Indiana Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
Nursing home abuse and neglect are very real problems in Indiana — a bigger problem than most people realize, and certainly much more serious than nursing homes would like to admit.
While many of the people who work in these senior living facilities are wonderful care providers, they face conditions that leave their residents vulnerable to harm.
Indiana’s skilled nursing and assisted living facilities are overcrowded and understaffed. The companies that run these facilities tend to see them as businesses first, not as healthcare providers or as homes.
Because of these shortcomings, many Indiana senior citizens are neglected while living in nursing homes, their health suffering as a result.
Even worse, many of them experience outright abuse — physical, financial, and emotional in nature.
This is a hard fact for the families of nursing home patients to accept. It seems unthinkable that nurses, custodians, or orderlies would cause your parent or grandparent physical harm — or inflict upon them psychological cruelty — or steal from them.
But the numbers don’t lie. These things do happen, and as Indianapolis nursing home negligence attorneys, we are aware of the atrocities which affect our beloved seniors.
Frustratingly, the seniors themselves are often reluctant to tell their families about what’s happening inside the nursing home. This is also difficult for the families to accept. “Surely they’d say something,” we hear.
But whether out of fear, confusion, embarrassment, forgetfulness, loneliness, or impaired mental capacity, many seniors do suffer ongoing abuse and neglect in total silence. Their abusers depend on it.
That isn’t right, and at Eskew Law, we won’t stand for it.
Nursing homes are subject to a series of strict laws and regulations. If you or your loved one is the victim of nursing home negligence, our law firm wants to help you secure justice. That means a safer living environment and financial compensation for the damages already incurred.
Let us help you and the person you love. If you suspect medical malpractice or nursing home negligence in Indianapolis, contact Eskew Law and ask to speak to Chris Eskew or one of our other attorneys in a free consultation as soon as possible. We may be in a position to help your family.
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Decubitus ulcers, better known as bed sores (sometimes referred to as “pressure sores” or written as “bedsores”), are some of the most common injuries in senior care facilities. They can be a telltale sign of nursing home neglect.
Bedsores can develop from resting too long in one position. They form in areas of the skin that rub against bone with little fat or muscle tissue in between. It only takes 12 hours of immobility for a bedsore to form.
In addition to being extremely painful, bedsores can quickly become medical emergencies. They cut off circulation, causing the skin to die, which can lead to permanent injury and life-threatening infections.
Nursing homes should regularly check on residents and reposition them, help them move around, carefully transfer them between wheelchairs and beds, provide specialized mattresses and padding, and prevent falls (see below). They should inspect residents for bed sores and treat them immediately if found.
Falls can injure anyone, but they are especially dangerous for senior citizens. A fall that might cause only mild pain in a young adult could be fatal for an older person.
Seniors are prone to falling, and that’s often one of the primary reasons they move to a nursing home to begin with. The facility has a duty, then, to help patients move about and take reasonable precautions to prevent falls. Failure to do so can subject the nursing home to liability for the damages caused by a fall.
Malnutrition and Dehydration
Nursing homes must ensure that residents receive adequate food, nutrients, and water. Malnutrition and dehydration are common problems in these facilities, and they only make other problems (such as pressure sores) worse. They can cause illness, immune system deficiencies, and even death. There is no excuse for allowing residents to become dehydrated or malnourished, whether intentionally or accidentally.
Shocking as it is, nursing home employees sometimes hurt residents. They may do so out of frustration, anger issues, or even cruelty. Alternatively, the injury might happen by accident, and the employee tries to cover it up rather than care for the patient.
Signs of physical abuse include:
- Unexplained bruises, burns, or lacerations
- Fractured or broken bones
- Injuries that aren’t immediately reported to the resident’s family
- Patients who stop reacting physically to pain
- Changes in personality / becoming sad, withdrawn, or dejected
- Patients who suddenly become very distrustful or fearful of staff
Emotional abuse is even more common. Staff members might force residents to stay in isolation for long periods of time, for example, missing community events (perhaps as “punishment”).
Emotional abuse can also be solely verbal in nature. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is not a defense. Emotional abuse is not permitted in nursing homes, and your relative shouldn’t have to endure it. In our state, patients have a defensible right to dignity and respect.
Financial Abuse & Theft
Believe it or not, staff members have been known to steal money, personal property, and/or medications from nursing home patients. Financial abuse may also include intimidation designed to manipulate the resident into voluntarily giving these things to staff members or visitors.
Family members should keep a close eye on bank accounts, credit card statements, cash on hand, personal property, and medication supply.
Few people are as vulnerable to sexual abuse as seniors in nursing homes. And while it is difficult to imagine that younger workers would sexually abuse senior citizens, it does happen. These cases frequently go unreported, as they are deeply embarrassing and traumatizing for the victims, who may fear retaliation. That’s why it is important for family members to keep a close eye on their loved ones and to communicate with them regularly.
Sepsis is a common albeit imprecise medical term, which may refer to one of two medical conditions:
- Severe symptoms of the body’s immune system overreacting to an illness
- Bacterial infection of the blood
Both of these are serious and potentially deadly, with bacterial infection ranking as the most severe threat.
Sepsis can be rapidly fatal, especially in seniors. It requires prompt and thorough treatment in an emergency setting. Bedsores, malnutrition, and dehydration can all contribute to sepsis, though it can develop in otherwise healthy patients too.
The nursing home has a duty to recognize the signs of sepsis and refer patients to emergency medical care immediately.
Medical Malpractice & Pharmaceutical Errors
Elderly patients often take many kinds of medications each day. If the nursing home is negligent, it is easy for the resident to accidentally miss doses, or to overdose. Additional problems might include:
- Prescribing medications with dangerous interactions
- Giving medications at the wrong time of day
- Failing to follow usage or dosage instructions
- Mixing up medications or patients
- Causing injuries with IVs or needles
- Failure to give patients adequate water or food with their pills
- Forcing too many medications on a patient at once
- Misplacing medications
Losing a Patient with Alzheimer’s or Dementia
Extra care must be taken with elderly people who suffer from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. We often see stories of seniors who wander away from the nursing home and become lost, which is extremely dangerous for them and agonizing for the family. In many cases, the nursing facility can be held responsible for elderly elopement.
FAQ: How Bad is Indiana’s Nursing Home Abuse Problem?
Indiana currently ranks #42 out of all 50 states in terms of nursing home safety, quality, and care. That means we have some of the worst nursing homes in the country. That is unacceptable, and it’s a big part of why nursing home negligence is so problematic here.
Free Case Review with Our Indianapolis Nursing Home Negligence Attorneys
In our law firm, you will find a team of passionate legal professionals who are ready and eager to fight for the family you love. It is our privilege to hold abusive nursing professionals accountable for their negligence, and it is our job to put you in the best possible position for the future.
We will never ask you to pay for our services unless (and until) we get you money first.
Ask how we can help. Contact us for a free case review and tell us your story. Just dial 317-974-0177 or contact us online.