Nationwide, as many as one in ten people over 60 have been a victim of physical, verbal, psychological financial, and/or sexual abuse. The exact numbers are hard to attain, because victims only report a tiny fraction of these incidents (about one in twenty-four).
An attorney who focuses on nursing home abuse cases can hold the nursing home owners or private caregivers liable for the damages that they cause. Furthermore, such lawsuits bring this kind of misconduct to light, so plaintiffs help prevent the owner or caregiver from victimizing other people.
Why Abuse Happens
Many nursing homes are dangerously understaffed, creating an environment that allows opportunities for elder abuse.
Medicare reimbursement rates have been declining rather steadily in recent years, and many nursing homes count on this income to be profitable. Furthermore, the government recently changed its reimbursement rules, and now often pays by the patient instead of by the service, so if a nurse sees a patient four or five times a day, the facility basically loses money.
To improve their bottom lines, many administrators take on as many patients as possible and trim staff levels to the bone. As a result, often there are too few caregivers, especially on weekends, nights, and other non-peak times.
Kinds of Abuse
An overworked staff and an overcrowded facility can lead to a variety of issues, including:
• Staff-on-Resident Physical Abuse: Most elderly nursing home patients are very frail, so even what seems to be a gentle push or shove can cause serious or permanent injuries.
• Resident-on-Resident Abuse: The lower staff level means that there are fewer people around to break up petty quarrels between residents, and the crowded physical environment means that residents have less privacy. That combination, especially if the resident has dementia or another mental issue, often leads to physical confrontations.
• Staff-on-Resident Emotional Abuse: Isolation is one prominent example, because if there is insufficient staff to keep tabs on a common area, many residents may be left alone in their rooms for long periods of time.
Financial and sexual abuse, which usually involves either a financial scam or forcing a resident to witness a sex act, is also prevalent in many facilities.
Damages in these cases normally include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, in addition to non-economic losses, such as emotional distress. Punitive damages are often available as well, in extreme situations.
If you believe you or a loved one has been injured or killed as a result of nursing home or care facility contact GDH Law immediately. One of our attorneys can evaluate your case and investigate whether negligence may have caused your injuries. As always, your evaluation is free and we do not get paid until we win on your behalf.
Contact us at 301-769-6835 or online at gdhlawfirm.com.