Scranton Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
We turn to nursing homes when our loved ones can no longer care for themselves, often paying thousands of dollars each year to keep them safe. Unfortunately, some of our nation’s most vulnerable individuals – the elderly and disabled – are prone to abuse.
The National Council on Aging estimates that around 1 in 10 of all Americans over the age of 60 has already experienced some form of abuse. According to their research, around 5 million elderly people are abused in nursing homes each year. Yet, nursing home abuse remains a silent problem, as only 7 percent of cases are reported to authorities. If you suspect or know that someone is being abused, you have options. Know the warning signs of elder and nursing home abuse, as well as when to contact a Scranton nursing home abuse lawyer.
Why Choose Us?
- Our law firm specializes exclusively in personal injury cases.
- We have offered aggressive and comprehensive civil legal services to clients victimized by personal injuries since 1992.
- Our lawyers have helped recover more than $100 million in damages.
What is Nursing Home Abuse?
We define nursing home abuse as any offense that hurts a resident physically, mentally, financially, or emotionally. Though nursing home residents are most often seniors, nursing home abuse also affects the disabled and those with special needs. We classify nursing home abuse as:
- Financial – A staff member of a nursing home may commit financial abuse when they steal a resident’s financial information in order to commit fraud. They may also steal property or cash outright, or coerce a resident into amending their will.
- Neglect – This can result in actual or possible serious harm. One of the most common forms of neglect in nursing homes is bedsores, which often result from failing to move incapacitated patients. Over time, bedsores can become deep enough to expose bone, which leaves patients vulnerable to serious infection. When neglect results in serious harm, it becomes physical abuse.
- False imprisonment – This occurs when a staff member prohibits a resident from leaving a certain area, such as a room or wing of the residence. This is also a form of mental abuse. Staff members may also limit mobility by keeping a resident from their walker or wheelchair.
What are the Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?
Every case of nursing home abuse is different, and some abusers know how to minimize the outward signs of abuse (this is especially true of financial abuse). Still, there are several red flags that may indicate nursing home abuse:
- Bedsores or bruising resulting from blood pooling (this is often the result of failing to turn a patient).
- Sudden weight loss.
- Broken bones.
- Suspicious changes in behavior or spending habits, such as more frequent withdrawals of cash.
- Fear around certain staff members.
- Angry outbursts.
- Injuries that the staff report occur from falls, but seem suspicious.
While these are some of the most common symptoms, it’s also not an exhaustive list. If you ever suspect elder or nursing home abuse, don’t wait to take action.
Nutrition & Nursing Home Abuse
Malnutrition is a medical condition caused by insufficient nourishment and nutrients. In other words, a lack of food intake, an unbalanced diet, digestive problems, or certain other medical conditions can be responsible. Malnutrition is a particularly prevalent problem in nursing homes because residents may have difficulty swallowing, forget to eat if not properly supervised and cared for, or are neglected. Severe cases of malnutrition can lead to permanent physical damage or even death. Signs of malnutrition include:
- Consistent weight loss
- Lack of interest in eating or drinking
- Feeling cold a majority of the time
- A drop in their ability to concentrate
- Feeling weaker or tired most of the time
- Depression or low moods
- Their wounds take longer than average to heal
- Illnesses take significantly longer to recover from
The fact that someone resides in a nursing home means they do not have the means to take care of themselves. The nursing home staff is responsible for ensuring residents receive the right nutrition and appropriate care. Understaffing, poor supervision of staff, and poor monitoring of residents at mealtime are oftentimes the underlying causes in most cases of malnutrition.
Slip & Fall Accidents in Nursing Homes
A shocking 50 to 75 percent of nursing facility residents fall each year. The resulting injuries can be costly, debilitating, and in severe cases, even fatal. Some of the factors that often increase the risk of a slip and fall accident in a nursing home include:
- Wet floors
- Unsecured carpeting
- Inadequate lighting
- Poor patient monitoring practices
- Frailty or muscle weakness
- Problems with vision or eyesight
- Taking medications that induce confusion, disorientation, blurred vision, or impaired motor function
- Patients who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
- History of wandering off (elopement)
Slip and fall accidents are often preventable. Because of the increased risk of elderly residents falling, nursing homes are required to have a care plan in place, including a fall-risk assessment to assist in prevention. When a fall occurs as a result of a nursing home’s negligence, the facility can be held liable.
Bedsores and Nursing Home Neglect
Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, develop when prolonged pressure is placed on the skin due to a resident remaining in one position for too long. Some elderly residents require frequent help to turn over or shift positions if they cannot move on their own. The severity of bedsores is rated from one to four.
- Stage 1: The skin is not broken but appears red or discolored. It may be warm or hard to touch and will not change color when pressed on.
- Stage 2: The skin is broken, and there is a shallow sore.
- Stage 3: The sore extends past the first layer of skin (dermis) and has reached the fatty tissue below.
- Stage 4: The sore extends into the muscle and possibly the bone.
The development of bedsores can be an indication of neglect. The nursing home may lack management, be understaffed, overworked, the staff may have received poor training, or may simply be failing to appropriately attend to their duties and ensure each resident is regularly repositioned. Bedsores occur most often on heels, ankles, hips, and tailbones. The odds of bedsores developing increase with dehydration, malnutrition, and extended exposure to moisture, such as from feces or urine.
What Steps Should I Take If I Suspect Nursing Home Abuse in Scranton, PA?
If you suspect a resident is experiencing nursing home abuse, take the following actions as soon as possible:
- Find them another place to stay. If you suspect nursing home abuse, removing your loved one from the dangerous situation should be your top priority.
- Gather evidence. Once your loved one is safe, try to verify their story. Talk to other residents of the facility for corroboration, and request copies of all the resident’s medical records and prescriptions.
- Alert the authorities. If you suspect abuse, report it to the local police station or district attorney’s office. If they find sufficient evidence, they will press charges.
Contact an Experienced Scranton Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Abuse is a crime, and those who exploit our nation’s most vulnerable must pay for their actions. Even if your loved ones’ abuser is facing the criminal justice system, you’re entitled to file a civil suit to pay for damages. For more information about this process, contact the Scranton nursing home abuse lawyers at Rosenbaum & Associates for a free initial consultation.