Laws at both the state and federal levels regulate nursing homes and other residential care facilities. Overwhelmingly, the majority of nursing home facilities in our state offer superlative resident care. Some of these facilities, however, do not.
If you’ve lived in Florida for several years or more, you’ve probably seen shocking examples of nursing home abuse in the news, but that’s rare. Most nursing home abuse is subtler, happens slowly over time, and doesn’t make news. This is where a Miami nursing home neglect law firm can help.
WHAT IS THE LEADING CAUSE OF NURSING HOME ABUSE?
Putting a parent or another loved one in a nursing home is one of the toughest choices you may ever face. Will the personnel there treat your relative with respect and dignity? Is the facility sufficiently staffed? These are vital questions; you must have good answers.
Understaffing is perhaps the leading cause of nursing home neglect and abuse. Many nursing home employees are overworked because they are doing the job of two people. Nursing home owners have the right to make profits, but not when it leads to the abuse or neglect of residents.
Understaffing is often the reason behind the neglect and abuse that, over time, may slowly erode a nursing home resident’s health. When a nursing home or a nursing home employee is guilty of abuse, the victim of that abuse is legally entitled to monetary compensation.
IF YOU SUSPECT NURSING HOME ABUSE, WHERE CAN YOU TURN?
If someone you love is being abused or mistreated in a South Florida nursing home – or if you have suspicions but you’re not sure – speak immediately about your concerns with an experienced Miami personal injury lawyer. Don’t risk waiting even one more day.
Under federal regulations, every nursing home must enforce written policies and practice clearly spelled-out procedures that prohibit the neglect, abuse, or mistreatment of the facility’s residents. The abuse of nursing home residents can be emotional, physical, or financial abuse.
According to the Justice Department, about five million people each year are targets of elder abuse in the U.S. It’s abuse that can sometimes be hard to identify because nursing home residents may not realize that they are being abused – or they may be embarrassed to admit it.
WHAT CONSTITUTES NURSING HOME ABUSE?
Negligence or abuse by nursing home personnel includes but is not limited to:
1. dehydration or malnutrition
2. errors involving medication
3. a failure to prevent bedsores
4. financial exploitation
5. sexual or physical abuse
6. a failure to monitor residents or to keep confused residents from wandering away
7. a failure to respond to or prevent injuries or emergency medical situations
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF NURSING HOME ABUSE?
If you suspect that your loved one is not being cared for properly in a South Florida nursing home facility, you should look for these signs of abuse or neglect:
1. bruises, abrasions, bedsores, or unexplained injuries
2. sudden loss of weight
3. poor hygiene
4. unexpected changes in your loved one’s finances and accounts
5. confusion, depression, fear, mood swings, and withdrawal or self-absorption
Pressure ulcers – also called bed sores – are a clear indication that a nursing home facility is providing substandard care. Pressure ulcers usually emerge on a bedridden patient’s tailbone, sacrum, elbows, ankles, and heels.
There may be other reasons why your loved one might be the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, but nationally, the leading cause of the problem is understaffing. Estimates indicate that over ninety percent of the nursing homes in the U.S. are understaffed.
Nursing home personnel may lack experience, and they often work long hours to make up for a facility’s understaffing. Exhaustion and burnout are common, increasing the likelihood of problems.
WHAT ABOUT FINANCIAL EXPLOITATION?
Increasing numbers of nursing home residents in Florida are the victims of financial exploitation including the theft of jewelry or cash, check forgery, and con games aimed at stealing savings, benefits, and even entire estates.
If you suspect that your own elderly loved one may be the victim of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation in a South Florida nursing home, take your concerns immediately to an experienced Miami nursing home abuse attorney.
Your attorney will investigate your concerns, and if necessary, will represent you and your family in court if you pursue a personal injury or medical malpractice lawsuit. If the abuse of your loved one was criminal in nature, your attorney may recommend involving the police.
HOW CAN FAMILY MEMBERS BE VIGILANT?
Do not hesitate to act on your suspicions; if your family member is a South Florida nursing home resident, that person is genuinely at risk if the nursing home tolerates any neglect or abuse.
Nursing home residents may be shamed, intimidated, or embarrassed about neglect or abuse, so families must be vigilant. If your loved one is in a nursing home facility:
1. Communicate clearly with the staff.
2. Make surprise visits.
3. Know the signs of neglect and abuse.
4. Know your family’s rights.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAMILY’S RIGHTS?
When family members can demonstrate to a judge that a nursing home facility or staffer has neglected or abused a family member, the facility or employee can be held accountable – and liable for damages with a lawsuit.
Damages may include reimbursement for additional necessary medical expenses along with compensation for the resident’s pain and suffering. Punitive damages are also awarded in some cases to deter future acts of nursing home negligence.
Whatever violates a nursing home resident’s rights, denies that person’s dignity, or places that person in peril may constitute nursing home abuse or neglect.
If your own elderly relative resides in a Florida nursing home, stay alert for the signs of abuse, and if you suspect abuse or neglect, discuss your family’s rights at once with a personal injury attorney.
Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of the people you love. If you believe that an elderly member of your family may be at risk, seeking an attorney’s help is your right.