It is always a difficult decision to move into a nursing facility, even more so to make that decision on behalf of a loved one. You want to be sure that you are doing what’s in their best interest, and you probably spent many hours looking for the right place. You expect that when someone moves into an assisted living facility, they will be treated with dignity and respect and that they will be safe from harm.
If you or a loved one has suffered abuse, it is essential that you take immediate legal action to protect yourself and others. Regardless of whether that abuse was in the form of neglect, financial abuse, sexual assault, physical abuse, or emotional abuse, the responsible parties must be held accountable.
At Wendt Law Firm, our experienced team has over 40 years of combined experience. We are here to help support you with the compassion and dedication your case deserves. At the same time, we will aggressively fight those responsible.
We work on a contingency basis, which means our fee is taken as a percentage of your settlement when we are successful. If your case is unsuccessful, we will not receive anything. So contact us today for a free consultation with a Kansas City nursing home abuse lawyer. Call us on 816-542-6734.
Nursing Home Abuse, Defined
The National Council on Aging defines nursing home abuse as any act that leads to potential or actual harm. This harm may be physical, but it can also be mental, emotional, or financial. There are four common examples of abuse in nursing homes:
Neglect rises to physical abuse when it results in actual harm. It’s one of the most common forms of abuse in nursing home settings, where many patients are incapacitated. Bedsores or pressure ulcers can be a sign of neglect, as they result from a lack of proper turning. Other signs might be lack of hygiene or weight loss.
Emotional and mental abuse occurs when a nursing home staff member or other resident manipulates the elderly patient such that they fear for their safety or the safety of others. A common form of this is “false imprisonment,” when a staff member restricts access to a certain area (such as a common area for socializing).
Financial abuse is becoming more common in nursing home facilities. Examples include coercing a resident to amend a will or deed. It can also include charging exorbitant or unsubstantiated fees to their room.
Nursing Home Abuse Statistics
Sadly, nursing home abuse is a rather pervasive problem throughout the U.S. Researchers estimate that as many as two million senior citizens in the U.S. have suffered abuse, mistreatment, exploitation, and injuries from caregivers. One study of 2,000 nursing homes in the country found a neglect rate of 95% and an abuse rate of 44%. Experts estimate 1 in 10 senior citizens in nursing homes will suffer some form of abuse.
Keep in mind that these statistics likely fall short of the full picture, since only around 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse come to the attention of authorities. You aren’t just another statistic at Wendt Law Firm P.C. You’re a real person with real damages from the negligence and criminal acts of someone else. Our Kansas City nursing home abuse lawyers are here to help you in your time of need.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Abuse comes in many forms. While physical abuse might be the most apparent, other types of abuse such as neglect, financial abuse, and emotional abuse should be treated just as seriously. Unfortunately, abuse and neglect of nursing home residents are still commonplace in Kansas City, and it is important to know the signs so that you can take action quickly.
One of the most common types of abuse is neglect, which is a failure to provide proper care. For example, this could be a failure to check on nursing home residents, which can be dangerous if they are left unclean, not given proper nutrition, or are left in one position for long periods of time. It can also lead to medication errors, such as failure to administer prescribed medication. Signs include:
Pressure ulcers (bed sores): Bedsores can form when a senior citizen’s stationary position places pressure on the skin for a prolonged period of time. Staying in a stationary position can cut off blood circulation to the area until the tissues begin to die. Sores often occur on the buttocks, tailbone, heels, hips, and backs of the legs. They are a sign that the nursing home is not taking proper care of its residents.
Dramatic weight loss.
Poor personal hygiene
Dirty living conditions such as clothing and bedding.
Change in behavior such as emotionally upset, agitated, or withdrawn.
Positional asphyxiation: It is up to nursing home staff members to adjust the positioning of residents who cannot move freely on their own. Keeping a resident in an unsafe or improper position for too long can result in a lack of oxygen getting to the brain. Not getting enough oxygen can cause brain asphyxia and permanent cognitive damage, as well as death if prolonged too long.
Dehydration: Nursing home residents should receive ample fresh water to keep them sufficiently hydrated at all times. Nursing home neglect or abuse in the form of water withholding can be fatal for the elderly. Look for confusion, delirium, irritability, shallow breathing, low blood pressure, and dry or parched-looking lips and skin. Prolonged dehydration can cause brain injuries, kidney failure, seizures, coma, and death.
Malnutrition: Failing to provide nursing home residents with proper food can take a significant toll on an elderly person’s health and well-being. Malnutrition can lead to illnesses and lowered immunity, as well as exacerbate health problems and damage cognitive abilities. Signs of malnutrition include pallid skin, unhealthy weight loss, yellowed eyes, and frequent injuries or illnesses.
Neglect cases are often a result of inadequate staffing numbers. However, this is no excuse, and action must be taken to prevent further neglect. If you suspect that your loved one is being neglected by nursing home staff, the nursing home abuse attorneys at Wendt Law in Kansas City are here to help you pursue justice.
Nursing home staff members can sometimes become aggressive when dealing with residents. In extreme cases, this can lead to severe injuries such as broken bones, lacerations, internal bleeding, and even brain injury. A staff member may have lost their patience, but there is never an excuse for physical abuse. Signs may include:
Unexplained physical injuries, including cuts and bruises.
Any serious injury.
Broken property such as eyeglasses.
Another common type of abuse, and one that can be difficult to identify, is financial exploitation. This is where staff members exploit residents for financial gain, either taking money or property without their permission or convincing a resident to give them money. Staff members should never take anything from a resident under their care.
Suspicious account activity such as large cash withdrawals.
Unexplained changes to a will or estate documents.
While emotional abuse leaves no physical or emotional scars, it is just as serious as other forms of abuse in nursing homes. This could include ignoring a resident’s requests, name-calling, yelling, isolating, making them feel guilty or threatening violence. It can also include ignoring a resistant dignity, such as not closing the door when they care for them. Phycological abuse can also come from other residents.
Change in behavior.
Becoming depressed or withdrawn.
A strong dislike for certain residents or members of staff.
Sexual abuse in nursing homes is one of the most terrible crimes that can be committed against an elderly person, and unfortunately, it is not always reported.
Bruises and lesions.
Sexually transmitted diseases.
A strong dislike for a staff member or other resident.
Changes in behavior.
Torn underwear or clothing.
Unfortunately, many elderly residents continue to experience abuse in nursing homes. If you have any concerns about a loved one’s injuries, emotional wellbeing, or you notice anything that doesn’t feel right, then you should contact a Kansas City nursing home abuse lawyer at Wendt Law Firm as soon as possible. Abuse can be hard to spot, and it is essential that you trust your instincts and take action to protect elderly residents.
Nursing Home Falls
When an elderly person moves into a Kansas City nursing home, they undergo a risk assessment. One of the purposes of this assessment is to assess the resident’s risk of falls and to put measures in place to prevent that from happening. Injuries can also happen when a nursing home fails to ensure that a resident moves from a wheelchair to a bed or bathroom area safely. There should be adequate staff for the job involved, and any assistive equipment should be used properly.
Failure to take proper measures to prevent falls in high-risk residents can lead to serious injuries such as fractured hips and head injuries. The time needed for an elderly patient to recover from such injuries can also drastically hinder their long-term health.
A Kansas City nursing home abuse attorney can advise you on whether your loved one is owed compensation and will fight to win your family what they are owed.
Reporting Nursing Home Abuse in Kansas City
Any form of suspected abuse and neglect should be reported as quickly as possible. Following elder abuse, it is not sufficient to inform nursing home staff members. In order to ensure the proper action is taken, it must be reported properly.
When you contact our nursing home abuse lawyers in Kansas City, we can help you alert the proper authorities and ensure that proper action is taken to protect your loved one. Our first step will be to alert the proper institutions set up to protect elderly people, such as:
The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) is responsible for investigating abuse and failure to provide adequate care in adult nursing home facilities in Kansas. They operate a complaint hotline between 8 a.m and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. You can contact them on 1-800-842-0078.
The Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit -investigates fraud committed by health care providers and investigates and recovers funds improperly billed to Medicaid.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) investigates abuse of vulnerable adults. You can contact DHSS on 1-800-392-0210 365 days a year from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Adult Protective Services (APS) handles reports of abuse of adults in nursing homes who are unable to protect themselves when the perpetrator is not a resident or staff member of the facility they reside in.
The Kansas Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is a statewide organization that investigates complaints of long-term care facilities.
Proving Nursing Home Abuse
To determine if a Kanas City nursing home and its employees are guilty of abuse, the courts in Missouri or Kansas usually apply the negligence statute. In negligence cases, it must be proven that:
The nursing home owed a duty of care, as nursing homes always do towards their elderly patients.
