Nursing homes throughout our state are designed to provide a high level of care to the residents that they serve.
To be sure, not only are there specific licensing requirements for nursing homes, but nursing homes are also tasked with providing 24/7 nursing care; room and board for residents; assistance with even the most basic of daily activities, such as bathing; and rehabilitation and specialized services, such as dementia care, in some cases.
As such, it’s no wonder that when your loved one is staying within a Denver nursing home, you have an expectation that they will receive the care, attention, and support they need; neglect and abuse may be the furthest things from your mind.
Unfortunately, Denver nursing home abuse and neglect happens more often than it should, and when it does, affected nursing home residents are at risk of injury and harm. If you believe that your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, you should act quickly. Our Denver nursing home abuse attorneys can help.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect in Denver
Nursing home abuse and neglect can come in various forms. Being able to recognize the signs of different types of abuse and neglect is important.
- Physical abuse. Physical abuse is the most blatant type of nursing home abuse, and the easiest for a third-party to identify. Physical abuse refers to hitting, kicking, biting, punching, pinching, improperly restraining, burning, or otherwise using physical force to control, intimidate, threaten, or cause harm to a resident. Physical abuse can also include intentionally depriving a resident of food or drink or even abusing the resident’s medication by refusing medication or using medication to control the resident (i.e. overly sedating a resident).
- Sexual abuse. Sexual abuse of a nursing home resident is a heinous act, but one that happens nonetheless. This type of abuse involves any unwanted, non-consensual sexual contact between a nursing home resident and a nursing home staff member. You may be able to recognize sexual abuse by both the physical and psychological symptoms that result, including bruising, torn clothing, bleeding or bloodied undergarments, the appearance of sexually-transmitted infection, withdrawal, anger, and other emotional changes.
- Emotional/psychological abuse. Not all types of abuse are physical; emotional or psychological abuse is extremely common in nursing homes. This type of abuse involves using tactics such as harassing or bullying the nursing home resident, refusing to allow the resident to participate in social activities, teasing the resident, refusing to provide the resident with any social stimulation, refusing to let the resident spend time with family and loved ones who come to visit, or otherwise using speech or actions to intimidate or threaten the resident. While emotional and psychological abuse may appear to be less acutely dangerous to a resident’s health and wellbeing than is sexual or physical abuse, emotional abuse can have multiple physical consequences; the brain and the body are strongly linked.
- Financial exploitation. Understanding that elderly persons within a nursing home are often vulnerable and easier to manipulate as such, some nursing home employees will view working with nursing home residents as an opportunity to acquire financial gain and will engage in financial exploitation of residents. Financial exploitation of a nursing home resident could mean convincing a nursing home patient to open a new credit card, change a will or estate planning document, make a large cash withdrawal, take out a new loan, and more. It may also mean directly stealing from the nursing home resident. As the loved one of someone who is within a nursing home, you should keep your eyes out for any major changes to your loved one’s financial picture.
- Neglect is a type of nursing home negligence and malpractice that is less obvious than is abuse. Abuse is intentional; the abusive caretaker intends to hurt, harm, intimidate, threaten, or manipulate the elderly person. Neglect, on the other hand, is often unintentional and may be the result of understaffing and a poor patient-to-staff ratio. Acts of neglect might include failing to bathe a patient or otherwise assist with personal hygiene, leaving a patient unattended in their bed for hours at a time, failing to ensure that a resident is receiving proper nutrition/hydration, a lack of proper or appropriate medical care, failing to assist a patient with walking and mobility, and more. Deterioration of health, poor hygiene, bedsores, unexplained injuries, and weight loss are all signs of potential nursing home neglect.
Injuries that Can Happen as a Result of Denver Nursing Home Abuse
When nursing home abuse or neglect is occurring, the injuries that a nursing home resident may suffer as a result are very serious. Elderly people, especially those with serious health conditions, are not nearly as resilient as are younger adults, and something as seemingly as innocuous as a minor fall injury could have severe, or even fatal, consequences.
