Nursing homes should be a safe haven for elderly and
disabled individuals, offering around-the-clock care that is medically sound
and respectful of each person’s needs. Unfortunately, some residents experience
neglect or abuse. According to the CDC, up to 3 million serious infections
occur in long-term care facilities every
year, many of which occur due to poor hygiene practices and
staff members neglecting residents.
If a loved one suffers an injury in a nursing home, he or
she may be able to recover compensation. Family members of residents may also
be able to recover compensation in cases involving the death of a loved one.
Bedsores, clinically referred to as pressure ulcers, are
extremely common in nursing homes. Elderly and disabled residents often have
thin, frail skin that is prone to rips, tears, and sore development. Generally,
bedsores occur when an individual is in one position for too long and the skin
wears away, leaving an open sore. These nursing home injuries
are especially common on pressure points like the tailbone, hips, elbows,
shoulder blades, spine, and heels.
The occasional bedsore may not be cause for concern. However,
if your loved one seems to always have multiple bedsores or he or she has sores
that will not heal, it may be a sign of neglect on the part of the nursing home
Some nursing home residents suffer slip-and-fall accidents.
In some cases, a fall is a sign of a more serious problem, such as abuse or
neglect. Someone with limited mobility may try to get up if caregivers refuse
to help them get to the bathroom or assist with ambulation, leaving the
individual to try to get up on their own. The healing process from a fall is
notoriously difficult for aging individuals. A single fall can lead to
Broken bones are a common problem in nursing homes, as
aging individuals’ bones are often weaker than those of young adults. A broken
bone is a serious incident that should immediately be reported to family
members and health care providers. If a facility tries to hide these nursing
home injuries or does not have a clear explanation for how an incident
occurred, it is possible that the broken bone was caused by caregiver neglect
A substantial amount of nursing homes have a
higher-than-ideal resident-to-caregiver ratio, leading to improper medication
administration. Residents can suffer greatly if they miss a scheduled
medication, get too much of a prescribed medication, or get the wrong
medication. If a nursing home does not report and take appropriate steps to fix
these mistakes, it could be a sign of neglect or abuse.
Do Not Let Your Loved One Suffer in Silence
If you suspect that your loved one’s nursing home injuries
are due to abuse or neglect, advocate for them and hire an attorney. The South
Carolina nursing home abuse lawyers at the Law
Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson Jr. are ready to help.
Call our office at (803) 324-7200 to discuss your potential legal options.
According to a 2001 study conducted by the U.S. House of Representatives, approximately one in three nursing homes were cited for violations of federal standards that harmed or had the potential to harm a resident. One major factor that contributes to the prevalence of elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes is the lack of information known by family and friends of nursing home residents on how to identify abuse and neglect.
Signs of Nursing Home Financial Exploitation
Anyone in a position of power over a nursing home resident, such as aides or even family members, can take advantage of her for financial gain. Financial exploitation can include stealing a resident’s money or valuables, coercing her into giving away money or valuables, or cashing checks without permission. Some visible signs of financial exploitation are a resident giving uncharacteristic gifts to caretakers, a lack of amenities in the room. or transferring power of attorney or other property without fully understanding what that means.
Signs of Nursing Home Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse is one of the most difficult forms of abuse to detect, but it can be the most damaging. Emotional abuse can include humiliating or demeaning a resident, habitually blaming, threatening or intimidating him, isolating him from friends and social gatherings, or simply ignoring him. Some visible signs of emotional abuse in a resident are unexplained changes in behavior, isolation and withdrawing from usual activities. Some signs of emotional abuse in a caretaker include verbal aggression toward a resident, an uncaring attitude and/or controlling behavior.
Signs of Nursing Home Physical Abuse
Physical abuse can involve scratching, pushing, hitting, slapping, inappropriate use of restraints or threatening a resident with violence. Physical signs of abuse include any kind of injury, a delay between the injury occurring and the resident receiving medical care, and a history of repeated injuries, especially if those injuries have been treated at different hospitals for no discernable reason. Behavioral signs of abuse include the resident not explaining how an injury occurred, giving inconsistent stories or offering unlikely explanations for the injury.
