Common Injuries in Nursing Home Abuse Cases

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As they enter their final years our elderly loved ones deserve to be cared for with the dignity, respect, and kindness they’ve earned over a lifetime. When family members come to accept that their elderly family member needs 24-hour care, they search for the best possible nursing home so their loved one has the diligent care and comfort they deserve. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of the vulnerable elderly population experiences abuse and neglect from the very caregivers responsible for meeting their daily needs.

The National Council on Aging warns that over five million elderly Americans become victims of abuse each year. Some abuse-related nursing home injuries result in increased disability, diminished quality of life, and even death.

Nursing Home Abuse Statistics

The Nursing Home Abuse Center warns that a survey of 577 nursing home aides, nurses, and other employees reveals the following startling statistics:

  • Around 81% of nursing home staff reported witnessing emotional abuse to residents by staff members
  • Over a 12-month period, 40% of nursing home employees reported committing emotional abuse against one or more residents
  • 70% of those surveyed reported witnessing other staff members yelling at nursing home residents
  • 50% reported noticing caregivers insulting other residents
  • In a survey of 452 family members of nursing home residents, 24.3% reported one or more instances of abuse
  • Between 2002 and 2016 over 600,000 elderly adults received treatment in hospitals for non-fatal assaults.
  • 19,000 homicides of elderly victims occurred in the same period

The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCOA) believes nursing home abuse cases remain under-reported, stating that “there’s no way to know how many nursing home victims are suffering from neglect or abuse as we speak.”

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

For those with elderly loved ones in long-term care facilities, it’s important to be aware that abuse takes place even in the most reputable, or highest-priced nursing homes as well as those facilities with a majority of Medicaid-covered patients or low-income elderly residents. Signs of nursing home abuse and neglect include the following:

  • Sudden weight loss
  • Poor nutrition
  • Poor hygiene
  • Bed sores
  • Emotional withdrawal from friends and family members
  • Significant changes in personality and demeanor
  • Unexplained bruises, lacerations, and bleeding
  • Broken personal items like glasses, dentures, and hearing aids
  • Torn clothing
  • Unkempt room, bedding, and appearance
  • Unexplained financial transactions or losses

Women are at a higher risk of nursing home abuse than men. About 64% of known nursing home abuse cases occur in women. Other factors that increase the risk of abuse include a history of previous abuse, lower socioeconomic status, and patients with cognitive impairment or dementia.

Common Injuries in Nursing Home Abuse Victims

As people age, they’re more susceptible to injuries such as fractures, and skin infections. Common injuries cited in nursing home abuse claims include:

  • Bed sores
  • Bedrail Injuries
  • Infections and sepsis
  • Fractures
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Medication errors
  • Traumatic head injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Asphyxiation
  • Bruises
  • Welts
  • Lacerations
  • Abrasions
  • Multiple injuries at different stages of healing
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Symptoms of sexual abuse, including vaginal or anal bleeding, bruises on the breasts, and STDs

Serious injuries can lead to a decline in a vulnerable elderly nursing home resident’s physical and emotional health. With lessened mobility due to injuries, seniors experience negative health impacts such as respiratory infections, sepsis, and death.

Is Nursing Home Neglect a Form of Abuse?

Nursing home abuse isn’t always the result of purposeful physical harm. Neglect in nursing homes is also a form of physical abuse. When one or more staff members fail to provide adequate care to residents it can result in life-threatening consequences to the elderly resident including deadly dehydration, malnutrition, and sepsis due to untreated infections. Failure to turn and reposition immobile nursing home residents sometimes leads to stage-4 bedsores—excruciating open sores with exposed muscle and bone. Serious bedsores result in infections and sepsis. Nursing home neglect injuries result from the following:

  • Inadequate nursing home staffing
  • Negligent hiring and training practices
  • Over-worked staff members

Neglect injuries in nursing homes can result from medical neglect or the neglect of basic living needs, such as nutrition, hydration, and hygiene. Negligent injuries in nursing homes may also result from caregivers who drop patients during transfer due to inadequate or undertrained staffing.

Sexual Abuse Injuries in Nursing Homes

Sexual abuse of nursing home residents is one of the most egregious forms of elder abuse, with injuries that include physical and emotional harm as well as sexually transmitted diseases. Studies show that 70% of reported sexual assault cases with elderly victims occur in nursing homes. Sexual abuse makes up 0.9% of nursing home abuse cases, but evidence suggests that sexual abuse cases are underreported due to the stigma of sexual assault and fear of retaliation. Types of sexual abuse reported in nursing homes include the following:

  • Unwanted touching
  • Rape
  • Sexual battery
  • Sexual photography
  • Forced nudity of residents

Egregious sexual abuse cases occur most often in elderly patients with dementia. Abusers believe that no one will listen to claims or complaints of abuse from dementia patients.

Who is Responsible for Nursing Home Injuries?

In most cases, nursing home managers and owners are responsible and legally liable for injuries to residents due to abuse and neglect. This includes injuries to residents caused by an employee’s abuse or neglect and abuse occurring from one resident to another. Abuse commonly occurs from staff caregivers, maintenance staff, and other residents. When a resident experiences an injury, the victim and their family can pursue legal action against any of the following:

  • The individual resident or staff member who abused the victim
  • The nursing home management or owner who hired an abusive employee or failed to properly train and monitor staff members
  • Nursing home management that allowed abuse to occur between residents
  • Any staff members or service providers who contributed to the neglect or abuse

Legal options are available to recover compensation for nursing home injuries as well as a sense of justice for an elderly victim. Contact the Louisville nursing home abuse attorneys at Gray & White PLLC today for your free consultation.

Family members place their aging loved ones in nursing homes so they’ll be safe, with 24-hour care. Sadly, a substantial number of nursing home residents experience injuries from abuse or neglect.