Nursing home injuries are among the least reported crimes against the elderly. In fact, 84% of abuse cases go unreported – and unusual nursing home deaths may not be investigated by medical examiners or law enforcement officials. Those deaths may simply be attributed to old age or illness.
The attorneys at Gemma Law Associates, Inc., have represented many victims of nursing home injuries throughout the state of Rhode Island including Providence, Newport, Warwick, Cranston, Pawtucket, Bristol and Woonsocket. Contact us today. Call toll free or submit an online contact form.
Nursing home residents are protected by law against what is known as “institutional abuse.” But those laws are ineffective if the crimes are never reported. Why are authorities not called in when abuse occurs? There are several reasons. Nursing home residents are vulnerable; they rely on staff members for their daily needs, and they are often frightened of the consequences if they report abuse. Also, patients suffering from dementia or other health issues may be incapable of communicating the abuse. Finally, the abuser may try to explain away the injuries as inevitable signs of aging, claiming the nursing home resident tripped on their walker or that bruises are a sign of poor circulation, etc.
Nursing home injuries can occur in multiple forms:
- Physical abuse – Direct infliction of pain or injury, including sexual abuse.
- Misuse of restraints – Using physical restraints in such a way that injury occurs. This is often explained as a necessary method for “calming” the resident or “preventing them from hurting themselves.”
- Physical neglect – Disregard for the necessities of daily living such as food, water, bathing and basic care. This can result in serious injuries. Bedsores that become infected or severe dehydration can cause significant and unnecessary suffering.
- Medical neglect – Failing to provide medical care, ignoring a necessary medical diet, neglecting to call a physician when necessary, or not paying attention to the potential side effects of a patient’s medication. A common cold can quickly turn into pneumonia in an elderly person, and medical neglect can have dire consequences.
- Verbal/emotional neglect – Disregarding residents’ wishes or restricting contact with family and friends. The latter often enables nursing home staff to conceal signs of abuse. If the abuser is a family member or visitor, ignoring the resident’s requests for protection may contribute to further injury.
The attorneys at Gemma Law Associates, Inc., have represented many Rhode Island victims of nursing home injuries. Based upon our experience, we have learned that family and friends are often the first line of defense. If you have a loved one living in a nursing home, one of the most important things you can do is to watch for signs of potential injury:
- Mysterious bruises or lacerations that cannot be explained by a reasonable medical cause.
- Lack of cleanliness in your loved one’s appearance, the condition of his or her room or the facility overall.
- A change in demeanor that isn’t the result of failing health or mental state. For example, if a loved one is afraid of certain staff members or patients, that could be a warning sign of abuse.
- Failure of the staff to notice medical issues and summon proper medical care.
If you suspect a nursing home injury from abuse or neglect, document everything. Write down names, dates and details pertaining to the injury. Discuss your concerns with the administration or staff – but if the institution fails to immediately address the situation, contact the attorneys at Gemma Law Associates, Inc.
We can properly investigate your claim and work with qualified medical experts to evaluate questionable care. As your attorney, we can act as an advocate for your loved one or your family and prepare an effective case strategy to hold the institution accountable. We can help obtain appropriate financial compensation for the harm that your loved one has suffered.
In our four decades of legal experience, we’ve learned how to deal effectively with nursing home institutions and their insurance companies – and we are committed to protecting the rights of the elderly. If you believe you may have a case of nursing home neglect or abuse, contact Gemma Law Associates, Inc., toll free or submit an online contact form. We’ve been helping clients in Rhode Island for more than 45 years – and we can help you.