When we place an elderly loved one in a nursing home or long term care facility, we can’t be expected to be there 100% of the time. This makes it difficult to find out how they are being treated and taken care of. Unfortunately, nursing home negligence and abuse both occur more often than we’d like to admit. Our loved ones aren’t guaranteed to be safe in these institutions.
It’s a fact that Kentucky nursing homes are generally understaffed. Understaffing can lead to staff member negligence on multiple levels when residents are not given the time they require. Failing to keep an eye on a wandering resident or not properly caring for bed sores, for example, can cause life-threatening injuries. In rare cases, employees may wrongfully handle or be abusive to residents thinking they will not get caught.
Our loved ones depend on long term care facility employees to keep them safe and healthy. When this doesn’t happen and they become hurt or suffer emotionally, we can take legal action against the facility or employees who were abusive or negligent. In the very worst cases, that legal action takes the form of a wrongful death claim.
To protect an elderly loved one and to stop a risky situation from becoming worse, we must first know what to look for. Even though we can’t always be there for our loved one, we can keep an eye out for these 12 signs of nursing home negligence or abuse:
- Unexplained bruises or bed restraint markings such as binding marks around the wrists or ankles
- Bed sores (pressure ulcers)
- Evidence of unexplained falls such as broken bones or head injuries
- Rapid weight loss, other signs of malnutrition, or signs of dehydration
- Increased evidence of wandering (often referred to as elopement)
- Unusual or sudden changes in behavior such as a sudden fear of being touched, an unwillingness to speak, or wanting to be isolated from others
- Unsanitary or unclean conditions anywhere in the nursing home
- Repeated illnesses or injuries that aren’t reported to the doctor or family
- Evidence that the resident is under heavy sedation or medication unnecessarily
- Evidence of residents fighting with one another
- Signs that the resident is unnaturally quiet around facility staff members or is reluctant to speak
If you notice any of these signs while visiting a loved one, you should immediately speak to facility staff members and your loved one’s doctor. If an employee is unwilling to disclose what happened or failed to inform you or the doctor about what happened, this is a red flag and may point toward negligence or abuse.
Trust your instincts. You know your loved one better than anyone else. If you feel there may be something suspect going on, visit your loved one more often without announcing your visits. Speak to multiple facility employees and express your concern. If they do not take steps to address your concerns, this is a red flag as well. Do not hesitate to be as honest as is needed to ensure your loved one’s safety.
If you’ve taken the above steps and your loved one is not improving or continues to show signs of abuse or neglect, you should contact Kentucky’s Elder Abuse Hotline after gathering as much evidence (medical records, admission documents, and any photographs of injuries and/or facility conditions) as possible. This will let you take the necessary steps to protect your loved one and relocate them if necessary.
Afterwards, you should contact a Lexington, KY nursing home negligence lawyer as soon as you can. Filing a lawsuit against the facility or guilty employee can bring your family peace of mind as well as ensure no other residents are injured in the same way. Todd W. Burris is happy to answer any questions you may have regarding nursing home negligence claims or speak to you about a potential case in the state of Kentucky. Contact our office to learn more.