores or other injury. Patients need to be evaluated regularly to make sure their nutrition needs are being met.

Make sure you know how to spot the obvious and less obvious signs of abuse:

  • Unusual bruising or bleeding.
  • Burns, open wounds or bed sores.
  • Sudden change in weight.
  • Poor hygiene.
  • Infections.
  • Loss of hair.
  • Torn or bloody clothing or bedding.
  • Unresponsiveness.
  • Physical or emotional withdrawal.
  • Disappearance of personal items.
  • Sudden and unusual financial transactions.

If you suspect that your loved one has suffered abuse in their nursing home, contact Finkelstein & Partners

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