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing home neglect can take many forms. Nursing home workers are often responsible for caring for their residents’ health, nutrition, personal hygiene and living conditions. Failing to appropriately care for any of these is considered neglect. Personal hygiene neglect includes failing to give a resident needed help in bathing, brushing his teeth, nail-clipping, changing clothes or any other act of basic personal hygiene. Basic needs neglect involves failing to provide residents with food, water and/or a safe environment. Medical neglect involves failing to prevent or appropriately treat medical conditions. Victims of medical neglect may experience bedsores, preventable falls and/or incorrect medication.
Do You Need a Nursing Home Negligence Attorney?
If your friend or family member is the victim of nursing home negligence in South Carolina, contact the Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson right away. We can investigate the standard of care at the victim’s nursing home, among other investigative acts. To get started on your case, schedule a free case evaluation online or call us at:
Around one in ten adults over the age of 60 have experienced at least one form of elder abuse or mistreatment. Even worse, only one in 14 cases of elder abuse are reported to authorities — and the effects of abuse and neglect can be devastating. In fact, victims of elder mistreatment have a 300 percent higher risk of death than those who have not been mistreated.
One environment in which elder abuse often goes unnoticed is nursing homes. While most nursing homes provide residents with a safe and healthy living environment, they can also create unbalanced power dynamics between residents and employees, and isolate residents from friends and family. If you suspect mistreatment of a loved one in a nursing home, here are four steps you can take to help.
The first step in stopping nursing home neglect or abuse is being present to see warning signs. Visiting your loved ones in a nursing home regularly allows you to notice unexplained changes in behavior, changes in physical health, troubling interactions between employees and residents, and cleanliness of living spaces.
Listen and Observe
If you notice any warning signs of abuse or neglect, you should ask your loved one for clarification on what you saw. However, also keep in mind that he may not want to admit to being mistreated. He may fear retribution, not want to get an employee in trouble, and/or feel that admitting to mistreatment would show weakness. Whether the resident confirms the mistreatment or not, start documenting relevant information in detail. Include the location, date, time and people involved, and the names of other staff members who may have witnessed the incident as well.
Most cases of elder abuse go unreported. Don’t let fear of being wrong keep you from reporting your suspicions to the authorities. Even if your suspicions are incorrect, you will not be legally liable if you made your report in good faith. In South Carolina, you can report nursing home negligence to the National Center on Elder Abuse. For elder abuse, neglect, self-neglect or exploitation of a vulnerable adult in a community setting, call 888-227-3487. For elder mistreatment in long-term care facilities outside Richland County, call 800-868-9095. And for elder mistreatment in long-term care facilities within Richland County, call 803-734-9900. If you fear that a nursing home resident’s safety is in immediate danger, call 911 as soon as possible. You can also find county-specific information.
Seek Legal Representation
Once you’ve done all you can to get your loved one out of harm’s way, follow up with a nursing home negligence attorney, contacting him or her as soon as possible about your case. A lawyer will help you receive compensation for physical or emotional damages by finding an expert witness to testify for the victim, investigating standards of care for the nursing home and providing experienced legal expertise.
Hire a South Carolina Nursing Home Negligence Attorney Today
If you or a loved one is the victim of nursing home negligence, the Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson can help. Schedule a free case evaluation online or call us at:
Hidden Camera Confirms Nursing Home Abuse in Greenville County
There are few things more horrible than discovering your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse. For a man suspicious that his 89-year-old mother was being abused at a nursing home in Greenville County, the fear was severe enough to place a hidden camera.
The man first became concerned after learning his mother had suffered a number of recent injuries. Afraid she was a victim of nursing home abuse, he placed a hidden camera in her bedroom at Rolling Green Village Memory Care Assisted Living.
In South Carolina, recording interactions between two parties is legal as long as one of the parties is aware of the presence of a camera. After reviewing the footage, the man confirmed two staff members — identified as 37-year-old Diana Rochelle Garrett and 50-year-old Stephanie Ann Lowden, were abusing his mother.
Upon viewing the footage, which showed “Garrett and Lowden using physical force and psychological abuse” on the woman, the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office charged the women with abuse of a vulnerable adult.