The nursing home or its employees breached that duty of care through unreasonable or negligent conduct.
Their actions caused injury or aggravated a pre-existing condition.
Damages have been suffered as a result.
Even if a Kansas City nursing home director was unaware of the abuse, the home might still be liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior, which holds that employers are liable for the acts of their employees.
Everyone has the right to live in a safe environment. If your loved one has suffered because of someone else’s negligence, then speak to a Kansas City nursing home abuse attorney today.
Types of Compensation in Nursing Home Abuse Cases
A Kansas City nursing home abuse lawyer can work with you to determine what types of compensation you are entitled to. Examples include:
compensation for any medical bills as a result of any injuries, including the aggregation of any pre-existing conditions.
Any out-of-pocket expenses associated with the abuse.
Compensation for the emotional pain and suffering as a result of nursing home neglect and abuse.
If elder abuse contributed to the death of your loved one, then you may be able to seek compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit which compensates for economic losses and emotional suffering of the serving family members.
The Time Limit for a Nursing Home Abuse Case in Kansas City
In most cases involving nursing home residents in Kansas City, the case must be brought within two years from the date of injury. The Statute of Limitations in both Missouri and Kanas for medical malpractice is two years in both states, and nursing homes are considered medical care.
However, there can sometimes be exceptions to this rule, so even if this time has elapsed, you should speak to a nursing home abuse attorney in Kansas City. That being said, the sooner you seek representation, the better, as at Wendt, we will get straight to work to gather the evidence before it is altered or destroyed.
What to Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse
If you suspect nursing home abuse and neglect in a Kansas City nursing home, then your primary concern is the safety of your loved one. Do not hesitate to move them or contact authorities. If you believe your loved one is in immediate danger, then contact 911.
If your loved one shows signs of having been physically or sexually abused, or they show signs of neglect such as being dehydrated or malnourished, then you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Not only is this important for their health, but it could also prove to be important evidence in your case.
You should share your concerns with senior members of the nursing home. They should have procedures in place to address these types of problems, although often their actions can prove inadequate. However, you should not only report the incidence to the nursing home. You should also contact the appropriate state agency and be sure to share everything of importance with them.
Nursing home abuse is a criminal offense punishable by jail time, but victims can also file civil actions against the nursing home to collect damages. A personal injury claim might not erase the pain and suffering of your loved one’s experience, but it can help reimburse you for fees, medical care, and other intangible losses.
If your loved one has any injures, or broken possessions, then be sure to take photographs. You should also keep any medical records, bank statements, accident reports, and anything else that could be relevant to your case. Additionally, you should keep a journal dating any suspicious behavior or concerns.
As soon as possible, contact a Kansas City nursing home abuse lawyer so that they can start an investigation right away. They will help you file a nursing home abuse lawsuit and pursue the compensation you and your loved one deserve.
Contact a Kansas City Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorney Today
Prevention is important when it comes to avoiding nursing home and elder abuse. Do your best to select a trusted nursing home in Kansas City for your loved one. Scout different locations, read reviews, and visit the establishment in person to find the best fit. Your loved one might not speak up about abuse once at the facility. It’s up to you to visit the nursing home regularly, search for signs of potential abuse, and report any questionable actions or injuries to the authorities.
Stay in touch with your elderly loved one, keep him or her as active as possible, support interactions with the community, be wary of friends or caregivers in need of money, and – most of all – encourage your loved one to speak up about any neglect or abuse. Listen to your loved one’s allegations of abuse and take claims seriously. Let your loved one know that you believe him or her and will talk to a Kansas City nursing home abuse lawyer right away.
If a family member has suffered nursing home neglect or elder abuse in Kansas City, then you should speak to our law firm as soon as possible. We will help protect your loved one and work with you to pursue compensation.
We offer a free case evaluation so you can ask any questions you have before you sign up for representation. The attorney-client relationship is at the heart of everything we do, and we are always upfront and transparent so that you know exactly where you stand.
Don’t go through the stress of a nursing home abuse case alone. We will help you navigate the legal system and fight to protect the rights of your loved one.
Contact Wendt Law Firm Today!
If you or a loved one is experiencing nursing home abuse, contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Our team of experienced Kansas City nursing home abuse attorneys has the skills and experience necessary to handle your case with the compassion and dedication it deserves.