Nursing Home Physical Abuse
In the State of Oklahoma, it is flatly illegal for nursing homes to neglect or abuse their residents. The Nursing Home Care Act (63 O.S. (1991) § 1-1901, et seq.) sets forth very detailed regulations, specifying everything from licensing and staffing requirements to the rights of nursing home residents. The Act empowers Oklahoma to fine or revoke the operating licenses of any facility that does not meet the standards set forth in the Act, and nursing home residents and others may report potential violations to the state.
In addition to state regulations and remedies, residents who suffer injury from abuse by nursing home staff retain the right to pursue a personal injury case against any nursing home. If a resident can demonstrate that nursing home staff have intentionally caused him injury or failed to carry out a duty of care owed to him that results in his injury, he may be able to hold the nursing home liable in a civil action for any damages caused, including medical costs, pain and suffering, or even punitive damages. An experienced Oklahoma nursing home abuse lawyer can help advise an injured resident of his or her rights and legal remedies.
Notwithstanding these legal protections, nursing home abuse is all too common. Statistics compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics and the National Center on Elder Abuse, indicate that, although more than 20,000 complaints nursing home abuse or gross neglect are logged every year, only 1 in 14 instances of abuse are ever reported to legal authorities.
There are many forms of nursing home abuse; however, the National Center for Elder Abuse has concluded that 50% to 60% of elder abuse is in the form of physical abuse. This may involve:
- Striking, burning, pushing, pulling, pinching, slapping, shaking, or kicking;
- Unnecessary use of physical restraints;
- Physically coerced action, such as force-feeding; or
- Sexual abuse, such as assault, rape, and forced nudity.
Much of this conduct is not only civilly actionable, but criminal. Yet most incidents are handled “administratively”—meaning that some disciplinary action is taken against an abusive employee by his or her employer and nothing is reported to either criminal or civil authorities. Consequently, elderly victims often obtain no redress or justice, and may find themselves victimized again.How Can I Tell If My Relative Has Been Physically Abused?
There are a number of indicators that can help determine whether a nursing home resident is being physically abused. They may include:
- Burn marks from cigarettes or hot water;
- Broken bones, sprains, or dislocated joints;
- Skin abrasions or welts;
- Internal injuries that cause pain, internal bleeding, or digestion or elimination problems;
- Multiple bruises, or bruises of varying ages, particularly on the upper arms, inner thighs, or across the chest or torso;
- Hair or tooth loss; or
- Other signs of injury.
While these indicators may not be conclusive—after all, the elderly may suffer from falls, and their skin may bruise easily—they can be helpful. In addition, there may be non-physical indicators of abuse, such as when:
- Explanations for injuries seem odd or unlikely;
- Conflicting explanations emerge from the same or different people;
- There is a history of similar or frequent injuries; or
- There are unreasonable delays between injury and treatment.
Finally, victims of abuse often show changes in their personal demeanor—they may be more depressed, nervous, introverted, anxious, fearful, or defensive.
If You Know or Suspect that Someone is the Victim of Physical Abuse at an Oklahoma Nursing Home, Contact Shelton Walkley Mackey
Physical abuse on nursing home residents takes a terrible toll. In addition to the physical injuries, elderly victims also suffer from the humiliation and indignity of being victimized by people who are supposed to take care of them. Usually, they are incapable of protecting themselves, and are therefore at the mercy of their abusers. They are unable, as a practical matter, to remove themselves from the situation, and often fear that reporting may lead to retaliation. They may end up depressed and despondent, feeling isolated, unloved, helpless, and hopeless. At Shelton Walkley Mackey, our goal is to change that.
Our Oklahoma City nursing home abuse attorneys take a firm position against the mistreatment of the elderly. We will not tolerate corporations who seem to operate their nursing homes by focusing on profit margins instead of their residents’ well-being. At Shelton Walkley Mackey, we know how to work against these companies, even if they operate out-of-state and set up complicated structures to shield themselves from liability.
If you know or suspect that someone you love is being physically abused in a nursing home, contact Shelton Walkley Mackey at (405) 605-8800, or use the online inquiry form on this website to set up a free case evaluation.