Bradley Sears and David V. Dufour Jr. 2013-11-14 10:46:34
Nursing Home Abuse: Recognizing The Signs Recognizing the signs commonly found in cases of nursing home abuse and neglect can oftentimes be difficult and easily overlooked. Although a topic we typically don’t like to think about when we place loved ones in the care of relative strangers, nursing home abuse and neglect is far too common a problem to simply be dismissed. This is particularly true where our elders become more physically vulnerable, may not see or hear as well or think as clearly as they once did, or where they are suffering from mental or physical ailments that may make them more trying companions to fellow residents. What follows is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all the signs, but rather typical signs of abuse and neglect in the long term care facilities entrusted with caring for our elders. Generally speaking, frequent arguments or tension between the staff and other caregivers and the elderly person and changes in personality or behavior in the elder are warning signs of some kind of abuse. Other possible signs to help determine whether abuse and neglect are occurring are as follows: Physical Abuse • Unexplained bruises, welts or scars • Broken bones, sprains or dislocations • Bruising or marks on the wrists from being restrained • Caregiver refuses to allow you to see the elder alone Emotional Abuse • Threatening, belittling or controlling caregiver that you witness • Behavioral changes in the elderly person, such as rocking or biting • Elderly person is isolated or withdrawn • Low self-esteem • Unexplained confusion, anxiety or depression Sexual Abuse • Injury to breasts and/or genital area • Unexplained sexually transmitted disease or genital infections • Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding • Torn, stained or bloody undergarments Neglect or Intentional Wrongdoing by Caregivers • Dehydration • Unusual weight loss, malnutrition • Consistently soiled linens and undergarments • Tender or red spots on the underside of heels and on the backside • Untreated bedsores • Being left dirty or unbathed • Unsuitable clothing or covering for weather • Unsafe living conditions • Desertion and isolation by caregivers • Untreated or unrecognized infections, including urinary tract infections • Elopement • Missing personal items • Use of restraints, either physical or chemical • Repeated falls Other forms of abuse involve financial exploitation and healthcare fraud and abuse, such as duplicate billings for the same medical service, or billing for care that was not provided. Additional warning signs that the elder may experience abuse or neglect include poorly trained staff , insufficient staff for the number of residents at the facility, overcrowding of residents, and inadequate responses to questions about care. Like any complex personal injury situation, nursing home abuse cases require time and energy to develop properly. Long-term care and post-acute care are heavily regulated on both the state and federal level, so having attorneys and medical consultants with specific knowledge is important. However, with a finely-tuned screening process, a dedicated staff , and the proper work-up, nursing home abuse can become a valuable practice area within a law firm and off er a tremendous service to those whose loved ones have seen their basic human rights violated by those entrusted with their care.
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