What Are Signs Of Nursing Home Abuse?

If you think a loved one in an Ohio nursing home is being abused or neglected, you have probably seen the signs already. What follows here is a listing of behaviors and outcomes that could help you confirm your instincts about the quality of care being provided by a nursing home or other residential medical facility.

There are two types of nursing home abuse. The first is overt abuse that occurs when a facility or staff members take action that harms a resident. The other type of abuse is more subtle and involves actions a facility or staff members did not take - neglect. Whatever the type of abuse, the outcome is the same: The resident or patient is harmed.

Abuse

It's probably easier to tell that a resident of a nursing facility is being abused because there are often signs that can include:

  • Bleeding or bruising
  • Burns, cuts or abrasions
  • Unexplained fractures or other injuries
  • Fearfulness or sudden withdrawal, either generally or when in the presence of certain people
  • Unusual financial transactions involving nursing home staff
  • Disappearance of personal items
  • Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases
  • Physical restraints not prescribed by a physician
  • Over-sedation that limits usual mobility

Signs such as these can indicate that a patient is being struck or pushed, is receiving too much medication, is the victim of theft, is being screamed at or otherwise verbally abused, has been raped or sexually assaulted, or has been kept in bed or in a wheelchair for no medical reason.

Neglect

Nursing home neglect involves facility staff members not doing something that they should do. Signs that a loved one is being neglected in a care facility include:

  • Bedsores (also called pressure sores or decubitus ulcers) because caregivers did not follow preventive protocols
  • Soiled clothing and bed linens because staff did not respond to requests for toileting assistance
  • Weight loss or dehydration because no one monitored nutrition intake
  • Falls because no one supervised patients too weak to walk by themselves or took preventive measures to prevent falls, such as putting bed rails at the correct height
  • Unexplained illnesses, especially those resulting from poor caregiver hygiene
  • An unmonitored patient leaving the facility
  • Injury by another resident because of poor oversight

The sad thing about both neglect and abuse is that it happens to people who have little or no ability to advocate for themselves. Patients must often rely upon loved ones and visitors to notice that something is wrong.

How To Identify Risk Factors For Nursing Home Abuse

A 2005 report from the National Center on Elder Abuse has tips that still apply. Based on study results, it stated that facilities with a high proportion of dementia patients and low staffing levels are more likely to experience abuse and neglect. Poorly trained staff members are more likely to respond to elderly patients suffering from dementia by being abusive. Low staffing levels lead to staff burnout, which in turn contributes to a greater likelihood of abuse or neglect.

How To Prevent Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect

It is impossible to prevent every incident of abuse or neglect in a care facility. However, family members and friends can take steps to prevent abuse and neglect by visiting at different times during the day. They can also talk to other residents about the family member, ask to read daily nursing reports, and review licensing documents and inspection reports related to the facility to learn about potential areas of weakness.

Information from Nursing Home Compare can be helpful. This website is maintained by the U.S. government and contains detailed information about every Medicare- and Medicaid-certified facility in the United States. This can be especially useful when choosing a place for your loved one or moving him or her to a better facility.

Suspect Nursing Home Abuse Or Neglect? Get Help.

The Ohio State Department on Aging website lists numerous resources, including the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program that advocates for people being cared for at home and in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. To prevent further abuse or neglect, either to your family member or to others, you can file a complaint with the Ohio Department of Health. If you wish to take legal action on behalf of your loved one, an Ohio personal injury attorney can advise you about your options.