Nurse Charged with Abuse by Neglect
AP news reported a registered nurse who worked in a southern Californian assisted living facility as a case manager who was charged with abuse by neglect. A 69-year-old resident died after developing gangrene from an ulcer on her heel.
Elder neglect is the number one under-reported type of elder abuse. It is estimated that 10% of adults aged 65 or older suffer some sort of elder abuse in any given year. Elder abuse, neglect or financial exploitation occurs regardless of sex, race, religion or cultural background. Women tend to be targeted more often than men. Victims often have no one nearby to look out or advocate for them. Anyone can be a victim, but those dependent on assistance with tasks of everyday life are easy victims. People with disabilities, dementia or just some memory problems are the most vulnerable.
Abuse Can Take Many Forms
- Physical abuse is probably the first to come to mind. It includes those things that cause bodily harm such as hitting, pinching or shoving, but also includes restraining a person from exercising their free will to move. An example may be being locked in a room or tied to a chair.
- Emotional or psychological abuse can include hateful speech, being ignored, threats from the caregiver or preventing the elder access to loved ones.
- Neglect occurs when the fulfillment of needs or access to healthcare are intentionally or unintentionally withheld by the caregiver. This includes physical, emotional, social, dietary or medical needs.
- Abandonment occurs when a dependent is left alone to fend for themselves for an extended period of time without a plan in place for care to be provided.
- Sexual abuse occurs when a patient is forced to participate or watch offensive sexual acts.
- Financial abuse is essentially any kind of theft, often including some variant of fraud. It also includes;
- Financial neglect where bills are not being paid.
- Financial exploitation occurs when an older person’s property has been misused, mismanaged or exploited.
- Lastly, there is healthcare fraud. Often overlooked but still prevalent, this happens when healthcare providers charge either the patient or their insurance for services not provided, double charge for the same service or simply overcharge.
What to Look for in Cases of Abuse
It is important to pay attention, notice the details and do not be afraid to ask questions. Visit older adults frequently, whether it be at home or in a facility. Do not assume that just because they have caregivers, that quality care is given. Symptoms that something may be amiss may include but are not limited to:
- You may notice an unkempt appearance that may include an off odor.
- You may find your loved one no longer interested in activities they used to enjoy.
- There may be unexplained weight loss.
- Your loved one may have a sharp behavior change by being either withdrawn or agitated and perhaps violent.
- There may be a display of trauma such as rocking back and forth.
- Have you noticed unexplained injuries such as burns, cuts or bruises? Is there a scar that doesn’t make sense?
- Has your loved one developed bed sores or any other preventable condition?
- Is there a home eviction notice?
- Are there any signs that bills have been left unpaid or that there has been a lack of care, despite the knowledge that they should have the money to pay?
- Recent changes in the handling of money.
What is Your Responsibility?
You do not need to prove that abuse has occurred or is occurring. But it is vital if you suspect that something may not be right, you must contact adult protective services. The professionals there are able to investigate and pursue a change.
If an investigation finds abuse, criminal charges may be pursued. However, it does not have to end there. A civil lawsuit may be appropriate against neglectful or abusive caretakers. Finances may be needed for medical bills or to recover misused finances. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney is the best chance for victims and their families to recover compensation.
Nursing Home Neglect is Real
Neglect, injuries and even wrongful death is a persistent and growing problem. Your loved one is entitled to protection. Do not wait to get your loved one help. The Law Offices of Dwayne L. Brown, both in Atlanta and Montgomery, are experienced in nursing home abuse.
Posted on Behalf of Law Office of Dwayne L. Brown