Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorney in Mobile, AL
Alabama nursing home residents report thousands of substantiated cases of abuse and neglect every year, and the number is only growing as elders are living longer and requiring more care. In addition, a hidden number of cases go unreported each year because of victims who are unwilling or unable to come forward and let others know they are being abused, whether out of fear, shame, or physical or mental incapacity. Mobile attorney J. Allan Brown stands up for people who cannot speak for themselves. If you or a loved one has suffered abuse in a Mobile nursing home, the Law Office of J. Allan Brown, L.L.C. will work to put a stop to the abuse or neglect and see that abuse victims are fully compensated by the responsible parties.
Signs & symptoms of nursing home abuse
The first step to stopping and remedying nursing home abuse is to be able to identify it. Since nursing home patients often cannot clearly communicate what is going on, it is important for friends and family to know what to look for and be vigilant for signs of abuse.
- Unexplained cuts, bruises or broken bones – these are signs the resident is being physically abused
- Welts or bruises that occur on both sides of the body in the same place – this indicates that the patient was forcefully grabbed and squeezed by another with both hands
- Bruises or marks around the ankles and wrists – these are signs that physical restraints were used, which are generally illegal unless specifically authorized by a medical professional
- The resident exhibits signs of depression, anxiety or fear – these are signs of emotional, verbal or psychological abuse
- Bedsores – also known as pressure ulcers or pressure sores, bedsores indicate the patient is being neglected and not regularly shifted, moved or turned as required by the appropriate standard of care
- Unexplained weight loss – this indicates malnutrition or dehydration, or even that the resident is being intentionally deprived of food as a punishment
- Disorientation or confusion – these are also signs that the patient is dehydrated or malnourished
Many of the above symptoms of abuse may be explained away by the nursing home staff as normal signs of aging or the resident’s particular medical condition. These symptoms should be carefully investigated by an experienced nursing home attorney who can help determine if abuse or neglect is occurring.
Nursing Home Abuse vs. Nursing Home Neglect – What’s the Difference?
Nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect are terms that are often used interchangeably to describe a situation in which a nursing home resident is not receiving the level of care that they deserve and is suffering harm as a result. However, in the legal world, nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect are distinct, and being able to differentiate between the two is important in order to recognize neglect/abuse, and bring forth an action to recuperate damages.
Nursing home abuse refers to a nursing home staff member intentionally treating a nursing home resident in a manner that is inappropriate, cruel or violent. We’ve already covered some nursing home abuse examples. Other examples of nursing home abuse can include:
• Physical abuse. Abuse that is physical refers to the use of physical force against a resident or abusive actions that have a physical effect on the resident. As such, physical abuse could include hitting, restraining, pinching, or otherwise physically harming the resident in a violent manner, or intentionally refusing the resident food and water, personal hygienic care, denying medical care, or using medications to sedate/retrain the patient in an inappropriate way. Sexual abuse is a type of physical abuse, and those who are targeted are often those who are most vulnerable.
• Emotional abuse. It is also possible for a nursing home staff member to be emotionally abusive to a resident. This occurs when a resident is ignored, humiliated, or harassed by a staff member. Emotional abuse may also occur if the staff member refuses to let the resident participate in social activities with other residents.
• Financial abuse. When a nursing home staff member steals or misappropriates money from a nursing home resident, financial abuse has occurred. This may include convincing the nursing home resident to withdraw cash or write them checks, change their will or estate plan, or plain out stealing credit cards or bank information. Remember, nursing home abuse is always intentional.
Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing home neglect can be just as harmful, but one of the key differences between neglect and abuse is that neglect may be unintentional or accidental, and often occurs as a result of nursing home understaffing or practices rather than the desire to cause harm to the resident. An example of a nursing home neglect might be that of a nursing home resident who develops bedsores because their caregiver fails to move them and check for bedsores on a regular basis, and this failure may be based in the fact that the caregiver is working 10 hour shifts and assigned to 15 other patients. Signs of neglect might include poor hygiene, weight loss, or deterioration in health condition.
Experienced injury lawyers can put an immediate end to nursing home abuse and neglect
There are many routes available to report nursing home abuse and neglect, such as Alabama Adult Protective Services, Alabama Department of Senior Services, and the office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman. These offices receive complaints and may launch an investigation or refer the matter to the appropriate agency. However, these agencies have limited staffs and budgets, and there are over 200 nursing homes with more than 25,000 beds in the state of Alabama. Agency investigations and enforcement actions take time. If you or a loved one is being abused or neglected, you want the neglect or abuse to end now.
An attorney is able to act much more swiftly than a government agency in many instances, such as by going to court for a protective injunction or directly confronting nursing home staff and supervisors with allegations of abuse and the threat of legal action. If you or a loved one has been the victim of abuse in a nursing home in Mobile, contact the Law Office of J. Allan Brown, L.L.C. for immediate assistance.