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Tips for Recognizing & Preventing Nursing Home Abuse

A Resident’s Rights

Nursing home residents in West Virginia are protected by the Resident Bill of Rights and the West Virginia Nursing Home Licensure Rule. These laws and regulations are intended to protect the health, rights, and dignity of our state’s most vulnerable citizens. Sadly, there are thousands of abuse, assault, and neglects cases reported each year. While the stories behind these accounts are horrific, it’s a positive sign that these facilities are finally being held accountable for the actions of their staffers.

Per federal nursing home regulations, a “resident has the right to be free from verbal, sexual, physical, and mental abuse, corporal punishment, and involuntary seclusion.” Unfortunately, there are at least 2 million cases of abuse and neglect reported in the United States each year. For this reason, it’s imperative that all nursing home residents recognize that they are also protected by the following state-specific laws:

  • A nursing home resident must be informed or his or her legal rights regarding Medicaid (what it is, what it covers, and how to apply) and their personal financial obligations.
  • A nursing home resident has the right to review the nursing homes past inspection results, complaint reports, and any plans of correction.
  • A nursing home resident has the freedom to voice any grievances about their living conditions or the staff, and the facility to file complaints concerning allegations of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. In such circumstances, the resident must be provided contact information for the Department of Health and Human Services and the West Virginia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.
  • A nursing home resident has the right to be free from abuse and neglect – this includes verbal, physical, sexual, and mental abuse, denial of privileges, financial exploitation, involuntary seclusion, and corporal punishment.
  • A nursing home resident cannot be subjected to physical or pharmaceutical restraints unless it has been authorized – in writing – by the resident’s physician and agreed to by the resident or their legal representative. The only exception is if the restraints are used to protect the resident from self-harm.

Defining “Abuse” & “Neglect”

Elderly residents often suffer medical conditions that make them vulnerable to acts of manipulation and abuse. Consequently, most incidents of abuse tend to go unreported because patients are terrified of their caretakers or lack the cognitive functioning to even realize they’re being mistreated. In these circumstances, it’s up to the resident’s friends and family members to report any acts of misconduct or malpractice to the proper authorities. However, before pursuing legal action, it’s important to understand what actions constitute abuse and neglect.

Acts of physical abuse include, but are not limited to:

  • Being pushed, slapped, or hit
  • Burning the resident
  • Threats of assault
  • Inappropriate use of restraints
  • Sexual abuse

Acts of emotional abuse include, but are not limited to:

  • Threatening or intimidating the resident
  • Humiliating the resident
  • Insulting the resident
  • Gaslighting the resident
  • Isolating the resident

Acts of financial exploitation include, but are not limited to:

  • Stealing a resident’s identity
  • Modifying the resident’s estate plan
  • Forging the resident’s signature on documents and checks
  • Emptying the resident’s bank account
  • Using the resident’s credit card
  • Taking the resident’s property

Acts of neglect include, but are not limited to:

  • Denying the resident access to basic necessities
  • Failure to treat or prevent malnourishment and dehydration
  • Forcing the resident to live in unsafe conditions
  • Leaving the resident in soiled clothing
  • Failure to give the resident their prescribed medications

Any of these acts can exacerbate a resident’s existing medical conditions as well as impact their mental and emotional state. In tragic circumstances, acts of abuse and neglects can even lead to new health complications and otherwise preventable fatalities.

Protecting Your Loved One

The only way you can protect your loved one is by visiting regularly and paying attention to the conditions at the facility. By visiting at inconsistent times, you can check for signs of abuse and neglect without giving the facility time to prepare for your arrival.

If you’re concerned about your loved one’s living conditions, take the following steps when you’re visiting a facility:

  • Keep a thorough and ongoing record that details your concerns
  • Take pictures of your loved one’s living conditions and/or physical wounds
  • Visit during mealtimes to see how the staff prepares food
  • Talk to other residents and families to see if they’ve had similar experiences
  • Meet with every staffer who is responsible for your loved one’s care
  • Ask the staffers about your loved one’s daily routine and care options
  • Visit different facilities to make comparative determinations

Explore Your Legal Options Today

If you or a loved one has been victimized by a negligent nursing home facility, contact the Charleston nursing home abuse lawyer at Troy Law Firm immediately. During your appointment, we can review your concerns, discuss your legal options, and start building an effective case strategy that aims to hold the facility accountable for their actions. With our help, you can recover compensatory damages that ensure your loved one receives the highest quality of care in the future.

Protect your standard of living. Contact Troy Law Firm at (304) 315-2299 to schedule a consultation.