What Is Considered Abuse or Neglect in a Nursing Home?
When a family decides and/or a doctor recommends placing someone in a nursing home, choosing the right facility is the most important aspect of the process. It would great if all homes operated the same way and each provided high levels of care that families could count on and trust. The reality is not all nursing home centers enforce good standards of care and administration, which opens residents up to a greater possibility of experiencing nursing home abuse. Florida’s Agency for Healthcare Administration provides a nursing home watch list that indicates which facilities have been cited for violations of state and federal law, a resource all families should consult before consigning a loved one into a facility. A recent story in the Tampa Bay Times serves as a stark reminder of how competent and attentive care is so crucial to a resident’s health and wellbeing. A 65-year-old Pinellas Park man died from heart failure related to second-degree burns and dehydration he sustained after being left outside for hours by a certified nursing assistant on a 90 degree day. The resident was in a wheelchair and had a history of mobility and psychiatric problems that limited his ability communicate. The facility where this occurred has been on the state watch list since 2013 due to a number of violations concerning resident care. Given the great responsibility nursing homes have for their residents, it is important for family members to know what the signs for abuse and neglect are in hopes of preventing a tragedy.
Signs of Abuse or Neglect
Under Florida law, any adult incapable of performing daily functions and/or self-care due to compromised physical and mental health is considered vulnerable, and their caregivers may be subject to investigation for neglect or abuse, similar to investigations of parents for child abuse. Many nursing home residents fall into this category, and are unable to communicate the poor treatment they are receiving, assuming they are aware enough to even recognize a problem. Family members need to stay alert for signs like the following so they can catch a problem before severe or irreparable injury is inflicted:
- bed sores;
- emotionally upset, agitated or withdrawn;
- falls and head injuries;
- reluctance to speak in the presence of a staff member;
- unexplained injuries;
- unusual or sudden changes in behavior;
- wanting isolation; or
- heavy sedation.
Basis for Filing a Civil Suit
While Florida does have criminal statutes in place to punish abusers for their actions, it is also possible to sue to the nursing home for negligence and recover money damages for expenses related to additional medical treatment, transferring the person to a new facility, and pain and suffering. To bring a negligence claim for an injury and death caused by a staff member at a nursing home, the plaintiff must prove the following:
- the defendant owed a of reasonable care to the resident;
- this duty was breached;
- the breach is the legal cause of the resident’s injury; and
- the resident suffered an injury as a result.
Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
If your loved one was abused at a nursing home, a personal injury lawyer can analyze the facts of your case and tell you how strong it is and how much you might recover. The Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado represents families dealing nursing home abuse and can help you with your case. Contact us for a free consultation.