Nursing Home Abuse
Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Attorney in Houston
If you have an elderly loved one in a Texas nursing home, you know just how emotional and difficult the decision to place them in the home was—and how difficult it can be for your loved one. Giving up independence and autonomy is never easy, nor is it easy for family members to trust that strangers will provide the necessary care for a vulnerable senior. All too frequently, nursing homes and their staff betray the trust placed in them, causing injury, pain, and loss of dignity to the elderly in their care.
Abuse, neglect, negligence, and indifference can all cause serious, lasting damage to seniors. At The Brothers Law Firm, we have a deep understanding of the devastation which occurs when senior abuse is discovered. We are fiercely protective of the rights and health of seniors in Texas, Ohio, and nationwide; we will aggressively pursue compensation and justice for those who have suffered nursing home abuse and neglect. We work closely with the family of these seniors to ensure their loved ones receive the care and respect they deserve.
How Common is Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse and neglect, unfortunately, occur much too often, however, nursing homes and assisted living facilities to fulfill a vital need in the United States. With a population that is living longer and longer and a society that cannot fully meet the needs of their own elderly, many of our most vulnerable people suffer serious harm as a result of neglect or abuse in a senior care facility. The state of Texas has specific laws that regulate the operation of nursing homes, yet there remain far too many occurrences of neglect and abuse. Many instances of nursing home neglect either go unnoticed or are overlooked in the belief the deteriorating condition of an elderly loved one is due solely to the aging process.
A 2017 article in the Austin Chronicle found that 25 percent of the state’s 1,200 long-term care facilities have received citations for serious deficiencies. Many claims of abuse and neglect were asserted; in one case a 90-year-old woman claimed that when she wet the bed, an employee would flip her over and strike her repeatedly on the backside. In fact, according to the article, while health standard violations found in nursing homes across the country are declining, in Texas those numbers are increasing.
Between 2010 and 2014, severe infractions at nursing homes across the nation decreased by 16 percent, severe infractions at Texas nursing homes increased by three percent. Families for Better Care (advocates for nursing home care), ranked Texas nursing homes at a dismal 51 out of 51, giving them a grade of “F” overall. More recently, Texas was rated third for worst nursing home care, behind New Mexico and Kentucky. While there are very good nursing homes in Texas, there are also many with serious problems. Many of the cited nursing homes are repeat offenders, yet Texas officials rarely impose significant penalties on these facilities.
According to the National Center for Elder Abuse, it is believed that at least 10 percent of seniors experience physical abuse, psychological abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, or neglect, although most experts believe that number is actually much higher, due to the fact that many seniors do not report the abuse or neglect. A New York Elder Abuse Prevalence Study claims that for every case of abuse or neglect reported, another 24 go unreported. Many elderly nursing home patients are afraid if they report abuse or neglect, no one will believe them, and the perpetrator will increase the abuse. Other elderly patients are unable to verbalize the abuse or neglect, and, in fact, elderly patients with disabilities or dementia are the most likely to be abused and neglected.
Risk Factors for Nursing Home Abuse
The National Center for Elder Abuse found a number of factors that might make an elderly person more at risk of becoming a victim of abuse or neglect. These factors include:
- Lower levels of social support;
- Poor physical health;
- Functional impairment;
- Previous traumatic events, including domestic violence;
- Female, and
- Lower economic resources.
Recognizing Nursing Home Abuse
Such issues as understaffing, inadequate facility maintenance, insufficient staff education and training, and failure to thoroughly screen candidates can result in nursing home abuse and neglect. Looking back, many people can see that there were signs of neglect and abuse of their loved one which they failed to see—a realization which can later be extremely painful. If your loved one shows evidence of rapid or extreme weight loss, malnutrition may be present. If you notice that messes are left for long periods of time, this could be a red flag. If your loved one appears unkempt or you notice a lack of hygiene, abuse or neglect could be occurring.
Any injury present in your loved one such as a bruise or fracture is definitely cause for concern as are the appearance of bedsores or pressure ulcers. If your loved one appears frightened and refuses to tell you why, there could be abuse taking place If you note an overall lack of cleanliness at the facility, this is likely another flag for potential abuse and neglect of residents. If you notice any type of inappropriate restraints used on the nursing home residents, your loved one is missing personal property, or there is a failure on the part of the staff to clearly communicate changes in your loved one’s health, a serious problems could exist.
Nursing Home Injuries Caused by Abuse and/or Neglect
At The Brothers Law Firm, we represent seniors and their families, for injuries caused by nursing home abuse and neglect. While it is not always easy for family members to recognize the signs of abuse and the injuries associated with abuse and neglect, they include:
- Bedsores from failure to move the senior—allowing them to spend hours and hours lying in bed or sitting in a wheelchair;
- Medication errors, or deliberate over-medication;
- Signs of restraint, such as marks on the wrists or ankles;
- Other signs of physical abuse, including bruises and cuts;
- Malnutrition from lack of proper food;
- Dehydration from lack of water or other liquids;
- Frequent infection;
- Obvious signs of assault;
- Signs of sexual abuse;
- The refusal of nursing home staff to allow family members to visit with their loved one alone;
- Emotional withdrawal by the senior;
- Agitation, becoming withdrawn, or suddenly becoming non-communicative;
- Being upset easily;
- Any behavior which mimics dementia, such as mumbling or rocking;
- Unusual weight loss;
- The presence of dirty bedding or clothing;
- Frequent falls resulting in broken bones or sprains, and
- Inadequate care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.
What to Do If You Suspect Texas Nursing Home Abuse
If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect, your first step might be to speak to the director of the nursing home. If you do not feel this conversation corrected the situation, you can call (800) 458-9858 to report suspected abuse or neglect of the elderly or those with disabilities. If you feel your loved one is in immediate danger, call 911 and report the abuse. It can also be extremely beneficial to contact a nursing home attorney from The Brothers Law Firm who can help guide you through the reporting process.
Justice for Our Most Vulnerable Citizens
At The Brothers Law Firm, we are absolutely committed to pursuing justice for seniors and their families. When you meet with us, we will comprehensively evaluate the facts of the abuse or neglect, analyze the medical records of your loved one, and gather all necessary evidence. We will fight for you and your loved one every step of the way, with compassion and an unwavering commitment to justice.
At The Brothers Law Firm, we are compassionate and dedicated and have full knowledge of how difficult it is to entrust your loved one to another’s care. When that trust is betrayed, you may not know where to turn for help. We believe your loved one deserves the benefit of a comprehensive investigation into the history of the nursing home in question as well as the care—or lack of care—provided to residents on a regular basis. To arrange for a free initial consultation with a Texas nursing home abuse lawyer, contact The Brothers Law Firm at (281) 491-3635