More than 1.4 million residents live in the more than 15,500 nursing homes across the United States.1 Sadly, more than 50% of nursing home staff have admitted to abusing nursing home residents. This includes physical violence, mental abuse, and neglect.2
If your loved one has been abused, you may want to consider your legal options.
Making the decision to enter a nursing home, or realizing a loved one needs that level of care, can be difficult. Ultimately, we hope that person receives the best care possible.
Unfortunately, examples of nursing home abuse are common. Many elderly people are abused in the very places that are supposed to provide protection and support. Some even die.
According to The Huffington Post, nursing home claims may involve injuries such as:(3)
Pressure sores that lead to infection
Suffocation on bedrails and other restraints
Renal failure and other conditions caused by dehydration
Painful, immobilizing muscle and joint problems resulting from long-term inactivity.
Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
If you or a loved one has suffered nursing home abuse, we encourage you to reach out to one of Weitz & Luxenberg’s experienced nursing home abuse attorneys. No one should have to face this type of situation alone.
Weitz & Luxenberg is here to help you navigate the complex legal process that surrounds nursing home abuse cases.
For a free consultation and more information about your legal options, please contact us today.
If you or your loved one has suffered any type of nursing home abuse, you may be able to pursue compensation.
In worst-case scenarios, your family member may have died due to nursing home abuse or neglect. In this case, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Let Weitz & Luxenberg’s knowledgeable nursing home abuse lawyers help you. We offer a free consultation and can advise you of your legal options.
For more information, we invite you to contact us at (800) 476-6070 or fill out the form on this web page. One of our representatives will respond to your request for help.
Who Commits Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse lawsuits can be complicated. One or more people may be responsible for the abuse.
The people who commit nursing home abuse may be physicians, nurses, nurse’s aides, administrators, janitors, contract workers, or other residents,
Sometimes, the facility itself may have broken both state and federal laws.
In addition, those who harm nursing home residents may commit more than one offense or more than one type of offense.
What Are Types of Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse can be intentional or unintentional. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), abuse is “the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or punishment with resulting physical harm, pain, or mental anguish.”(4)
Although intent is a key factor in determining whether someone abused a nursing home resident, CMS “would not necessarily find a reflex response to be unintentional.” Someone who slaps a resident after a resident slaps them “could have developed intent in an instant and thus should be considered abusive.”(5)
The word “unintentional” is a bit of a gray area. Unintentional error and neglect do not necessarily mean the same things.(6)
For example, a caregiver’s attitude toward a nursing home resident is hard to measure, even though the resident may feel slighted. Also, sometimes neglect is accidental rather than deliberate. Specific circumstances are important to consider.(7)
However, examples of the types of abuse that may occur in nursing homes include:
Physical: hitting, pushing, or kicking
Sexual: touching or more violent and intrusive
Emotional and psychological; yelling or saying hurtful things
Neglect: includes abandonment or confinement
What Are Examples of Nursing Home Abuse?
As reported by CNN, “Some of the victims can’t speak. They rely on walkers and wheelchairs to leave their beds. They have been robbed of their memories. They come to nursing homes to be cared for. Instead, they are sexually assaulted.”(8)
In another case reported by CNN, two women living in a nursing home were raped by a “charming, well-liked aide.” They testified against him in court.(9)
“One entered the courtroom in her wheelchair, two oxygen tanks behind her, and defiantly described” the night she was raped by the aide. He entered her room at the nursing home when she was alone and offered to help her go to the bathroom.(10)
“As she entered the bathroom and faced the toilet, she heard the door close and lock.” The caregiver then raped her.(11)
According to the Minnesota Star Tribune, “For weeks before her death, Jean Krause lay in her bed at a northern Minnesota senior home, staring mutely at the walls.(12)
“Even when her children arrived with flowers or her favorite dessert, she did not respond. Or she would suddenly sit bolt upright, asking if her door and windows were shut.(13)
“This summer, nearly a year after Krause died, the family finally solved the mystery of her strange behavior. Late one night in May 2016, Krause, who was 78 and suffered from dementia, was sexually assaulted in her bed by a male nurse’s aide who appeared to be changing her underwear.”(14) The family members only learned of the assault when an assistant attorney contacted them about the crime — almost a year after their mother’s death.
