The decision to place a loved one in a nursing home is difficult and is often laden with guilt and second-guessing. We place our loved ones in those facilities because family members are ill-equipped to provide the care necessary to keep them safe.

When you finally make the decision, you trust that the nursing home will provide the necessary care and keep your loved one safe. When a loved one is harmed through abuse or neglect by the nursing home, that trust has been violated. You may be entitled to compensation.

Call the San Francisco personal injury attorneys of OnderLaw to discuss the details of your case if you suspect neglect or abuse by the staff of the nursing home.

What Is Nursing Home Abuse/Neglect?

Nursing home abuse is the mistreatment of a resident by someone in a position of trust. Many types of nursing home abuse and neglect exist, and they may result in the permanent injury or even death of your loved one.

Any of the following abuses could occur:

  • Physical abuse. Nursing home staff knowingly causes physical harm to patients by kicking, hitting, pinching, or some other physical contact.
  • Mental or emotional abuse. This type of abuse doesn’t leave physical scars, but it may be just as dangerous as physical abuse. Patients may suffer anxiety or depression as a result of this type of abuse. Examples can include screaming at or taunting patients or the isolation of patients from friends and family.
  •  Sexual Abuse. This includes any unwanted sexual activity or contact. Even if the patient “consents,” they may not be able to knowingly and voluntarily consent.
  • Financial abuse. Patients may have difficulty handling their finances, which puts them at risk of being exploited. Unscrupulous individuals may take advantage and transfer funds or property to themselves.

Nursing home neglect causes harm through substandard care or failure to provide the care and attention necessary for the residents. Common types of nursing home neglect include:

  • Medical neglect. Failure by the nursing home staff to provide necessary medical care. Examples may include:
    • failing to administer the correct medication in a timely manner
    • making the resident vulnerable to bedsores by not regularly moving them
    • failing to provide medical attention from a doctor or nurse when a patient exhibits signs of illness or infection
    • improper medical care of a patient who has conditions such as dementia and diabetes
  • Social and emotional neglect. One of the benefits of being in a nursing home is the opportunity to interact with others. Neglect occurs when the nursing home staff interferes with a patient’s social interaction with others. Examples can include:
    • Accidental isolation
    • Failure to provide assistive devices such as canes, walkers, and wheelchairs to patients with mobility issues
    • Nursing home staff fails to move patients with severe mobility and/or mental issues to locations where social interaction can occur
  • Basic living and hygiene neglect. The nursing home fails to provide basic healthcare and hygiene for patients. Examples include:
    • Failure to change patient’s clothes regularly
    • Failure to change clothes and bedsheets when they are soiled
    • Failure to provide safe food and water
    • Failure to regularly and properly bathe patients
    • Failure to maintain a clean nursing home

What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Signs of nursing home neglect can include:

  • Bruises, broken bones, and cuts
  • Dehydration
  • Bedsores
  • Burns (may be self-inflicted}
  • Malnutrition
  • Personal hygiene issues
  • Personality issues
  • Depression

Despite signs such as these, nursing home neglect may be difficult to spot. Witness testimony is often required to make a case for neglect. However, if the patient suffers from Alzheimer’s or dementia, neglect may be even more difficult to identify because of the patient’s inability to communicate.

Signs of physical abuse may include:

  • Bruises
  • Broken bones
  • Cuts, lacerations, and scratches
  • Bedsores and pressure ulcers
  • Burns and welts on the skin
  • Sleep disorders, including fatigue and insomnia
  • Injuries to the head and teeth
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Lack of personal hygiene

If your loved one is the victim of emotional, sexual, or financial abuse, there are symptoms and signs that can be observed, but they are harder to detect. As a result, these abuses may go on for a much longer period of time before the abuse is discovered.

Signs of emotional abuse could include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Lessened confidence
  • Decreased self-esteem
  • Symptoms of trauma and PTSD
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Development of violent or aggressive behavior

Signs of financial abuse include:

  • Changes to the power of attorney
  • Opening of new bank accounts and/or credit cards
  • Strange transactions or charges
  • Possessions disappearing from the resident’s room or person

Signs of sexual abuse may include:

  • Bruises or swelling around the genitals
  • Unexplained STDs
  • Torn or stained underwear
  • Inappropriate physical contact with nursing home staff

You may wonder why the staff to whom you entrusted the care of your loved one are the ones responsible for hurting them. There are many reasons for the abuse and neglect of residents in nursing homes. Often, the staff is overworked and underpaid. Many nursing homes fail to properly vet their employees during the hiring process. In addition, nursing homes often fail to adequately train their employees.

All of these factors may result in nursing home staff feeling stressed and frustrated. Many employees, in turn, may take their frustration out on the residents, who are the very people they are supposed to care for.

The staff may unintentionally harm your loved one due to chronic employee shortages. These shortages may result in the failure to provide proper care and attention to the residents because the staff simply has too many residents under their care to provide adequate services to them all.

What to Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse/Neglect

If you believe that your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, you can report the suspected abuse to the proper authorities. You can file a complaint with the Licensing & Certification Division of the California Department of Public Health (DPH). The DPH is a state agency that enforces nursing home regulations and laws. The DPH conducts regular inspections of nursing homes and investigates complaints that have been filed against nursing homes. In addition, you should file a complaint with the Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse (BMFEA). The three ways to file a complaint with BMFEA are as follows:

  • Call the hotline at (800) 722-0432 for the

Attorney General’s Division of Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse

  • Mail a copy of your complaint to the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse, P.O. Box 944255, Sacramento, CA, 94244-255

It is important to report suspected abuse or neglect to protect not only your loved one but the other residents as well. Holding nursing homes accountable for the actions of their staff should make nursing homes safer for all residents.

You may also be entitled to seek compensation on behalf of your loved one to cover medical costs and other expenses.

Compensation for Nursing Home Abuse/Neglect Claims

The law entitles residents of nursing homes who have been wrongfully harmed to seek compensation in the form of financial payment. There are two ways to get compensation. After you file a lawsuit, compensation may be awarded by a court after a trial verdict. The second way to obtain compensation is to file a claim with the nursing home’s liability insurance provide and attempt to settle out of court. The nursing home, individual staff members or their insurance companies may be responsible for the financial payment.

You may be eligible for compensation to cover medical costs that were necessary because of the abuse. You may also obtain compensation for the pain and suffering your loved one endured in an effort to provide peace of mind that justice was served.

Nursing Home Abuse Statistics

An estimated 5,000,000 senior citizens are abused each year nationally. Psychological abuse is the most common form of nursing home abuse and one of the most difficult types of abuse to prove. 90% of nursing homes have insufficient staff to care for residents. It’s not unusual for one nurse’s aide to care for as many as 30 patients. According to the World Health Organization, in the past year, about one out of six people aged 60 and older experienced abuse in a community setting.

The number of Californians aged 65 and older, the segment of the population to most likely need nursing homes or other long-term care, is projected to almost double between 2010 and 2030, according to the California Department of Finance.

Why Choose OnderLaw?

The attorneys of OnderLaw have been honored with many prestigious awards, including recognition from the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers. We will use the skills we have honed to represent you and help you try to get the compensation and justice you deserve. We have the resources to help you investigate the nursing home if you believe that your loved one has been abused or neglected. We can use our knowledge and experience to get you the justice you deserve.

Contact Us

If you suspect that a loved one has been the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, call the experienced nursing home abuse attorneys of OnderLaw for a free consultation.