Nursing Home Neglect

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Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse in Virginia

 When we place an elderly relative in a nursing home or an assisted living facility, we have a right to expect an acceptable standard of care. Unfortunately, far too many nursing homes fail their residents.  At the Smith Law Center, we help the victims of nursing home neglect and abuse in Virginia.

The statistics are alarming. Since 2014, government inspectors have penalized about one in four nursing homes in the Commonwealth for violations of state and federal regulations.

Of 290 nursing homes in Virginia, a staggering 72 were hit with penalties totaling more than $4.7 million since 2014, according to data posted by Medicare, the government agency that provides health care for elderly Americans. 

Some nursing homes, including one in Williamsburg, were cited for incidents of abuse.

What Are the Common Forms of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse in Virginia?

Nursing home and neglect takes many forms. Some may be obvious but others are difficult to detect. Often elderly people will not tell family members about their ordeal at a nursing home or they may suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Forms of nursing home neglect include:

Medical Neglect:

Medical neglect is one of the most common types of nursing home negligence. A facility often fails to properly attend to or prevent escalations of a medical condition suffered by an elderly resident. Staff routinely fail to provide proper treatment for diabetes, bed sores, cognitive disorders, infections, cuts and mobility issues. Medical neglect in Virginia nursing homes is not always deliberate. Often lowly paid and poorly trained staff are not up to the task of treating elderly people with acute medical conditions.

Physical Abuse

In some cases, residents in nursing homes are deliberately targeted by staff. Residents who have dementia or other conditions that make them less likely to reveal what’s going on are more likely to be targeted for bullying and physical abuse. Residents may be improperly restrained to help manage them.

Over and under medication

In past years, many nursing homes overmedicated residents to help control them. The authorities have since targeted this kind of abuse. Overmedicating elderly residents can have serious health implications. Many drugs carry box warnings. Overdoses can cause serious health implications and even deaths.

Under medication is also a serious form of abuse. If a resident is not given enough medication, a condition like diabetes or cancer can go controlled and the resident’s health may deteriorate. A failure to administer the proper dosage may cause pain and discomfort. Overmedication or under medication may not always be deliberate. Inexperienced nursing home staff may mistakenly give the incorrect amount of a drug.

Failure to Keep a Nursing Home Safe

Nursing homes and residential care facilities must be kept clean and free of hazards. Elderly residents are prone to falls so there must be no trip hazards or slippery floors.

Potentially dangerous equipment must be locked away in a safe place to prevent electric shocks, cuts and other injuries.

A nursing home has a duty to its residents to keep its facilities clean. Infections and diseases can claim the lives of frail elderly people.

Depriving Residents of Food and Drink

Malnourishment is a serious problem at Virginia nursing homes and may be a difficult one to detect. Often older people eat less or may have conditions that limit their food and drink intake. Malnutrition occurs when an elderly person is not given the correct amount of nourishment required for his or her specific circumstances. If a resident has a particular diet required for a medical condition, the nursing home has a duty to meet that resident’s needs.

Many nursing homes and assisted living facilities cut corners to save money on food.

Financial Abuse and Exploitation

Many elderly people suffer from financial abuse in nursing homes. The National Adult Protective Services Association states financial abuse in nursing homes is vastly underreported. Only one in 44 cases come to light.

Financial abuse and exploitation in nursing homes in Virginia may include the following:

·       Cashing the checks of a resident without permission or authorization;

·       Forging the signature of a resident for financial gain;

·       Stealing or misusing a resident’s cash or possessions

·       Deceiving or coercing an elderly resident into signing documents such as wills;

·       Improperly using guardianship or the power of attorney.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse in nursing homes occurs more often than we realize. In 2017, a CNN report indicated alarming levels of sexual abuse are going on in nursing homes. Defenseless elderly people are the victims. The report found more than 1,000 nursing homes were cited for mishandling suspected cases of sex abuse.

The problem may be underreported generally. Most states do not separately categorize sexual abuse claims. Relatives should look out for signs of abuse such as ripped clothing and STDs.

 What Are the Signs of Abuse and Neglect at Virginia Nursing Homes?

There are many telltale signs of nursing home abuse. Relates should look out for the following:

·       Unexplained injuries like cuts and bruises;

·       Emaciation;

·       Marks or bruises on the wrist or legs that indicate unauthorized restraint;

·       STDs or ripped clothing consistent with sexual abuse;

·       Personality changes like isolation;

·       Bedsores or pressure sores;

·       Dehydration or hunger;

·       Overmedication or under medication

·       Missing medications.

 Contact a Hampton Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Lawyer

Nursing home neglect and elder abuse are shocking and traumatic for elderly people and their families. When people in nursing homes or assisted living facilities are mistreated, the owners or managers may be sued. These are complex cases that require an experienced legal team. Please contact the Smith Law Center today at 757.244.7000.