What Is Nursing Home Abuse?
“Nursing home abuse” is a term used to refer to unacceptable care and/or treatment carried out by nursing home facilities, staff members, and caregivers against elderly residents/patients. “Unacceptable” care is any treatment that falls below the generally accepted standard of care. This means that if an individual or facility fails to provide an elderly individual with the level of care that one could reasonably expect from another qualified provider in the same or similar circumstances, they have breached their duty of care to the elderly individual and can be held accountable.
Nursing home abuse takes many forms. Some of the most common include:
- General neglect
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse and assault
- Emotional/mental abuse
- Financial abuse
- Medical malpractice and negligence
All forms of nursing home abuse and negligence can have serious negative effects, including significant and long-lasting physical, emotional, and financial harm.
What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse is not always obvious. Often, the signs of abuse mimic symptoms associated with advanced age and various physical and mental health conditions. Additionally, elderly individuals may not always be able to speak up about abuse themselves, making it even more difficult to detect.
Some of the most common signs of nursing home abuse and neglect include:
- Unexplained bruises, cuts, and other injuries
- Untreated bedsores (or pressure ulcers)
- Fall-related injuries, such as bone fractures and head injuries
- Any significant injury, such as a brain injury or spinal cord injury
- Unexplained/suspicious death
- General uncleanliness at a facility
- Poor hygiene
- Failure to follow proper safety standards
- Unexplained changes in weight (loss or gain)
- Medication errors, such as underdose or overdose
- Use of chemical or physical restraints
- Unusual changes in mood or behavior, such as unexplained crying or irritability
- Apparent fear/unwillingness to be in the presence of a caregiver
- Not being allowed to be alone with a resident
- Changes to a will, trust, health care directive, or power of attorney
- Unusual withdrawals from bank accounts
- Bounced checks
Because the effects of elder abuse and neglect are so serious, it is important that you keep an eye out for signs that something is wrong. If you believe your loved one is suffering from mistreatment at the hands of a caregiver or under the supervision of a nursing home facility, you should take immediate action.
How to Report Elder Abuse or Neglect in Washington, D.C.
If you suspect that your loved one may be the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, you should report it right away. If anyone may be in immediate danger, call 911. For all other instances of suspected abuse or neglect, you can contact the Washington, D.C. Department of Aging and Community Living (also known as Adult Protective Services).
To report suspected elder abuse in Washington, D.C.:
- Call the Adult Protective Services hotline at (202) 541-3950 (available 24/7)
- Visit the Adult Protective Services office (see online for address)
Once you have reported the abuse, we encourage you to reach out to an experienced attorney who can help you understand your legal right to a fair recovery. At the Smith Clinesmith Firm, our Washington, D.C. nursing home abuse attorneys are dedicated to pursuing justice on behalf of victims and their families, and we are available to answer any questions you may have.
When to Hire a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
It is a good idea to hire an experienced attorney any time you know or suspect that you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect. Victims are typically entitled to financial compensation for their related damages, such as medical expenses, pain, and suffering. However, actually recovering this compensation can be very difficult without the help of a lawyer.
The nursing home facility is not likely to admit fault. In fact, these entities have powerful defense teams that work to disprove, devalue, and/or deny claims. You need an equally powerful team fighting for you.
It is also important that you act quickly, as you have a limited amount of time to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit in Washington, D.C. Known as the “statute of limitations,” the deadline for filing a lawsuit for nursing home abuse or neglect in D.C. is three years from the date the abuse or neglect occurred, or the date on which the abuse or neglect was discovered or reasonably could have been discovered. If you fail to bring a claim within three years, your case will most likely be dismissed.
Contact the Smith Clinesmith Firm Today
At the Smith Clinesmith Firm, we devote 100% of our practice to helping victims of nursing home abuse and neglect fight for justice. For more than 25 years, we have successfully represented numerous clients in complex cases against trusted caregivers and facilities, securing millions of dollars in compensation on their behalf. We are proud to have earned a national reputation as advocates for the elderly and are ready to dedicate all of our time, efforts, and resources to helping you and your family.