Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Philadelphia Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Nursing home abuse is unfortunately not uncommon. In fact, a growing elderly
population and increase in the number of nursing homes and assisted living
facilities over the past several years have caused elder abuse rates to
spike, making elderly residents more vulnerable to suffering preventable
harm and losses. As statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Health
show, substantiated reports of nursing home abuse within the state more
than tripled from 2012 to 2016.
With numbers like these, it becomes important to be aware of the different types of
nursing home abuse and how to take action when it occurs. At Shrager & Sachs, our legal
team has cultivated a reputation for helping nursing home abuse victims
and families do just that. By leveraging the insight of our proven trial
lawyers and their hands-on experience in cases involving nursing home
abuse and neglect, we’re able to provide the comprehensive support
and representation they need to navigate the civil justice system, hold
at-fault parties accountable, and fight for the compensation they deserve.
If you suspect a loved one has suffered as a result of abuse or neglect
in any nursing home or assisted living facility, our team is here to help.
Contact us to discuss your potential case, rights, and what we can do to guide you
through the legal process ahead during a FREE and confidential consultation.
Understanding the Different Forms of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse takes many forms. Although differentiated for the purpose
of identifying abuse, understanding how it occurs, and analyzing its impact
on victims, abuse in any form is unacceptable. It is also a breach of
trust and legal duty for which wrongdoers can be held accountable. Some
of the common types of nursing home abuse include:
Physical Abuse – Physical abuse involves elderly residents suffering physical harm
due to the use of physical force. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for
nursing home staff to engage in physically abusive behavior, including
striking, shaking, pushing, or slapping residents. Physical abuse by care
providers is not limited to intentional attacks, either. It can also include
the inappropriate use of drugs (i.e. sedating residents), using physical
means to punish residents, force-feeding, and the use of excessive force
or physical restraints. Staff who commit physical abuse can be held accountable,
as can the nursing homes which have a duty to protect residents and ensure
the staff they hire and retain do not pose unreasonable risks. Nursing
homes may also be held liable for victims’ damages when they knew
or should have known about physical abuse committed by a resident against
another, but did nothing to address it.
Emotional Abuse – Emotional abuse is a common form of nursing abuse, but because
residents are often unwilling or unable to bring forth claims against
abusers, it is often underreported. As such, families need to be keenly
aware of emotional or psychological abuse involving any type of verbal
assaults, humiliation, threatening, harassment, or intimidation that can
cause pain and suffering for victims. Common
warning signs of such abuse include silence, isolation, and withdrawal from normal activities,
sudden behavioral or mood changes (i.e. anger, fear, agitation, emotional
anguish, etc.), decreased social activity, and worsening of conditions.
Whether emotional abuse is committed by a staff member or a fellow resident,
nursing homes have a duty to prevent it, or identify and stop it when
they know or should have known it occurs.
Sexual Abuse –
Sexual abuse in nursing homes is far more common than most would believe. That’s due to a number
of factors, including underreporting by victims unwilling or unable to
step forward against abusers, slow, skeptic, or inept responses to investigate
allegations, and failures of nursing homes to take adequate steps that
protect residents. Sexual abuse may involve a range of non-consensual
sexual behavior between staff and residents or among residents, from unwanted
touching and sexual assault to sexual exploitation, harassment, coerced
nudity, or taking pictures of or recoding residents while nude. In addition
to causing injuries, infections, and sexually transmitted disease, sexual
abuse can also profoundly impact victims emotionally and psychologically.
Financial Abuse – Financial abuse occurs when an elderly person’s assets or
property are unlawfully used by another. This can include not only theft,
but also exploitation in the form of forged documents or financial instruments,
eliciting of cash, tricking of residents into signing checks or forms
they do not understand, and improperly misusing one’s role as a
guardian, conservator, or power of attorney. Financial abuse and exploitation
in nursing homes is commonly identified through unexplained financial
transactions, sudden changes to legal documents (i.e. wills or estate
plans), substandard care that does not reflect the costs of services,
unnecessary services, and transferring of assets, among others.
Neglect – Though it may not contain the term “abuse,” neglect
is one of the most common ways that residents suffer at the hands of nursing
homes. Neglecting the basic needs of residents, and their hygiene, comfort,
and medical care can substantially increase the risks of serious injury
and even death. For example, victims of neglect may experience infections,
injuries caused by hazardous conditions, dehydration or malnutrition,
bed sores, worsening of their medical condition, and various other physical
and emotional repercussions.
While abuse and neglect may vary, and although each case will involve specific
facts and circumstances, nursing homes and facilities can be held accountable
for the damages residents suffer – including their economic losses,
emotional pain and suffering, and more. This is because these companies
and their staff owe residents a “duty of care,” or a legal
obligation to take reasonable steps that ensure they receive the care,
support, and services they need. Any failures to meet this duty of care
– whether it be the result of direct physical or emotional abuse
and attacks or failures to prevent, identify, and stop any form of abuse
when it occurs – can, therefore, open the door for victims and families
to take legal action.
Call to Discuss Your Case During a FREE Consultation
Shrager & Sachs is passionate about protecting the rights of elderly
victims and their families in all types of nursing home abuse and neglect
cases. If you have questions about your rights, legal options, and how
our firm can guide you step-by-step through the civil legal process, we
are readily available to help.
Contact us to speak with a Philadelphia nursing home abuse attorney during a FREE
consultation. Our firm proudly services clients throughout Pennsylvania.