The abuse shown in the footage stemmed from an incident in which the patient did not want to take a shower. She was injured when Garrett and Lowden forced her to take one anyway, causing “fear, agitation, and confusion” — according to the arrest warrant.
As of June 17, Lowden was being held at Greenville County Detention Center and Garrett had not been taken into custody. According to the sheriff’s office, the case is thought to be an isolated incident and the department has not learned of any additional residents experiencing similar abuse.
Both employees are now being described as “former staff members” of the assisted living center, though the facility has yet to make a public comment on the case.
Abuse is considered the intentional infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, care and service deprivation, or punishment that results in physical harm or mental anguish. Neglect is defined as the failure — whether intentional or not — to provide a person with the care necessary to ensure freedom from harm or pain.
A nursing home resident can be the victim of both neglect and abuse. Common signs include:
Refusal to Communicate
Rapid Weight Loss
Heavy Medication or Sedation
The easiest way to ensure your loved one is not being mistreated is to visit often and pay close attention to any changes in attitude or behavior. If you suspect nursing home abuse, report your concerns to the proper authorities.
In South Carolina, the State Long Term Care Ombudsman (SLTO) investigates reports of nursing home abuse and can be reached through the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division at (866)-200-6066. If you have an urgent, immediate concern, call 911.
Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Expert for Assistance
The discovery that your loved one has been abused in a nursing home is both heartbreaking and infuriating. A nursing home abuse lawsuit can help bring closure to your family by holding the responsible parties accountable for their actions. For assistance in building your potential case, call The Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson Jr. in Rock Hill, Fort Mill, Lancaster, or Union at (803)-324-7200.
According to the US Census, there is currently a greater number of people living over the age of 65 than in any other time in which the census was taken. Approximately 15% of our current US population is over the age of 65. We are approaching an even larger percentage for this population as our baby boomers continue to reach the age 65 milestone. Americans are living longer, with approximately 6 million Americans currently over the age of 85, and this number is growing as well. All of this has a huge impact on South Carolina. According to an article by Top Retirement, “The Carolinas are a red-hot retirement destination; both North and South Carolina enjoy a very favorable image among baby boomers. As great places to retire, both have become as popular as Florida.”
With an increase in our aging population, there is a direct correlation to an increase in individuals living in nursing home facilities. More than 3 million people in the United States are currently living in nursing homes. In one recent survey with nursing home residents, about 44 percent indicated that they had suffered from abuse, and more than 95 percent indicated that they had been neglected by their caregivers. Federal nursing home regulations state that “the resident has the right to be free from verbal, sexual, physical, and mental abuse, corporal punishment, and involuntary seclusion.”
What is Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?
First, let’s distinguish the difference between nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect.
Nursing Home Abuse: Intentional infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, care/service deprivation or punishment that results in physical harm, pain or mental anguish
Nursing Home Neglect: Failure, intentional or not, to provide a person with the care and services necessary to ensure freedom from harm or pain; a failure to react to a potentially dangerous situation resulting in resident harm or anxiety
An individual can be the victim of either nursing home abuse or neglect or a combination of both. The mistreatment of the elderly is any factor which harms or creates a risk of harm to the elder by a trusted caregiver. While exact numbers of nursing home abuse/neglect are difficult to determine (many cases are unreported or unfounded); we understand that only about 1 out of every 14 cases of elder abuse ever reaches authorities. We do know that women over the age of 65 are most likely to be the victims. We also know that with increasing age, comes increasing vulnerability, and an increase in the likelihood of abuse/neglect.
The impacts of nursing home abuse and neglect are devastating. The abuse victim is placed at a 300 percent greater risk of death when compared to non-abused individuals. Studies have shown that victims of elder abuse suffer from an increase in psychological stress and struggle with negative feelings of self-worth.
The total cost of elder abuse and neglect is enormous. There is a direct impact on the life of the individual as well as his/her family. Additionally, there is an increase in medical costs associated with caring for the victim. The medical costs of caring for violent injuries against the elderly are believed to be more than $5 billion per year.
