Nursing homes are charged with caring for many of the most vulnerable in society. This is a tremendous responsibility, and unfortunately, bad outcomes can result from not taking that responsibility seriously or employing individuals and systems that do not serve those in care. Family members and friends of those in California nursing homes are rightfully concerned with the types of abuse or neglect that could be faced in nursing homes. Loved ones should be on the lookout for these five types of nursing home maltreatment:
- Physical abuse: Physical abuse refers to use of force to cause physical pain or injury to another, for example, hitting, kicking, pinching, burning. In nursing homes, this can also look like inappropriate use of drugs, inappropriate use of physical restraints, or force feeding.
- Sexual abuse: This refers to non-consensual sexual contact. This is not limited to intercourse but can include unwanted touching, coerced nudity or explicit photographing.
- Psychological abuse: This type of abuse, also known as emotional abuse, refers to verbal or nonverbal acts that inflict pain or distress. This can include verbal assaults, intimidation, humiliation or other harassment. In nursing homes, abusers may also use isolation or the “silent treatment” to harm a victim.
- Financial abuse/exploitation: This is the improper use of property, assets or funds. Elderly people are particularly susceptible to this type of abuse. Financial exploitation can range outright stealing of property, fraudulent transactions (for example, forging an older person signature) or even coercion to change financial and estate plans.
- Neglect: When a nursing home is charged with the care of a vulnerable person, not doing certain things can be just as harmful as taking abusive actions. Neglect is the failure to full one’s duty of care, resulting in a negative outcome. This can include denying the person food, water, personal hygiene or comfort that is necessary for a healthy existence. It can also include failure to prevent falls, medication errors, or undiagnosed medical conditions that result from lack of attention.
Abuse, exploitation and neglect in nursing homes can happen due to the acts of one individual, or due to systemic failures, like understaffing or inadequate training. In some cases, criminal charges could be filed on an abuser. However, in many cases, civil lawsuits are also necessary to recover from the damage imposed by these deeply unfortunate situations. Those who are interested in potentially filing a case of nursing home neglect could benefit from contacting an experienced California personal injury lawyer.