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Signs of
Nursing Home Abuse
By Nathan J. Wills

Dennis Seaman & Associates

In determining whether you or your loved one is a victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, this list will help you recognize the indicators.

A. Decubitus ulcers (bed sores). This condition is usually caused by: 1) not turning a resident properly or often enough, or 2) poor hydration and/or malnutrition.

Not all decubitus ulcers are due to neglect, but if the resident did not have decubitus ulcers present upon admission to the home or if the wound(s) were obtained after admission, neglect may be the cause.

B. Malnutrition/dehydration. These circumstances usually result in residents with more than 5% weight loss within a 30-day period of time.

If the resident is losing weight and the facility is not monitoring the situation or providing appropriate consults and/or interventions, the facility may be liable. Malnutrition and dehydration are often underlying causes of bed sores.

C. Neglect falls. Not all resident falls will give rise to a lawsuit or claim. However, there may be a pattern of neglect whereby a resident has fallen several times prior to the "big fall" that causes a catastrophic injury or death.

Review the nursing home chart and care plan to see what, if anything, the facility did to prevent additional falls after noticing the initial pattern of falls.

D. Sexual assault/physical abuse.

This situation occurs most often when a resident has been assaulted by another resident or employee of the nursing home.

It is important to investigate whether the facility had staffing problems and whether the staff knew or should have known of the abusive propensity of the other resident and/or employee.

E. "Wandering off" and dementia-related issues.

Residents with dementia or Alzheimer's are often permitted to wander throughout their care-giving facility.

Sometimes they exit the building or grounds and are harmed or injured. This is usually due to a breakdown in accountability throughout the facility.

F. Aspiration or aspiration pneumonia.

Aspiration is an inflammation of the lungs and bronchial tubes, usually the result of choking on food, drink or vomit. Residents of long-term care facilities often have swallowing disorders known as dysphagia.

If these problems are identified early in the care of a resident, the facility should be able to prevent choking with appropriate interventions. If not, aspiration may result in death.

If you believe you or your loved ones' nursing home rights have been violated, it is important that you consult with an attorney as soon as possible. It is always better to ask questions sooner, rather than later.

Feel free to contact our office to discuss your loved ones' legal rights. This consultation is free and without obligation.


Ohio Department of Job and Family Services

Ohio Department of Health

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