Elder abuse is a growing problem in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2008, one in 10 elders have reported emotional, physical, or sexual abuse or potential neglect in the last year. Elder abuse frequently occurs in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Today, as many as 3 million people are living in nursing home institutions in the U.S. One of the most prevalent forms of nursing home abuse is physical abuse.
What is physical abuse?
Physical abuse can be defined as when the senior experiences pain, injury, or illness as a result of another individual’s intentional use of physical force. Physical abuse may include, but not limited to beating, bruising, kicking, hitting, slapping, or burning. This may also include holding someone against their will, such as confinement to a bed or locking someone in a room.
What are the signs that a nursing home resident is suffering from physical abuse?
There can be several signs that a nursing home resident has been a victim of physical abuse. Some signs of abuse may be minor physical marks such as bruises, scratches, welts, or cuts. Serious signs of physical abuse may be lasting physical pain, soreness, head injuries, bedsores, burn marks, lacerations, or broken bones. According to the CDC, injuries that occur as a result of physical abuse can be detrimental to health, causing existing injuries to worsen and may lead to premature death.
Although physical marks and injuries are the most telling signs of physical abuse, there are other red flags to be aware of as well. According to U.S. News and World Report, signs of bad care in nursing homes may include:
- Physical or emotional changes– Emotional changes may include becoming withdrawn, unwilling to communicate or participate in activities. The victim may experience sudden mood changes or feelings of fear or agitation. Physical changes may include loss of appetite or weight or sudden changes in sleep patterns.
- Verbally expressing disregard for a particular caregiver– A nursing home resident expressing feelings of distress, anxiety, fear or uncomfortableness around a particular caregiver may hint to mistreatment or neglect. These comments should be taken seriously.
- Dehydration and malnourishment– Dehydration or malnourishment may be a sign that a senior isn’t receiving adequate fluids or food they need to remain healthy.
How do you report physical abuse in nursing homes?
A nursing home resident or their loved one may file a complaint with the New York State Department of Health, Nursing Homes and ICF/IID Surveillance using a form available on the website or by contacting the Nursing Home Complaint hotline (1-888-201-4563)which is available 24/7.
Once a complaint is received, the Department will investigate the claim and determine whether the facility has failed to meet federal and/or state standards. If a violation has been determined, the Department will issue a citation to the nursing home facility. The facility will then have to submit a plan of correction that is deemed acceptable to the Department and take actions to correct the wrongful practice.
If you or a loved one has suffered nursing home abuse or neglect, it is important to consult an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer who can advise you of your legal rights and remedies. The lawyers at Levine & Slavit, PLLC are experienced in representing seniors and their loved ones in serious nursing home abuse and neglect mattersand are committed to protecting victims’ rights. With law offices conveniently located in Long Island and Manhattan, our nursing home abuse lawyers are available to assist seniors throughout Nassau County, Suffolk County, Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. For more information or to schedule a consultationwith our Long Island nursing home abuse lawyers, call (516) 294-8282, or for our New York City nursing home abuse lawyers, call (212) 687-2777.