Reporting Suspicions of Abuse and Neglect
When you place your loved one in the care of a nursing home, you might expect that she is going to receive the best care possible. While some nursing homes are professional and do everything they can to make sure that your loved one is comfortable, other nursing homes, in an effort to reduce costs, neglect their patients. Other nursing homes go one step further and engage in knowing and intentional abuse. If you suspect that your loved one is being abused, there are several warning signs to watch out for.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Common warning signs of neglect include:
- Dehydration and weight loss
- Rapid weight gain
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Bad odors
If you visit your loved one regularly, you may begin to notice not only physical changes but changes in their behavior:
- Desire for isolation
- Sudden changes in behavior
You might notice that your loved one doesn’t like to be touched or may rock back and forth. Rocking back and forth is a common sign of extreme stress.
Your loved one may also suffer from additional symptoms such as:
- Bed sores
- Fractures and head injuries
- Wounds, cuts, bruises, and welts
- Broken bones
- Frequent illnesses that require hospitalization
You may also discover that your family member is under heavy sedation or medication. The nursing home might not be meeting the needs of your loved one and may even by physically or verbally abusing her.
What to Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
The moment that you suspect that your loved one is being neglected, make sure she is examined by a medical professional. Always call 911 if your loved one is in immediate danger. Contact the manager of the nursing home and also contact any regulatory bodies in your state. Most states have a hotline you can call.
Reporting the abuse can be the first step in holding the nursing home to account and can also allow you to create a record that proves that you utilized every option available to you. Then, contact a nursing home abuse attorney in Kansas City.
Building Your Case
A nursing home abuse attorney in Kansas City will help you gather documents and records that will allow you to make your case. Then, you can receive financial compensation and hold those who are abusing your loved one to account.
Who is Liable for Elder Abuse?
Oftentimes, the owner of the nursing home facility will be considered responsible for any injuries that your loved one has suffered. They may have engaged in negligent hiring by failing to perform an adequate background check of the nursing home staff member who abused your loved one. They may have failed to train an employee and did not hire enough staff members.
A common problem is when a hospital makes a medication error. Your loved one may receive the wrong medication or may fail to receive an essential medication. Also, your loved one may have received a medication:
- At the wrong time
- More than once
- At the wrong dosage
What may seem like a minor mistake can lead to severe side effects or a lethal reaction. For example, your loved one may have been allergic to a specific medication. Healthcare facilities are vicariously liable for all actions carried out by their employees within the scope of employment.
However, there may be other parties who are responsible. A manufacturer may be responsible for defective equipment, and an independent contractor, such as a doctor from outside the nursing home, may be responsible for any damages you have suffered.
How Much Time Do I Have?
In Missouri, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim for nursing home abuse or neglect. However, you won’t want to wait too long because a nursing home facility will do everything they can to limit liability and may even choose to hide or destroy evidence. Witnesses may have memories that might fade. In a nursing home, some witnesses may even pass away before they can testify to the abuse suffered.
Should I Sue?
The best way to find out if you should sue is to contact a nursing home abuse attorney. When your loved one has passed away or has become severely injured, you will likely be looking for answers. However, it’s not always obvious whether abuse actually occurred. You will want to consider the state that your loved one was in before entering the nursing home. Then, you will need to compare that to how your loved one changed over the course of her time at the nursing home.
With many personal injury cases, such as car accidents, the cause of the injury is obvious because it happens in an instant. However, with a nursing home personal injury case, most of the evidence for the injury can be found in medical records. For this reason, you will first need to find out if your loved one’s medical condition was the result of natural causes that were unavoidable or if they were the result of gross negligence.
Look for an arbitration agreement because this can determine if you will be forced to settle the matter out of court. If there is an arbitration agreement, your attorney may look for ways that the arbitration agreement will be enforced and whether the panel involved in the arbitration process will be fair.
Determining whether the nursing home was negligent is difficult because of the expert knowledge acquired. Therefore, you will need to work with an attorney who works closely with expert witnesses who will testify to how the hospital showed negligence. If you’re ready to start the process, contact our law office and schedule a free consultation.