Nursing home abuse and neglect are unfortunate realities across the United States. Cases are vastly underreported because victims often think nothing will get done to address the problem or they fear retaliation if they speak up. Subcutaneous bruises may indicate that your loved one has been abused or neglected. If you notice subcutaneous bruises when you visit the nursing home, ask your loved one to explain what caused the injuries.
Signs of Possible Abuse or Neglect
A blow to the body—whether it be from an accident or abuse—can break capillaries, or tiny blood vessels. This can cause bleeding under the skin and a subcutaneous bruise, which may appear red or blue. Subcutaneous bruises are the most common type of bruises. They may occur if a person gets hit, slapped, or pushed. They can also form if an individual accidentally bumps into an object, such as a piece of furniture. Subcutaneous bruises on the knees or elbows often point to a fall, which might have been accidental or might have occurred if the individual got shoved.
Even if bruises have healed, the National Institute on Aging confirms that emotional effects of abuse or neglect may linger far longer. Victims of mistreatment in nursing homes may become withdrawn, depressed, agitated, violent, or fearful. They may stop eating as much as usual and lose weight. or they may lose interest in activities they used to enjoy.
Nursing Home Residents Often Do Not Get the Care They Deserve
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, in residential facilities such as nursing homes, “Each resident must receive and the facility must provide the necessary care and services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being, in accordance with the comprehensive assessment and plan of care.”
Despite this clear mandate, senior citizens and younger people who are disabled still suffer abuse and neglect in nursing homes.
Federal law requires nursing homes to take steps to prevent abuse and neglect and to intervene if either occurs. Even though abuse and neglect of nursing home residents are violations of federal and state laws, many vulnerable people are victimized by staff, fellow residents, and visitors each year.
Residents of nursing homes may experience physical, mental, psychological, verbal, and sexual abuse. Physical abuse can take many forms, such as pushing, shoving, hitting, slapping, and pinching. These types of physical abuse often leave behind telltale signs, such as subcutaneous bruises, that can alert family members to a problem.
Nursing home residents who are victims of neglect may not receive proper care or may not be protected from harm. Neglect may be intentional, or it may be due to inadequate training or understaffing. Nursing home residents who do not receive proper care may suffer accidents that can leave behind subcutaneous bruises.
Know Who Is Most at Risk
Senior citizens who live in nursing homes are often at the greatest risk since they may have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in addition to physical disabilities or limitations. Seniors may be unable to communicate clearly or explain what they have experienced. Family members who visit infrequently may not witness abuse or neglect firsthand or see any direct evidence of it, such as subcutaneous bruises.
What to Do if You Suspect Your Loved One Has Been Abused or Neglected
If you visit your loved one and notice subcutaneous bruises or other signs of possible abuse or neglect, try to find out what happened. Depending on your relative’s cognitive state, it may be difficult to figure out exactly what led to the subcutaneous bruises. Ask your family member to explain what happened to the best of their ability. Try to determine whether the bruises occurred as a result of an accident or whether your loved one was assaulted.
If your relative says they experienced assault, believe them. Then get as many details as possible, including the name and description of the person responsible. If your loved one says the subcutaneous bruises are the result of a fall, they may have been pushed. It is also possible that your relative was left in an unsafe situation or tried to get to the bathroom alone because calls for help went unanswered. Ask what happened prior to the fall and what kind of assistance or treatment they received, if any, after it occurred.
Be sure to report suspected abuse or neglect and any relevant information you can gather. You can file a report with the nursing home’s administrator, local or state police, your local Adult Protective Services agency, your state or local ombudsman, and your state licensing agency.
What to Do if You Have Been Unable to Get Justice for Your Loved One
Sometimes family members are frustrated because they find it difficult to get agencies and authorities to take allegations of nursing home abuse and neglect seriously. Subcutaneous bruises can have many causes. It may be difficult to convince investigators that they are signs of abuse or neglect—and not an accident—without direct evidence or a statement from an eyewitness. In some cases, family members find that it is necessary to go to court to pursue justice for their loved one.
Seek Legal Help
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm has been fighting for victims of nursing home abuse and neglect across the United States since 1985. Our elder abuse lawyers work with litigation firms in the state where the alleged abuse occurred. That means our clients get the benefits of working with two law firms for the price of one.
Since we work on a contingency basis, your family will only be charged a fee if we receive an award through a settlement or from a jury. Nursing home abuse and neglect cases often take years to settle because of their complexity, but we do not shy away from tough cases. If you have seen subcutaneous bruises or other signs that your loved one may be a victim of abuse or neglect, call us today at (800) 842-6336 so we can discuss your concerns and get started as soon as possible.