As a nursing home abuse lawyer in Atlanta families can count on for results, we take pride in helping families. If your loved one has suffered from the wrongdoing of employees of a nursing home, we can help. Our firm fights for the rights of people. When you work with us, you can feel confident knowing your case is in good hands. To schedule your free consultation with a Nursing Home Abuse lawyer in Atlanta, please call us today.
Nursing Home Liability
In general, a nursing home can be found liable for harm under corporate negligence which means the claim is based upon the institutional negligence of the facility rather than individual employees. This is because a nursing home owes its residents a duty to:
- Use reasonable care to ensure the facility and equipment are adequate and safe
- Have a proper amount of trained staff on hand at all times
- Retain competent staff who are trusted
- Oversee the operation of the facility to the best of their ability
- Enforce rules and policies that protect the residents of the home
In other words, it is up to the facility to ensure all of the elderly residents are out of harm’s way and are provided with necessary treatment as soon as an accident happens. Failing to exercise this reasonable care could result in an avoidable injury or death. This is known as negligence. If that happens, you should consider speaking to a nursing home abuse attorney in Atlanta citizens trust.
The Concerns of Nursing Homes
According to a federal ranking of the quality of long-term care facilities in the U.S.–which includes nursing homes–27.6% of elderly homes in Georgia have one star making it the second worst-performing state. Families for Better Care has given Georgia a grade of “F” due to a lack of staff, personalized attention, and hygiene. Unfortunately, these problems can lead to a heightened risk of
nursing home negligence or abuse. What’s even more concerning is that only approximately 1 in 6 victims report their suffering to a loved one or to a nursing home lawyer in Atlanta. Read about What are some signs of abuse.
Recognizing Nursing Home Abuse
A nursing home abuse attorney in Atlanta offers may perform an in-depth investigation to determine how the nursing home abuse is taking place. Physical abuse is one of many types of nursing home abuse, and often the easiest to identify. Other types, which are more difficult to detect, may include emotional, mental, financial, or sexual abuse. Even if you’re not sure what is going on, but you know something isn’t right, it’s a good idea to get advice from an
Atlanta nursing home lawyer.
Physical Signs of Abuse:
- Bruises, cuts, scratching, and/or abrasions
- Pressure sores
- Decubitus Ulcers
- Burns or scarring
- Marks from restraints
- Internal injuries
- Traumatic hair or tooth loss
- Sprains, broken bones, fractures, or dislocated joints
Signs of Emotional or Mental Abuse:
- Intimidation through yelling, verbal abuse, and threats
- Humiliation or belittlement
- Isolation from activities or other people
- Instilling fear into the resident
Signs of Sexual Abuse:
- Development of an STD or infection
- Vaginal or anal bleeding
- Stained or bloody undergarments
- Bruising around the breasts or genitals
Signs of Financial Exploitation:
- Misuse of bank cards, credit cards, bank accounts, or checks
- Missing belongings
- Missing social security income or other money
- Forging signatures
- Unauthorized account withdrawals or transfers
- Identity theft or fraud
Other Types of Nursing Home Abuse:
- Overdosing on medications
- Mismanagement of medications
- Unhygienic living area
- Malnutrition or dehydration
With nursing home abuse, it’s possible for multiple issues to occur simultaneously.
Some Obvious Signs of Nursing Home Abuse You Can Look Out For
When sending our loved ones to a nursing home there are a few things to pay attention to in order to make sure they are being properly cared for. It is a sad reality, but sometimes patients in nursing homes are neglected. The people who are taking care of them might not love them the way you and your family do, and negligence can occur anywhere, even in a nursing home. Here are a few signs to take note of when visiting or speaking with your loved one staying at a nursing home:
Change in Mood
The person you move into a nursing home may have a history of being generally pretty happy. You may notice that shortly after being admitted, your loved one seems distant. They may be a little sad to be away from home, but this can also be a sign of emotional withdrawal and depression. They may not talk as much as they once did because they feel that when you are not there with them, they are not safe.
