Nursing home neglect, abuse: what family members need to know

The difference between the care promised and the care provided in nursing homes can be the difference between life and death.

As parents and grandparents get older, they can find it very difficult to do all the things they used to. Over time, their mental and physical health can decline and families may have no choice but to seek full-time care. In many cases, this means finding a suitable nursing home facility where they can receive regular, ongoing care and attention.

This can be a very difficult and emotional decision that many people do not make lightly. They collect brochures, visit numerous facilities and speak with staff members in order to try and make the best decision possible.

Unfortunately, many facilities make promises they don't keep and patients end up being abused or neglected.

In accordance with Ohio state laws, nursing home facilities are required to adhere to strict laws and guidelines regarding the care of patients. They are expected to:

  • Provide residents with at least three meals a day that meet dietary guidelines, and help residents eat if necessary
  • Prescribe and administer safe, accurate and necessary medication to patients
  • Comply with strict restraint guidelines if limiting or controlling movement is necessary
  • Supervise and assist residents in the completion of personal care tasks with kindness and consideration
  • Maintain accurate and complete care and medical records for all patients
  • Keep facility environment clean, safe and at an appropriate temperature

Despite assurances that these and the numerous other requirements are strictly observed, some facilities cut corners and violate these laws. They leave patients overmedicated and unattended, forget to feed patients, physically attack them or verbally abuse them. Sadly, many people who are subjected to this type of treatment suffer fatal - and often preventable - injuries or illnesses.

What you can do if you suspect abuse

Nursing home patients may not be able to stop mistreatment on their own because they suffer from conditions like dementia or memory loss. They may also be afraid to express themselves for fear of retaliation or losing what little care they do receive. This is why it is crucial for a patient's family to look out for signs of neglect or abuse.

The easiest way to do this is to pay attention to a patient's demeanor and physical condition when visiting. Look for signs of bruising or infections, shifts in emotional well-being, sharp declines in mobility or significant weight loss. If something seems amiss, ask to speak with a facility supervisor.

Some families in the U.S. have even gone so far as to put hidden cameras in their loved one's rooms, though this is illegal in some states. An article in The New York Times discussed this trend and noted that while there may be issues with privacy, families and government agencies have caught devastating acts of abuse or neglect by installing surveillance equipment in patients' rooms.

Taking legal action

If you have reason to believe that your loved one is being abused or neglected while in the care of an Ohio nursing home facility, you can discuss your concerns with an experienced attorney who can help you assess the situation, explore your options and take legal action if appropriate.

Keywords: nursing home neglect, neglect, abuse, nursing home abuse