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April 11, 2016

Nursing Home Abuse: What To Do If You Suspect Someone Is Being Abused

Pennsylvania Nursing Home Lawyer

Unfortunately, a significant number of nursing home residents are abused.  This abuse can range from physical to stealing money, or illegally restricting activity.  If you are the relative or close friend of someone in a nursing home, pay attention to how that person is being treated.  Below are some of the common signs of elder abuse in nursing homes.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse

1.      Neglect. Neglect can become abuse if it results in serious actual or possible harm. For example, if an elderly resident needs assistance to eat and the staff does not provide such assistance, then the elderly person can become malnourished, which rises to the level of physical abuse.

2.      False imprisonment. False imprisonment occurs when the nursing home staff prevents the resident from leaving a certain area, such as their room or a wing of the facility. Typically, the person who imprisons the resident will disable the resident by leaving them without their wheelchair or crutches, or threaten the resident with harm or deprivation of food or water.

3.      Financial abuse. A staff member of a nursing home might steal a resident’s personal property or steal information in order to withdraw money from the resident’s bank account. A staff member might also pressure a resident to modify a will or trust. Financial abuse can also come in the form of false fees or charges that deprive a resident of a significant amount of their income or savings.

The Signs of Abuse

1.      Physical Abuse:

  • sudden weight loss
  • dehydration or malnutrition
  • bruising
  • bedsores
  • marks from restraints
  • broken bones
  • injuries resulting from falls, and
  • overmedication and oversedation.

2.      Sexual Abuse:

  • bleeding in genital areas
  • bruises in genital areas
  • torn or bloodied undergarments, and
  • contraction of sexually transmitted diseases.

3.      Verbal Abuse:

  • a showing of excessive fear or apprehension around certain persons
  • the elderly person blaming themselves for insignificant problems
  • visible depression or anger most of the time, and
  • rocking, sucking, or mumbling — called “false dementia.”

4.      Financial Abuse:

  • recent, frequent withdrawals from bank accounts
  • losses of personal property
  • new loans or mortgage contracts, and
  • recent revisions to wills, deeds, or trusts.

What to Do if You Suspect Elder Abuse

If you suspect that an elderly person has been abused or neglected by their nursing home, you should take action. Here’s what to do:

1.      Verify the story. Your first step should be to see if the elderly person is telling the truth. Get clear about what your relative or friend is saying by going over the problem with them. If you can, check with other residents of the nursing home who seem to be coherent. Also gather medical records, or take photos, of recent injuries or prescriptions.

2.      Consider removing the elderly person to another facility. If you are worried about the safety of a nursing home resident, assist them in leaving the nursing home immediately.

3.      Inform the authorities. Inform the police or district attorney. In some states, such as California, you are required to report elder abuse when you learn it has occurred. If the district attorney determines that the evidence that you present rises to the level of criminal behavior, the state will file charges against the nursing home.

4.      File a complaint with the appropriate agencies. File a complaint about the nursing home to your state’s department of social services, adult protective services, or elder protective services.

Contact an Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

The personal injury attorneys at The Levin Firm understand that nursing home abuse cases require a team of lawyers, nurses and others trained to review the facts of these cases, including medical records.

At The Levin Firm, our Philadelphia, Pennsylvania nursing home abuse personal injury lawyers aggressively and zealously represent our clients and obtain the best possible results. We also work with highly-regarded nursing home abuse experts to determine the type of nursing home abuse and how and why it happened. At times, we will work with other law firms that have particular expertise to assure that our clients receive the most thorough and zealous representation.

When you need a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or New Jersey personal injury attorney to represent you, a family member, or friend in a nursing home abuse case, contact The Levin Firm at (215) 825-5183.  We represent every client zealously in order to obtain the best results possible in each case.

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