At The Law Offices of Frank J. Dito, Jr., we have extensive experience dealing with cases of nursing home neglect and elder abuse and a track record of success. Our history gives us an edge over other attorneys handling such cases. Not only are we well informed about state and federal laws governing nursing home mandates; we are highly capable negotiators and litigators.
Incidents of nursing home neglect and abuse are all too common. If your loved one has been mistreated by nursing home employees or harmed by administrative protocol, we are determined to right the wrong by filing a lawsuit and bringing you the compensatory damages to which you are entitled.
There Is a Difference between Elder Abuse and Neglect
We can all agree that no elderly person should be neglected or abused, but there is a significant legal difference between the two terms. Elder abuse is characterized by malicious intent, while nursing home neglect is defined as a breach of duty of care.
Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing home neglect falls into four categories:
- Emotional or Social Neglect
- All human beings need social contact. When nursing home patients are left alone, not spoken to, denied group interaction, and repeatedly ignored, those patients will inevitably suffer the intense pain of isolation, resulting in depression and hopelessness.
- Neglect of Personal Hygiene
- As young children, we learn that keeping ourselves clean is an important part of respecting our bodies. We also learn early on that acceptable social behavior requires making a presentable appearance to others. So, we can all imagine the humiliation experienced by nursing home patients who are left neglected: bodies and hair unwashed, teeth unbrushed, clothes unlaundered.
- Neglect of Basic Needs
- Not enabling a dependent person to get a drink, a snack, use the bathroom, or be changed when he or she feels the need results in more than physical discomfort; it damages that person’s sense of self-worth. Neglecting to provide nursing home patients with a clean, comfortable environment — a basic need they cannot meet by themselves — further degrades them.
- Medical Neglect
- One of the crucial services nursing homes are supposed to provide is necessary medical attention. If staff members fail to evaluate patients frequently, they are likely to miss bedsores, skin infections, toothaches, foot problems, cognitive losses, and mobility or balance issues. This qualifies as medical neglect.
Nursing homes have a responsibility to assess patient health regularly, even if the patient is not complaining, and to have patients seen by a nurse or doctor when necessary. Nursing homes are also responsible for administering proper doses of medication at the correct intervals. Failure to do so may have drastic, long-term consequences on the patient’s health and is also evidence of medical neglect.
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
Though we would all like to place complete trust in healthcare providers, it is important for family members to visit nursing home patients regularly so they can report any signs of neglect, such as:
- Sudden weight loss
- Bedsores, or pressure ulcers
- Injuries (bumps, bruises, cuts) from falls
- Increased withdrawal from social interaction
- Skin problems due to dehydration, poor nutrition, irritation
- Behavioral changes, such as irritability, suspicion, or anger
- Lapses in personal hygiene: unkempt, unshaven, having body odor
Family members should also check the nursing home for any signs of inadequate maintenance or environmental hazards, including inadequate lighting or ventilation, slippery or dirty floors, rusted or defective equipment, unpleasant smells, unemptied trash containers, windows that don’t open or close, toilets or showers that don’t work properly.
Abuse is about power which makes elderly victims easy targets. Like children, they are easy to control and manipulate. Moreover, their lack of physical strength and dependency make them less likely to report abuse. There are several kinds of nursing home abuse and a single patient may be the victim of more than one type. It’s essential to realize that patients may not have opportunities to report abuse or may fear that reporting it may worsen the attacks.
- Physical Abuse
- Physical abuse occurs when force is used to inflict deliberate harm by slapping, pinching, pushing, or pulling and may result in bruising or scarring. Physical abuse may also consist of malicious confinement or intentional refusal to meet a patient’s urgent needs.
- Medication Abuse
- Refusal to provide patients with prescribed pain medication to increase suffering is reprehensible and abusive. So is overmedicating patients to make them easier to control.
- Emotional Abuse
- Patients in nursing homes may be exposed to forms of verbal bullying, such as threats, nasty comments, or degrading remarks. Such behavior is unacceptable anywhere but is especially vile when it occurs in the presumably protective setting of a nursing home.
- Financial Abuse
- Financial abuse is more subtle. It may consist of an unscrupulous nursing home employee persuading a patient to pay them for services they are already entitled to, or convincing a patient to give them access to personal funds to show kindness or friendship. Although financial abuse is more common with intimates, relatives, or caretakers in a home setting, it does sometimes occur in nursing homes.
- Sexual Abuse
- Like other forms of abuse, sexual abuse is about power, so vulnerable nursing home patients are easy targets. Nursing home residents may be forced into unwanted sexual activity while they are sleeping, ill, or simply too weak to fight off advances. Though cognitive impairment or other issues may keep them from protesting, this sexual activity can never be considered consensual since they are, like children, legally unable to consent.
Contact Us for Powerful Legal Representation in Cases of Nursing Home Misconduct
Once you contact The Law Offices of Frank J. Dito, Jr., we will get to work alleviating your loved one’s suffering by intervening on your behalf. We will investigate the circumstances of your complaint, then create a winning courtroom strategy that may well be strong enough to settle your case through negotiations alone. Whether through verdict or settlement, we will fight hard to bring you a successful outcome and the substantial damages you and your injured loved one deserve.