Fredericksburg Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
When our aging loved ones need more than occasional care and casual support, placement in a nursing home frequently is our only choice. All of the Medicare and Medicaid certified skilled nursing facilities in Virginia are highly regulated by the Virginia Department of Health Long Term Care Division. But does that mean we can trust those facilities to keep our loved ones safe and healthy?
Unfortunately, the answer is no, it doesn’t.
In June 2019 The Virginia Pilot reported state inspectors had “found multiple violations of state standards of care” at Virginia nursing homes, some of which put residents in extreme danger of physical, emotional, sexual, and financial harm. There is no excuse for a nursing home to fail so badly at its obligation to care for the most vulnerable among us. Criminal statutes, administrative regulations, and potential lawsuits for damages work together to hold nursing facilities accountable for these failings.
If you have a family member living in a Fredericksburg, Virginia-area nursing home who shows signs of abuse or neglect, you may have a right to recover substantial compensation as damages, if you act soon.
Spotting Signs of Abuse and Neglect
There are numerous forms of elder abuse, according to The National Center on Elder Abuse. They are:
- Infliction of physical injury;
- Infliction of sexual harm;
- Infliction of emotional or psychological trauma;
- Neglect of care;
- Fraud, theft, and other financial crimes; and
Signs of physical abuse include bruising, fractures, welts, lacerations, open wounds, evidence of physical restraint, and symptoms of over- or under-medication.
Signs of sexual abuse include bruised genitals, genital infections, bleeding from genitals/anus and sexually transmitted diseases.
Signs of emotional/psychological abuse include unusual behavior, agitation, mimicking behavior, dementia-like symptoms, withdrawal, and unresponsiveness.
Signs of neglect include unsanitary conditions, poor personal hygiene, dehydration, malnutrition, untreated health issues, reports of mistreatment by the resident.
Signs of abandonment include understaffing at a nursing facility, failure to monitor residents or to stop them from wandering off, and isolating a resident from human contact.
Signs of financial abuse include unexplained bank withdrawals or credit card expenditures, unexpected and unnecessary changes to estate plans, giving powers of attorney or check-writing authority to strangers, and execution of suspicious bank or legal transactions.
Signs of self-neglect include refusal to eat or drink, not dressing properly, and absence of personal hygiene.
These signs are guideposts. We encourage family and friends of nursing home residents to trust their feelings. If something about a loved one’s living situation in a nursing facility unsettles you, then speak up. It’s better to be over-protective than under-protective of a vulnerable family member left in the care of a nursing home.
Residents’ Rights in Virginia Set Standards to Follow
Virginia statutes bestow rights on Fredericksburg nursing home residents and their families. A nursing home’s failure to respect these rights may also serve as a sign of an abusive or neglectful situation. A nursing home must allow a patient:
- To access, at any time, the results of state surveys and inspections of the facility;
- To participate in care planning and to refuse experimental treatments;
- To be discharged only for medical reasons;
- To express concerns and recommend changes in the operation of the facility;
- To demand not to be subjected to abuse, neglect, or unnecessary physical or chemical restraints; and
- To demand privacy and confidentiality in treatment and consultations with doctors.
If you have doubts about whether abuse is occurring, ask yourself whether the conditions you have observed comport with these rights. Any behavior or condition that seems to violate these rights represents a potential sign of abuse and neglect.
Who Must Report Suspected Abuse, and Who Should Do So
Under Virginia’s mandatory reporting statute, the following individuals must report suspected nursing home abuse:
- Anyone licensed, certified, or registered by health regulator (except a veterinarian);
- Any mental health service provider;
- Any emergency medicine provider;
- Any legal guardian or conservator of an adult residing in a nursing home;
- Any employee or contractor of the nursing facility; and
- Anyone else who provides paid care to the adult.
These are the people who face legal sanction if they fail to report abuse. That doesn’t mean, however, that others can trust a report will be made. Anyone who suspects abuse should speak up immediately.
Demand Quality Facilities and Care
There is no excuse for substandard care in a nursing home. These are a few of the things to expect from a quality long term care facility.
- A wide range of social, recreational, religious, and community activities;
- Transportation provided to community activities and private physician’s office;
- Space for residents to visit with family and guests;
- A physician on call who will come to the facility if the resident is not able to see his or her personal doctor;
- Sufficient full time registered nurses available on every shift;
- Sufficient number of Certified Nursing Assistants;
- A registered dietician on staff;
- In house physical and occupational therapy;
Holding a Nursing Home Accountable for Abuse and Neglect
Nursing home abuse and neglect violates regulations. It violates criminal laws. And it exposes the nursing home facility to civil liability for damages to anyone harmed.
The first step to take when you suspect abuse or neglect at a nursing home is to ensure your loved one’s health and safety. Do whatever you need to do to address an emergency, then raise concerns with staff or facility leadership. Next, make an appointment to speak with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney from Emroch & Kilduff. We can help you decide whether and how to hold the facility accountable for the harm it did to your loved one and your family.
A Fredericksburg Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Can Help
At Emroch & Kilduff, we’ve been helping victims of nursing home abuse since 1970. We have eight attorneys and support staff singularly focused on representing victims of personal injury. If a member of your family has been harmed while residing in a long term care facility, our trained and experienced litigators stand ready to fight for justice on your behalf.
Contact us at our Fredericksburg location at (540) 898-2882 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.