One of the easiest possible signs of neglect is unreported physical injuries. The staff is obligated to keep you fully informed of injuries, so if at any point you notice injuries that were not reported to you, this may be a sign of abuse at the nursing home. Bedsores are typically a clear indication of neglect in a nursing home. Staff members are to make sure patients are repositioned every so often so that they are comfortable and healthy. Bedsores can occur if someone is stuck in the same position for a long time. This would mean that your loved one is not being taken care of, and has been overlooked at the nursing home.
Lack of Personal Hygiene
Another obvious sign of neglect is a lack of personal hygiene. Among other things, the staff is responsible for your loved one’s day to day care, which includes bathing them, ensuring their dental hygiene is maintained, and that their basic needs are met.
Although every case is inherently different, in general, the settlement amount will depend on the abuse, evidence, history of abuse, staffing problems, and insurance coverage.
The following damages are recoverable:
- All related medical expenses
- Physical pain
- Emotional grievance
- Financial loss
- Punitive damages (when applicable)
Should negotiations fail to reach a settlement, a good nursing home lawyer will take your case to trial.
What to Do if Your Loved One is at Immediate Risk
If you believe your loved one is at risk for harm or injury while residing at a nursing home, you should contact an Atlanta nursing home lawyer as soon as possible. If your loved one is injured, you may want to get them immediate medical attention. Afterward, you can call a nursing home lawyer Atlanta families trust to find out what your legal options may be.
Nursing Home Physical Abuse: Part 1
When your loved one moves into a nursing home or assisted-living facility, you expect that staff members and administrators will do everything they can to make it a positive experience. Unfortunately, some staff members use their authority to intimidate and abuse residents. This three-part series covers the most common types of nursing abuse—physical, emotional, and financial—and offers tips for protecting your loved one.
Defining Nursing Home Physical Abuse
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) defines physical abuse as any use of physical force that causes pain or injuries. Actions that constitute physical abuse include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Force-feeding a resident
- Pushing and shoving
- Hitting a resident
- Pinching, kicking, and slapping
- Burning a resident with a lighter or lit cigarette
- Sedating a resident unnecessarily
- Physically restraining a resident without cause
- Punishing residents in any way
Abuse Statistics Indicate a Widespread Problem
Although government agencies do their best to publish accurate statistics, many cases of nursing home abuse are not reported, skewing the numbers. Residents may hesitate to report the abuse because they fear retaliation from their abusers. Nursing home administrators are supposed to report cases of abuse, but some try to cover it up because they fear being sued or generating bad publicity for their facilities.
The National Ombudsman Reporting System (NORS), part of the Administration on Aging, collects reports from the people who act as advocates for nursing home residents and their families. According to a NORS report published in 2010, physical abuse is the most common type of abuse reported by residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, accounting for 29 percent of all complaints.
Neglect is Also a Concern for Nursing Home Residents
Some staff members do not hit or kick their patients, but they do neglect their physical and emotional needs. Neglect is a real concern for elderly residents who are unable to bathe, eat, and move around without assistance.
One of the most serious consequences of neglect is the development of pressure sores, which are damaged areas of the skin caused by sitting or lying in the same position for too long. If a patient remains in the same position for hours or days at a time, the constant pressure breaks down the skin, causing a pressure sore to form. Without treatment, pressure sores may extend deep into the tissue, causing damage to the muscles, bones, and tendons.
