At the Law Firm of Steve Watrel, P.A., we often speak about fighting nursing home abuse and neglect. It may seem odd to separate the two, but abuse and neglect are very different things. They are both terrible for seniors in managed care. However, neglect has different causes than abuse, and it affects residents in different ways. These differences are also reflected in the warning signs, which is why it’s crucial for family members to know the signs of nursing home neglect.
To paint the picture with broad strokes, nursing home abuse is harm that is caused by deliberate (often malicious) action. In contrast, nursing home neglect happens when the inaction of the facility staff causes an injury. Nursing home neglect can be harder to detect because the harm isn’t as apparent, the patient may not realize they’re being neglected, and some of the damage done is easy to write off as the perils of getting older.
Nursing homes have a legal responsibility to ensure their patients receive proper care. Pressure sores on a patient are one sign that the nursing home is neglecting patients. The staff is required to move patients who are confined to a wheelchair or bed. Pressure sores, also called bedsores, are signs that the person has been left in a position for too long. Pressure sores can be hidden by clothing, which is why family members need to check their loved ones when they come for visits.
Family members should also be on guard for bruises and hurt limbs as a result of falls. It’s true that accidents will happen, but if these falls occur frequently, it’s a sign that the facility is neglecting their duties. A nursing home should have a written plan that details how staff members will assist residents with mobility issues.
Medication issues are a serious problem for nursing homes and other facilities. When a facility is understaffed, or the crew is inadequately trained, mistakes with medication can occur. These errors can be life-threatening, and it’s one of the ways that nursing home neglect can be deadly. It’s impossible to be there to watch every dose be administered, but there are warning signs that things may be amiss at a facility. Talk to your loved ones to make sure they are getting the correct dosage at the right time. It’s also helpful to follow up after there has been a switch in medication or dosage amounts. Make sure the staff is up-to-date with the newest procedures. If your family member isn’t getting the medication on schedule, it’s a sign that there are significant issues at the facility.
Unintentional nursing home neglect happens more often in situations where a facility is understaffed. The staffing levels for a nursing home are determined by the law, and it’s vital that these levels be maintained. A nursing home with inadequate or undertrained staff members can’t provide the necessary care to all of the residents, and nursing home neglect becomes unavoidable. As a rule of thumb, more than nine residents per assistant is too many, and the staff is likely to be overwhelmed. If your loved one is at a nursing home that’s always working with the bare minimum staff members, take additional care to ensure their needs are being met.
If someone you know has been harmed by nursing home neglect, the Law Firm of Steve Watrel, P.A. can help. We have been fighting nursing home abuse and neglect in North Florida for more than 25 years. Send us a message online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your issue.