When you make the decision to place a parent or loved one in the care of a nursing home, assisted living facility, or medical rehabilitation center, it will probably be one of the most difficult things to you will ever have to do. When you entrust your loved one into the care of a nursing home, you expect that they will treat your family member with dignity and respect. Sadly, in New York, that is not always the case.
Negligence and abuse are ongoing issues in nursing homes and are far more common that we would like to believe. Nursing home abuse is a problem that impacts the lives of thousands of elderly people and their families every single year in America. These types of egregious violations happen every single day and compromise the health and wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. For that reason, laws in New York were established to protect the residents of nursing homes who do not have the ability to protect themselves.
The lawyers at Gattuso & Ciotoli, PLLC have more than 50 years of combined legal experience successfully representing the residents of Fayetteville and Central New York with their nursing home personal injury claims, and we can help you, too.
What Signs Should I Look For To Determine If My Loved One Is Being Abused?
When you have made the decision to place someone you love in a nursing home or assisted living center, the most important thing you can do to ensure that they remain healthy and safe is to look closely for signs whether your loved one is being abused. Make sure that you make your presence known at the facility. You can do this by visiting as often as possible, making sure that you arrive at different times of the day, so that staff members are not expecting you to show up. Make sure to introduce yourself and have regular conversations with the different staff members who are charged with providing care to your elderly or disabled loved one. That includes the doctors, nurses, aids, and caregivers who work with your loved one.
The signs to look out for when you think that your loved one may be being neglected or abused include the following:
- Bruises that appear without explanation
- Inability of the caregiver to adequately explain the person’s condition
- Repeated falls
- Sudden onset of agitation
- Rapid weight loss or malnutrition
- Overmedicating or sedating a resident in place of adequately supervising them
- Emotional withdrawal and depression
- Pressure sores from inadequate turning and moving the resident
Common Signs of Physical or Sexual Abuse In Residents
When a nursing home resident gets a bruise or even a broken bone, it does not necessarily mean that they are being abused. Senior citizens naturally bruise easily and are at an increased risk for injuries and falls. While one injury may not indicate that your loved one is being abused, repeated injuries that establish a pattern of harm may be indicative that something more sinister is going on.
Here are things to be watchful for:
- Abrasions on the wrists and ankles that indicate restraints were used
- Bruises or pressure marks that leave bruises
- Signs of drugging or a decrease in alertness
- Unexplained health problems or injuries
- Patches of hair missing
- Fractured bones
- Bruising on or around the genitals or breasts
- Contracting a new sexually transmitted disease
If you see signs and believe that your loved one is being abused in a nursing home or care facility in New York, you are also able to file a report with the Department of Social Services or by calling 1-844-687-3505. Then, contact an experienced and knowledgeable nursing home attorney from Gattuso & Ciotoli, PLLC to discuss your concerns.
Common Signs of Emotional Abuse in a Nursing Home
There are cases where you may not be able to see physical signs of abuse. Emotional abuse, however, can leave deep scars in those who are affected by it, and unless the abused is willing to discuss it, the abuse can stay hidden until it is too late. Make sure that you are monitoring the interaction and relationship that your loved one has with his or her caretaker(s), and look out for the following signs:
- Withdrawal from activities previously enjoyed
- Becoming more alert and on-edge
- Sudden anxiety or depression
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Tense interactions with caregivers
- Unexplained paranoia
- Fear of being left alone
Do you notice that your loved one becomes nervous, frightened, angry, or uncomfortable when the caregiver is around? Does the caregiver act as if you are in the way and try to limit the amount of time you spend alone with your loved one? If you think you see any of these signs, talk to your loved one about your concerns, and then report your concerns to the care facilities management as soon as possible.
Common Signs of Neglect in a Nursing Home
It is absolutely vital for the family members of nursing home residents to ensure that close attention is paid to their loved one. Carefully watch for the signs and symptoms that may be indicative that your loved one is being neglected as a result of the care they are not receiving in the facility. Making sure that your loved one is in a clean, safe, and secure environment is paramount to their wellbeing.
