Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect: Protecting the Vulnerable

The Henry Law Firm is dedicated to safeguarding the rights and dignity of nursing home residents. Our experienced attorneys specialize in cases of nursing home abuse and neglect, ensuring that those responsible are held accountable. We handle a wide range of cases, including these common types:

  • Chronic Wounds and Pressure Ulcers: Addressing bedsores and other injuries due to neglect.
  • Falls and Elopements: Investigating injuries from falls and unauthorized exits.
  • Dehydration and Malnutrition: Ensuring residents receive proper nutrition and hydration.
  • Sepsis and Infections: Addressing severe infections resulting from inadequate care.
  • Medication Errors: Investigating improper medication administration.

Below is a guide to understanding what constitutes nursing home abuse, the legal protections in place in Ohio, and what steps you can take if your loved one is in this situation.

The Henry Law firm advocates for the elderly in our community

Understanding Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Nursing home abuse can take many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse, as well as neglect. Here are some of the problems nursing home residents may encounter:

  1. Chronic Wounds and Pressure Ulcers
    Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, are injuries to skin and underlying tissue resulting from prolonged pressure on the skin. They often occur in residents with limited mobility.

    • Signs to Watch For: Redness, swelling, and open sores on the skin, especially around bony areas like heels, hips, and the tailbone.
    • Legal Aspects: Failure to prevent or adequately treat bedsores can be considered neglect, especially if the facility did not follow proper care plans.
  2. Falls and Elopements
    Falls are common in nursing homes and can lead to severe injuries. Elopement refers to residents leaving the facility without authorization, which can be dangerous.

    • Signs to Watch For: Unexplained bruises or fractures, reports of wandering, and lack of supervision.
    • Legal Aspects: Facilities are required to provide a safe environment and adequate supervision to prevent falls and elopements.
  3. Dehydration and Malnutrition
    Proper nutrition and hydration are crucial for health, particularly in elderly residents. Dehydration and malnutrition can lead to severe health issues.

    • Signs to Watch For: Sudden weight loss, dry skin, and signs of fatigue or confusion.
    • Legal Aspects: Nursing homes must ensure residents receive adequate food and water. Failure to do so can be a sign of neglect.
  4. Sepsis and Infections
    Sepsis is a life-threatening response to infection and can occur from untreated bedsores, urinary tract infections, or other infections.

    • Signs to Watch For: Fever, increased heart rate, confusion, and signs of infection around wounds.
    • Legal Aspects: Prompt medical care is essential. Delay in treatment can be considered negligent.
  5. Medication Errors
    Incorrect medication administration can have serious consequences. This includes wrong dosages, incorrect medications, or missed doses.

    • Signs to Watch For: Sudden changes in health, unexplained side effects, and discrepancies in medication records.
    • Legal Aspects: Nursing homes must follow strict protocols for medication administration. Errors can lead to liability for harm caused.
  6. Physical Abuse
    Physical abuse involves the use of force against an elderly resident, resulting in bodily injury, pain, or impairment. This can include hitting, slapping, pushing, or using excessive restraints. Victims may exhibit unexplained bruises, fractures, or other injuries.

    • Signs to Watch For: Unexplained injuries, frequent hospital visits, fear of staff, and any sudden withdrawal or changes in behavior.
    • Legal Aspects: Nursing home residents have the right to safety and security, and facilities must be held responsible for any cases of abuse.
  7. Emotional/Psychological Abuse
    Emotional or psychological abuse includes verbal assaults, threats, harassment, and intimidation. This type of abuse can lead to significant emotional distress, depression, and anxiety. Signs may include withdrawal from social interactions, sudden changes in mood, and a decrease in self-esteem.

    • Signs to Watch For: Behavioral changes, fearful behavior, or changes in mood in the nursing home resident, as well as verbal abuse from the nursing home staff.
    • Legal Aspects: The Ohio Nursing Home Bill of Rights specifies that residents have a right to a safe and secure environment.
An empty wheelchair sits in an empty room in a nursing home. Sunlight filters in through the curtains.

Common Causes of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Sadly, nursing home abuse occurs more frequently than many realize, often stemming from negligence by the facility or its staff.
Several factors may contribute to elder abuse, including:

  • Staffing Shortages: Overworked and stressed employees due to insufficient staff numbers.
  • Lack of Proper Training: Inadequate training for staff members on how to care for elderly residents appropriately.
  • Poor Supervision: Insufficient oversight of staff and facility operations.
  • Substance Abuse: Drug or alcohol use by staff members.

Legal Protections for Nursing Home Residents

Nursing home residents in Ohio are afforded numerous rights under state and federal law to ensure their safety, dignity, and well-being.

Ohio Nursing Home Bill of Rights

The Ohio Revised Code Section 3721.13 outlines specific rights for residents in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. These include:

  • Right to Privacy and Dignity: Residents have the right to be treated with respect and dignity, including privacy in personal and medical matters.
  • Right to Safety and Security: Facilities must provide a safe and secure environment, free from abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
  • Right to Participate in Care: Residents have the right to be informed about their medical condition and treatment options and to participate in decisions regarding their care.
  • Right to File Complaints: Residents can voice grievances and file complaints without fear of retaliation. This includes reporting any suspected abuse or neglect.

Esther’s Law

Esther’s Law, enacted in Ohio in 2022, allows for the placement of cameras in residents’ rooms to monitor care and prevent abuse. Key provisions include:

  • Use of Cameras: Residents and their families can install cameras in the resident’s room to monitor care and ensure their safety.
  • Informed Consent: Facilities must obtain written consent from the resident or their legal representative before installing monitoring devices.
  • Protection from Retaliation: Nursing homes cannot retaliate against residents who choose to use electronic monitoring.

Steps to Strengthen Your Case

To build a strong case, it’s important to gather and preserve evidence. Here’s how:

  1. Document Everything: Take detailed notes, photographs, and videos of any signs of abuse or neglect.
  2. Communicate in Writing: Send emails or letters to the facility to create a paper trail.
  3. Report to Authorities: If the neglect continues, report it to the Bureau of Survey and Certification in the Ohio Department of Health and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman. These agencies can investigate and take action to ensure the safety of residents.
  4. Seek Legal Help: Consult with a lawyer to understand your legal options and take appropriate steps to protect your loved one.

Free Consultation

If you suspect your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, we can help you navigate the legal issues surrounding this situation. Contact us for a free consultation, and our team will thoroughly investigate and advocate for your loved one.

Contact The Henry Law Firm Today
Phone: 440-769-1807