Watch for Signs of Physical Abuse and Neglect
Each time you visit your loved one, check for these potential signs of physical abuse:
- Unexplained broken bones
- Bruising, especially multiple bruises
- Cuts and scrapes
- Puncture marks in the skin
- Dislocated joints
- Unexplained bleeding
- Marks around the wrists or ankles, which may indicate the use of physical restraints
- Untreated injuries
- Redness or ulceration of the skin
If you are concerned about neglect, watch for signs that staff members are not caring for your loved one properly. Unkempt hair, dirty clothes, and bad breath all indicate that your loved one is not getting enough help with personal hygiene activities. Unexplained weight loss may indicate that staff members are not giving your loved one enough to eat. If your loved one’s room is dirty or has signs of insect activity, staff members may be neglecting to provide a clean, safe living environment.
Family Members Can Help Prevent Abuse
You can’t be with your loved one every minute, but you can prevent physical abuse by taking a few simple actions. First, visit the nursing home regularly. Abusive staff members often target residents who rarely receive visitors, as it is less likely someone will discover the abuse.
Try to visit on different days and at different times so that staff members never know when to expect you. An abuser is less likely to target a resident who receives visitors on an unpredictable schedule.
Your Loved One Deserves Quality Care
If you notice any signs of physical abuse or neglect when you visit the nursing home, or your loved one reports abusive behavior, the abuser needs to be held accountable. Call Butler Kahn at (404) JUSTICE to discuss your concerns with an experienced attorney at no cost to you.
Nursing Home Psychological Abuse: Part 2
In part one of this series, we talked about the signs of physical nursing home abuse and gave you some tips for prevention. Part two focuses on psychological abuse, which is any behavior that causes a nursing home resident to experience anguish or emotional harm.
Psychological Abuse Takes Two Forms
Psychological abuse is either verbal or nonverbal in nature. Verbal abuse involves threatening a resident or making statements that cause fear and sadness. Screaming and shouting, insulting a resident, and saying things that cause a resident distress are all examples of verbal abuse.
Nonverbal abuse is just as damaging, but it is more difficult to detect because the abuser doesn’t shout or say mean things. Refusing to speak to a resident, ignoring a resident’s needs, purposely isolating residents from their friends and family members, and making threatening gestures are examples of nonverbal abuse.
Signs of Psychological Abuse in Nursing Homes Are Difficult to Spot
Because psychological abuse doesn’t leave cuts or bruises, it is often more difficult to detect than physical abuse. When you visit your loved one, watch carefully for the following:
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Sudden personality changes
- Unusual behavior
- Excessive fear
- Nervousness, especially around certain staff members
- Refusal to interact with other people
Take Steps to Prevent Psychological Abuse
You can’t spend all of your time at the nursing home, but you can take steps to prevent psychological abuse. One of the best ways to do so is by visiting your loved one as often as possible. Abusers are less likely to target residents who receive visitors regularly, according to a report from the National Center on Elder Abuse. On days you can’t make it to the nursing home, call and check in with the administrator or charge nurse.
Report Suspected Abuse Immediately
If you suspect that someone is abusing your loved one, report the abusive behavior immediately. The nursing home administrator should launch an investigation and take prompt action against abusive staff members. If the administrator dismisses your concerns, move your loved one to another facility and file a complaint with the appropriate agency.
The Georgia Department of Community Health investigates complaints against all facilities licensed by the Division of Healthcare Facility Regulation. Georgia also has an ombudsman program to investigate and resolve complaints of abuse, neglect, and unsafe living conditions in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Fulton County has a community ombudsman program headquartered in Atlanta. To file a complaint, contact an ombudsman via telephone or email.
Under federal law, it is a form of Medicaid fraud to criminally abuse or neglect a resident of a nursing home or personal care home that receives Medicaid funding. If the nursing home administrator does not investigate your complaint in a timely manner, you may want to file a Medicaid fraud complaint with the Georgia Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
Hold Nursing Home Abusers Accountable for Their Actions
If your loved one is the victim of psychological abuse, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the nursing home. Because you have a limited amount of time to file a claim, it’s important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after discovering the abuse. The attorneys at Butler Kahn are ready to help you get justice for your loved one. Call us at (404) JUSTICE to schedule a free consultation.
