What Happens When a Nursing Home is Accused of Abuse? 

By Osborne & Francis
October 25, 2023

Nursing home abuse is one of the worst examples of inhumanity possible. When someone in a nursing facility harms a defenseless older adult, the offender and the facility must be held accountable. That’s precisely what we strive to do at Osborne & Francis.

Our attorneys take allegations of elderly abuse very seriously. If you suspect this is happening to a loved one, please get in touch with us as soon as possible. We’ll do everything we can to ensure all those responsible for the mistreatment pay dearly. Contact us online or call (561) 725-9572 for a free consultation.

Abuse Allegations in Nursing Homes

Abuse allegations refer to accusations of mistreatment, neglect, or harm inflicted on residents by staff members or other residents. This mistreatment can be physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, or financial. Abuse in nursing homes is a serious concern as vulnerable elderly individuals rely on these facilities for their care and well-being.

Even though people want to assume the nursing homes where their loved ones live are safe, nurturing environments, they’re often anything but. In 2022, nursing homes in Florida received 83 citations for placing residents at risk of imminent danger. 

In addition, according to the Florida Agency of Health Care Administration (AHCA), there were almost 1,000 instances of Florida nursing home residents leaving facilities without supervision. Many had cognitive issues, leaving them in grave danger of suffering severe injuries or death. 

Examples of Nursing Home Abuse 

Unfortunately, there are many different kinds of elderly abuse in nursing facilities. These are just a few of them.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse in nursing homes involves intentional acts of violence or harm inflicted on residents by staff members, caregivers, or other residents. This can include hitting, slapping, kicking, pushing, or misusing restraints, causing the resident pain, injury, or physical discomfort.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse targets a resident's well-being, causing distress, fear, or anguish. This abuse can manifest through verbal assaults, threats, insults, humiliation, or isolation. Caregivers may use emotional manipulation to control or intimidate residents.

Psychological Abuse

Similar to emotional abuse, psychological abuse involves tactics to instill fear, confusion, or psychological trauma in residents. This can include threats of harm or other behaviors that undermine a resident's sense of security and self-worth.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse refers to non-consensual sexual contact, advances, or harassment directed toward nursing home residents. Staff members, other residents, or visitors to the facility can perpetrate this type of abuse.

Neglect

Neglect occurs when nursing home staff fail to meet the basic needs of residents, such as providing adequate food, water, hygiene, medical care, or assistance with mobility. Neglect can lead to serious health complications, malnutrition, dehydration, and other avoidable health issues.

Financial Abuse

This form of abuse involves unauthorized or exploitative use of a resident's funds, assets, or property. Caregivers or staff members may manipulate residents into giving them money, stealing their possessions, or fraudulently accessing their financial accounts.

Filing a Lawsuit Against a Nursing Home

If a person believes their loved one has been a nursing home abuse victim, they may file a lawsuit against the facility. The process typically involves the following steps:

  • Gathering evidence: Collecting any available evidence to support the abuse allegations, such as medical records, eyewitness accounts, photographs, or videos.
  • Consulting an attorney: Speaking with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney is essential to making those responsible for the abuse face accountability.
  • Filing the lawsuit: The attorney will draft and file the lawsuit on behalf of the victim or their family, outlining the claims of abuse and the damages sought.
  • Discovery: Both parties exchange information and evidence relevant to the case during the discovery phase.
  • Settlement or trial: Depending on the strength of the evidence and the negotiation efforts, the case may result in a settlement or proceed to trial.

Federal Regulations for Nursing Homes 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) oversees federal regulations for nursing homes in the United States, primarily through the Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) of 1987. These regulations aim to ensure the quality of care and protect the rights of nursing home residents. Key provisions include:

  • Resident rights: Nursing home residents have rights, including the right to dignity, privacy, freedom from abuse and neglect, and the right to make decisions about their care.
  • Comprehensive care plans: Nursing homes must develop individualized care plans for each resident.
  • Qualified staffing: Facilities must have sufficient staff with the appropriate training and qualifications to adequately meet the residents' needs.
  • Quality of life: Nursing homes must promote the quality of life for residents by offering opportunities for social engagement, recreation, and maintaining personal autonomy.
  • Quality of care: Facilities must provide the necessary medical, nursing, and rehabilitative services to attain or maintain the highest practicable level of physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being for each resident.
  • Dignity and respect: Residents must be treated with dignity and respect, and nursing homes must establish and maintain a safe and comfortable environment.
  • Freedom from abuse and restraints: Residents have the right to be free from physical or chemical restraints used for discipline or convenience rather than medical necessity.

What Happens When Someone Sues a Nursing Home?

Several potential outcomes and consequences can occur when someone sues a nursing home. These include the following:

  • Financial compensation: If the lawsuit is successful, the nursing home may be required to provide financial compensation to the victim or their family for their damages, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other losses.
  • Corrective measures: As part of the settlement or court ruling, the nursing home may be required to make necessary changes and improvements to prevent future incidents of abuse and ensure the safety and well-being of its residents.
  • Legal penalties: In severe neglect or abuse cases, the nursing home may face legal penalties or fines imposed by regulatory agencies or the court system.
  • License revocation: In extreme cases of repeated or severe violations, the nursing home's license to operate could be revoked, resulting in the facility's closure or the suspension of its services.
  • Staff consequences: If the abuse allegations involve specific staff members, they may face termination from their positions or potential criminal charges, depending on the severity of their actions.

Who Do I Report Nursing Home Abuse Allegations to?

You have recourse if you suspect nursing home personnel are mistreating your loved one. If you believe your family member is in immediate danger, call 911 to move them to a safe place. You can also file a complaint with the AHCA. This is the organization that regulates Florida nursing homes and oversees complaints. 

Contact Osborne & Francis to Speak with an Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

Please don’t hesitate to contact Osborne & Francis online or call (561) 725-9572 for a free consultation if you believe your elderly loved one is suffering abuse in a nursing home. We’ll do all we can to help you achieve the justice you seek.

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