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Nursing Home Abuse

Releasing your loved ones into the care of a nursing home can be scary, especially with the reputations nursing home they have earned. Adult Protective Services released a report in 2012 detailing that there were 59,595 valid claims of nursing home abuse in the United States. Additionally, Adult Protective Services have estimated that nursing home neglect or abuse has increased by 35 percent over the last ten years.

Placing a person in a nursing home is a difficult decision. Discovering nursing home neglect or abuse at the facility you chose can be devastating. Your loved ones should never face any type of abuse. It doesn’t matter if the damage was physical or emotional; mistreating the elderly is an unacceptable act.

Sadly, many cases of nursing home neglect or abuse go unnoticed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that one in ten elders have experienced exploitation or neglect. If you or your loved one have faced nursing home abuse, it’s critical that you seek a personal injury attorney.

Houston Attorney for Nursing Home Neglect in TX

Unfortunately, the elderly’s vulnerability makes them a huge target for mistreatment and neglect. Nursing home abuse has become a sad reality for elderly Americans. There’s no reason that your loved ones should suffer without consequences. Contact Matthew Horak to have an experienced personal injury attorney review your case. 

Attorney Matthew Horak is a skilled personal injury attorney who has handled many nursing home neglect and other related cases. He’s passionate about advocating for his client’s side. Matthew Horak also treats each client with the utmost care and attention. No matter the situation, he wants to be there as your legal partner in this process. Call Matthew Horak now at (713) 225-8000 to schedule a free consultation.

Horak Law accepts clients throughout the greater Harris County area including surrounding counties such as Waller County, Fort Bend County, Galveston County, and Liberty County.

Overview of Nursing Home Abuse in Texas 

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Statistics

Nursing home abuse has become more prevalent in the United States over time. The following are some statistics collected by the National Center on Elder Abuse, the National Council on Aging, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

  • An estimated 5,000,000 elders are abused annually;
  • 1 in 10 elders over the age of 60 have been abused in nursing homes;
  • Only 1 in 14 nursing home abuse incidents are formally reported;
  • Studies show that 50 percent of elderly residents diagnosed with dementia are abused or neglected to the point of abuse; and
  • A report from 2010 indicated that approximately half of nursing home attendants admitted to committing some sort of abuse or neglect to elderly patients.

Physical Abuse in Nursing Home Facilities

Physical abuse is more common in nursing homes than people believe in nursing homes. Studies indicate that as many as 24.3 percent of nursing home residents experienced some type of physical abuse. Signs of physical abuse are not always easy to spot. Simple actions such as repeated pinching or grabbing can be considered physical abuse.

Residents may be subject to subtle abuse such as repeated pushing, arm-twisting, grabbing, or yanking. However, if these actions are persistent they can cause considerable distress to the victim. More obvious signs of physical abuse can be punching, kicking, or strangling. Sexual abuse is also sadly a frequent risk in nursing homes. 

Nursing home employees are expected to perform a certain duty of care when overlooking elderly residents. Workers who notice abuse or neglect must report their observations to Adult Protective Services. If workers fail to report or give a reasonable duty of care they may be held legally responsible. 

Some common signs of physical elderly abuse include: 

  • Sudden weight loss;
  • Signs of malnutrition or dehydration such as dry skin;
  • Nursing home staff refuse to leave the patient alone with family;
  • Mysterious injuries or recurring injuries;
  • Signs of restraint such as bruises on the wrist; or
  • Signs of sexual abuse.

Gross Neglect in Texas Nursing Homes

A common form of dangerous neglect is the use of restraints. Nursing home attendants may physically restrain their patients as to gain some “peace of mind.” This is especially common for residents with neurodegenerating disorders such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. Nursing home employees who use physical restraints are not upholding their duty of care and are considered grossly negligent.

Some nursing home employees may ignore a patient to the point it’s considered gross negligence. Elderly patients may be dehydrated or malnourished as a punishment or because the staff is inattentive. Nursing homes have requirements they must fulfill which includes having a dietician and chef on staff. Facilities that aren’t properly staffed or don’t attend to their patients are considered legally liable. 

Some signs of gross neglect in nursing homes include:

  • Bed sores;
  • The resident is uncharacteristically quiet;
  • Lack of social interaction with other residents;
  • Signs of extreme stress such as hair loss;
  • Repeated falls or trip and slips; or
  • Low self-esteem.

Slip and Trips or Falls in Nursing Homes

Falls are deadly to the elderly and account for approximately 30 percent of injury-related deaths among senior citizens. Even minor falls can result in serious injuries for the elderly. Any nursing home fall is almost always the result of negligence or understaffing. Unattended fallen residents can face even greater dangers if they’re not given help in time.

Nursing homes are required to create care plans called fall risk assessments for their elderly patients. These fall risk assessments chart out the senior’s movement ability and evaluate any assistance they may need to navigate the facility. Facilities that do not provide fall risk assessment plans may be considered legally accountable.

Other factors can lead to a fall. If the building isn’t maintained structural factors may be the reason for the patient’s injury. Not maintaining the building can create fall risks. Some examples include wet floors, poor lighting, improper bed heights, or absence of bathtub rails. Nursing homes that don’t maintain their premises could be considered negligent in court.

Nursing home staff prevents most falls. Studies have shown that nursing home attendants have stopped more falls than bed rails or restraints. Therefore, supervision is a huge deterrent to future falls. Nursing home facilities must have proper supervision and care by staff to avoid their residents getting hurt.

Bedsores in Hospices or Nursing Homes

Pressure ulcers otherwise known as bedsores, are the result of an inattentive nursing home or hospice staff. Most bedsores occur because of gross negligence by medical and nursing home staff. A bedsore can be extremely painful and even create a risk for further complications such as gangrene or sepsis.

 Simple moving exercises and treatment such as turning residents at regular intervals can prevent the creation of any bedsores. Nursing home staff should not only be trained in these procedures but perform them regularly. In addition, residents should have their cushions, sheets, and if needed mattress consistently washed to avoid bedsores.

Emotional Elderly Abuse in Texas

Emotional and verbal abuse is the most common type of mistreatment in nursing home facilities. Some examples of emotional abuse include isolating residents, purposefully ignoring residents, name calling, or treating a suffering patient with passiveness. 

Emotional distress can be extremely taxing on an elderly person. High levels of stress can create additional medical problems or worsen any preexisting ones. Additionally, elderly patients may have cognitive disorders that require more attention than normal. If patients with cognitive disorders are ignored, physical symptoms can arise.

If unchecked, emotional abuse can greatly affect an elderly person’s health. Some signs of emotional abuse include:

  • Inability to maintain eye contact;
  • Sudden and unpredictable mood swings;
  • Unable to make their own decisions without asking;
  • Barred from joining in social interactions;
  • Not allowed to call loved ones;
  • Terrible self-esteem;
  • Seems disturbed, hopeless, or scared;
  • Won’t speak about any issues openly; or
  • Has sudden self-destructive or self-harm tendencies.

Financial Abuse of Elderly Persons in Nursing Homes

Sadly, many nursing home residents are exploited financially. Normally this form of abuse is reserved for family members of the victim. However, there are cases where professional caregivers financially abuse an elderly person. 

Common forms of financial exploitation to elderly people include:

  • Forgery of their signature;
  • Theft of their belongings;
  • Using deceit or force to change a deed or will;
  • Exploiting investments;
  • Cashing healthcare checks for the resident;
  • Coercing the resident into transferring money or property;
  • Using the resident’s funds without consent; or
  • Knowingly luring the resident into a financial scam.

Additional Resources 

Adult Protective Services – Visit the official website for the National Center on Elder Abuse and gain access to a document explaining Adult Protective Services (APS). Find more information on what APS does, how they protect victims of elderly abuse, and answers to frequently asked questions.

Elder Abuse Facts – Visit the official website for the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and find more information on elderly abuse. Learn more on how elderly abuse is defined, the different types of elderly abuse, and statistics and data for nursing home abuse and neglect in the U.S.

Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in Harris County, Texas

Have you or a loved one experienced nursing home neglect or abuse? Don’t suffer alone. Nursing homes are required to provide a certain level of care to all residents. If you believe that you didn’t receive adequate care, then call personal injury attorney Matthew Horak at Horak Law.  

Matthew Horak is an experienced attorney who is familiar with Texas civil laws. He believes that no elderly person should face abuse in a nursing home. This is why he’s so passionate about advocating for his clients. Let Horak Law help you get what you deserve. 

Call Matthew Horak at (713) 225-8000 he practices law throughout the greater Houston metropolitan area including Sharpstown, Greenspoint, Houston Heights, and Midtown.

This article was last updated on November 28, 2018.

  • Texas Board of Legal Specialization | Criminal Law
  • National College for DUI Defense
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Laywers
  • Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association
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