Physical Abuse in Nursing Homes
Physical abuse occurs when an elderly person in a nursing home is subjected to pain, injury, or impairment resulting from mistreatment or neglect. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are currently more than three million people living in nursing homes across the country. More than one-third of this population claims to have been physically abused, and 95 percent of nursing home residents say they have personally witnessed abuse of fellow residents.
The physical condition of a large majority of nursing home residents makes them particularly vulnerable to physical abuse. Some are unable to speak because of stroke or Parkinson’s disease while others suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia are often confused or unable to articulate their experiences. When they do report abuse, a large number of these victims are ignored or have their accounts of what happened to them minimized or dismissed. This is particularly dangerous because those who do suffer physical abuse have a higher than normal risk of dying from injuries because of their frail health and bodies.
Nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to abuse by visiting family members, nurses, staff members, caregivers, and even other nursing home residents. Once abuse is suspected, it is vital that it is reported immediately to the nursing home administrator. A full investigation should follow, and those reporting the abuse should ensure that the situation is properly handled or take matters further by reporting the abuse to local law enforcement.
Signs of Abuse or Neglect
Family members, doctors, nurses, and staff of elderly nursing home residents need to be keenly aware of signs of abuse. Unexplained bruises, cuts, or scratches are clear indications that abuse may have occurred. A victim of nursing home abuse will often show sudden fear or anxiety when a certain staff member appears in their room or attempts to tend to their physical needs. Victims of physical abuse may also become very quiet and avoid eye contact with a member of the staff that has been abusive.
Unexplained or recurring injuries can also be a sign of physical abuse. Broken bones, sprains, bruising, and burns can signal that the patient has suffered mistreatment or has not been handled with care or attention. Bed sores can indicate that a patient is spending a great deal of time in bed or in a wheelchair. Bruises or irritation on the wrists or ankles of a nursing home patient can be a sign that a person has been restrained to a bed or wheelchair.
Dehydration and severe skin dryness or irritation can be signs of malnourishment. Weight loss can also indicate that the elderly person is being neglected at mealtime. If a person needs help feeding themselves, they can quickly become dehydrated or suffer malnourishment if assistance is not given.
What to Do if You Suspect Abuse of a Nursing Home Resident
Anytime you suspect that a nursing home resident is being abused, you need to report your suspicions to the nursing home director immediately. Family members, doctors, nurses, and staff should be made aware that the claim has been made, and a full investigation should be conducted. If the administration of the nursing care facility does not take the report seriously, or fails to properly investigate your claims, you should report the incident to the local law enforcement.
Contact a Virginia Beach Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer if You Suspect a Loved One is Being Abused or Neglected
If you suspect or have witnessed the abuse of a nursing home resident, the experienced team at East Coast Trial Lawyers can help you claim the justice and compensation these victims are entitled to under the law. Call us at 757-352-2237 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today with an experienced Virginia Beach nursing home abuse lawyer. Our offices are located in Virginia Beach and serve clients throughout the state, including those in Chesapeake, Eastern Shores, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk.