Fort Myers Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Protecting the Rights of Nursing Home Abuse and Negligence Victims
Every day loved ones are entrusted to the care of others in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. We expect them to get good care. However, as our Fort Myers nursing home abuse attorneys know all too well, nursing home neglect and abuse are becoming a serious problem in Florida.
If your loved one is abused in any way, call our firm immediately at (888) 477-4839. Our Fort Myers nursing home abuse attorney, Randall L. Spivey, has the compassion and expertise to achieve the best possible settlement or verdict you deserve. In addition, we are committed to utilizing our team of experts and legal discovery to prove cases of elder mistreatment.
Common Forms of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home patients must receive the level of care outlined by Florida state laws, and your health care provider or facility must recognize your rights while receiving medical care.
Cases for nursing home neglect, in which the facility failed to provide reasonable care, include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:
- Inadequate supervision
- Inadequate nutrition
- Falls due to inadequate assistance or supervision
- Prescription errors
- Insufficient fluids
- Improper medical care
- Failure to provide assistance with bathing and bathroom needs
- Inadequate protection from hazards
It’s important to understand that physical abuse and neglect are not the only forms of nursing home abuse that seniors (age 60 and older) are likely to encounter. Though many people think of nursing home abuse and neglect in a straightforward manner — such as the failure to provide proper nutrition or intentionally withholding medication from a senior staying in a nursing home — there are many other types of abuse.
According to the Center for Disease Control, there are six different types of abusive misconduct imposed on seniors, both in the nursing home context and otherwise: physical, emotional, sexual, financial, neglect, and abandonment.
The range of abuse that seniors are often subjected to can come as something of a surprise for the general public, but it is an unfortunate reality. Unfortunately, nursing home seniors are in a uniquely vulnerable position, making them a target for various forms of abuse. For example, it’s not uncommon for a nursing home senior to be sexually harassed or even assaulted by a staff member.
Our Fort Myers Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Helps You Identify Neglect and Abuse
Identifying nursing home neglect and abuse can be difficult if you don’t know what to look out for. Warning signs include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:
- Bruising, burn marks, lacerations, fractures, and other physical injuries
- Poor hygiene
- Sudden loss of weight
- Sudden hair loss
- Dirty bedding/environment
- Anxiety, particularly around caregivers
- Inconsistent reporting of experience in the nursing home (i.e., complaints followed by “hedging” of complaints)
- New motor impairments
- Sudden change in financial health
- Regular recurrence of injuries
It’s important to keep an eye out for signs of neglect and abuse, as Florida law gives family members (spouse, child, parent, sibling, and others) the right to bring a lawsuit on behalf of their loved one under certain circumstances — specifically, if your loved one has given you power of attorney or can be adjudged mentally incompetent (giving you guardianship over them). If you're not sure that abuse is present but you have concerns for your loved one, scheduling a free consultation with a nursing home abuse lawyer is an important first step.
What Risk Factors Make an Elder Vulnerable to Nursing Home Abuse?
- Age: Adults over the age of 80 are more likely to suffer from elder abuse, according to a 2014 medical study from Northwestern University and Rush University researchers.
- Caregiver: A caregiver who lives with the elder, depends on them for financial support, abuses drugs, or has a criminal background may be more likely to commit abuse.
- Gender: The 2014 Chicago study found that women were more likely to suffer from elder abuse. Women may also suffer from more severe types of abuse over longer periods of time, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Health: This includes poor physical health and mental health issues such as dementia. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), nearly 50% of those with dementia suffer from elder abuse and neglect.
- Isolation: According to a 2015 report from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS), nearly 13 million older people in the U.S. lived alone. Elders who live by themselves or who are withdrawn may be at risk of abuse, according to the NCOA.
Relatives and friends visiting elders should regularly check on them for signs of abuse and investigate any staff members’ claims as to what happened to cause injuries.
Physical abuse is not the only abuse elders may suffer. Emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect may also be inflicted on elders, and these abuses do not leave visible scars. Nursinghomeabusecenter.com reports the following signs of these abuses:
- Being hesitant to talk freely
- Isolating or withdrawing from others
- Making up implausible stories about how an injury occurred
- Suffering from anxiety, anger, depression, or fear
- An unexplained sexually transmitted disease (STD)
- Bruises on the thighs or genitals
- Bleeding, pain, or irritation of the genitals
- Inappropriate relationships between a caregiver and elder
- Bedsores or pressure ulcers
- Being left in bed for an extended period of time without supervision or care
- Lack of basic hygiene, adequate food, or hydration
- Missing medical aids, such as walkers, dentures, eyeglasses, medications, or hearing aids
- Unclean or unsafe living conditions, such as a lack of heat or plumbing, soiled bedding, or bug infestations
- Being indifferent, angry, demeaning, or aggressive toward the elderly person
- Failing to show affection toward the senior (if they are related)
- Giving conflicting explanations of physical injuries
- Having a history of mental illness, substance abuse, family violence, or criminal behavior
- Keeping the elderly person from talking to visitors alone
- Speaking about the elder as if they were a burden
- Using flirtatious or inappropriate language around the elder
Damages Your Fort Myers Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Will Pursue
Nursing home residents who sustain an injury as a result of the negligence of the facility may be entitled to receive monetary compensation for the following:
Medical expenses: Medical expenses include past and future losses. For example, the senior is not only entitled to damages for the expenses already suffered as a direct result of the neglect and abuse but is also entitled to damages that compensate them for future treatment (i.e., surgeries, rehabilitation, ongoing therapy, etc.).
