Neglect in Nursing Homes
Let Our Lawyers Fight Nursing Home Neglect in California
For most individuals contemplating entrusting the care of a loved one to a nursing facility, the most frightening prospect is that of nursing home abuse. While intentional nursing home abuse is a serious problem, nursing home neglect or abandonment can also take a severe toll on the mental and physical health of nursing home residents, or result in death. This is because nursing home neglect results in the elder’s vital needs—food, water, hygiene, pressure wound treatment, and medicine—going unmet. Below, we will outline what nursing home abuse is, how to spot it, and how a California nursing home neglect attorney can help victims.
What Is Nursing Home Neglect?
Nursing home abuse occurs when an individual intentionally causes either physical, mental, or financial harm to an elder in their care. Nursing home neglect, by contrast, is not necessarily intentional behavior, but occurs where a pattern of neglect causes the elder’s needs to go unmet. Some examples of nursing home neglect include failing to turn a bedridden patient as required to prevent bed sores/pressure wounds; failing to provide food, water, or medication to the elder; failure to provide appropriate physical activity; and failure to respond to the elder’s calls for assistance. In most cases, nursing home neglect is the result of understaffing and inadequate training among nursing home staff.
Abandonment is a type of nursing home neglect in which nursing home staff fail to fulfill their duties in caring for the elder. In some cases, it can occur when the individual is deserted or forsaken within the institution. In more sinister cases, nursing home staff could even abandon the elder to fend for themselves in an unknown location outside the nursing home.
Isolation is another type of nursing home neglect wherein nursing home staff restricts the elder’s access to and communication with others. It can occur in several ways, including cutting off contact with family members, locking the elder in his or her room, using restraints without authorization, or restricting visitors. Extended periods of isolation have been shown to contribute to a decline in elders’ physical and mental health.
Studies show that human companionship is critical to a person’s well-being and even the most solitary individuals need some form of contact with others. If a person is isolated or forcibly shut off from everyone else, the solitary time can be unendurable and contribute to a person’s decline in both mental and physical health.
Isolation as a form of elder abuse can include any of the following behaviors or actions:
- Intentional steps taken towards reducing or cutting off contact between an older resident and their family members, either by phone or in person
- Any attempts to prevent an older resident from consulting with his or her doctor and nurses, any law enforcement officials, members of a religious organization such as priests and clergy or other professionals
- Any instances of locking a resident in his or her room or keeping a resident from joining the rest of the community in common areas without probable reason
- Any restraining of a resident without his or her consent
- Confinement or false imprisonment of any kind
- Any restriction of visitors without a good reason
In a nursing home, isolation can be used as a fear tactic to dominate or suppress residents and force them into obedience or submission. An older person who has been victimized by isolation can suffer serious trauma and consequences, including depression, stress, anxiety, fear and extreme loneliness, even going so far as to commit suicide or to lose the will to live.
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect in California
It can often be difficult to identify nursing home neglect due to its insidious nature, but some of the most common signs of neglect include:
- Poor hygiene
- Cuts, scrapes, and bruises
- Broken bones from falls
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Bed sores and pressure ulcers
- Decline in cognitive abilities
Why You Need a California Nursing Home Neglect Attorney
If you suspect that someone you care about may be the victim of nursing home neglect, you may want to consider speaking to an attorney for several reasons. First, elder law attorneys are experts in the federal and state regulations concerning nursing homes and can help you determine whether any of these laws were violated. Second, if you choose to file an insurance claim, they can advocate on your behalf and negotiate with all parties responsible and their insurance carriers to obtain the maximum compensation. And third, an elder law attorney can pursue legal action against the facilities and individuals who caused your loved one harm. The legal action would pursue all remedies available under California law, including awards of attorneys’ fees and costs under certain circumstances.
Contact Our Nursing Home Neglect Lawyers for More Information
In most cases, consulting with an elder law attorney about possible nursing home neglect is your best option for rectifying a harmful situation. To get started, please contact Evans Law Firm, Inc. by filling out our online form or calling us at 415-441-8669.