Your elderly loved ones are some of the most vulnerable people in your life. When you entrust an assisted living facility or nursing home to care for an elderly family member, you expect them to provide the kindness your loved one deserves. This is especially true when you consider the cost of a nursing home facility in Hawaii; one year in a semi-private room costs almost $120,000.
If you suspect that your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, an attorney with experience in nursing home abuse claims may be able to help you secure compensation for damages, such as medical bills, pain and suffering, and more.
Contact Davis Levin Livingston at (808) 740-0633 for a free consultation with an experienced Hawaii nursing home abuse attorney. We serve clients in Honolulu and all the Hawaiian Islands.
Understanding Nursing Home Abuse
According to the American Health Care Association, approximately half of U.S. Citizens will be nursing home residents at some point in their lives. This means that nearly everyone will put his or her faith in an assisted living facility or nursing home to care for an elderly loved one or friend.
Large franchises own over half of the nursing homes in the nation. Two-thirds of the nation’s nursing homes are being operated as for-profit businesses.
Although there are state and federal regulations (Nursing Home Reform Act of 1986) put into place to protect nursing home residents, the unthinkable still occurs. These gross violations compromise the well-being, health, and dignity of some of this nation’s most vulnerable citizens.
Many times nursing homes have insufficient staff that is poorly trained which can lead to:
- Residents being victimized by staff members and/or other residents
- Fraudulent activity
- Theft from residents
- Residents suffering from malnutrition
- Resident mistreatment and abuse
- Inadequate medical care
- A lack of social services
Many times the abuse or neglect of nursing home residents occur with no intervention. Due to medical complications, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, detecting abuse can be challenging. Additionally, those patients who are not suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s may not report abuse or neglect because they fear the retaliation they may encounter or they may not want to burden their loved ones.
Nursing Home Abuse Comes in Many Forms
Nursing home abuse can be extreme or subtle. An attorney is aware of this and knows what to investigate. Nursing home abuse can take the form of assault, battery, or even rape. Improper use of restraint is another form of abuse. This occurs when nursing home staff either forcefully restrains a resident or chemically subdues them, such as with the use of unauthorized prescription drugs or dosages.
Nursing home abuse can also be emotionally devastating. Insults and threats are common, but just as damaging is isolating or ignoring residents. Regardless of the form, nursing home abuse is extremely devastating to your loved one and can be life-threatening.
Examples of types of nursing home abuse include:
- Physical Abuse: At first glance, it appears that Hawaii has something to be proud of when it comes to taking care of nursing home residents. While across the U.S. there is a 30% citation rate from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), in Hawaii the citation rate is only 4%. Unfortunately, this statistic is deceiving. The reason why it is so low is that the Hawaii Long Term Care Association does not necessarily report all incidents of physical abuse. Representatives from the organization have indicated that they prefer to focus on preventing future incidents unless a facility shows “a willful and ongoing disregard” of a resident’s care and safety. With this policy, many caregivers who have abused, beaten, neglected, and taken advantage of nursing home residents go right back to having contact with them.
- Sexual Abuse: Many times, nursing home employees, volunteers, physicians, and nurses have sexually abused elderly residents of nursing homes because they perceive them to be weak and defenseless. You and your elderly loved ones shouldn’t have to worry about their safety as a resident of a nursing home. It’s up the nursing homes to do proper background checks on their employees to prevent sexual abuse. If you believe your loved one has been a victim, contact our Hawaii nursing home abuse attorneys today.
- Financial Abuse: Financial abuse of the elderly population is on the rise. Family members are the most common perpetrators, but nursing home employees can take advantage of elderly residents as well. Those who intend to defraud, steal, or manipulate the elderly for their financial gain should be reported to the proper authorities. Our attorneys may help regain some of what has been taken.
Nursing Home Neglect
When an individual’s personal hygiene is neglected, illness and/or infection can set in. Personal hygiene includes:
- Oral hygiene
- Clean and comfortable clothing
Nursing home neglect can also involve withholding basic needs. If a resident’s basic needs are not met, he could suffer dehydration, malnutrition, and other serious injuries.
Basic needs include:
- A safe environment
If an individual is neglected medically, his overall health may decline. Medical neglect includes:
- Withholding medical treatment for an injury or condition
Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Neglect of nursing home residents is frequently overlooked, which many times results in the decline of an individual’s general health and can eventually lead to death. This problem occurs everywhere and takes on many different shapes. When loved ones do not know what to look for, abuse and neglect can remain hidden for extensive periods of time. There are numerous signs that you can look for to determine whether your loved one is being abused or neglected.
Nursing home neglect is not always obvious and may have taken place over a long period of time. Sometimes, efforts are made to hide the fact that abuse or neglect is occurring.
The signs to look for include:
- Open wounds
- Bed Sores
- Physical restraints
- Unkempt appearance
- Soiled bed sheets, clothing or a dirty room
- Clogged breathing tubes
- Unexplained bleeding and/or visible injuries
- Malnutrition/weight loss
- Broken bones, fractures
- Unexplained behavior changes
- Staff refuses unsupervised visitation
- Loss of your loved one’s possessions and/or unexplained bank activity
- Sudden changes in his financial documents
- Emotional withdrawal
- Sudden agitation
If your loved one’s caretaker is unable to sufficiently explain the reasons for his condition, you may want to meet with an attorney to explore your options.
Contact Davis Levin Livingston
If your loved one is a nursing home resident and shows any of the signs listed above, you need to contact an experienced nursing home attorney. You can help give your loved one back his dignity and make the conditions safer for the other residents in the facility.
We have put together a comprehensive list of resources for Hawai’i’s elderly community.