Pain and suffering: Pain and suffering in Florida is a non-economic loss and is therefore somewhat subjective in nature. It is a broad category of damages that accounts for both the physical and emotional suffering that an individual experiences due to the defendant’s wrongful conduct. For example, the physical pain resulting from a fracture would count as “pain and suffering” damages.
Disability or disfigurement: Impairments caused by nursing home neglect and abuse can give rise to a disability or disfigurement. Damages may incorporate losses relating to the impairment, such as an inability to engage in social and personal activities, or even work-related losses (though seniors are unlikely to have a significant work-related loss).
Aggravation of pre-existing conditions: If a pre-existing condition has been aggravated, then the losses attributed to the senior’s new, aggravated condition and their old, pre-existing condition may be recoverable as damages.
Punitive Damages: punitive damages (which are multiplicative of the overall compensatory damages) are not commonly awarded in Florida but may be available in situations where the defendant engaged in willful, malicious, and particularly egregious conduct. For example, if a nursing home caregiver sexually assaulted a patient, then the court might consider an award of punitive damages.
Our Fort Myers Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Answers Your Top Questions:
What is Nursing Home Abuse?
Sadly, some nursing home residents can be exposed to various levels of abuse. Some elderly individuals may experience actual physical abuse, while others may be forced to deal with verbal and/or mental abuse. Additionally, some individuals may be subjected to over-sedation, and even more troubling, some residents can face sexual assaults and rapes.
How Does Nursing Home Neglect Differ From Abuse?
Neglect is a bit different than abuse in a nursing home setting. Neglect can appear in many forms, such as failing to protect a resident from the abuse of another resident or failing to protect him or her from safety and health hazards. Neglect can also include the facility’s failure to provide sufficient and clean clothes to the resident or failing to provide adequate medical care based on the resident’s mental and physical needs. Issues concerning dehydration and malnutrition can also be deemed to be neglect.
If I Suspect Abuse, Who Should I Tell?
If you suspect your loved one has experienced abuse or neglect while in the nursing home facility, you are encouraged to contact the facility administrator as soon as possible. Depending on the level of abuse suspected, you may also want to contact area law enforcement. The nursing home administration is expected and required to investigate such claims and report them to their appropriate state agency. In Florida, individuals can contact the Department of Elder Affairs.
Does Nursing Home Staff Have to Meet Certain Requirements?
They certainly do. In fact, the Florida Department of Health has set forth guidelines for nursing home staff. For example, under state law, a nursing home must have at least one doctor, a dietician, and a nurse available – all of whom must be qualified per the legal requirements of the state. Staff is also required to pass criminal background checks in accordance with state standards and regulations.
Can I present a privacy concern to a Fort Myers nursing home abuse lawyer?
Under the law, all nursing home patients/residents are entitled to privacy when it comes to caring for their personal needs and receiving treatment. Such privacy includes allowing patients to close their doors and require staff to knock prior to entering their rooms. Additionally, the law allows patients to safely and securely store and use their own possessions. Thus, we can help with these claims as well.
Seek Justice With the Help of a Fort Myers Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
At Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., our attorneys provide personal attention to every client and devote whatever resources are necessary to help our clients receive maximum compensation. We treat each client and each case with personal care and attention. Contact a Fort Myers nursing home abuse attorney today to discuss your case and review your options.
More Helpful Information
Some factors could increase or decrease the risk of perpetuating and/or experiencing elder abuse in nursing home facilities and assisted living centers.
It is critical that seniors report nursing home abuse to someone. That someone could be a close friend or relative. If they are unable to do so, there is assistance for them.
Florida seniors face many issues as they age. To address some of these issues, the State of Florida has a law that seeks to protect the rights of our seniors.
Studies show that one in seven Americans over the age of 70 suffer from dementia. Many seniors with dementia are cared for in nursing homes.
As one ages, elder abuse is extremely common, especially in facilities. Statistics show that nearly 5 million seniors are abused every year, and 1 out of 10 American seniors experience some form of abuse.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives more than 100,000 reports annually related to medication errors. The FDA says a medication error is a “preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm.”
Senior abuse can happen anywhere and may not be apparent to those around them. Some seniors age 60 and above are more vulnerable than others to abuse.