Many families who are unable to care for their elderly loved ones in their own homes place them in nursing homes to provide the attentive care they need. Others who lack familial support enter assisted living facilities themselves with the expectation that they’ll receive the dedicated care they require.
Ask any College Park nursing home abuse lawyer in our office, and, unfortunately, they’ll have countless stories about clients who have received far worse care in these facilities than they should have.
Our law firm doesn’t look fondly at those individuals and entities that treat anyone poorly, but most certainly not our most vulnerable populations. And you shouldn’t either. If you or a close family member has been abused, neglected, or otherwise harmed while living in a long-term care facility, reach out to schedule a consultation with an attorney at GDH Law today. It’s completely free.
How Many Marylanders Live in Assisted Living Facilities?
The Maryland Department of Health estimates that as many as 30,000 individuals reside at our state’s estimated 230 Medicaid-approved nursing homes. A Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) statistic from 2019 showed that a little over 96,000 individuals resided in nursing homes in our state.
However, that number doesn’t account for all individuals residing in nursing or retirement homes, memory care centers, rehabilitation facilities, hospices, and similar places where patients may live long-term, nor those who receive at-home care.
Types of Abuse That Occurs in Nursing Homes
When you hear the word “abuse,” what do you think of?
If physical violence comes to mind, that’s certainly one type of ill-treatment nursing home residents face, but they also endure far more than that.
Abuse occurring in nursing homes takes on many forms and can be:
- Physical: From slapping and hitting to pushing or shoving, the use of physical restraints, or virtually any other type of aggressive behavior may fall into the category of physical abuse. These can be the easiest types of abuse to identify, as a resident who’s been subjected to one of these violent acts often has visible scars or markings to show from it.
- Emotional: Yelling at, threatening, and belittling are just three examples of emotional abuse. Such treatment can adversely impact a person’s mental well-being, leading them to become withdrawn, depressed, anxious, and suicidal.
- Sexual: Unwanted sexual advances, including inappropriate touching and intercourse, are some examples of sexual abuse nursing home residents face, leading to physical injuries, unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and the onset of mental health disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Financial: Nursing home residents have limited privacy in many cases, and this leaves them vulnerable to having places where they keep cash, checks, debit and credit cards, and important documents containing details like Social Security Numbers discovered. Perpetrators of abuse take that data and use it to steal monetary resources or benefits from residents.
While the abuse described above is certainly significant, it’s not the only type of ill-treatment your loved one may face in a residential care facility. Abuse can take on other forms, like neglect, as well.
Neglect Is Also an Abusive Act
Nursing home residents are often neglected, which is particularly concerning considering how, according to the MHCC study cited above, many of the individuals living in these facilities need the following degrees of assistance with their daily living activities:
- Bathing: 41% supervision, 3.49% limited assistance, 26.79% extensive assistance, and 60.40% total dependence
- Using the toilet:62% supervision, 12.26% limited assistance, 61.10% extensive assistance, and 12.23% total dependence
- Dressing: 71% supervision, 12.84% limited assistance, 63.74% extensive assistance, and 7.39% total dependence
- Eating: 57% supervision, 6.10% limited assistance, 14.73% extensive assistance, and 5.14% total dependence
- Transferring: 89% supervision, 16.13% limited assistance, 51.53% extensive assistance, and 8.71% total dependence
The dangers associated with staff members failing to assist residents with these everyday activities are that they may end up remaining in soiled clothing or laying atop dirty linens for so long that an illness or infection develops, or that they may attempt to move or get up to handle tasks on their own and fall, or they may go without food or water.
Of course, however concerning the prospect of a nursing home resident not receiving assistance with the tasks above may be, neglect can take on additional forms that are equally or even more concerning.
For example, a caregiver may socially isolate your loved one, causing them to become lonely, which can, over time, cause a significant deterioration in their willingness to engage with others, resulting in a loss of enjoyment of life, and cognitive issues.
If you suspect that your loved one has been treated inappropriately, don’t hesitate to call a College Park nursing home abuse lawyer right away to learn the next best steps to take in your case, including preserving evidence.
This confidential case review is completely free.
Reporting Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect in Maryland
If you have been subjected to abuse or neglect in an assisted living facility, or you have a family member that you suspect has, it’s imperative to report what’s happening.
Who you should report this mistreatment to really depends on who inflicted the harm, where it occurred, and other factors. According to the Maryland Department of Aging, some key contacts that may be applicable in your situation include:
- The Maryland Department of Health Office of Health Care Quality at (410) 402-8108 and toll-free at 1-877-402-8717 or 1-877-402-8219
- The state Adult Protective Services (APS) office at 1-800-332-6347 or locally in Prince George’s County at (301) 909-7000
- The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) at the Maryland Department of Aging at 1-800-243-3425 or 410-767-1100
- The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office at 410-576-6521
While contacting one of these government agencies can be the first toward starting an investigation into a specific facility, if you or your close relative is in immediate harm of illness, injury, or loss of life, it’s best to either immediately remove them from the facility or to call 911 to have them do so.
When To Get Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Involved
In addition to making sure your loved one is safe, and reporting the incident to the proper authorities, you should also reach out to an attorney’s office like ours, GDH Law, as soon as possible.
Nursing home staff, administrators included, may destroy evidence if they learn that they’re under investigation. If this happens, it may affect prosecutors’ ability to pursue criminal charges (if warranted) and affect the ability of a College Park nursing home abuse lawyer to build the strongest possible civil case if that’s an avenue that you opt to pursue.
It’s necessary that you and an attorney meet to discuss what happened, whether you have a valid claim, your rights, fee arrangements, and other details before we get to work on your behalf.
Contact us today for your free initial consultation so we can begin helping you!