Nursing Home Financial Abuse: Part 3
Financial abuse is a common form of nursing home abuse. Financial abuse includes tampering with or seizing the financial assets, income, benefits, or other financial property that belong to the senior. While seniors in resident homes want to enjoy life and stay healthy, they need to keep an eye on their financial matters – especially those people who they rely on and trust. Financial abusers can include management, nursing home staff, doctors, nurses and other caregivers. Abusers can also include family, friends, and anyone with access to the senior or the senior’s financial records. Sadly, many elder residents don’t learn of the financial abuse until the funds or assets are gone.
According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, financial exploitation of seniors is on the rise. Only a fraction of cases of financial abuse are ever reported even though one in 20 seniors say that have suffered financial abuse. Because of the abuse, many seniors are required to seek Medicaid assistance.
Examples of Nursing Home Financial Abuse
Even highly aware seniors can be subject to professional scams such as predatory lending and pressure to buy annuities backed by real property securities. What makes nursing home abuse unique is that most cases are based on some form of trust. Seniors rely on others to help out with financial matters because the senior often cannot leave the facility without help. Seniors often give out many forms of financial information such as social security numbers and bank account numbers without fully understanding that this information can be stolen.
Some common types of financial abuse seniors can suffer in nursing homes are:
- Stealing the senior’s identity. Using the senior’s personal information for personal gain. A typical example is using the senior’s credit card number to make unauthorized purchases.
- Cashing checks improperly. This can be done by forging the senior’s signature, getting the senior to sign a blank check, or getting the senior to sign a check for unnecessary services or products. Staff, management, and others in positions of trust may also directly steal deposits such as Social Security checks or pension benefits.
- Taking property without consent. Some people can just steal the senior’s jewelry, laptop, smartphone, clothes, or other personal assets while in the senior’s room.
- Coercing the elder resident. Getting the senior to sign wills, contracts, or other documents that favor the person who arranged the signing.
- False solicitation. Persuading the senior resident to give funds to charities that don’t exist.
- Abuse of a power of attorney. Many seniors give a relative or someone at the nursing home a power of attorney to handle their financial affairs. While this power can be used for good such as making it easier to manage bank accounts, it can also be abused. Powers of attorney should be clear and the assets regularly monitored.
Signs that Financial Abuse Has Occurred
Often economic abuse is not discovered until it is too late. Still, there are some signs and some steps that seniors and caring family members should constantly review. Some of the common signs of financial abuse are related to the senior’s finances. Other signs are revealed in how the senior behaves.
Typical signs that nursing home financial abuse has taken place include:
- Bank accounts that do not balance on a monthly basis
- An inability to pay for services that the senior normally enjoyed such as personal care, private rooms, eating expenses or other items
- Missing possessions
- Signatures that don’t match the senior’s signature
- Unusual provisions in new wills
- Sudden sale of the senior’s personal residence or an inability to sell the resident because of high mortgages
- Accounts that are now joint accounts
- Depression in the senior
- Loss of trust
Steps to Prevent Nursing Home Financial Abuse
Seniors should consult with an experienced nursing home attorney before they move into the nursing home. The lawyer can help prepare the right documents to protect the senior, explain the warning signs of abuse, and review the steps seniors should take to report and stop abuse. Other common steps the senior and those people the senior truly trusts should consider are:
- Periodically review all financial statements such as bank statements and credit card statements
- Reduce financial activity by considering direct deposits and withdraws
- Constantly change password access to online information
- Prepare a regular checklist of personal assets
- Don’t sign any legal documents without having a lawyer review them first
Reporting concerns to people in trust such as the nursing home have to be carefully done since the home itself may be part of the problem.
As with other types of abuse, seniors may want to turn to local law enforcement and to local agencies such as the Georgia Division of Aging Services, and the Georgia Department of Community Health, or the Georgia Attorney General’s office.