Some of the types of injuries and patient harm that are most common when nursing home abuse and neglect are occurring (and which vary depending upon the type of abuse/neglect) include:
- Slip and fall injuries;
- Bone fractures;
- Bedrail injuries, including bedrail entrapment and strangulation;
- Dehydration leading to digestive issues, urinary tract infections, kidney issues, and more;
- Wandering and getting lost (if residents aren’t properly supervised, they may leave the facility, and could be at risk of any number of accidents as such);
- Medication errors leading to a serious deterioration in condition or death;
- Untreated diseases or conditions; and more
In addition to the physical harm that may befall a nursing home patient, note that all types of abuse and neglect can have psychological impacts on a nursing home resident too, including depression, anxiety, and a diminished quality of life. For elderly people, something like depression can be dangerous, leading to social isolation, malnutrition, and even suicide or early natural death.
Colorado Nursing Home Abuse FAQs
If you suspect that a family member has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect in Colorado, there are many urgent questions you should address about how to protect both them and their rights. The experienced nursing home attorneys at Olson Law Firm are here to listen and answer your questions during a confidential and private consultation.
We know that this is a very overwhelming time, so while you are waiting for your meeting with our team member, we wanted to provide you with a resource that might help give you some relief. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about nursing home abuse that we receive at Olson Law Firm:
What are the rights of nursing home patients under federal law?
To help prevent abuse in nursing homes, the federal government has passed laws to preserve patients’ rights. More specifically, federal law guarantees the nursing home patients the right to:
- Be treated with dignity and respect
- Participate in the planning of their care
- Refuse certain treatments
- Be informed of the services the facility provides and their costs
- Choose their own physician and pharmacy
- Know about all medical care options and conditions
- Be informed about policies and procedures
- Use their clothing and possessions.
- Manage their personal finances
- Not be subjected to abusive treatment of any form, including physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or neglect
- Not be restrained for punishment or convenience
- Stay at a nursing home as long as the facility is capable of providing medical care, payments are made promptly, and the facility is still in operation
- Be able to speak freely about unsatisfactory care
- Have visitors
- Have privacy
Who regulates nursing homes?
In Colorado, which is similar to most states, nursing homes are generally regulated by:
- Colorado’s Department of Public Health & Environment
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Each agency has its own regulations that manage nursing home operations, including resident care, staffing, and policies and procedures.
How much is my nursing home negligence case worth?
The nursing home may be held liable for both economic and non-economic losses, which may include:
- Medical expenses (past and future)
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of quality of life
If the victim died because of the nursing home abuse, the deceased’s survivors may claim compensation for funeral expenses, wrongful death, loss of companionship, and emotional and mental suffering.
What are the signs of nursing home abuse or neglect?
Despite the nursing home regulations from several agencies, many cases of nursing home abuse go unreported. Unfortunately, abuse can often be challenging to identify. However, there are still signs that you can watch out for, such as:
- Open sores or cuts
- Bruising, bleeding, or bandages
- Restraint marks around mouth, wrists, or ankles
- Unusual odors, an indication of soiling, and poor hygiene
- Unclean facilities and rooms
What do I do if I suspect nursing home abuse or neglect?
If you suspect that your loved one is suffering abuse in a nursing home, there are steps you can take to help protect your family member’s safety and rights:
- Try to verify your loved one’s story.
- Immediately transfer the victim to a safer environment.
- Report the abuse to Colorado’s Adult Protective Services.
- Take the loved one to a counselor to help them talk about and deal with the abuse.
- Seek an experienced nursing home abuse attorney who is knowledgeable about laws that apply to your situation.
If your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse in a Denver-area nursing home, let the Olson Law Firm help you. We understand what you are going through, and we’re ready to listen to your story, advise you on immediate steps you can take to protect your family member, and help you understand their rights.
We are always available to answer your questions. Because we understand that everyone has different comfort levels with regards to today’s situations, we have established a virtual protocol so that we can meet with our clients from the comfort of their homes. We are here for you. We want to make sure you are heard. We are here to help. To get things started, call the Olson Law Firm at our Golden or Denver offices or complete our online form today. We will respond to you shortly.