The decision to put an elderly family member in a nursing home is rarely easy. Families must trust that the facility will provide what they cannot — medical care, round-the-clock nursing and a safe environment. When this trust is violated and elders are harmed, justice is warranted.
California’s stringent elder abuse laws are designed to protect the most vulnerable members of our society. Part of providing a secure environment is taking appropriate measures to hire and maintain high-quality staff members. If nursing homes are not conducting background checks and regularly training their employees, they may be in breach of the legal duties owed to residents and their families. Without these precautions in place, abusers and sex offenders can find employment to access elderly victims. Failure to follow the law may place residents at a substantial risk of:
- Physical Assault or Handling: A nursing home staff member may purposely commit assault by striking a resident. Rough handling is another form of assault, where caregivers handle fragile residents with an inappropriate amount of force. These injuries often produce visible injuries, such as bruising or burn scars.
- Rape or Sexual Abuse: Nursing home residents are also vulnerable to sexual assault, particularly those who are unable to protect themselves from unwanted advances. These harmful acts may include unwanted touching, groping, sexual intercourse and/or rape. Genital injuries, visible bruising and sexually transmitted diseases are common symptoms of elderly sexual abuse.
- Verbal and Psychological Abuse: Elderly residents are also forced to deal with verbal and psychological abuse. Though this type of abuse does not leave physical scars, our San Diego nursing home abuse lawyers know that it can be just as damaging to a victim’s mental and emotional health. That’s why we treat these claims with the same level of commitment as a physical abuse injury.
- Intentional Neglect: Staff members may intentionally neglect a resident if the person’s medical condition requires more extensive care or if the resident does not perform in the manner desired by staff. This type of abuse may lead to malnutrition, bedsores or dehydration. Neglected patients are also more likely to fall or to wander off because the staff is not paying attention.
- Punishment, Excessive Restraint or Overmedication: In an attempt to keep residents quiet and unresponsive, staff members may overly medicate them with sleep inducing substances or use an inappropriate level of physical restraint to keep them within their beds or wheelchairs. This is a form of abuse and nursing homes should be held responsible for allowing it to occur.