Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect Attorneys In Myrtle Beach, SC
All over the country, including Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, there are elderly individuals in nursing homes, which their families trust to secure their wellbeing, health, and happiness. Unfortunately, there are circumstances where nursing home abuse and neglect occur while your loved ones are entrusted to the care of these facilities. If this happens to you or to a senior in your life, there are steps that you can take to put a stop to the abuse and neglect that are occurring and receive compensation for the harm that you have suffered. Contact a Myrtle Beach, SC nursing home abuse and neglect attorney today for a free consultation and evaluation of your claim.
Definition of Nursing Home Abuse
Whenever any person causes harm or serious risk of harm to a resident of a nursing home, whether the offender is a doctor, nurse, staff member, or aide, this is nursing home abuse. Individuals in nursing homes are often more vulnerable because of impairments that may be physical or mental. At times, abuse is intentional, and at other times it is caused by negligence. In any case, a lapse of care that results in harm or serious risk of harm to a resident of a nursing home is a reasonable basis for a lawsuit to receive compensation for the damages sustained by the victim.
Definition of Nursing Home Neglect
People typically view nursing home abuse as an intentional act against the victim, and nursing home neglect is seen as the lack of action to care for the victim. For example, if caregivers fail to provide food, water, medication, clothing, shelter, adequate supervision, safety from harm, or other essential care to individuals in nursing homes, then this is nursing home neglect. Neglect is not always intentional, but is among the most devastating and serious of offenses anyway. Through nursing home neglect, people can live in terrible discomfort, starving, dehydrated, getting bedsores and staying depressed. In the most extreme cases, nursing home neglect will result in life-threatening injuries or death.
Causes of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Many causes exist for why nursing home abuse and neglect occur. Staff members are often unqualified and untrained for the work, or the facilities are understaffed for the number of residents. Many facilities do not properly screen applicants or invest enough in training staff. 54% of nursing homes in the United States do not have enough staff members for their residents to be properly cared for. As a result, patients become victims of malnutrition, dehydration, and painful bedsores because there are not enough caregivers available to check up on them and meet their needs.
Nursing Home Facility Responsibility
The nursing home facility does hold the ultimate responsibility for nursing home abuse and neglect, even though it may be just one individual who abused or neglected a resident in a particular case. It is the employer’s responsibility to oversee the staff, the scheduling, the training, and the discipline and accountability of the caregivers who work at the facility. If there are no background checks, if budget cuts were made that minimize staff, if there is no training for employees, and if there is nobody to oversee the work and behavior of caregivers, then this is the fault of the nursing home facility.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Many people think of nursing home abuse in terms of physical violence towards residents. However, there are also serious types of abuse that are less visible. Being ignored, berated, belittled, insulted, and bullied by staff members is emotional abuse that many seniors suffer in these facilities. In some cases, sexual abuse takes place, and seniors are unable to speak up against their caregivers who have essentially become their jailors. There are also financial exploitation cases which qualify as an abuse of power on the part of the caregiver.
Frequency Of Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect
Nursing home and elder abuse and neglect is a serious problem which is far more widespread than most people suspect. The US Department of Justice recorded that 11% of seniors suffer from some form of abuse or neglect every year, and this naturally cannot possibly account for all of the unreported incidents that occur. 11% of all seniors is equivalent to four million known victims per year in the US.
Nursing Home Resident Rights
Individuals who reside in nursing homes and depend on the care of staff members in these facilities have legal rights, such as the right to be free from verbal, physical, sexual, and mental abuse. They have the right to be free of chemical or physical restraint for the purpose of punishment or convenience. Restraints cannot be used unless it is essential to ensure safety of others or to treat a medical condition. Private nursing homes and publically funded Medicare facilities must operate under these same laws, and nobody must tolerate neglect or abuse.
Signs and Symptoms of Nursing Home Abuse
There are many signs and symptoms that you should be looking for to ensure that your loved ones are not the victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. It can be difficult to detect if the harm is not physically apparent, such as scars, broken bones, burns, bruises, etc. If you see these things, without explanation, or with suspicious frequency, you need to investigate further.
Sexual abuse typically shows no outward signs, so you must pay attention to complaints of pain, abnormal bleeding or injuries, or the sudden development of an STD.
If the nursing home resident seems malnourished, unclean, missing pieces of clothing, or has skin ulcers or bed sores, then you can infer that neglect is occurring and take steps to put a stop to this and pursue legal assistance to protect the rights of your loved one. If you notice that the home or living area of an elderly person is unsanitary or medical treatment has not been provided for an illness, then this could indicate that the elderly person has been abandoned, which is also abuse and neglect.
When an elderly person is suffering from emotional abuse, then this can be even more difficult to detect, particularly if mental illnesses are also a factor. If you notice that the person is more fearful, experiencing strange mood shifts, showing signs of withdrawal or refusing to see close friends and family, then you should investigate further to determine if emotional abuse is taking place.
If you notice that personal property has gone missing, particularly if there are unexplained gaps in finances, lost jewelry, or suspicious financial transactions, then this is a good indication that financial exploitation is occurring, and you should take action.
If you suspect abuse or neglect, then it is your responsibility to take action to put a stop to it right away. If a senior is in serious and immediate danger, call 911 or the local police department. If there is no immediate danger, but you do suspect abuse or neglect, then you can contact the local Adult Protective Services agency and express your concerns to initiate further investigation.
If you suspect an individual employee within the facility of abuse or neglect and believe that turning to the facility’s administration department will be a faster and more effective solution, then this is also a reasonable option in non-emergency situations.
Filing a Civil Lawsuit
You have a right to file a civil lawsuit, regardless of the status of any criminal charges, when someone has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect. The victim can receive monetary damages in compensation for the harm that they have suffered, even if the person is cleared of criminal charges due to a lack of sufficient evidence. An attorney can help you build a civil case.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Fatalities
Up to 70% of all nursing home abuse cases are unreported, and all too often, the victims ultimately die from their injuries or lack of care. If you believe that your loved one may be the victim of a nursing home abuse and neglect fatality, contact an attorney to gather evidence and investigate this possibility. It is a sad and difficult to imagine situation to lose a loved one to extreme abuse and neglect, but pursuing criminal and civil charges is the best way that you can take action against those who should be held accountable for the loss of your loved one and to prevent more similar circumstances.