Elder Law (Nursing Home Abuse)
Protecting seniors against abuse throughout California
The sad reality is that, in America, a number of nursing homes and assisted living facilities are understaffed and poorly managed, and this negatively impacts the residents living there. From physical and/or sexual abuse, to neglect, financial abuse, abandonment, and isolation, our loved ones often suffer unnecessarily in these facilities. Some of the signs indicating that your loved one is suffering can include bedsores, depression, dehydration, and/or malnutrition, amongst others.
Common Issues Seen in Nursing Homes
- Inadequate Staffing: Lack of adequate nursing staff is a huge issue in many of these homes. Understaffed facilities often give rise to employees who are overworked, improperly trained, and who lack the ability to recognize when a resident may be in harm's way;
- Administration Errors and Medication Mistakes: Administration errors can be especially harmful if they lead to medication errors, which, unfortunately, occur all to often in these facilities, especially when staff is undertrained;
- Falls and Fractures: Injuries from falls account for a significant percentage of hospital visits by nursing home residents. They frequently cause disabilities and reduced quality of life for the elderly;
- Bedsores (also known as pressure ulcers): In these facilities, bedsores are most frequently caused by immobility, especially on residents who are non-ambulatory and unable to move;
- Choking: Choking and suffocation are all-too-frequent causes of death in these facilities, especially when the facilities are understaffed and residents need assistance in order to eat;
- Unreasonable Restraints: Unreasonable restraints are a form of abuse and mistreatment in these facilities. Regardless of whether a resident has a cognitive or medical issue, these facilities are, in general, overusing these restraints, which can not only result in physical injuries, but violate the rights of nursing home residents;
- Sexual Harassment: Workers in these facilities sometimes face sexual harassment, which employers are legally liable to protect them from under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Many female workers report facing sexual harassment when caring for elderly men, and in addition, residents can sometimes face sexual abuse from other residents and/or staff;
- Emotional Trauma: Inadequate treatment and mistreatment can frequently lead to anxiety and depression, as well as other emotional trauma, for residents;
- Financial Exploitation: Financial abuse in nursing homes is a huge issue when residents' assets, funds, or property are improperly or illegally used;
- Verbal Abuse: Verbal abuse is one of the most common forms of emotional abuse suffered by the elderly in these facilities, and it can be extremely destructive to their health;
- Clogged Breathing Tubes: This can occur in understaffed nursing homes when a staffer fails to properly insert or monitor a breathing or endotracheal tube;
- Life Threatening Injuries: These injuries can often result in wrongful death, and include dehydration, malnutrition, sepsis, medication mistakes, and others;
- Inappropriate Care: This can often occur via the use of restraints, medication, urinary catheters, undertrained and/or inadequate staff; and
- Malnutrition: Malnutrition can frequently be traced back to the nursing home staff, and involve a resident not receiving enough food or not receiving the right type of food to meet the daily nutrition requirements for an elderly individual.
Relevant California Laws
California has state laws and/or programs that directly relate to elder abuse, including:
- The Adult Protective Services program;
- The Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act; and
- The Long-Term Care Ombudsman program.
In addition to bringing a claim for negligence, those who have been harmed by California nursing homes can also file personal injury and/or wrongful death claims for any wrongdoing that resulted in harms and loss. While your first priority should be to get your loved one out of the facility and contact the relevant state agencies to report the issue, filing litigation can help you and your family obtain some compensation to address the harm that has been done--such as medical costs--as well as help to deter future abuse at the same facility.
Consulting with an attorney can help you feel prepared to take the next step, regardless of what path you choose. You should never try negotiating with the facility's insurance company on your own.
If you or a loved one has suffered from nursing home abuse, contact our office by filling out the contact form on this page or call (818) 740-2122 to see how we can help.