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Three Steps to Take When You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse

Updated January 7, 2019 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, elder abuse is defined as abuse or neglect by caregivers or other persons of those age 60 or older. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse often goes unreported. Of the 2 million elderly in nursing home facilities, it’s estimated that only 20% of abuse cases are reported.

Elderly persons may feel shameful, embarrassed, or even physically unable to report the abuse due to pain or fear. Even worse, residents may lack the mental capacity to report the abuse themselves or the physical strength to defend themselves. It takes informed friends and family members to know not only the warning signs of nursing home abuse but also what to do after you suspect or identify the abuse.

Helping Your Loved One After Nursing Home Abuse

After you’ve identified nursing home abuse, following these steps will help you build a strong nursing home abuse case with a knowledgeable attorney.

Report the Abuse

Reporting nursing home abuse can be hard to prove because it’s time-sensitive. Lacerations heal, behavior fluctuates, and staff turnover rates in nursing home facilities are high. The sooner the intervention, the stronger the case.

You have options for competent and trustworthy resources to report nursing home abuse. For starters, you can do any or several of the following:

  • Visit the National Center on Elder Abuse website to locate local Indiana resources
  • Call 1-800-992-6978 to report suspected elder abuse, exploitation, or neglect in Indiana
  • Contact the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116. Trained operators will direct you to further resources
  • Contact the elder’s primary care physician, social worker, or patient advocate
  • Contact the Indiana Adult Protect Services hotline at 1-800-992-6978
  • Contact the Indiana Long-term Care (LTC) Ombudsmen’s office at 317-234-5544
  • For especially severe and threatening cases of abuse, contact 911 immediately

Move Care Elsewhere

Begin the process of moving your loved one to another facility immediately. You might encounter some heavy resistance, as they may have made friends and established a routine. Your loved one might fear that the next home will be worse; keep in mind that their trust has been significantly broken. Plus, transitions are difficult, especially for the elderly, so just be patient.

Be sure to go above and beyond when researching the next facility. Research staff-to-patient ratio and ensure that the home can accommodate any medical needs your loved one has. If possible, see if you can talk to other residents and their family members to gather information about personal experiences.

Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

After you’ve done all the necessary reporting, it’s just a important to seek legal counsel, even if the suspected abuse is minor. Since proving nursing home abuse is time-sensitive, gathering the names of all caretakers responsible for your loved one, dates, and photographs are crucial to your claim. Be as specific as you can, not only when you’re reporting the abuse to proper authorities but also when meeting with your elderly abuse attorney.

Legal Action After Nursing Home Abuse

If it can be demonstrated that a nursing home or its caretakers have been abusing or neglecting your loved one, they may be liable for the damages. In a nursing home abuse lawsuit, you may be awarded compensation for:

  • Medical bills
  • Disability and disfigurement
  • Emotional pain and suffering
  • Physical pain and suffering

Punitive damages are awarded only in rare and serious cases, but it’s worth a conversation when consulting with your attorney.

Be aware that nursing home abuse isn’t just committed by staff; visitors of other residents can commit the abuse as well as other residents. It’s up to the facility to protect their patients from abuse, no matter the source. In other words, instead of individual liability on behalf of a caretaker, the nursing home facility itself can be found liable for damages.

Contact a Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Attorney Today

If your elderly loved one has been abused at their care facility, contact the Indianapolis Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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