For most of us, it is hard to imagine taking advantage of or physically abusing anyone, let alone someone who has come to us for help. Yet, data shows that abuse in nursing homes is a major problem, especially here in Florida. Consider these statistics from the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) and the National Council on Aging (NCOA):
- Approximately 10% of senior citizens experience some form of neglect – or physical, psychological, verbal, sexual, or financial abuse.
- Approximately one out of every 15 complaints against a nursing home is for abuse, gross neglect, or exploitation.
- Close to 50% of senior citizens with dementia experience some form of abuse.
- Along with mental impairment, social isolation is a leading factor that makes seniors in nursing homes vulnerable to abuse.
- Despite an increasing trend in the reporting of elder abuse, for every one reported case of elder abuse, 24 cases go unreported.
If you have an aging family member who lives in a nursing home, or if you live in a nursing home yourself, it is important that you take action at the first sign of potential abuse. Abuse is never okay; and sadly, it is a problem that tends to get worse over time. At Rue & Ziffra Law Offices, we are passionate about helping individuals who have been abused in nursing homes. We can take immediate action to protect you or your loved one, and make sure you have access to the compassionate and professional care you deserve.
About Rue & Ziffra Law Offices
Rue & Ziffra is a local law firm that has been fighting for residents of Volusia and Flagler Counties since 1976. With a team of nine attorneys who are committed to personal injury and wrongful death representation, we have over 180 years of combined experience, and we have recovered millions of dollars in financial compensation for our clients. We have deep roots in our local community, and we are proud to call ourselves “Your Local Attorneys” for cases of nursing home abuse in Palm Coast, Edgewater, Orange City, and the surrounding areas.
GET YOUR FREE CASE REVIEW!
Your Local Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Abuse by nursing home caregivers, administrators, nurses, hospitality staff, and other residents can take numerous different forms. We represent individuals and families in cases involving all forms of nursing home abuse and neglect.
Physical abuse includes all forms of physical invasion and contact resulting in physical harm. Hitting residents, pushing residents, using physical restraints, and other forms of abuse can result in severe traumatic injuries with the potential for long-term or permanent complications.
Any form of inappropriate touching without valid consent constitutes sexual abuse. This includes kissing, fondling, intercourse, and other acts that are sexual in nature, and it applies regardless of whether a resident refuses consent, is unable to refuse consent, or grants consent under duress or undue influence.
Psychological and Verbal Abuse
Examples of psychological and verbal abuse in nursing homes include threats of physical or sexual abuse, harassment, intimidation, and refusing to allow seniors to spend time with family members or other residents.
Negligent care in nursing homes is alarmingly common, with nurses and caregivers routinely making mistakes. These can include improperly administering medications, failing to provide adequate nutrition and hydration, failing to help residents seek medical attention when necessary, and failing to adhere to residents’ care plans.
Neglect and Abandonment
Neglect and abandonment can have severe psychological effects. For residents who are unable to care for themselves, it can lead to malnutrition and dehydration, poor hygiene, and dangerous medical complications. Neglect and abandonment are also among the leading causes of elopement from nursing homes.
Financial exploitation can include stealing cash, using residents’ credit cards, forging residents’ checks, and exerting undue influence to get residents to modify their estate plans.
Willful deprivation is a form of nursing home abuse which can include intentionally denying residents access to their medications, depriving residents of food or water, preventing residents from using the restroom, and denying access to necessary walkers, wheelchairs, and other assistive devices.
Q: What are the signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse?
When visiting a loved one in a nursing home, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of neglect and abuse. This includes warning signs for potential abuse within the nursing home itself, as well as symptoms exhibited by your loved one. Conditions and symptoms that may be evidence of abuse include:
- Agitation or emotional withdrawal
- Bed sores (pressure ulcers)
- Injuries consistent with falls
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Medications being used too slowly or too quickly
- Residents or staff members not being willing to openly discuss apparent signs of abuse
- Untreated injuries and infections
- Unexplained changes in behavior, such as mood swings or fear of being touched
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Unsanitary living conditions in the resident’s room or unclean conditions in other areas of the nursing home
Q: What is the Braden Scale for Predicting Pressure Ulcer Risk?
The Braden Scale for Predicting Pressure Ulcer Risk is an assessment tool that medical professionals use to assess potential risk factors for bed sores for senior citizens. It focuses on six risk factors in particular:
- Sensory perception (pain sensitivity)
- Skin moisture
- Physical activity level
- Friction and shear (breakdown of the cell membranes and capillaries connecting the bone to the skin, typically resulting from sliding in beds and chairs)
Physicians rate each risk factor on a scale of one to four (with one being the highest level of risk), and appropriate care practices will be determined based on the senior’s overall score:
- Very High Risk: total score of 9 or less
- High Risk: total score of 10 to 12
- Moderate Risk: total score of 13 to 14
- Mild Risk: total score of 15 to 18
- No Risk: total score of 19 to 23 (“friction and shear” is only graded on a scale of one to three)
Q: What is the Minimum Data Set (MDS) process used in nursing homes?
The Minimum Data Set (MDS) process is part of the U.S. Medicare and Medicaid system. In order for a nursing home to receive certification to bill Medicare or Medicaid, they must assess their residents’ health conditions based on a list of 15 criteria established by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The categories for assessment under the MDS are:
- Cognitive patterns
- Communication and hearing patterns
- Vision patterns
- Physical functioning and structural problems
- Psychosocial well-being
- Mood and behavior patterns
- Activity pursuit patterns
- Disease diagnoses
- Other health conditions
- Oral/nutritional status
- Oral/dental status
- Skin condition
- Medication use
- Treatments and procedures
Q: What is the statute of limitations for seeking compensation for injuries from nursing home abuse?
In most cases, the statute of limitations for nursing home abuse claims is two years from the date of discovery under Florida law. However, there are some important exceptions.
Section 429.296(1) of the Florida Statutes sets a cap of four years from the date of the incident. In other words, if it has been less than two years since you discovered the abuse but more than four years since the abuse actually occurred, then the statute of limitations may have expired.
However, under Section 429.296(2), the statute of limitations can be extended in cases where the nursing home fraudulently concealed or intentionally misrepresented information in order to prevent discovery of the abuse. In this scenario, the statute of limitations is, “2 years from the time that the injury is discovered with the exercise of due diligence, but in no event not more than 6 years from the date the incident giving rise to the injury occurred.”
If you are concerned that the statute of limitations for your claim may have expired, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free consultation. It is important that you not make any assumptions that could jeopardize your legal rights. We can thoroughly assess the facts of your case to determine your legal options; and if necessary, we can initiate pre-suit proceedings immediately to protect you or your loved one.
Schedule a Free Consultation Now
If you would like more information about how we can help you take action against nursing home abuse, please contact us to schedule a free and confidential consultation. You can reach us by phone 24/7 at (386) 788-7700, or request a free case review online and we will be in touch as soon as possible.