Nursing Home Abuse Is Often Elder Abuse
Nursing home abuse can actually be a form of elder abuse. As the number of aging adults continues to rise, elder abuse is, unfortunately, becoming much more common.(15)
Elder abuse can occur in many different ways, such as:(16) (17)
Sexual abuse or inappropriate sexual contact
Emotional or psychological abuse
Abandonment or confinement
Whatever form the nursing home abuse takes, it occurs when the patient is harmed in some way. Generally, the patient experiences pain or injury, suffering, and a decreased quality of life.
Nursing Home Abuse Is a Serious Concern
Elder abuse is a serious concern in nursing homes. In August 2017, the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued an alert regarding abuse or neglect of patients in skilled nursing facilities.(18)
The alert specifically addressed concerns regarding Medicare beneficiaries living in federally funded skilled nursing facilities. However, patients across the country who are living in nursing homes are facing similar situations.(19)
In investigations across the nation, the Office of Inspector General found that approximately 22% of Medicare patients living in federally funded skilled nursing facilities experienced adverse events. Examples include infections, pressure sores, signs of sexual and other physical abuse, and internal bleeding resulting from medication errors.(20)
More than half of these patients suffering from potential neglect and abuse required treatment at a hospital.(21)
Physical Abuse in Nursing Homes
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, physical abuse is “the intentional use of physical force that results in acute or chronic illness, bodily injury, physical pain, functional impairment, distress, or death.(22)
“Physical abuse may include, but is not limited to, violent acts such as striking (with or without an object or weapon), hitting, beating, scratching, biting, choking, suffocation, pushing, shoving, shaking, slapping, kicking, stomping, pinching, and burning.”(23)
Signs of potential physical abuse in nursing homes include:(24)
Welts, wounds, cuts, and bruises
Bed and other pressure sores
Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes
Patients in nursing homes may be particularly vulnerable to unwanted touching or sexual advances. Patients may have medical conditions that prevent them from specifically consenting to sexual contact.(25)
When this is the case and a patient is not able to agree to sexual contact, any form of sexual contact is sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is a criminal offense.
Examples of sexual abuse in nursing homes include:(26)
Sexually graphic photography
Psychological or Emotional Abuse
For a free consultation and more information about your legal options, please contact us today.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines psychological or emotional abuse as “verbal or nonverbal behavior that results in the infliction of anguish, mental pain, fear, or distress.(27)
“Examples of tactics that may exemplify emotional or psychological abuse of an older adult include behaviors intended to humiliate (e.g., calling names or insults), threaten … isolate (e.g., seclusion from family or friends), or control (e.g., prohibiting or limiting access to transportation, telephone, money or other resources).”(28)
Neglect in Nursing Homes
One definition of neglect is “the refusal or failure of a caregiver to fulfill his or her obligations or duties to an older person, including …. providing any food, clothing, medicine, shelter, supervision, and medical care and services that a prudent person would deem essential for the well-being of another.”(29)
Specific examples of neglect include:(30)
Not providing care for the mouth or teeth
Not helping elder persons with exercises to keep them functioning and mobile
Not tending to nursing home residents after they experience an episode of incontinence
Not providing attention or appropriate care to residents who are bedridden
Not treating wounds and sores
Failing to bathe residents regularly
Not assisting those who need help using the bathroom
Not providing residents with water and other necessary fluids
Ignoring a request for help
In addition, residents in nursing homes may benefit from specific federal definitions regarding both abuse and neglect. The nursing home Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 specifies the following:(31)
Nursing home residents have the “right to be free from verbal, sexual, physical, and mental abuse, corporal punishment, and involuntary seclusion.” Specifically, neglect is characterized as “failure to provide goods and services necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish, or mental illness.”(32)
Risk Factors for Nursing Home Abuse
Research suggests that some people may be more at risk than others for being abused in nursing homes. Risk factors include:(33)
Dementia, which affects a person’s cognitive abilities and brain functioning. In fact, as many as one out of two people with dementia may suffer some kind of abuse.
