No one looks forward to making the decision to move a loved one into a nursing home, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare for it. As the one responsible, you must weigh pros & cons and ask yourself the tough questions before making a choice. While nursing homes do provide around-the-clock nursing care for the elderly, abuse is rampant in these facilities nationwide.
At The Gatti Law Firm, we are committed to helping you and your loved one understand your legal rights regarding nursing home abuse. If necessary, we are prepared to hold those who are accountable for any injuries sustained. If you suspect that a loved one is being abused, harmed, or mistreated at their nursing home, contact our Oregon nursing home abuse attorneys to discuss your case.
Call (503) 543-1114 or contact us online for a free consultation.
Nursing Home Abuse Statistics
[Updated for 2019]
To date, there are over 2.6 million Americans living in nursing homes or other assisted living facilities. As this number rises, so does the number of nursing home abuse and neglect cases.
Elder abuse occurring in nursing homes is a serious problem in the United States. According to Nursing home Abuse Justice, close to 5 million elderly patients are victims of abuse every year. That means that about 1 in 10 over the age of 60 are victims of abuse.
These statistics include all forms of elder abuse, including:
Men and women are both at risk for elder abuse. 2 out of 3 elder abuse victims, however, are women.
One surprising fact is that family members are the perpetrators of about 90% of all abuse cases. Nursing home staff, however, are also frequently the cause of this abuse. In fact, 50% of nursing home staff admit to committing some sort of abuse.
- Approximately 44% of nursing home residents have suffered some form of physical or psychological abuse.
- 85% of nursing home staff blame staffing shortages for abuse.
- 81% of nursing home staff report having seen some form of verbal, physical, or other form of abuse over the previous year. 45% admit to committing such acts at least once during the year.
- 66% of nursing home residents suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other conditions that limit their awareness that abuse is occurring, their ability to report abuse and their ability to avoid situations.
- 10% of nursing homes were cited for actual physical abuse.
It is estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse are reported to authorities, even though incidents of neglect occur in most nursing homes, which means numbers could be drastically higher than reported.
Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Abuse typically means causing intentional pain or harm to the nursing home resident. There are several classifications of nursing home abuse, which all vary in degrees of severity.
Neglect in a nursing home can simply involve indifference and carelessness toward the patient. This would be a failure to provide for a patient's basic needs and could be committed in numerous ways, such as:
- Leaving residents unattended for lengthy periods of time
- Failure to provide basic necessities, including food and water
- Not reporting injuries or illness
- Lack of attention to the cleanliness of the resident's living spaces
Physical abuse from a staff member could involve any of the following actions, among others:
Whether the injuries are minor or severe, this is a situation that must be given serious and immediate attention. In any case, they can be life threatening if not immediately addressed.
Psychological or Emotional Abuse
Words and actions that are carried out with a desire to cause distress or fear to the patient are a specific type of abuse, and should be taken very seriously.
Some acts of emotional abuse include:
- Threats of punishment
Long-term damage can be caused by emotional abuse. This can result in a lack of confidence and inability to live a high quality life.
Sexual abuse is the intentional act of violating a resident in a sexual manner. This can include everything from improper touching or coercion to perform sexual acts. This type of abuse can cause emotional and psychological damage along with actual physical suffering. In many cases, sexual abuse is committed against a patient who is unable to provide consent.
Financial abuse is unfortunately a common occurrence in nursing homes. This involves the intentional exploitation of a resident with the goal of financial gain. This typically begins by befriending the resident and establishing a level of trust. Make sure you are paying close attention to your loved one and their caretakers if you suspect financial abuse.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
If you notice any of the following, your loved one may be getting abused:
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Ligature marks on the wrists or ankles
- Bruises, cuts, and bleeding
- Sudden emotional changes
- Soiled clothing or bed linens
How to Report Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
It is important to understand the proper way to report the abuse or neglect that your loved one has undergone. That is because it is not always easy to identify the cause or effect of the neglect. Additionally, the elderly often do not have the ability to clearly communicate the abuse, or are afraid to do so.
Your first step will be to identify the signs of nursing home abuse against your loved one. Take a look at the signs of nursing home abuse above to begin identifying any indicators that he or she is suffering neglect.
Abuse and neglect should be reported as soon as possible. When you have a hunch that abuse has taken place, contact your local authorities. You may need to contact an eldercare company in your area, the primary care physician of the patient, or even 911 if the abuse is life threatening.
Our legal team can help you determine the best possible route to pursue just compensation if abuse has taken place. Do not hesitate to contact our law firm to protect the rights of your loved one.
What is the Time Limit for Filing a Claim in Oregon?