Our law firm has handled nursing home neglect and abuse lawsuits, including bedsores, also called pressure sores or pressure ulcers. Decubitus ulcers, commonly known as “pressure ulcers” or “bedsores,” are brought on by inadequate nursing and medical attention. Bedsores generally occur in nursing homes and hospitals as the result of the absence of customary medical safeguards, including not turning a patient to their opposite side every other hour, leaving a patient resting in their own waste, or failing to reduce pressure points on a patient’s skin. These types of skin breakdowns can start small and then develop into large, deep holes in the body, leaving tendons, muscles, and bones exposed. These gaping wounds result in pain that is unbearable and cause the body to go into shock, often leading to deadly infections.
Nursing home staff are required by law to investigate the cause of unknown injuries and report any such injuries to the Department of Health. When residents in nursing homes are suddenly discovered with an injury that cannot be explained, this may be a sign of abuse or neglect. Keep an eye out if other injuries of inexplicable origin begin to appear, especially to the surprise of the caretakers.
Nursing homes and care facilities must create a written plan of care for every resident who is at risk of falling, in order to lessen those risks. They have a duty to know and recognize the residents that are at risk and to make sure that the proper interventions are utilized to prevent them from falling. Falls are listed as one of the leading causes of death in senior citizens in the United States. Sadly, a lot of assisted living homes are understaffed or have inadequately trained staff members providing care to residents. In fact, inadequate staffing usually leads to poor supervision of the resident, which results in the resident wandering on their own, falling, and hurting themselves.
Weight Loss and Dehydration
When a resident is deprived of adequate nutrition and hydration, that is a sign that the resident may be being neglected or abused. Rapid weight loss and malnutrition can be a result of the resident being dehydrated, being fed food that is of poor quality and tastes awful, the inability to feed themselves, or some other serious illness.
What Rights Do Nursing Home Residents Have?
The New York State Department of Health has stated that residents of nursing homes have the right to:
- Be treated with dignity and respect
- Have a comfortable and sanitary living environment
- Appeal a discharge or transfer order with the New York State Department of Health
- Make independent decisions on their own
- Quality care without discrimination
- Be notified in writing about fees and services prior to entering a nursing home
- Have your property and money safeguarded
- Care without abuse, including physical, verbal, mental, and sexual abuse
- A responsive and simple complaint procedure process
- Privacy when communicating
- Privacy in the treatment of personal care, needs, and belongings
- Have the visitors they choose to see, when they choose to see them
- Make their own schedules, choose activities, and make other preference requests to things that are important to them
- Not be restrained
- Have access to and inspect any records that pertain to their care
- Be part of or participate in the resident council that has been established at the nursing home
Can These Facilities Be Held Liable for Substandard Care?
In 2014, the Inspector General of the United States published research that showed that as many as 34% of all elderly people who are taken into nursing homes for the purposes of medical recovery end up becoming injured, most commonly as a consequence of incompetent care and supervision. The research also discovered that approximately 7% of those elderly patients died as a result of that lack of care and attention.
In evaluating the standard of patient care that is given in nursing homes, our nursing home abuse attorneys have seen elderly patients who were not properly supervised and cared for. We have observed instances of ineffective nursing care that resulted in bedsores and medication dosage mistakes. We have also reviewed cases of assault on elderly patients, as well as other forms of physical abuse in care facilities and nursing homes.
At Gattuso & Ciotoli, PLLC, we have a proven track record of successfully serving elderly patients and their families who have been injured or neglected in nursing homes. With more than 50 years of combined experience, our accomplished personal injury attorneys have successfully represented our clients and we can help you pursue a personal injury claim if you or your loved one have been injured as a result of nursing home negligence or abuse.
New York Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorneys
Our experienced attorneys at Gattuso & Ciotoli, PLLC know the patterns that signal battery and negligence in New York’s care facilities. When our attorneys pursue these types of claims, we not only collect and thoroughly examine a nursing home resident’s medical reports, but they also petition for court orders that will permit them to receive and evaluate the nursing home’s administrative records themselves. This includes internal documents that pertain to staffing, internal memoranda, and practices and procedures as well.
If your loved one is suddenly showing signs of neglect, such as bedsores, bone fractures, malnutrition, sexual, physical, or emotional abuse, or any other injury while they are the resident of a New York nursing home, residential health care facility, or long-term care facility, contact us Gattuso & Ciotoli, PLLC in order to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.