Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home patients and their families rely on the professionalism and integrity of the doctors, nurses, and support staff to provide a loving and safe place for elderly residents. Unfortunately, some patients in nursing homes across the country experience abuse at the hands of their trusted caretakers. When this type of abuse happens, the New Jersey nursing home abuse lawyers at Davis & Brusca, LLC can help hold those accountable liable for their actions.
Nursing home abuse comes in many different forms, but essentially, anytime a doctor, nurse, medical assistant, or staff member mistreats a patient physically, mentally, verbally, or sexually, or neglects a patient’s needs, abuse has occurred. Residents of nursing homes are often unable to communicate what has happened because of speech or language deficits or from fear of retaliation from the abuser. Family members and employees of the nursing home facility must be vigilant in recognizing signs of abuse.
The most common forms of nursing home abuse include:
- Physical Abuse: Slapping, hitting, punching, pinching, rough handling, or use of inappropriate or unnecessary force are all forms of physical abuse. Nursing home residents are often at the mercy of the nursing home medical professionals and staff to help them with their activities of daily living. When a professional loses their patience or becomes angry with a belligerent patient, injuries can occur. Broken bones, cuts, bruises, swelling, and neurological impairment can result when the frail bodies of the elderly are mishandled or abused.
- Unreasonable Restraint: Physical restraint is sometimes necessary to keep a patient safe, but when it is used to simply confine a person to their bed, room, or wheelchair, the restraints can be a form of abuse. Using a band or tying a patient’s hands, feet, or upper body to a bed, wheelchair, or other type of seat can help prevent falls, self injury, or dangerous wandering. Using restraints to prevent someone from safely moving about the nursing home facility and interacting with other residents is a form of emotional and physical abuse. Even when restraints are warranted for patient safety, it is imperative that the restraints be secured gently to prevent movement, but not inflict physical harm or marks.
- Verbal Abuse: Calling someone names, yelling, cursing, or making verbal threats is another form of abuse. The emotional abuse inflicted on a patient that is being yelled at or exposed to offensive language can be devastating. Name calling or insulting a patient is never acceptable. Threatening physical abuse or withholding of food or other necessities constitutes cruel and abusive behavior. Nursing home residents subjected to verbal abuse often suffer from depression, anxiety, or stress related physical ailments.
- Neglect: Ignoring or denying a patient of their basic needs is neglect. Failing to provide proper nourishment, or helping a patient feed themselves when they cannot manage to do so on their own can lead to malnourishment. Leaving an incontinent patient in soiled diapers can result in skin problems, infections, bed sores, and emotional trauma. Neglecting to get a patient dressed each day and out of their bed or room to socialize with others is a form of abuse. Improper grooming, lack of bathing, and ignoring soiled clothing or bed linens strips a patient of their dignity and integrity and can result in severe depression and social withdraw.
- Sexual Abuse: Sexual assault in any form is abuse. Molestation, offensive language, or gestures of a sexual nature being made to the patient or even to a coworker made in the presence of a patient can be very traumatic to the resident. Inappropriate touching, groping, or exposing of a patient’s body is another form of sexual abuse. Rape or penetration of any kind harms a patient physically, mentally, and emotionally and can leave the victim with a sexually transmitted disease or bodily injury. Sexual abuse in nursing homes often goes undetected because victims are traumatized and afraid of retaliation from the offender.
- Financial Abuse: A caregiver who financially takes advantage of a vulnerable patient in their care is another form of abuse. This includes accessing a person’s account without their knowledge and making unauthorized withdrawals or purchases.
Family members and nursing home staff that suspect or witness any form of nursing home abuse need to report it to the proper authorities immediately. Patient safety is the number one priority of any nursing home facility, and reports of any kind of abuse need to be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated.