A skilled nursing facility provides care to vulnerable nursing home residents, some of whom suffer from chronic medical conditions that limit their physical and cognitive functions. Unfortunately, several types of abuse and neglect are common in the nursing home industry, including emotional, physical, and sexual abuse and financial exploitation and neglect.
Physical abuse in nursing homes happens to one in seven residents, equivalent to the reported child abuse and neglect rate in the U.S. A 2018 survey of nursing staff members revealed that 40% admitted to psychologically abusing residents within the past year, and 10% admitted to physical abuse.
At Nessler & Associates, our personal injury lawyers stand up for victims of nursing home abuse and know how to identify the signs of abuse and neglect. We will work closely with you to protect your loved one and take legal action to hold the at-fault caregivers or the facility accountable.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Nursing home employees can be abusive and neglect the needs of their patients. Abuse refers to intentional harm, confinement, intimidation, or punishment resulting in physical injury, pain, or mental anguish.
Neglect means failing to meet the basic needs of their elderly residents, resulting in physical harm, mental anguish, or mental illness.
The National Center on Elder Abuse identified these forms of nursing home abuse and neglect, including:
Psychological or emotional abuse includes verbal abuse with threats, harassment, humiliation, aggressiveness, yelling out of anger, and saying mean or harsh things. The mental abuse from nursing home staff members can negatively affect the resident’s mental health, resulting in feelings of isolation and humiliation.
Physical abuse consists of assaultive behavior, rough handling, and improper medication administration. Improper medication administration might include withholding pain medication or recurring medication errors. Physical abuse also constitutes unlawful or excessive use of physical restraint and involuntary seclusion.
Neglect of basic needs
Neglect of a resident encompasses the lack of proper care and access to food, clean clothes, and bedding. It also includes ignoring the residents’ needs for mental stimulation and failing to reposition bedridden patients resulting in painful bedsores.
Financial exploitation includes the theft of personal items, forging checks, using a credit or debit card for financial transactions, or theft of retirement income. Although Illinois prevents the nursing home from handling a resident’s financial affairs unless they have received prior authorization, some facilities may take advantage of this.
The coercion or deception of any resident in signing a document like a will to hand over money is also considered financial abuse.
Sexual abuse includes rape, sexual assault, unwanted sexual touching, and unwanted sexual conversation. Sexual abuse happens to 1.9% of nursing home residents, compared to 0.9% of older adults living in the community.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
When you visit your loved one in a nursing home, you may notice some common signs of neglect and abuse. These include:
- Unexplained injuries such as fractures, bruises, burns, and cuts
- Limited mobility without assistive devices
- Head injuries
- Poor hygiene
- Issues with sleeping
- Bedsores and pressure ulcers from the lack of care
- Unexplained weight loss
- Warning signs of trauma like emotional outbursts
- Listlessness or lack of communication
- Disappearance of personal items
- Torn, stained, or bloody clothing or bedding
- Unsanitary living conditions
In some instances, a loved one can suffer dehydration or malnutrition due to inadequate care by a staff member. They may stop performing their usual level of personal hygiene and become withdrawn. They may also fail to pay bills despite having sufficient financial resources.
Victims of abuse or neglect by the nursing facility’s staff members have a difficult time telling other people what is happening to them. This is especially true for those who have cognitive deficits or visitors that don’t come regularly.
The personal injury lawyers at Nessler & Associates can help your loved one get compensation, find proper medical care, and help you report the abuse to the appropriate authorities.
How to Report Nursing Home Abuse
You have several options for reporting abuse or neglect in Illinois long-term care facilities, personal care homes, or assisted living centers.
- Call the Central Complaint Registry, also called the Nursing Home Hotline, at (800)252-4343 for complaints about nursing homes. If you need to use TTY, call (800) 547-0466. Make sure to have the resident’s name, age, address, services they receive, and daytime telephone numbers available to give to the hotline staff.
- You can report suspected abuse, financial exploitation, or neglect of people over 60 or adults with disabilities from 18-59 to Adult Protective Services. They have a 24-hour hotline at (866) 800-1409, or you can send an email to email@example.com.
- You can also report your concerns to the regional long-term care ombudsman. The ombudsman advocates for the legal rights of people living in a long-term care facility, assisted living facility or nursing home.
An experienced attorney from Nessler & Associates can advise you of your loved one’s legal rights and review their medical bills from treatment for their injuries. They can pursue a nursing home abuse case on you and your loved one’s behalf and hold the nursing home facilities accountable.
Nursing Home Facilities Put Profits Ahead of Patient Care
A 2021 review of studies showed for-profit long-term nursing home facilities were more likely to have higher case rates and death rates of COVID-19 than not-for-profit facilities. One study shows living in a for-profit facility owned by a private equity firm increases your risk of death by 10% and has other adverse effects on health, like mobility and pain intensity.
Filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit with the help of Nessler & Associates sends a message to these negligent nursing companies that providing substandard care that harms residents is unacceptable.
How a Lawyer Can Help
Nursing home abuse lawyers understand the specific challenges of these cases. They establish the facts, gather information, navigate all the state and federal rules and regulations pertaining to nursing homes, and file your claim.
Establish the facts
Your attorney can meet with you to discuss your concerns about your loved one being a victim of nursing home abuse. They will ask questions about what you’ve seen on your visits and any signs of abuse from photos and videos.
Your lawyer may also ask about your loved one’s mental and physical health issues. They will explain the next steps and guide you through the legal process.
Your lawyer will investigate all aspects of your case. The investigative process includes examining medical records, interviewing witnesses, and studying the facility’s history and the nursing home staff. They can also look into the ownership and management teams to find patterns of nursing home negligence.
They can consult with a medical expert to prove your loved one’s condition is the result of abuse or neglect. They might also ask the expert about the basic standard of care and how the facility violated it if they were to take care of the patient under normal circumstances.
Navigate federal and state laws
Illinois’ Nursing Home Care Act governs how nursing homes are run and guarantees patient safety. On a federal level, the patient’s bill of rights ensures adequate access to medical care and to be free from medical negligence. An experienced lawyer can let you know which nursing home abuse law applies to your case and how to proceed with your claim.
File your nursing home claim
The nursing home attorney can file a claim with the facility’s medical malpractice insurance company or a nursing home abuse lawsuit in civil court. If necessary, they can represent your loved one in court, advocating for their rights to a safe environment and compensation for their injuries.
Work with the Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers at Nessler & Associates
Elder care facilities have a legal duty to maintain the safety of their residents and ensure none of their residents become victims of abuse.
We realize that when you suspect that someone you love is a victim of nursing home neglect, you are going through a difficult time, and we can help ease your worry. We can handle every aspect of your case and give you a shoulder to lean on.
Our personal injury attorneys at Nessler & Associates believe victims of elder abuse should be protected and receive a fair settlement in a nursing home claim, including compensatory damages and non-economic damages.
Our personal injury attorneys have decades of experience and have won millions of dollars in financial compensation for personal injury victims throughout central Illinois. If you think your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact our law firm to see how we can help you through the legal process.
Call us today at (800) 727-8010 to schedule your confidential, free consultation. Our firm operates on a contingency basis, so you don’t pay legal fees unless we secure a judgment or settlement.