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Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer | Panio Law Offices

Nursing Malpractice: Whom to Sue

Medical malpractice is, of course, not only limited to physicians who commit malpractice. Other medical practitioners may also be found liable for medical malpractice. Nurses, for example, are often responsible for much of the care patients receive in a hospital setting. Nurses sometimes move patients for treatment, they monitor vitals, draw blood and sometimes administer medication. All of these areas of patient treatment are fraught with possible neglect or wrongdoing.

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Nursing Home Physical Abuse

Nursing home abuse is, unfortunately, a fact of life for many of the nearly two million people over the age of 65 who currently reside in one of the more than 16,000 nursing homes in the United States (according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates).

If you or a loved one resides in a nursing home, it is vitally important that you understand the many ways in which one may be vulnerable to physical abuse in a nursing home setting. Of course, nursing home abuse can take many forms. Physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuses are found in nursing homes across the US every day. The focus of this post will be the forms of physical abuse residents may encounter in these settings and some of the warning signs that they may be occurring.

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Reporting Nursing Home and Elder Abuse

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When families agree to put a loved one into the care of a nursing home, they have to employ a great measure of trust. But, as we know, abuse and/or neglect can become a problem in such institutions. In 2000, the National Center on Elder Abuse conducted a study that found that 44% of the nursing home residents surveyed had said that they had been abused in the past 12 months and that 95% of the respondents had witnessed instances of neglect during the same time period. Studies have also shown that few of these instances are ever reported.

Injuries in nursing homes can comprise a wide variety of situations and circumstances and abuse can take many forms, including physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and financial exploitation. These and other forms of abuse nursing home patients may encounter generally fall into the category of a failure to provide for a resident’s needs when it comes to food, shelter, clothing, hygiene or health care.

One of the key elements of reporting nursing home or elder abuse is knowing the warning signs.

If anyone suspects or becomes aware of elder abuse that is immediately life threatening, they should, of course, contact emergency personnel by calling 9-1-1.  If the danger is not immediate, calling local law enforcement and/or state’s attorney’s office to report the abuse is imperative.

Other resources are also important for anyone who suspects elder or nursing home abuse. Adult Protective Services (APS) typically is the first agency that responds to reports of elder abuse. The agency typically investigates abuse reports and offers responsive services. APS also may be a great resources to find further resources available to anyone with a loved one suffering elder or nursing home abuse.

The National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence has developed a list of elder abuse reporting hotlines for each state. Their website (nccafv.org) is a great resource for additional advisory and intervention agencies. You may also call the Eldercare Locator (eldercare.gov), a service of the U.S. Administration on Aging, for more information as well.

After reporting the abuse to appropriate authorities and initiating intervention on behalf of your loved one, it is important to speak with a practiced personal injury attorney with experience in elder and nursing home abuse. The attorneys of Panio Law Offices have a wealth of experience fighting for victims of nursing home abuse. From a thorough investigation to collection of documentation of the conditions to the development of witness testimony that supports your case, we work extremely hard to recover the damages for your loved one and support the recovery process to a healthy and normal life.

Please call Panio Law Offices at 800.799.7561 if you have any questions about reporting nursing home abuse or filing a personal injury claim in an elder abuse case. We can help.

Elder Abuse: Defining Abuse

According to the Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging, elder abuse is defined as “the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation or cruel punishment with resulting physical harm, pain, or mental anguish or deprivation by a person, including a caregiver, of goods or services that are necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish, or mental illness.” This definition of is largely recognized by health and legal professionals nationwide.

Hitting, slapping, punching or otherwise striking an individual constitutes “physical abuse,” but the term is not limited to these examples. Pinching, pushing, pulling and basically, any intentional physical infliction of pain may be included in the realm of physical abuse.

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Nursing Home Abuse: Who is Responsible?

When a loved one suffers abuse at the hands of a caregiver, it’s sometimes difficult determining exactly who bears legal responsibility. Recovering damages in elder abuse cases will require identifying who is liable for injuries suffered.

If that abuse occurs in a nursing home environment, the facility may be liable if the abuse can be tied to: negligent hiring, understaffed facility, deficient training, medication errors and any breaches of regulatory responsibilities.

Because of the broad scope of responsibilities (provision of food, shelter, sanitation and medical care), a nursing home facility owes a strict “duty of care” to its residents. In nearly every aspect of the resident’s care, the nursing home or its staff plays a vital role.

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