Nursing home residents are entitled to safe and healthy living conditions where they are free from abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, the reality is far different in many of Baltimore’s homes for the elderly and long-term care facilities. The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) estimates that millions of elderly Americans suffer abuse in long-term care facilities each year. These figures suggest that in Baltimore, as in countless cities across Maryland, thousands of seniors may be suffering from nursing home injuries.
Nursing home abuse is more widespread than you may think. If you suspect that your mother, father, or grandparent is being abused or neglected at a nursing home in Baltimore, you should contact an experienced Baltimore nursing home abuse attorney, like Randolph Rice. Following the top priority, which is getting your loved one out of the dangerous situation, an attorney can investigate the causes of the injuries and hold the nursing home liable for damages. However, it is crucial to intervene as soon as possible. For a free legal consultation, contact the Law Offices of Randolph Rice online, or call (410) 694-7291. We are available 24 hours to provide assistance.
What is Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?
Nursing home abuse and negligence are broad terms that can range from carelessly administering the wrong medication, to physically or verbally abusing a patient. Elder abuse is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as “an intentional act, or failure to act, by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult,” meaning a person who is 60 years of age or older.
The CDC divides elder abuse into five separate categories, any of which can take place at a nursing home or similar facility. As defined by the CDC, the five categories of elder abuse are as follows:
- Physical abuse. Physical abuse involves the use of intentional physical force that causes injury, illness, pain, functional impairment, emotional distress, or death.
- Sexual abuse. Abusive sexual contact covers an array of forced or unwanted sexual interactions of any kind. If committed against an incapacitated person who is incapable of consenting, the interaction qualifies as sexual abuse. Since a caregiver or doctor is in a position of trust and authority over the patient, he or she must not engage in any sort of sexual contact or relationship with the patient.
- Emotional, verbal, or psychological abuse. Emotional or psychological abuse can involve verbal or nonverbal behaviors that inflict mental anguish or pain, fear, or emotional distress. This type of behavior can include humiliation, threats, isolation, or the exertion of control. Patients may be targeted due to their perceived helplessness or vulnerability, such as memory loss or confusion that is related to Alzheimer’s disease.
- Neglect. Neglect refers to the failure by caregivers to:
- Protect elders in their care from harm
- Meet patients’ basic, essential needs pertaining to medical care, shelter, activities of daily living, nutrition, hydration, and hygiene
- Financial abuse or financial exploitation. Financial abuse or exploitation is a caregiver’s unauthorized, improper, or illegal use of a nursing home resident’s resources for the benefit of someone other than the resident. For example, stealing a patient’s identity or using a patient’s credit cards could constitute financial exploitation or abuse. Some of the people most likely to be targeted are patients who, for various medical reasons, are not competent to make or authorize major financial decisions.
Nursing Home Abuse Statistics
The statistics regarding nursing home abuse are fuzzy for many reasons, including underreporting by both victims and nursing homes. Sadly, this means abuse and neglect are likely to be more common than statistics suggest. Despite the difficulty of pinpointing accurate figures, the NCEA and other organizations have compiled some important statistics that point to the prevalence of nursing home abuse in the United States.
- In a 2000 study, 44% of nursing home residents said that they’d been abused, and a shocking 95% said that they’d been neglected or that they’d seen another resident be neglected.
- In a 2001 U.S. House of Representatives report, nearly one in three nursing homes was cited for federal standards violations that either caused harm to residents or had the potential to cause harm. Furthermore, almost one in 10 nursing homes were cited for violations that caused harm, serious injuries, or jeopardy of death to residents.
- In a 2010 study of nursing home staff, more than 50% admitted to mistreating elderly residents within the year before the study. Most of these mistreatment incidents involved neglect.
As these nursing home abuse statistics make all too clear, elder abuse is serious and widespread. Therefore, you should always be aware of the warning signs that your loved one has been a victim of nursing home neglect or abuse.
What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?
When you entrust a parent or grandparent to professionally trained nursing home staff, you expect that your loved will enjoy excellent care, quality living conditions, and satisfying social interactions. Sometimes, however, nursing home residents are abused or neglected, and it’s important to protect your loved ones by remaining alert to this possibility and understanding the warning signs of abuse. Be on the lookout for any of the following “red flags,” which may indicate that abuse or neglect is occurring:
- Marked emotional or physical change If your loved one exhibits a significant, unexplainable emotional or physical change, it could be a sign of abuse or neglect. The natural aging process, however, can also cause such changes, and it’s important to distinguish between aging and poor care. Stay in close contact with your loved one, visit often, and question staff in detail when you’re concerned. If you have even the slightest suspicion your loved one is being mistreated, you should review your concerns with a nursing home neglect attorney in Baltimore right away.
- Unanswered questions. If the nursing home staff continually deflects your questions, is evasive, is consistently unable to answer your questions, or won’t discuss your loved one’s care, consider this a warning sign that the care may be less than optimal. The answer, “This is how we do things here,” should be a red flag. High staff turnover rates are often another bad sign.
- Fear and agitation, especially around specific individuals.If your loved one asks not to receive care from a specific staff member, or appears frightened when a specific staff member is near, take the response seriously even if your loved one has cognitive issues. Address this issue with nursing home leadership immediately, since mistreatment or neglect may be the cause.
