What Do I Do If I Suspect Abuse or Negligence at a Nursing Home?

November 1, 2017 Nursing Home Abuse

We expect residents and patients in nursing homes and other skilled nursing facilities to be treated with dignity and respect, and to receive proper care. Unfortunately this is not always the case. When you are selecting a nursing facility they may tell you exactly what should be done to keep a patient safe, happy, and content. Unfortunately the reality is that many nursing homes have lax safety and low standards of care.

Identifying Abuse or Negligence at a Nursing Home

If you suspect a nursing facility of patient abuse or negligence, we encourage you to trust your instincts and dig deeper. Your suspicion was piqued for a reason.

There are 500,000 to 1,000,000 reports of elder abuse recorded by authorities every year. The vast majority of these reports are proven to be true. For every case of elder abuse reported, there is believed to be another 12 to 13 instances that are not reported. If you suspect abuse, report it.

It is your right to report any suspicion of wrongful conduct by a nursing home (see more on reporting below).

Neglect, Negligence, and Abuse

Elderly individuals in the care of a nursing facility can be victims of:

  • Neglect: failure to receive proper medical, physical, or emotional care, including dehydration, malnutrition, unsanitary conditions, etc. Neglectful actions of staff or attendants may lead to personal injury incidents.
  • Negligence: violations of the proper standard of care, falls, medication errors, lack of proper supervision, negligent hiring practices, etc.
  • Abuse: physical or emotional. Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse is more difficult to spot. Behaviors associated with emotional or psychological abuse can be erroneously attributed to mood changes or effects of aging.

Know the Signs

The National Institute on Aging, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, gives us signs of abuse to watch out for. You may notice the person:

  • Has trouble sleeping
  • Seems depressed or confused
  • Loses weight for no reason
  • Displays signs of trauma, like rocking back and forth
  • Acts agitated or violent
  • Becomes withdrawn
  • Stops taking part in activities he or she enjoys
  • Has unexplained bruises, burns, or scars
  • Looks messy, with unwashed hair or dirty clothes
  • Develops bed sores or other preventable conditions

Our elderly loved ones are some of the most at-risk and vulnerable members of our population. It’s critical that we keep a close watch for any of the above signs of neglect, negligence, or abuse. While it’s often nursing homes that get caught, remember that elder abuse can also occur in the home, perpetrated by family members or an in-home caregiver. We owe it to our elders to protect them.

Reporting Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

If you have reason to suspect a vulnerable adult has been abused, neglected, or exploited:

Call the 24-hour Nebraska Elder Abuse/Neglect Hotline at (800) 652-1999.
or call your local law enforcement.

Nebraska’s Adult Protective Services assists vulnerable and elder adults to stop and prevent abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Anyone can make a report about suspected abuse to the Hotline.

Adult Protective Services investigates reports of vulnerable adult abuse, neglect, or exploitation, including self-neglect and intervenes when maltreatment is confirmed. The Nebraska Adult Protective Services Act places authority and responsibility for investigations and interventions in situations of abuse or neglect of vulnerable adults with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and local law enforcement agencies.

Learn more about what happens after a report is made with Adult Protective Services here.

Holding the Nursing Home Accountable for Their Wrongful Conduct

While nursing homes generally do a good job of caring for their patients, incidents of abuse, unnecessary injury, or neglect are too common. Adult Protective Services is empowered to:

  • Intervene and help a vulnerable adult.
  • Assist law enforcement in investigations.
  • Provide information to the County Attorney Prosecutors Office.

While criminal charges can be brought against a nursing facility and its staff, you can also hire an Omaha nursing home abuse attorney to help you hold the nursing home accountable for its actions and the harm it caused.

The attorneys at Matthew G. Miller are here to help you obtain compensation for the neglect, negligent, or abusive treatment of your loved one. If you would like to schedule a free personal injury case consultation to discuss nursing home abuse or neglect, contact us today. Hear what our clients have to say about working with us.

Report suspicion of nursing home abuse, neglect, or negligence by calling the Nebraska Elder Abuse/Neglect Hotline at (800) 652-1999.