According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, over 50% of nursing home staff nationwide have admitted to mistreating older patients. Seventeen percent of certified nursing assistants were found to have physically abused patients by pushing, grabbing, or shoving them.
It is likely that the rate of abuse is much higher as oftentimes the victims are too afraid to report the abuse. Furthermore, there are also cases in which the victims are simply too sick to report the abuse or too sick to even know the abuse had occurred.
The problem of nursing home abuse, which is a common type of elder abuse, is particularly acute in Pennsylvania, as PA has one of the largest percentages of residents who are 85 years and older.
According to the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, 70% of people who are 65 are older will require long-term care at some point. Pennsylvania currently has over 700 nursing homes with over 88,000 beds.
What Is Elder Abuse?
According to Pennsylvania’s Older Adults Protective Services Act, elder abuse is defined as:
- Physical or psychological abuse – the infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation or punishment resulting in physical harm, pain or mental anguish.
- Gross neglect – the willful deprivation by a caretaker of goods or services which are necessary to maintain physical or mental health.
- Sexual abuse – sexual harassment, rape or abuse<
Under this law, not only must nursing home staff refrain from abusing residents, staff is required to report abuse.
What Are the Signs of Elder Abuse?
Signs that there may be abuse include:
- Bedsores – Bedsores are injuries to the skin and underlying tissue resulting from prolonged pressure on the skin. If a patient is allowed to remain in bed or in a chair in the same position for an extended period, a bedsore may appear. The mere presence of a bedsore can be a sign of neglect.
- Bruises from restraints – Restraints are sometimes used to ensure that a patient remains immobile while nursing staff attends to other duties. However, restraints sometimes leave the patient’s wrists and legs bruised, bleeding and scarred. Patients who are restrained for extended periods often develop bedsores.
- Unexplained bruises and cuts – When a nursing home patient is injured, the facility should contact the family right away. If the facility is not able to explain an injury or provides a suspicious explanation, the patient may have been abused.
- Restrictions on visitors – If nursing home staff refuses to allow the patient’s family to visit or delays a visit, something may be amiss.
Civil Liability for Nursing Home Abuse
If as a result of abuse a patient in a nursing home is injured, the injured patient or the family of the patient may be able to hold the nursing home financially liable for those injuries. Bases for personal injury claims against a nursing home include:
- Negligence in hiring, training or monitoring staff
- Failure to provide adequate security
- Failure to protect from health and safety hazards
- Intentional abuse by staff members
In addition, the staff responsible for the abuse may face criminal charges.
Sometimes nursing home patients are abused by people who are not employed by the facility such as by other patients, by relatives, or by guests of other patients. This does not mean that the facility does not share at least some legal liability as the facility has a duty to provide a safe environment for its residents.
Personal Injury Attorney for Elder Abuse Victims
If your loved one has been a victim of elder abuse in a nursing home, assisted living facility, memory care facility or other similar type of facility, do not hesitate to take steps to ensure that your loved one is safe and is receiving the proper medical treatment.
Donaghue & Labrum is a law firm serving Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, experienced in nursing home abuse cases and getting settlements for their clients. Contact us at 610-566-9120 and we will explain your legal options and work closely with you to pursue all civil and criminal remedies that you and your family are entitled to.