- Chaotic procedures or disorganized staff.A busy staff that’s sometimes stretched too thin is probably unavoidable, but the nursing home shouldn’t be in constant chaos. If the staff is friendly, open, warm, and works well together while interacting with the residents, that’s a great sign, as is effective leadership in the form of an active and engaged director. Bad staff attitudes and poor information chains that span shift changes, however, can indicate trouble. If call buttons and ringing phones seem to constantly go unanswered, ask yourself why the staff doesn’t have time to pick up the phone.
- Physical signs. If your loved one exhibits physical signs such as dehydration or malnourishment, take these indicators very seriously. Dehydration is a common and dangerous symptom of negligent care.
Are Nursing Homes Liable for Injuries Caused by Negligence or Abuse?
Negligent or abusive nursing home employees can include nursing home doctors, nurses, nursing assistants, physical therapists, nurse practitioners, and in some cases, nursing home administrators. In some cases, even the nursing home itself may be deemed vicariously liable for the injuries and damages sustained by a patient, if the nursing home was negligent in hiring, retaining, or supervising the abusive or negligent employee. A Baltimore nursing home accident lawyer will be able to ascertain all potentially responsible parties and bring them into your case.
What is Considered Neglect or Abuse in a Nursing Home?
While nursing home abuse and negligence can take many forms, it commonly arises when health care providers are careless or reckless while caring for and treating their patients. Examples of actions that could constitute nursing home abuse or negligence include the following:
- Medication errors
- Improper or inadequate monitoring or supervision of patients (for example, failing to take a patient’s vitals on a regular basis)
- Improper care and treatment of patients
- Sexual harassment or physical abuse of a patient
- Physical acts or threats of violence directed toward a patient
- Verbal abuse directed toward a patient
- Mishandling a patient (such as using excessive physical force when guiding a patient down hallways or into bathrooms)
- Deficient record-keeping
- Failing to respond to a patient’s needs, limitations, or complaints in a timely and appropriate manner
- Failing to consider a patient’s preexisting medical conditions, injuries, and medication allergies when designing and executing a plan of care
- Failing to report a patient complaint to an on-duty doctor or nurse
- Failing to take into account a patient’s signs or symptoms of stroke, heart attack, or other serious medical condition
- Using physical restraints or chemical restraints (such as sedation) on a nursing home resident when doing so is not necessary for the safety of staff, the resident, or other residents
What Are Some Common Nursing Home Injuries?
Negligence and abuse at the hands of nursing home employees can result in serious, even fatal injuries to patients. Some of the most common injuries in nursing homes include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Severe bruising and contusions
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Fractures (broken bones)
- Soft tissue injuries, such as sprain or strain injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), such as concussions, which are categorized as mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs)
- Hemorrhaging and internal bleeding
- Cuts and lacerations
- Paralysis, frequently caused by nursing home falls that result in neck injuries or spinal cord injuries (SCIs)
- Hip injuries, such as pelvic fractures (broken hips)
- Wrongful death
What Damages Are Available for Victims of Nursing Home Neglect?
In cases where the nursing home employee’s negligence results in a patient’s death, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate may be able to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent (meaning the individual who was killed). In a wrongful death claim, the estate can recover monetary damages, including compensation for loss of spousal companionship and support.
In Baltimore nursing home abuse and negligence cases, the injured patient may be entitled to recover the following types of economic and non-economic damages:
- Payment of all related medical and physical therapy bills
- Lost wage compensation
- Disability income
- Damages for past, present, and future pain and suffering
- Compensation for emotional distress and mental anguish
A Baltimore, Maryland nursing home abuse lawyer may be able to help you recover monetary compensation for all of your related injuries and damages.
In cases where a nursing home employee – or the nursing home itself – acted in a particularly egregious manner, the injured patient may be eligible to recover punitive damages. The purpose of this type of damage is to punish the liable parties for recklessness and extremely negligent conduct – and to deter others from engaging in the same or similar conduct. However, these damages are only recoverable in the most serious of cases, often where the negligence amounted to gross negligence.
What Are Some Nursing Homes in or Near Baltimore?
Nursing homes in Baltimore or near Baltimore include the following:
- Autumn Lake Healthcare at BridgePark
- Blue Point Healthcare Center
- Caton Manor
- Cromwell Center
- Future Care Nursing Home
- Genesis Health Care
- Haven Nursing Home
- Homewood Center
- Long Green Center
- ManorCare Health Services – Roland Park
- Northwest Healthcare Center
- Overlea Health and Rehabilitation Center
- Saint Elizabeth Rehabilitation and Nursing
- Stadium Place Nursing and Rehab Center
- Symphony Manor
Baltimore Nursing Home Injury Lawsuit Attorneys
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we understand how emotionally overwhelming these types of cases can be. We also understand that nursing home abuse or negligence cases can be difficult to litigate. Randolph Rice is committed to representing persons who have been injured as a result of negligence. Insurance companies vigorously defend nursing home abuse and negligence cases and have experienced attorneys on their side representing them. You should too.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or negligence, you need an attorney who can work strategically to recover monetary compensation. Randolph Rice is here to fight for your loved one’s right to physical safety and personal dignity, as well financial compensation from the liable nursing home.
If you suspect that your loved one has suffered nursing home abuse, you no doubt feel both betrayed and overwhelmed. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice Jr., we recognize how difficult this experience is, and we’re here to help you fight for the justice your loved one has been denied. As an experienced Baltimore nursing home abuse attorney, Randolph Rice possesses the skill, knowledge, and compassion to help guide your loved one’s claim toward its most favorable resolution. To set up a free legal consultation, call the Law Offices of Randolph Rice at (410) 694-7291, or contact us online today.