When we place an elderly loved one into a nursing home or long-term care facility, we trust that they will be properly cared for and remain safe. This is the reason why facilities like this exist, after all—to protect our elderly loved ones when we are unable to do so ourselves.
Unfortunately, due to the often-dangerous combination of budgetary concerns and negligence, residents are sometimes improperly cared for, wrongfully injured, or abused in long-term care facilities. In the legal world, we refer to situations like this as elder abuse, elder neglect, or nursing home abuse or neglect. When a family member is harmed, neglected, or abused in a facility, we have a right to hire a Milwaukee nursing home abuse lawyer to keep our loved one safe.
If you’re in this unfortunate situation, hiring an attorney may let you file a lawsuit against the facility. Doing so may grant your family compensation that can aid your loved one’s recovery process as well as guarantee their safety by placing them in a better home or facility. Filing a lawsuit against the facility also sends an important message—a message which states that the health and safety of our elderly population must be prioritized at all times. There is never an exception.
Common Forms of Nursing Home Abuse
At Urban & Taylor, S.C., our Wisconsin elder abuse lawyers are passionate about making our long-term care facilities safer for our state’s elderly population. Many Wisconsin facilities are severely understaffed, but understaffing is never an acceptable excuse for abuse or negligence.
The Population Reference Bureau estimates that by 2060, the number of Americans aged 65 and older will more than double. In order to make sure our loved ones’ needs are met, our long-term care institutions must do better and employ skilled, reliable caretakers.
Here are some of the common forms of abuse and neglect that occur at nursing homes in our state and across the nation:
- Physical Abuse – Physical abuse is the most common type of abuse and is the easiest to prove in court. Symptoms of abuse include bruising, scars, restraint marks, broken bones, and abrasions. This type of abuse happens when staff members hit residents, shove them, or otherwise forcefully handle them.
- Mental/Emotional Abuse – Emotional or mental abuse can come in many forms and is more difficult to prove, but it’s one of the most devastating and permanent ways the elderly are often abused. Staff members may humiliate or ridicule residents, scare them, or even forcefully ignore or isolate them to the point of causing emotional distress. Signs of emotional trauma include sudden mood changes, noticeable signs of fear, emotional outbursts, or a tendency to withdraw/be quiet when certain staff members are present.
- Sexual Abuse – Sexual abuse is rare in nursing homes, but it can occur. Victims are taken advantage of or forced to take part in sexual acts or photographs. Signs may include ripped or torn undergarments or bruising.
- Financial Abuse – Financial abuse happens when a resident is taken advantage of financially. In a nursing home this can take the form of a staff member coercing a resident for bank account information or stealing personal property from the individual. Signs include sudden bank account withdrawals, etc.
- Neglect – Nursing home neglect is similar to abuse in many ways, but happens when a resident doesn’t get the proper care they require and suffers as a result. Signs may include malnutrition, dehydration, unclean conditions, or poor health.
Here are some of the conditions and causes for neglect that you may be able to receive monetary compensation for:
- Bed Sores (pressure ulcers) that were caused by resident neglect.
- Falling Injuries that were caused by a failure to properly monitor and assist.
- Medication Errors — Prescribing the wrong drug, administering an overdose, failing to check for dangerous drug interactions, or failing to start patients on medications the doctor ordered. Any of these can cause irreversible damage or death.
- Failure to Monitor, Diagnose, and Treat — Nursing home staffers are the eyes and ears for the families and doctors of residents. When a patient’s declining health goes unnoticed because of understaffing or negligent care, it can lead to serious illness or even death.
- Elopement — Some patients have a known tendency to wander off. The act of wandering off is often referred to as “elopement”. Failure to watch over a resident who is prone to elopement can lead to serious injuries (falls, car accidents, or assaults) if they leave the premises or wander in an unsafe area.
Step One: Knowing the Signs of Elder Abuse
If you have a loved one in a Wisconsin nursing home or long-term care facility, it can be difficult to know if they are always safe since you obviously cannot be there for them on a constant basis. There are a few things you should always watch for every time you visit them, however. Here are some of the most common signs of elder abuse:
- Unexplained bruises, scars, or welts anywhere on the body—specifically around ankles and wrists where residents are often unnecessarily restrained
- Broken bones or sprains
- Signs of overmedication such as constant drowsiness, listlessness or confusion
- Signs of elder emotional abuse such as a silent and withdrawn demeanor, a tendency to avoid eye contact, exhibiting fear or nervousness, or sudden mood swings
If you notice any of the above signs or your loved one otherwise seems “off” you should speak to a facility staff member and ask to speak to your loved one’s doctor as quickly as possible. You know your loved one better than anyone else. If something doesn’t seem right, there’s a good chance that something suspect may be happening.
In addition, ensure you always keep an eye on your loved one’s bank accounts and personal finances. Elder financial abuse is common in situations with caregivers or facilities where the residents have control over their finances. Any suspicious activity should be investigated immediately.
Getting Help from a Milwaukee Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
The Milwaukee elder abuse team at Urban & Taylor, S.C. is committed to making a difference in the quality of long-term care. All Wisconsin nursing home residents have rights which much be respected when they are staying in a facility. When these rights are violated, family members can take action by holding the home accountable. These rights include the following:
- A right to dignity and respect
- A right to privacy
- A right to self-determination
- A right to access
- A right to voice grievances
By holding a nursing home accountable to pay damages for your loved one’s injuries or abuse, we hope to convince these facilities to change their practices so other families are spared the same tragedy.
Our legal team has had notable success in nursing home litigation. We serve the entire state of Wisconsin and have prosecuted claims throughout the state. If your elderly parent or family member has suffered injury or died because of substandard care or nursing home abuse, call our office today to be paired with an expert Milwaukee, WI nursing home abuse lawyer who can help. We extend a free case evaluation and work on a contingency fee.