Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect

If a loved one has been the victim of abuse or neglect while residing in a nursing home, our attorneys will provide a free consultation to help you determine if you have a potential claim. If you suspect that the abuse or neglect is ongoing, we can work with you to try to identify the perpetrators and put an end to the abuse or neglect. Bird, Jacobsen & Stevens has been a leader in nursing home cases and was one of the first law firms in Rochester to help families hold nursing homes accountable when they engaged in abuse and neglect. We know that the abuse of a vulnerable relative is a very traumatic event for a family. We can help to make sure that the rights of the resident are protected and the nursing home held accountable for their treatment of your loved one.

There are approximately 17,000 nursing homes in the United States. A United States General Accounting Office study found that 30 percent of nursing homes had been cited for deficiencies involving actual harm to residents or placing them at risk of death or serious injury. The National Academy of Sciences Panel to Review Risk and Prevalence of Elder Abuse and Neglect found that the major underlying causes of elder abuse and neglect are:

  • Stressful working conditions
  • Staff shortages
  • Staff burnout
  • Inadequate staff training

Elders can suffer many different kinds of abuse and neglect while in a nursing home. These include emotional abuse and various forms of physical abuse. Physical abuse can include pushing, hitting, slapping, beating, improper use of restraints and even sexual assault. Based on the Older Americans Act of 1965, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency responsible for oversight of compliance with federal nursing home standards, defines abuse as "the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or punishment with resulting physical harm, pain or mental anguish".

Compounding the tragedy of abuse is that incidents of abuse and neglect often remain hidden. Physical and mental impairments common to nursing home residents leave them particularly vulnerable and hinder their ability to respond to abuse or even realize that they have been abused. Fear of retaliation can make residents unwilling to make a complaint of abuse or neglect. Nursing home staff may be reluctant to report abuse or neglect fearing recrimination from coworkers and even the loss of their job. Even family members may be hesitant at times to report abuse or neglect because they fear retaliation towards their loved one, or that their loved one may be asked to leave the home.

The General Accounting Office found that when complaints of abuse and neglect are made, nursing homes often do not report complaints to state authorities immediately, despite being required to do so. Delays in reporting incidents harm efforts to investigate cases and obtain evidence, leaving residents vulnerable to further abuse and neglect. Surprisingly, the General Accounting Office also found that law enforcement involvement in protecting nursing home residents has been limited. Due to the physical and mental impairments common to many nursing home residents, developing adequate evidence to prosecute a case is difficult. The same study found that the involvement of Medicaid Fraud Control Units, the state law enforcement agencies responsible for investigating allegations of resident abuse and neglect, in investigating cases of abuse or neglect is not automatic.

Too often it is easy for nursing homes to cover up or ignore abuse and neglect. Families are not always able to rely on the nursing home or governmental agencies, including law enforcement, to protect their loved one. Families need someone who is able to discover the truth about what happened to their loved one, protect them from retaliation and hold the nursing home accountable. We can help.

If you believe your loved one has been the victim of abuse or neglect, or you notice any of the following signs of abuse, or any type of verbal or physical abuse, contact our office immediately.

  • Unexplained bruising
  • Bed sores
  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Inability to eat or malnutrition
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Dehydration
  • Excessively dry skin or chapped lips
  • Financial irregularities
  • Staff not answering call alerts

Bird, Jacobsen & Stevens has the experience and knowledge to help you and your loved one if they have been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect. Please contact us for a free consultation regarding your case.