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Nursing Home Abuse: An Overview

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Boston, MAWhen families help their loved ones move into nursing homes, they assume the staff at such homes will take care of the residents, treating them with the utmost care and concern for their wellbeing. It often comes as quite a shock when they learn that their loved ones have been subjected to abuse, neglect and malpractice while at the nursing home. In some cases, people have died because of poor care at nursing homes. In other cases, they suffered serious injury or illness.

Malpractice lawsuits against nursing homes can include acts of neglect, which cause damage to a nursing home resident, abuse or wrongful death. The damage can be physical, mental, emotional, financial or other forms of damage that cause harm to the resident. In the case of wrongful death, a lawsuit is filed if malpractice on the part of a nursing home resulted in the resident's death. The family members of victims of nursing home abuse can file lawsuits against the nursing home. The victim can also file a lawsuit.

Abuse VictimThere are many, many ways in which abuse and neglect occur at nursing homes. These includes not giving patients their medications, not giving them food or liquids, failing to maintain their hygiene, ignoring complaints about pain or symptoms of illness or injury, or simply not paying proper attention to residents.

There are some signs to watch for that can indicate some form of abuse on the part of a nursing home. These include unexplained injury such as bruises, cuts and fractures; bedsores; torn or stained clothing; overmedication of the resident; sudden, unexplained weight loss; and refusal to allow visitors to see the resident.

Nursing home staff can also be guilty of mental abuse of residents. Such abuse can include unfairly isolating residents, making rude or derogatory comments and purposely causing fear or agitation in residents.

Federal law requires all nursing homes to have written policies, called the Nursing Home Residents' Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights describes the rights of the residents and must be made available to any resident who requests them. The Bill of Rights includes the right to dignity, privacy and respect, to be treated equally regardless of race, religion or national origin, the right to be informed about their medical condition and treatment, the right to personal possessions and the right to choose one's own physician.

Nursing home abuse may occur more frequently than people believe. In testimony before the US Senate Committee on Finance, which occurred in 2002, Catherine Hawes, Ph.D., noted that evidence available suggests that abuse and neglect in long-term care settings are widespread. In her testimony, Hawes cited the Atlanta Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, which conducted its own survey on abuse in nursing homes. The study found that 44 percent of residents reported that they had been abused and 48 percent reported that they had been treated roughly.

Nursing home abuse is likely underreported because residents are either afraid to speak out or are ashamed about their situation. Furthermore, family members may not know what warning signs to look for, or, because of their loved one's condition, may not always believe complaints about abuse. However, it abuse can and does occur at nursing homes and it can have very serious consequences.

Many families who have had loved ones abused in nursing homes are now investigating the possibility of lawsuits against the staff and owners of such nursing homes.

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Nursing Home Legal Help

If you suspect a loved one has suffered from neglect or abuse in a nursing home, please contact a lawyer involved in the [Nursing Home Lawsuit] to review your case at no cost or obligation.

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