There are about two million incidents of elder abuse reported in the U.S. each year. In nursing homes, abuses can include the following:
- Physical abuse-Broken limbs, bruises, bedsores, poor hygiene, indications of restraint
- Sexual abuse-Venereal disease, bruising in the genital area
- Emotional abuse-Verbal threats, humiliation, intimidation
- Neglect-Failing to give prescribed medication or overmedication, failure to bathe residents or leaving them in an unsanitary condition, undernourishment, bedsores
- Fraud-Falsified entries in a patient’s records, duplicate billing, poorly trained staff
All nursing homes are licensed and regulated by the state and must have sufficient, qualified staffing. A facility is obligated to perform background checks on all employees, conduct training and supervise the staff so that adequate and sanitary living conditions are maintained.
A nursing home may be liable for the actions or omissions of its staff. Lawsuits for injuries or deaths can include allegations of understaffing in violation of state law and the types of abuse mentioned earlier.
A victim’s family may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit to recover past and future medical expenses related to the facility’s negligence or the actions of its employees and for pain and suffering sustained by the resident.
A wrongful death action can include any medical expenses incurred after the negligence and before death that is related to the negligent conduct, loss of companionship by the family and pain and suffering if the patient lived for a time before succumbing to the abusive conduct.
Punitive damages can be awarded if the negligence was willful, wanton or showed extreme indifference to the safety of the victim.