Nursing Home Abuse in Pennsylvania
As people get older, they tend to rely more on others to help take care of themselves. Many elderly people seek this help via nursing homes. However, depending on nursing homes and their staff for help with basic care means a greater likelihood that the nursing home or its staff can abuse or take advantage of an elderly person. Elder abuse involves harm or neglect of a person age 60 or older. In many cases victims of elder abuse are afraid or embarrassed to seek relief from their abusers. But others around the elderly can look out for signs of abuse.
Kinds of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse typically falls into one or more four major categories:
- Intentional abuse: Intentional abuse of an elderly person by nursing home staff can take the form of physical assaults and beatings, sexual assault, or verbal and mental abuse
- Neglect: Neglect of an elderly person by nursing home staff often involved failing to provide assistance to residents who need it, such as help with eating, grooming, using the facilities, or moving around to prevent bed sores or ulcers
- False imprisonment: Nursing home staff can inflict false imprisonment upon residents by preventing them from leaving certain areas, such as their room, or entering certain areas of the facility. This often occurs when nursing home staff withhold wheelchairs, crutches, or other mobility assistance, or threaten harm or deprivation of food or privileges
- Financial abuse: Nursing home staff can commit financial abuse by stealing residents’ personal property, stealing their credit cards or financial information to withdraw money or make fraudulent charges, or employ coercion, duress, or undue influence to get residents to make changes to their estate planning. Nursing home facilities themselves can commit financial abuse of their residents by imposing false or exorbitant charges.
Signs of Elder Abuse
The signs of elder abuse vary depending on whether the abuse is physical, sexual, mental, or financial:
- Physical abuse (whether from intentional abuse or neglect): signs include drastic weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration, bed rash, broken bones, over-sedation, unexplained cuts or bruises, or injuries that won’t heal or happen over and over
- Sexual abuse: signs include bruising and/or bleeding in genital areas, torn or bloodied clothing, or testing positive for STDs
- Mental abuse: signs include fear or anxiety around certain persons, visible depression or anger, incessant rocking or mumbling, confusion, or loss of interest in things the person once enjoyed
- Financial abuse: financial transactions the elderly person cannot explain, missing financial statements, unpaid bills, or changed or missing legal documents
What to Do If You Suspect an Elderly Person Has Been Abused?
If you suspect an elderly person has been abused by their nursing home staff, you should immediately take the following steps:
- Try to verify the person’s story: If the person won’t answer questions, try to get some verification from other residents. Take photos of suspected injuries, or arrange for a medical examination
- Consider removing them from their nursing home: If you believe the person is in immediate danger, help them to leave their nursing home and transfer to a new facility or stay with relatives or friends who can take care of them
- Contact the authorities: If you suspect a person will be in immediate danger once you leave, you may want to consider calling 911.
If there is no immediate danger but a concern of long-term harm, you can file a report with the police or district attorney, or contact the state department of human services or local elder protective service agencies
Legal Causes of Action for Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes
If you are the loved one of an elderly person who has been subject to abuse in a nursing home, you and your loved one may be eligible to bring a lawsuit against the nursing home and the employees involved in the abuse for an intentional tort, if the abuse was the result of intentional physical, mental, or financial abuse, or negligence if the abuse was the result of neglect. However, even if the nursing home has violated state or federal regulations, if such violations did not result in harm only the state or federal attorney general may bring a cause of action for such violations.
Contact a Newtown Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer to Discuss Your Case Today
Seniors in nursing homes and other care facilities deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Additionally, nursing home staff needs to ensure that patients are safe and secure at all times. If your loved one suffered an injury, or worse, due to nursing home neglect & abuse in Pennsylvania, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The experienced nursing home neglect attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford represent clients throughout Pennsylvania, including Newtown, Doylestown, Lansdale and King of Prussia. Call 215-822-7575 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a free consultation today. We have an office conveniently located at 2605 N. Broad St., Colmar, PA 18915, as well as an office in Newtown.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.