Elder abuse in nursing homes is a distressing issue that affects numerous families. Recognizing the signs and knowing how to take appropriate action is essential to protect your loved ones. If you suspect elder abuse in a nursing home, understanding the steps to take is crucial in safeguarding your relative and seeking justice.

What to Do if You Suspect Elder Abuse in a Nursing Home

Types of Elder Abuse

Elder abuse in nursing homes can manifest in various forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse, as well as neglect. Recognizing the signs of each type is the first step in addressing the issue. 

Physical abuse might involve hitting, slapping, or the inappropriate use of restraints, resulting in unexplained bruises, fractures, cuts, or sores. 

Emotional abuse includes verbal assaults, threats, or intimidation, leading to signs of withdrawal, fear, anxiety, and significant behavioral changes.

Sexual abuse is another form of mistreatment, which involves non-consensual sexual contact. Indicators may include bruising around the genitals, sexually transmitted infections, or unexplained bleeding.

Financial abuse involves the illegal or unauthorized use of an elderly person’s funds or property. Sudden changes in financial status, missing belongings, or unauthorized withdrawals can signal financial exploitation. 

Neglect, on the other hand, is characterized by the failure to provide necessary care, resulting in poor hygiene, malnutrition, dehydration, bedsores, and untreated medical conditions.

Steps to Take if You Suspect Elder Abuse

If you suspect elder abuse in a nursing home, it is vital to take immediate and appropriate actions to protect your loved one. The first step is to recognize and document the signs of abuse. Pay close attention to any physical, emotional, and behavioral changes in your loved one. Keeping detailed records of your observations, including dates, times, and specific incidents, is crucial. Photographs of visible injuries and the living conditions of your loved one can also serve as essential evidence.

Next, if possible, have a private conversation with your loved one about your concerns. Approach the topic with sensitivity and reassurance, as they may feel scared or embarrassed to speak up about their experiences. Ensuring that your loved one feels supported and understood is vital in this delicate situation.

If you believe that your loved one is in immediate danger, do not hesitate to call 911. For non-emergency situations, report your concerns to the nursing home administration and relevant state authorities, such as the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). These agencies can initiate investigations and take necessary actions to protect your loved one and others in the facility.

Additionally, ensure your loved one receives a thorough medical examination to document any injuries or health issues resulting from the abuse. Medical records will play a crucial role in any legal proceedings and help establish the extent of the harm caused.

Finally, contact an experienced attorney who specializes in elder abuse and nursing home neglect cases. A lawyer can help you understand your legal options, guide you through the process, and advocate for your loved one’s rights. Legal professionals experienced in this area are well-versed in the complexities of elder abuse cases and can provide the necessary support and representation.

How Domnick Cunningham & Yaffa Can Help

At Domnick Cunningham & Yaffa, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of nursing home residents and holding abusive facilities accountable. Our experienced team offers comprehensive case evaluations, expert legal representation, and compassionate support throughout the legal process. 

We review medical records, interview witnesses, and gather evidence to build a compelling case. Our firm has a proven track record in elder abuse cases and will aggressively pursue your claim to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Throughout the process, we provide continuous support and keep you informed every step of the way.

Legal Grounds for Filing a Lawsuit

If your loved one has suffered abuse or neglect in a nursing home, there are several legal grounds on which you may file a lawsuit. Negligence is a common basis for legal action, requiring proof that the nursing home breached its duty of care and directly caused harm to the resident. This breach can include failure to provide adequate care, supervision, and safety measures.

Another ground for filing a lawsuit is the violation of resident rights. Florida law outlines specific rights for nursing home residents, including the right to be free from abuse and neglect. If a nursing home violates these rights, it can be held accountable under the Florida Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights. This legislation ensures that residents receive respectful and appropriate care, and any violation of these rights can form the basis of a legal claim.

Medical malpractice is also a possible ground for filing a lawsuit. If healthcare providers within the nursing home fail to meet the accepted standard of medical care, resulting in harm to the resident, a medical malpractice claim can be pursued. This includes misdiagnosis, delayed treatment, or failure to provide necessary medical attention.

In cases where abuse or neglect leads to the resident’s death, a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed. This requires proving that the abuse or neglect was a direct cause of the resident’s death. Wrongful death claims seek to provide compensation for the loss suffered by the family and to hold the responsible parties accountable.

Potential Compensation

If your lawsuit is successful, you may be entitled to various forms of compensation. Medical expenses related to the abuse or neglect, including hospital bills, medication, and rehabilitation costs, can be reimbursed. Additionally, compensation for pain and suffering experienced by your loved one due to the abuse can be pursued. In cases of particularly egregious conduct, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the nursing home and deter similar behavior in the future. Compensation for the loss of companionship and support provided by your loved one may also be sought.

Preventing Elder Abuse

While taking action after abuse is crucial, prevention is equally important. Regular visits to the nursing home can help you monitor your loved one’s condition and ensure they are receiving proper care. Educating yourself about the signs of elder abuse and neglect will better equip you to recognize and address issues promptly. Establishing a good relationship with the nursing home staff can help prevent misunderstandings and ensure that your concerns are taken seriously. Being an active advocate for your loved one’s rights and wellbeing by attending care plan meetings and staying involved in their care can also prevent potential abuse.

Contact Domnick Cunningham & Yaffa Today

Elder abuse in nursing homes is a grave issue that requires immediate attention. If you suspect abuse or neglect, taking swift action is vital to protect your loved one’s wellbeing and hold those responsible accountable. Domnick Cunningham & Yaffa is here to support you through this challenging time, providing expert legal representation and compassionate guidance.

Your loved one’s safety and dignity are our top priorities, and we are dedicated to ensuring they receive the care and respect they deserve.  Reach out to us at 561-516-5168 or book a consultation online to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can assist you.