Examples of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Assault and battery
Lack of care for medical problems
Prolonged deprivation of food or water
Rape or other forms of sexual assault or battery
Unreasonable physical restraint or seclusion
Use of a medication for any purpose inconsistent with the intended purpose (i.e. pushing medications to force a person to sleep more)
Emotional Abuse (humiliating or demeaning a resident, habitually blaming, threatening or intimidating him, etc.…)
Financial Exploitation (stealing a resident’s money or valuables, coercing a resident to cash checks, etc.…)
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
According to a 2001 study conducted by the U.S. House of Representatives, approximately one in three nursing homes were cited for violations of federal standards that harmed or had the potential to harm a resident. It’s important for all of us to gain a better understanding of nursing home abuse and neglect. Often, healthcare professionals are insufficiently trained on this topic and may not notice the signs. The victim of abuse or neglect may be hesitant to report due to fear. The victim may be unable to report due to cognitive issues (dementia, Alzheimer’s) or other limitations caused by their age and/or physical state.
Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect:
Falls, fractures, or head injuries
Emotionally upset or agitated – sudden changes in behavior
Extreme withdrawal or refusal to communicate – unusual changes in behavior
Rapid weight loss
Repeat attempts of elopement
Reluctance to interact with nursing home staff
Injuries in various states of healing or with unknown cause
Heavily medicated or sedated individual
Provision of incorrect medication
What to do if you suspect Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
The decision to move your loved one into a nursing home is never easy. When you move a loved one to a nursing home, you expect that they are cared for with respect and that their medical needs are met. Many wonderful nursing homes help us to care for our loved ones as they age, and their medical/supervision needs increase. However, the reality of a nursing home facility is that there are strangers who are given a great deal of authority over your loved one. You cannot possibly be present at all hours to supervise and if the nursing home staff are less than ideal then this can create an unfortunate negative consequence for your loved one. We encourage you to go with your gut, if you suspect anything then stay diligent. You know your loved one best. Also follow these steps if you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect:
Visit Often: The more often that you are present, the increase in likelihood that you will see warning signs. You can observe your loved ones for any unexplained changes in behavior, and changes in physical health. You will be better able to observe your loved one’s interactions with nursing home staff. You can assess for cleanliness and any sanitary concerns.
Listen and Observe: Talk to your loved one about his/her care. Ask your loved one how s/he feels about the staff. Be direct and talk to them one-on-one. Do remember that your loved one may be hesitant to make a disclosure, they could be fearful or ashamed of the situation. Start documenting your concerns in detail, even if there is no clear disclosure. Record the location, date, time and people involved. Make certain to have the names of any staff who may have been an eyewitness to your concern.
Report: Speak up in order to protect your loved one. It is not your job to prove fault. Report your concerns to the authorities and let them investigate within their realm of expertise. In South Carolina, the State Long Term Care Ombudsman (SLTO) investigates reports of abuse or neglect within a nursing home facility. All initial reports should be made to SLED (South Carolina Law Enforcement Division) and SLED will forward it to the SLTO. Contact 1-866-200-6066 (24/7). If you have an urgent, immediate concern for your loved one, call 911.
Seek Legal Representation: Once you have taken the steps to report the suspected abuse/neglect and have done all that you can to protect your loved one, contact a nursing home abuse lawyer right away. A nursing home abuse attorney can help you to receive compensation for any physical or emotional damages that may have occurred. The attorney will investigate the issue, find expert witnesses to testify, investigate the nursing home, and provide experienced legal guidance.
Hire a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
What do you do when you trust someone to compassionately care for your parents or grandparents only to find out that trust has been misplaced? South Carolina has a Statute of Limitations, meaning a suit must be filed and served in a certain time frame. The best advice is to follow up immediately with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer. At the Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson, Jr., our knowledgeable and compassionate team of nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys understand that elder abuse is a societal issue, as well as a very personal one. We are committed to helping you in your pursuit of legal justice. If you suspect abuse or neglect led to your loved one’s injury, sudden decline, unexplained injuries or death, it’s important to contact a nursing home negligence attorney right away so that we can initiate the investigative process and hold the nursing home facility accountable.
If your friend or family member is the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect in South Carolina, contact the Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson right away. We can investigate the standard of care at the victim’s nursing home, among other investigative acts. Schedule a free case evaluation or call us at: 803-324-7200.