Incidents of nursing home abuse and neglect are increasing, and there have been a number of these tragic cases that took place in the Fort Collins area.
Those of us with elderly parents or other relatives who are unable to live on their own carefully select a nursing home that we believe will provide the level of care, comfort and professional medical treatment that our loved ones need. It comes as shock to discover that a loved one has been abused or neglected while under the care of the facility.
Advocates for the Nursing Home Residents in Fort Collins
All nursing home residents deserve to be treated with compassion, sensitivity and respect. Sadly, this is not what happens in too many cases. At Ray & Heatherman Law, PLLC, we act as advocates for victims of abuse and neglect in nursing homes, and we urge you to contact us immediately if your loved one has been a victim.
Contact us today for a free consultation and claim review. We are Pathfinders for Injured People. Let us navigate you toward the financial compensation you and your loved ones deserve.
Common Types of Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes
A recent report card issued to all states for the quality of care in nursing homes has given Colorado a “C.” There have been many nursing homes in the area cited for violations of state or federal laws, and your loved one may have been a victim.
These are some of the most common types of situations or conditions that are frequently found to be a direct result of abuse or neglect:
A patient who is immobile can easily develop bedsores if not cared for correctly. This condition puts the patient at great risk of further complications, including infections, sores that will not heal and amputations. All of these are extremely dangerous for anyone, and particularly for a nursing home resident in frail health.
- Falls –
Nursing homes are aware of the risk of falls and must carefully manage residents who are at risk. A resident who falls often suffers very serious physical consequences, including brain injuries, broken hips or other fractures, and will often require hospitalization.
- Elopement (wandering)
Many patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia have a tendency to wander off. A nursing home must have security to protect these patients from an “elopement,” which is wandering off the premises. A nursing home resident who gets lost may suffer from hypothermia in cold weather and faces many other dangers. A relative who has eloped from a nursing home and suffered an injury may be a victim of nursing home neglect.
- Physical abuse –
There are shocking numbers of residents who are physically abused in nursing homes. Types of abuse include slapping, pinching, shoving, punching and even biting or being thrown about with force while being moved. The resident is often terrified, and may be unable to speak, or is under threat of further physical abuse if he or she tells a family member about the abuse.
- Emotional abuse
There are various types of emotional abuse that can have a serious impact on the overall health of a nursing home resident. Emotional abuse may involve yelling, cursing, berating, humiliating or isolating a resident with no contact or communication. The resident is often frightened, withdrawn and depressed and goes into decline.
- Sexual abuse
There are cases in which vulnerable residents are sexually abused by caregivers in nursing homes. Examples include unwanted sexual contact with a staff member, a resident being forced to watch others engage in sexual activity or being forced to view pornography. The impact on the physical and emotional health of the person is often extreme in these cases.
- Financial abuse
The loss of valuable jewelry, changes in bank accounts, new beneficiaries named in a will that happen to be a caregiver from a nursing home are all signs of financial abuse. Disappearing bank accounts or other assets are another red flag.
- Neglect –
Neglect can take many forms, including failure to provide proper nutrition and hydration, failure to maintain correct levels of hygiene, or a failure to provide attention to a resident’s emotional needs.
Some nursing homes have been found to overmedicate their residents in order make them more manageable for the convenience of the staff. This is referred to as “chemical constraint.” It can have very serious consequences for residents who receive sedative medication that is not medically necessary.
- Lack of medical care
Every nursing home resident must have a care plan in place, and all medical treatment must be under the direction of the resident’s doctors. There are many cases in which a resident has a condition that was not properly treated, leading to illness, injury or death. Harm that results from a failure to provide the accepted standard of medical care would indicate that there has been a breach of duty to the patient.
Elder Abuse: An Epidemic
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) defines elder abuse as: “Intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm (whether or not harm is intended) to a vulnerable elder by a caregiver or other person who stands in a trust relationship to the elder. This includes failure by a caregiver to satisfy the elder’s basic needs or to protect the elder from harm.”
Cases of elder abuse and neglect are increasing, and these cases have reached epidemic proportions, as reported by the NCEA. Many victims are those who suffer from dementia and no longer have the ability to report what has occurred due to diminished mental capacity.
A recent study from the NCEA revealed the following:
- 20 percent of caregivers expressed fears they would become violent with patients.
- 47.3 percent of nursing home residents have been the victim of abuse from caregivers.
- 60 percent of caregivers admit to having been verbally abusive.
- Up to 10 percent of caregivers admit to having been physically abusive.
- 14 percent of caregivers admit to having been neglectful.
Legal Help for Victims of Nursing Home Abuse in Fort Collins
Victims of elder abuse or neglect may be able to seek compensation through legal action. The responsible parties can be held accountable and required to pay damages if it is determined that the resident has been a victim of abuse or neglect in a nursing home.
There may be several liable parties, including the caregiver, a medical doctor, the administration, the owner of the facility and others. Each case is unique with regard to what occurred, the extent of the damages and how the case may proceed.
The lawyers of Ray & Heatherman Law, PLLC, represent victims of nursing home abuse, and we are dedicated getting justice for people who have been harmed. Our attorneys include a former Marine Corps prosecutor and a Marine Corps judge who are now fighting for the rights of nursing home abuse victims. They are ready to bring more than 35 years of combined legal experience to assist you with a claim for compensation if your loved one has been injured in a nursing home or other long-term care facility in Fort Collins or elsewhere in Northern Colorado.
Our firm will take the time to listen and understand what happened in your case. We will carefully explain the options available to you for seeking compensation. And, ultimately, we will take the steps needed to seek a maximum recovery in your case.
If you don’t recover a verdict or settlement, you will pay nothing for our legal services.
Contact us today to arrange a free, no-obligation legal consultation about your case.
- Nursing Home Report Cards: Key Findings
- National Center on Elder Abuse: How at Risk for Abuse Are People with Dementia?