Nursing Home Abuse Info Center
Nursing home abuse cases tend to be particularly devastating because of the dynamics involved. Our parents and grandparents enter such residences with the expectation that they will be treated with dignity and attentive care, but all too often the staff members in such facilities fall short of that standard. Because a number of nursing home residents have a limited ability to articulate their concerns, it can be difficult to determine what is actually going on. Today a growing number of families have begun seeking legal action to remedy such abuse.
What Are the Forms of Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse can take any number of forms, but the most common forms fall under the umbrella term "physical abuse." Physical abuse is precisely what it sounds like: inappropriate or painful treatment that affects the body or health of the resident. This may include the use of force or violence, especially slapping, hitting, or restraints. Physical abuse may also manifest in the form of sexual assault, including fondling, petting or resident rape. And such behaviors do not necessarily have to originate with the staff itself — as a number of recent cases have made abundantly plain, often it is other residents who engage in sexual assault. Physical abuse can also cover a wide number of medical errors or omissions, including failure to medicate, failure to treat a given condition, and inadequate attention being paid to issues of comfort, pain or progressive illness.
Nursing home abuse need not be physical in nature. As anyone with a deeply distressed relative can tell you, nursing homes can be terribly hostile places if the staff does not behave with a proper code of professional respect. As a consequence, legal analysts have identified a number of additional behaviors that fall under the umbrella term "emotional abuse." These may be harder to spot, but the wounds they inflict are no less painful for the resident. Different types of emotional abuse may include depriving the resident of food or water, secluding the resident without cause, mocking the resident's frailty or condition, and intimidating the resident with the threat of violence or further abuse.
Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing home abuse can also be an act of omission, rather than commission, meaning relatives may identify several issues with the things the staff does not do. Because many nursing home residents are infirm or disabled, for instance, they rely upon the staff for basic needs such as water and shelter. Sadly a number of recent lawsuits demonstrate just how inadequate such elementary care can be. A failure to provide for basic needs is generally called "nursing home neglect." Primary forms of nursing home neglect include unsanitary or unhygienic living conditions, failure to assist with incontinence, failure to avoid infections or malnutrition, and the refusal to seek and secure medical care when necessary. If a resident has a valid concern and that concern goes unanswered past an appropriate time frame, this is the very definition of neglect.
What Can You Do About Nursing Home Abuse?
So what can you do to prevent nursing home abuse? The shortest answer is to trust the resident's own account of what is happening, especially if that resident is of sound mind. If she is unable or unwilling to articulate the issue, however, you will want to watch out for other signs. Physical abuse tends to manifest in physical symptoms, including malnutrition, infections, bruises and injuries. Emotional abuse may manifest in fearful or paranoid behaviors, agitation, rocking, unusual behavior directed toward the family, or a desire to be left alone. Neglect may leave signs such as unsanitary living conditions, bedsores, untreated conditions and an acute sense of hopelessness.
Fight Back Against Nursing Home Abuse
The good news is that here in Chicago, you have a number of avenues available through which to seek legal action. Many nursing home abuse cases begin as civil suits, meaning you sue for a certain amount of damages, including pain and suffering and associated expenses. Some relatives of nursing home abuse victims may also seek action under a "breach of contract" suit, which essentially identifies the ways that the nursing home has been derelict in its stated responsibilities. Finally, a criminal trial may arise from any of the preceding actions, which would mean the state gets involved and could ultimately levy significant fines, impose penalties and even a loss of license to operate. How and when to commence any of the above actions is a decision best made in the company of experienced legal counsel.
Let Us Help You
Here at Klest Injury Law Firm, we are proud of our longstanding commitment to nursing home victims' rights. With nearly 30 years of practice throughout the Chicago area, Joseph Klest has earned a sterling reputation as a compassionate and aggressive personal injury attorney, helping clients gain some measure of justice for the acts of another party. If you or someone you know has been the victim of nursing home abuse and you want to mount a case as compelling as it is effective, we urge you to contact us today. We are available to offer substantive advice on your very first call.