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Nursing Home Neglect: Gathering Evidence and Taking Action

Placing your loved one in a nursing home can be a difficult decision to make. It requires putting all your trust in the facility to provide care and ensure their safety. However, this trust is sometimes violated when staff and administrators fail to deliver the expected level of care.

Nursing home abuse and neglect are issues that can occur in any facility, so you need family members to remain vigilant for signs of mistreatment. You need to stay informed, observe the care provided, and take action if any concerns arise to safeguard the well-being of residents. 

Here is a guide to the evidence you should gather and steps to take if you suspect your loved one is getting abused in their nursing home. 

Evidence You Need to Gather if You Suspect Nursing Home Negligence

If you suspect your loved one is getting abused, you collect evidence to prove it. Here are five pieces of evidence that you should focus on collecting to build a strong case for a nursing home neglect lawsuit

  1. Financial records: If financial abuse is suspected, collect bank statements, records of unexplained withdrawals, changes in wills or power of attorney, and other unusual financial activities
  2. Medical records: Obtain doctor’s notes, hospital records, medication logs, and other medical assessments that can show the decline in your loved one’s health. You can also contact a doctor to provide expert opinions on the causes of injuries, malnutrition, dehydration, and other neglect indicators.
  3. Pictures: Take dated and timed photographs to document injuries like bruises, sprains, or bedsores, as well as poor living conditions. Arrange these photos chronologically to create a timeline that links specific injuries to incidents of abuse or neglect.
  4. Documentation: Gather records from your loved one's nursing home regarding resident rights, discharge policies, and staff training and qualifications. Additionally also collect incident reports, facility procedures, staffing logs, and training records to support your case.
  5. Witness statements and visits: Keep copies of statements from your loved one, other residents who witnessed the abuse, or supportive staff members. Personal logs, diaries, and witness statements can provide additional context and evidence of abuse or neglect.

What to Do If You Suspect Neglect

If you think you have sufficient evidence to take action, here are four next steps you should consider taking for nursing home negligence. 

  1. Attempt Internal Resolution 

If you suspect something is wrong at your loved one's nursing facility, the best initial step is to talk to your family member. They can directly inform you about any issues or situations they are experiencing. Additionally, discuss these potential problems with the resident staff. Most facilities have an ombudsman responsible for addressing the concerns of patients and their families and investigating the circumstances. 

Every nursing home is required to publicly display the name and telephone number of the local Ombudsman. If you cannot locate the number, ask the administrator or contact your local law enforcement agency for the information. Sometimes what might initially appear as abuse or neglect could have a reasonable explanation. Understanding the facility’s defenses for their practices can be helpful when preparing to file an official complaint.

  1. File a Complaint 

You should report any suspected cases of elder abuse and neglect to the appropriate authorities. Every state offers protective services for adults in some capacity. If you're unsure whom to contact in your state, dial 1-800-677-1116 to reach the National Center on Elder Abuse for guidance. 

Your state can impose fines on the facility and mandate changes to their procedures which ensures the nursing home corrects issues before another resident suffers from poor care.  Additionally, other families rely on these reports when selecting a facility for their senior relatives. When elder abuse and neglect are not reported, nursing homes lack the incentive to make necessary improvements to address these problems.

  1. Contact the Police

If you witness clear abuse or believe a nursing home resident is in imminent danger, call the police right away as immediate action is crucial to ensure the resident's safety. At the very least, you will be asked to file a complaint. In certain situations, police intervention may be necessary to protect the residents.

  1. Talk to a Lawyer

If your loved one or another resident patient is experiencing abuse or neglect, they have the right to protection and may be entitled to compensation under the law. Depending on your relationship with them, you might also be eligible for compensation. Reporting abuse and neglect is crucial, but most facilities will only make significant changes when formal legal action impacts their profit margins or their ability to stay in business.

Endnote

Sometimes, nursing homes can neglect their patients and not provide the care that they need, contributing to nursing home negligence. If you suspect that your loved one is facing problems, you need to collect evidence like financial and medical records, pictures, and documents. If you do find evidence, try to resolve it internally if possible. If not then report it to the state and police if abuse is involved. Taking these steps can also hold nursing homes accountable for their actions and protect other residents from future harm.

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Victor Traylor
An expert to the field of Social Justice, Victor formed Disability Help to connect ideas and expertise from the US with rising global cultural leadership, building networks, fostering collaboration, long-term results, mutual benefit, and more extensive international perception.
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