Loved ones enter Phoenix, AZ nursing homes expecting to be treated with respect and care; and the United States, especially through Medicaid and Medicare, spends extremely large amounts of money to achieve this; but the all-too-frequent stories of nursing home abuse and neglect clearly indicate that the pervasive failure to deliver.
While courts and juries tend to be sympathetic to nursing home residents who have been assaulted, neglected, or even killed at the hands of their caregivers, that doesn’t make up for the experiences of the victims or the horror experienced by their families. A Phoenix nursing home abuse attorney at Knapp & Roberts understands the horrors the loved ones and families go through because they are leading Pheonix elder abuse attorneys who are there to help. Speak to an Arizona nursing home abuse lawyer today with a free case evaluation.
Data provided by the National Council on Aging shows us that approximately one out of every ten Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse. There are estimates that say that as many as five million elderly individuals in this country face abuse each year. Unfortunately, the vast majority of elderly abuse cases are not reported to the appropriate authorities.
There are various types of nursing home abuse that can occur that affect the elderly and disabled. When we turn to information available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we can see that they list the types of abuse that are more common in those aged 60 and over. This includes the following:
This type of abuse occurs anytime an elderly person experiences pain, injury, distress, or even death as a result of the intentional use of force against them. This could include hitting, punching, slapping, burning, kicking, shoving, etc.
This type of abuse is absolutely abhorrent and involves any type of forced or unwanted sexual interaction with an elderly person in a nursing home. This can include every type of sexual contact, including penetration, as well as non-contact behaviors such as sexual harassment.
Not all abuse is necessarily physical or sexual. There are various types of verbal and nonverbal behaviors that can inflict mental pain, distress, fear, and anguish on an older adult. This can include verbal and non-verbal threats, harassment, humiliation, disrespect, isolation, etc.
Anytime a nursing home facility fails to meet an older adult’s basic needs, this will be considered neglect. This can include the failure to provide food, water, clothing, shelter, hygiene, and basic medical care.
Individuals in authority positions in a nursing home typically have substantial access to an elderly person’s finances. This can include all of their bank account information, Social Security numbers, pension information, etc. Anytime there is illegal, improper, or unauthorized use of an elderly person’s money, property, or belongings, this is considered financial abuse.
Both Arizona and the federal government have passed laws for the protection of nursing home residents. Arizona’s Adult Protective Services Act (APSA) protects vulnerable adults from nursing home abuse, neglect, and exploitation. The statute provides for lawsuits seeking damages for injuries caused by violations of the law’s provisions. Suits can be brought against any person and against any enterprise that has been employed to provide care to the vulnerable adult but have been amended to specifically exempt physicians, podiatrists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.
The Federal Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) applies to nurse homes that receive Medicare or Medicaid money. It provides a set of rights for nursing home residents and establishes standards of care in many areas, including nutrition, restraints, and bedsores, among other things. It doesn’t allow residents to sue for violations, but an experienced Phoenix elder abuse lawyer can still establish that the facility violated NHRA as an indicator of the facility’s negligence.
In most situations of nursing home abuse in the Phoenix area, plaintiffs will be able to claim two types of damages – economic damages and non-economic damages. This can include, but is not limited to, the following:
When working to secure compensation in these cases, individuals could be working with lawsuits under the Adult Protective Services Act (APSA), which specifies certain damages that can be awarded to victims. However, if a loved one dies as a result of the abuse, damages for the loss of the inherent value of human life cannot be recovered under the APSA. A wrongful death claim will have to be filed in civil court in order for family members to recover damages in these situations.
When examining these common nursing home failings, we can see that nursing abuse typically does not happen in a vacuum. Even if there are only one or two staff members abusing nursing home residents, there is usually some sort of systemic issue in the background working to allow this abuse to happen. For example, as we noted above, too few staff members or inadequate hiring practices and training often contribute to nursing home abuse in the Phoenix area.
This starts at the top.
The owners and operators of nursing homes must take steps to ensure that their facilities are properly staffed by trained personnel. Unfortunately, there is often not much incentive for them to do so. At the end of the day, nursing homeowners and operators typically do what they can to save money. If this means hiring only half of the staff members required, then that is often what they will do. If this means failing to ensure that premises conditions are safe for residents, nursing homeowners will often take a shortcut.
Of course, not every nursing homeowner or operator is negligent. There are most certainly good nursing homes in the Phoenix area. It is crucial to ensure that your loved one ends up in a facility with workers that truly care for their needs.
It can be very challenging to recognize the signs of nursing home abuse in phoenix. The reality is that many of the signs and symptoms we will discuss here related to abuse are also common issues that can arise as a person grows older, particularly those who rely on others for their care.
In addition to these physical signs and symptoms of abuse, it is important to point out that the effects of emotional and psychological abuse are not necessarily visible. You cannot count on abuse victims in these situations to report the abuse to other people. It is important to also observe whether or not there have been any behavioral changes that seem out of the ordinary. This can include an elderly person acting out in ways that are not common, general lethargy, fear around certain staff members, and more.
Additionally, if you sense unease in communication with nursing home staff, this could be a sign that they are trying to hide something. If you are ever refused visitation by staff members, this could be a sign that they may be trying to hide signs of abuse.
Nursing home abuse cases are very specialized, very dependent on what you can prove, and very emotional. The Phoenix nursing home abuse lawyers of Knapp & Roberts have successfully handled many of these cases, achieving a fair settlement out of court whenever possible and taking the case through trial whenever necessary. A specialized Phoenix nursing home attorney at our firm is aware of how hard the cases are for loved ones, and we take great pains to keep our clients aware of the case status and prepared for the steps to follow.
We strongly encourage you to turn to the Arizona Department of Health Services to submit an online complaint about suspected violations at a long-term care facility in the state. This is the department in charge of long-term care facility licensing, and they will be able to conduct an investigation into the alleged abuse.
If you are dealing with an emergency situation, you need to dial 911 and let law enforcement officials know what is happening. It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to ensuring the care of your loved one in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
If you have any questions about whether or not a nursing home has had any violations, you can use the Medicare website to compare nursing homes and examine which ones have had major violations over the last year. On that website, you will be able to see the rating of all nursing homes around your area based on five stars. Additionally, if you see any nursing home with a red circle with a hand in the middle, that means that the nursing home has been cited for abuse within the last year.
If you have discovered that your loved one has been the victim of abuse inside of a Phoenix nursing home, you need to turn to a skilled attorney as soon as possible. At Knapp & Roberts, we have extensive experience handling the complex injury, wrongful death, and nursing home abuse cases throughout Arizona. Our team is ready to step in and help ensure that your loved one properly cares for you every step of the way. This includes working with law enforcement officials, Adult Protective Services officials, the nursing home, and others to ensure that your loved one gets into a safe situation. Our goal is to make sure that your family recovers the compensation necessary to help with the continued care of your loved one. You can contact our Phoenix nursing home abuse attorneys by filling out the contact form at the bottom of this page or calling us at (480) 991-7677.
The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona, at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.