Poor physical health as well as any kind of functional impairment. People whose health and ability to function are impaired are more likely to be abused than people with good health and a high level of functioning.
Being female. Women, more often than men, may experience abuse.
Poverty or lower income. People who do not have a lot of money or have fewer financial resources may face a greater risk of being abused.
Nursing Home Resident Rights
If you are a resident in a nursing home facility certified by Medicare or Medicaid, you are protected by certain federal and state rights. These regulations are designed to ensure you receive the care and services you need.(34)
First and foremost, you have the right to make your own decisions, the right to be informed, and the right to have your personal information kept private and confidential. Someone at the nursing home is required to inform you of your rights and explain them in writing in a way you can understand.(35)
Before you move into a nursing home, someone at the facility must also let you know what your responsibilities as a patient are. All residents are required to conduct themselves responsibly and treat others respectfully.(36)
At the very least, federal law mandates that a nursing home both “protect and promote the rights of each resident.”(37)
As a resident at a Medicare- or Medicaid-certified facility, you have the right to:(38)
Be free from discrimination
Be free from abuse and neglect
Receive proper medical care
Be treated with respect
Be free from restraints
Get proper privacy, property, and living arrangements
Cases of Nursing Home Abuse Are Underreported
Federal law requires nursing home facilities to report serious cases of nursing home abuse to police within 2 hours of the incident. However, more than 25%, or one out of four, are not reported to police.(39)
These are instances of significant nursing home abuse. In some instances, residents required treatment at a hospital emergency room.(40)
For example, one woman was sexually assaulted at her nursing home facility. She showed severe bruising following the assault.(41)
However, personnel at this nursing home facility never reported the abuse, even though they are required by law to do so.(42)
Weitz & Luxenberg Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Filing Lawsuits
If you or a family member has been abused in any way at a nursing home or, in a worst-case scenario, died following the abuse, you should not have to face the situation alone. We encourage you to contact Weitz & Luxenberg to speak with one of our nursing home abuse lawyers.
You may be entitled to compensation for the harm you or your loved one endured.
Filing a lawsuit against a health care provider or nursing home facility may seem intimidating. However, nursing home abuse is a serious matter. Anyone who commits nursing home abuse should be held accountable for his actions.
At Weitz & Luxenberg, our knowledgeable, experienced nursing home abuse attorneys can help you face the challenges ahead. We have lawyers who can respond to your specific circumstances.
Please contact us for more information. A consultation is absolutely free, and we can provide you with legal guidance regarding your situation.
W&L Has a Proven Track Record of Winning Lawsuits
We are prepared to file appropriate nursing home abuse lawsuits on behalf of our clients who have experienced nursing home abuse.
For 30 years, we have devoted ourselves to representing clients who have been harmed by others. We also have a history of winning. Over the years, we have secured more than $17 billion in verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients.
We urge you to call us now. “Nursing home abuse should not be tolerated, and those who commit any type of nursing home abuse should be held responsible,” said Allan Zelikovic, a senior attorney with Weitz & Luxenberg.
We want to help you.
You can reach us by phone at (800) 476-6070 or by completing the form available on this web page. Please do not hesitate to reach out.
Although a past record does not guarantee future success, Weitz & Luxenberg has the experience and resources necessary to stand up to both large-scale and small nursing home facilities, both federally funded and private.
United States General Accounting Office. (2002, March). Report to Congressional Requestors. Nursing Homes. More Can Be Done to Protect Residents from Abuse. Retrieved from https://www.gao.gov/new.items/d02312.pdf
Office of Inspector General. Department of Health and Human Services. (2017, August 24). Early Alert: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Has Inadequate Procedures To Ensure That Incidents of Potential Abuse or Neglect at Skilled Nursing Facilities Are Identified and Reported in Accordance With Applicable Requirements (A-01-17-00504). Retrieved from https://oig.hhs.gov/oas/reports/region1/11700504.pdf
Hawes, C. (2003). Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in an Aging America. 14 Elder Abuse in Residential Long-Term Care Settings: What Is Known and What Information Is Needed? Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK98786/