It is never easy to decide that it is time for a loved one to go to a nursing home. When families make this decision, they want to feel confident they have chosen a place where their loved one will be well taken care of. Unfortunately, physical abuse of residents is all too common in nursing homes, according to the National Institutes of Health. Nursing home residents are often frail or have health conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to abuse. Living in a nursing home can also mean isolation from family and friends, so often they simply suffer in silence.
If you suspect that a family member is experiencing physical abuse at a nursing home, you should have a lawyer on your side that handles cases of nursing home abuse. At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, an Oklahoma City physical abuse lawyer on our team can help you understand what to anticipate with your case after we provide a free, no-obligation case review. Call us today.
Types of Physical Abuse We See in Nursing Homes
There are several types of physical abuse to which nursing home residents are vulnerable:
- Active abuse: This includes the intentional harm of your loved one while in a nursing home. Slapping, hitting, punching, and kicking all fall under this umbrella, as does withholding medication
- Physical neglect: This can refer to ignoring a nursing home resident’s basic needs, including the help that is needed to maintain basic personal hygiene.
- Sexual abuse: Although this is difficult to accept let alone discuss, sexual abuse happens in nursing homes. This can include physical contact as well as verbal communication, such as a staff member insisting a nursing home resident disrobe without privacy.
- Misuse of restraints: Restraints can include any type of device or equipment that are intended to restrict physical movement, including lap trays, arm or leg restraints, and bedrails. It also refers to such methods as pushing a wheelchair up to a wall or other obstacle to prevent the patient from backing up or moving.
Any of these types of physical abuse can result in injuries. It may benefit you and your loved one to hire an Oklahoma City physical abuse lawyer to investigate your legal options. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today for a free consultation with a member of our team.
Look for Signs of Physical Abuse in Nursing Homes
The types of abuse residents can experience in nursing homes can vary, and it can be difficult to detect the signs. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), family members should be on the alert for any of the following physical signs on the resident:
- Unexplained bruising or cuts
- Fractured or broken bones
- Pressure sores (bedsores)
- Diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease
- Trauma around the genitals
Other signs of physical abuse can be more subtle, such as a patient suddenly becoming withdrawn or listless, or if a patient shows fear or anxiety in the presence of a particular staff member.
If you notice anything that seems “off,” you should try to speak with your loved one to find out more. For those who suffer from dementia or other serious health problem that makes communication difficult, you will need to make your own judgment.
For a free legal consultation with an physical abuse lawyer serving Oklahoma City, call (800) 794-0444
How Nursing Homes Can Be Liable for Physical Abuse
Nursing homes must provide a strict duty of care to its residents by law. The Nursing Home Reform Act makes it very clear that nursing homes are legally obligated to provide care to the best of their ability. According to the Act’s Bill of Rights, nursing home residents have certain fundamental rights, including necessary care, privacy and dignity, security of possessions, and freedom from abuse, mistreatment, and neglect. When nursing homes are in violation of these rights, they may be held liable in the following situations:
- Failing to conduct an investigation into allegations of physical abuse by staff members. Complaints should be investigated by nursing homes promptly.
- Failing to hire well-trained staff. Working at a nursing home is challenging work that often does not pay very well, and it can be difficult for nursing homes to find qualified employees. There is often a high turnover of staff. When nursing homes hire untrained employees but do not provide the training for these employees, the nursing homes can be held liable for physical abuse that might result. Nursing homes should also conduct background checks of potential employees. Anyone who has a history of physical abuse in their past might be looking for vulnerable targets, which includes nursing home residents.
- Failing to staff the nursing home with enough workers. Understaffing can cause employees to feel overworked, which can lead to skipping routine care of residents such as bathing. It can also cause even good employees to become abusive to residents.
- Failing to supervise employees. Nursing homes should have systems in place, such as proper supervision of employees, to help ensure physical abuse does not happen.
- Failing to stop abuse when they know it exists. Nursing homes should take immediate steps to stop abuse when it is brought to their attention.
If you suspect physical abuse, you have several options in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Department of Health manages nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, and the DOH can investigate reports of nursing home abuse. You can also contact the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to file a report with Adult Protective Services. After you make reports to the proper authorities, you can get in touch with the office of an Oklahoma City physical abuse lawyer.
Oklahoma City Physical Abuse Lawyer Near Me (800) 794-0444
Contact an Oklahoma City Physical Abuse Lawyer
Your family member who is in a nursing home may not be able to speak up or do anything about the physical abuse they are experiencing, so it is up to you and your family to put a stop to it. If your loved one has injuries because of physical abuse in a nursing home, you may be able to get compensation for those injuries.
If you want an Oklahoma City physical abuse lawyer to help your loved one seek compensation, call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today.