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Types of Nursing Home Abuse

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 AbuseSexual 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.