Under the Nursing Home Reform Act, residents in nursing homes have a right to be free from abuse and neglect, including sexual abuse. Sexual abuse of nursing home residents is more common than many people realize. Elderly residents of long-term care facilities are among the most vulnerable populations because they are often physically incapacitated and unable to protect themselves.
In addition, senior citizens may suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and may be unable to communicate. They may also be isolated from their families, completely dependent on nursing home staff, and afraid to speak out.
All nursing home residents are potential victims, but female residents and seniors with dementia are most likely to be victims of sexual abuse. An abuser may be a staff member, another resident, or a visitor.
Signs That Your Loved One May Have Been Sexually Abused
The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (The Consumer Voice) states that sexual abuse includes improper touching or coercion to perform sexual acts. There are several signs that your loved one may have been abused.
A newly diagnosed sexually transmitted infection (STI) may be a sign that your loved one is a victim of sexual abuse. You may notice that your family member has experienced injuries to the genital area that caused bleeding, irritation, and pain, or you may see bruises on the thighs or in the genital area. Those are signs of possible sexual abuse, according to The Consumer Voice.
You may not see any physical evidence of abuse, but you may notice emotional or behavioral changes. Your family member may avoid a particular resident or caregiver. He or she may be agitated or withdrawn and may suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, or symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Your loved one may experience sleep disturbances and nightmares. In some cases, victims of sexual abuse attempt suicide.
What Nursing Homes Should Do to Protect Residents from Sexual Abuse
Nursing homes are required to have policies in place to prevent abuse and procedures to investigate reported or suspected abuse. They are required to train staff on definitions of abuse and procedures for reporting suspected abuse. Nursing homes are also prohibited from hiring employees who have been convicted or disciplined for abuse.
How an Attorney May Be Able to Help Your Family Seek Justice
If your loved one has been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection or you have other reasons to suspect sexual abuse, Pintas & Mullins Law Firm may be able to help your family seek justice. Since 1985, we have represented clients across the United States who suffered abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities.
Our team can investigate to find out who was responsible for the abuse. We may interview your loved one if he or she is able to communicate and explain what happened.
We may also review medical records related to the STI and any other signs of possible abuse. We may speak to you about your observations related to conditions at the nursing home, your loved one’s behavior, and any changes that you believe may be signs of abuse.
We may review the facility’s personnel records to find out if it conducted thorough background checks before hiring employees or if it knowingly hired someone with a history of abuse.
Our team can investigate whether the nursing home provided appropriate training for staff. We can find out if the facility was understaffed and if that contributed to the abuse or allowed it to continue undetected. We can investigate to learn whether managers failed to take measures to protect residents, covered up an allegation, or failed to investigate suspected abuse to protect employees or the nursing home’s image.
If we find that the nursing home acted negligently and that your loved one suffered sexual abuse, we may file a personal injury lawsuit against the facility. We can work to obtain a financial settlement as compensation for your loved one’s suffering and hold the nursing home accountable.
Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm
Many people think that they could not afford to hire an attorney, but that should not be a concern. Pintas & Mullins Law Firm operates on a contingency model. That means that clients do not have to pay us any money up front to represent them. We finance litigation costs ourselves and only receive a fee if we obtain a financial settlement on behalf of a client.
Investigating a nursing home sexual abuse case may be a long and complex process. The sooner you contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, the sooner our team will be able to begin gathering evidence related to the sexually transmitted infection and developing a legal strategy to seek justice. Call our office at (800) 842-6336 to speak with a member of our team.