Posted: February 15, 2024

Nursing home abuseWhen a loved one is in a nursing home or assisted living facility, we trust that their needs are being met and that they are receiving proper care. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Elder abuse involves either deliberate or negligent acts or omissions that harm residents. Often neglect or abuse occurs because a facility is under-staffed or does not have proper training or supervision of their nursing staff. Such neglect or abuse can have severe consequences, including serious injuries, emotional trauma, medical emergencies, and even untimely death. If you have a loved one residing in a nursing home or assisted living facility, there are warning indicators you should watch for.

Warning Signs:

  1. Multiple falls, some of which can result in serious injury like fractured hip or leg;
  2. Development or worsening of pressure injuries, commonly referred to as bed sores;
  3. Altered mental state or change of condition, which could indicate an infection which needs to be treated;
  4. Signs of over-sedation or over-medication, like being unable to get out of bed for therapy or unable to be aroused for eating or activities;
  5. Dehydration or Malnutrition in a person who requires assistance with eating or drinking, which can be exhibited by significant and unexplained weight loss or tenting of their skin;
  6. Extremely abrupt and unexplained shifts in behavior, such as depression, confusion, agitation, or withdrawal from relationships and groups
  7. Physical injuries, such as unexplained fractures or bruising;
  8. Calls bells that go unanswered due to short staffing;
  9. Lack of proper hygiene and/or poor, unsanitary living conditions.

What To Do When You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse

If your loved one appears to have a significant altered mental state or has a medical emergency and the nursing staff refused to send your loved one to the hospital, you can call 911 to report the incident and obtain assistance immediately. It is crucial to address and report nursing home abuse as soon as it is detected to prevent further harm and potential fatalities. Various state and federal regulations are in place to ensure the protection of individuals who report nursing home abuse, allowing them to maintain their anonymity unless they voluntarily disclose their identity or a court mandates disclosure.

Ways you can report and seek assistance for elder abuse include the following:

  1. Request a care conference with the director of nursing and/or nursing home administrator;
  2. Contact Adult Protective Services (APS) or Ombudsman in your state;
  3. Make a report online or via phone to the state agency that regulates the facility, typically the State Department of Health for nursing homes or hospitals or the State Department of Human Services for assisted living facilities;
  4. Consult with a trusted personal physician or medical provider;
  5. Seek legal advice from a law firm with experience in elder abuse or nursing home neglect;
  6. Connect with your local representative.

Where to Find an Elder Abuse Lawyer

Kline & Specter provides free and confidential evaluations for potential elder abuse or nursing home abuse cases. In 2023, the firm’s attorneys won a $19 million verdict – including $15 million in punitive damages -- against a Delaware County, Pa., nursing home and its management companies in a wrongful death case.
Among our 60 lawyers are five who are also skilled medical doctors – the most in the nation for any plaintiffs firm. Our law firm handles cases in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and New York. For cases not in those states, we work with local attorneys in each state as applicable.