Every state has a statute of limitations for filing a claim for compensation. In Oregon, there are specific time limits set for filing a claim for nursing home abuse. Because this type of case can sometimes fall under the category of physical or sexual abuse, it might involve criminal prosecution which could impact the time you have to file a claim.
In most situations, you have 2 years to file a claim under Or. Rev. Stat §12.115. In the case of wrongful death, your family has 3 years from the date that the abuse was discovered to file a claim.
All patients in nursing homes have the absolute right to be cared for in a manner that prevents injury and to receive care which ensures that a patient’s already infirm condition is not aggravated and made worse. However, in spite of special duties mandated by law, contract and promulgated rules, too many patients are injured through no fault of their own.
What Elements Are Required to File a Suit?
People also die in nursing homes. Sometimes, death is expected. At other times, a death can be deemed “wrongful.” Wrongful death is defined as a death that is caused by the negligence of someone having a duty to protect. In other words, in all negligence cases—and in wrongful death cases– each of the following elements must exist in order for liability to attach:
- VIOLATION of that Duty
- CAUSE (the violation must be the cause of harm/damages)
- HARM/DAMAGES (caused by the Violation of the Duty)
In a nursing home, the health care providers have statutory duties together with what’s called “common law” duties. In short, when it comes down to the final thrust, health care providers owe all of their patients the duty to ensure patient safety and comfort. If someone violates a duty, and if the violation causes a patient to be injured, then the injured patient can be compensated for the damages caused by the negligence of their caregiver.
What is the Basic Standard of Care?
In a nursing home situation, the caregivers must be free from negligence when caring for all of the patients regardless of a patient’s health. Nursing home employees must follow the numerous laws which protect patients from harm, and the employees must all follow Administrative Rules and contractual duties provided for in the contract between the patient and the nursing home. Nursing home policies and guidelines must also be followed by all employees who must be knowledgeable and trained so that these people can fulfill the duties imposed upon them by the law, the rules, and the nursing home contract.
Clearly, the guiding bible of skilled nursing homes can be found in the State Operation Manual for Skilled Nursing. This manual clearly sets forth the rules, regulations, laws, and common law duties that must be followed by those who take on the noble obligation of caring for citizens with serious impairments which must be monitored on a continuous basis.
What Questions Would An Attorney Ask?
When the lawyers at The Gatti Law Firm take on injury or wrongful death cases resulting from care or the lack thereof in nursing homes, the lawyers are generally looking at the damage aspect of the four elements of negligence. We know that nursing homes have special duties. Duty is a given. But when a violation of the duty occurs, the lawyer must also look to see the nature of the damages caused by the injury.
- How old was the patient?
- Was the injury or death really caused by the violation of the duty, or was the injury or death an inevitable end to a long and fruitful life?
- Was someone injured or was the injury or death actually caused by a preexisting infirm condition?
There are many questions to be asked and there are many facts which must be objectively evaluated. The lawyers at The Gatti Law Firm don’t take every case that we evaluate, but clients can be assured that when they call for an appointment and the case is discussed and evaluated, there is no charge for the consultation and personal evaluation. If the Gatti lawyers agree to take on a case, they expect to prevail and secure justice for the client. However, lawyers cannot guarantee a positive outcome. If we cannot take on a particular case, our attorneys will provide a reasoned explanation and will discuss the client’s best options under the circumstances.
What Can Experience Tell Us?
Experience does tell us many things. Patients sometimes receive the wrong medication, and the results can be catastrophic. Medication may be mixed or forgotten, or incorrect dosages administered. Infirm patients should not be falling in the hallways, bathrooms, or from their beds. Exercise and movement are important to all patients who are capable, and every patient deserves respect and to be treated in a dignified manner. “No treatment” is only appropriate in limited circumstances, and a facility’s failure to train and supervise employees to ensure patient safety will not be tolerated.
Most nursing homes provide skilled nursing for specific patient needs, and those patients in need of skilled nursing should not be treated by LVN’s or aides who are not licensed or legally authorized to provide the prescribed medical care and services. It’s fair to say that a generation ago, older citizens were often not treated with the respect and care that the law now requires. Not all injuries or deaths can be avoided. The law does not always provide a remedy for every harm that befalls a citizen, and not every mistreatment case can be pursued. Each case lives or dies on its own individual facts and circumstances.
Contact The Gatti Law Firm
If you believe your loved one is being abused at their nursing home, please contact our Oregon elder abuse lawyers at The Gatti Law Firm today. We can help you ask the right questions, take photographs, get documentation and hire medical experts to prove your case and recover compensation.
Call (503) 543-1114 to speak with a lawyer.