Q. What is nursing home abuse or neglect?
A. Unfortunately, an alarming number of nursing home cases involve horrendous and unforgivably deliberate actions of physical and emotional abuse and neglect of the resident. Unlike a simple mistake of judgment, abuse and neglect are entirely preventable by simple attention to the care of the resident. Unfortunately in order to make a larger profit, the corporations running most of the nursing homes run them understaffed, under-supervised, or employ insufficient numbers of adequately trained personnel. Nursing home cases may also be based on traditional rules of medical negligence or “ordinary negligence” (negligence of someone other than a medical provider). Nursing home cases are not limited to medical malpractice or negligence.
Q. What are some of the signs of abuse or neglect?
A. Signs of emotional and physical abuse include:
- unexplained bruising, sores, cuts, and broken bones
- unreasonable or unexplained physical restraint
- the resident complains of abuse
- the resident appears agitated or withdrawn and engages in unusual behavior (thumb sucking, rocking, etc., are often reactions to emotional abuse)
- the facility cannot or will not respond to questions about the resident’s condition
Signs of neglect include:
- dehydration or malnutrition
- complaints of severe thirst or hunger by the resident
- bed sores, decubitus ulcers
- unsanitary or unclean conditions
- soiled linens or clothing
- complaints by the resident
These are not the only signs of abuse or neglect. Other conditions or situations to be mindful of include emergency room visits or hospitalizations under suspicious conditions, heavy medication or sedation (which is often used as a substitute for adequate nursing care and supervision), or any unexplained injury or death.
Q. What should I do if I suspect nursing home abuse or neglect?
A. If you suspect that your loved one has been the victim of abuse or neglect, there are several steps you can and should take. First, contact the administrator or the director of nursing for the home to complain and demand an explanation or remedy. At the same time however, you should also make a complaint to the Office of Long Term Care (501-682-8698). The Office of Long Term Care is an Arkansas agency charged with regulating and inspecting nursing homes and similar residential facilities, including investigating, acting on, and storing information on complaints of abuse or neglect. Finally, but just as important, you should contact an attorney who handles nursing home cases to learn your rights and to protect them, and if necessary, to pursue an action against the home.
Q. When should I contact an attorney?
A. As soon as possible! In Arkansas the deadline to sue may be as short as one year (for an intentional act), two years for medical negligence, and three years for ordinary negligence. An attorney would need to evaluate the particular facts of your case in order to determine which statute(s) of limitations would be applicable. Furthermore, nursing home cases are complex and involve substantial investigation and evaluation of medical records, government records, and frequently the utilization of expert witnesses. Gathering this information is normally a time-consuming process, and witnesses may need to be contacted, and important evidence preserved. Because of the significant time required to investigate nursing home cases, attorneys may decline to represent you if the deadline to file suit is too near.
Q. Why should I hire The Brad Hendricks Law Firm?
A. The Brad Hendricks Law Firm has the staff and resources to handle complex nursing home litigation. The attorneys and staff at the Brad Hendricks Law Firm have parents and grandparents who have been in nursing homes and understand that our elderly deserve not only respect, but also protection during those years when they can no longer protect themselves. Our firm will strongly advocate for the rights of your loved ones and bring to justice nursing homes and nursing home employees who cause injury or death.