Take Action against Financial Abuses
If financial abuse occurs or is suspected, it is important to act quickly. By consulting an experienced abuse lawyer, future abuse is more likely to be stopped and past abuse may have a remedy. A lawyer can explain your rights, the time you have to take action, and can file a legal claim against wrongdoers. Fast action may be necessary to seize assets wrongfully taken or to prevent them from being sold or transferred.
The lawyers at Butler Kahn are strong advocates for victims of financial abuse. Contact us at (404) JUSTICE to schedule a free consultation – or complete our online contact form.
Recognizing the Statute of Limitations
A nursing home negligence claim must be filed within a certain time period. Although this time can vary by state, it is usually two years from the time the injury happened. Failing to file a claim within this period could mean a dismissal. Some nursing homes also have requirements in place that must be met before filing. For example, the victim or loved ones may need an affidavit by a medical professional which supports the claim. Getting this can take time which is why the sooner you contact a nursing home lawyer the better.
What are the Different Types of Nursing Home Mistreatment?
When family members make the decision to place their senior relative in a nursing home, it likely wasn’t a conclusion they reached overnight. It can be emotional to realize that your loved one needs around-the-clock care from professionals who can tend to things like bathing, feeding, and mobility. Unfortunately, family members may be devastated and irate to find out that their senior relative has been mistreated by nursing home staff in some way.
Here we have covered the many ways that nursing home mistreatment can occur, so family members can feel more empowered in knowing what to do and what signs to look out for:
A: Nursing home abuse can take on many forms, including physical harm. A senior relative may have peculiar bumps, bruises, cuts, bed sores, and other wounds. It isn’t uncommon for these wounds to be located in areas that aren’t readily seen in typical interactions unless you take a closer look.
For example, a family member who wants to keep an eye on their relative may check areas like their stomach, back, upper legs and underarms for marks that he or she cannot explain. Physical abuse can be intentional by using restraints aggressively or neglect where the resident’s care is not being attended to in a reasonable manner or time-frame.
Psychological abuse can be a little bit more tricky to identify, since there may not be any physical marks associated with this type of mistreatment. A senior resident who is suffering from psychological abuse may be yelled at, criticized, made fun of, or otherwise shamed. Residents who are enduring such abuse may exhibit the following signs:
- Anxiety, depression, and isolation
- Withdrawing from loved ones
- Refusing to talk to anyone
- Changes in behavior or personality
- Frustration, anger, agitation, and impatience
- Seeming afraid and nervous
- Odd behavior like rocking back and forth
- Rejecting meals and medications
- Refusing to have certain caregivers attend to them
- Loss of appetite
A caregiver may take advantage by using their access to a resident’s financial information for their own benefit. A caregiver at the nursing home may steal money through purchases, apply for credit under the resident’s name, transfer money to their own bank account, force them to make changes to a will, or otherwise compromise the senior’s finances. Family members may want to review their senior loved one’s financial spending and investigate further for unusual purchases or transfers with the help of a nursing home lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia.
Neglect differs from abuse in that it is unintentional and often the result of poor staffing. If the senior’s needs are not being attended to properly, then it can have a negative impact on his or her health. Neglect can contribute to conditions like bed sores, weight loss, dehydration, and skin infections.
When to Call a Nursing Home Attorney Atlanta Families Can Count On
The idea of contacting a lawyer could provoke feelings of uneasiness. Naturally, you may have concerns about taking legal action against a business that is caring for a loved one. Although these are real concerns, they should not stop you from finding out what a nursing home lawyer in Atlanta has to say. To schedule a free consultation with a nursing home lawyer Atlanta has to offer, please call Butler Kahn at (678) 940-1444.
We serve all areas of Atlanta, including Brookhaven, Druid Hills, Buckhead, Chastain Park, Garden Hills, Piedmont Heights, Midtown, Downtown Atlanta, Grove Pak, Inman Park, South Atlanta, East Atlanta Village, West End, and Atlantic Station.