If you suspect an elderly family member or friend is being mistreated or abused, act quickly. Elder abuse is a very real crime and your loved one could be in danger. The first step is ensuring the safety of the victim, which may include relocating the person if she is in an institution where you cannot protect her on a daily basis. Once she is safe, contact David Brauns, a nursing home abuse attorney in Duluth Georgia, for help.
Brauns Law, PC is knowledgeable about elder abuse laws in Georgia. We can help you seek safety for your loved one as well as restitution for any injuries, financial losses, pain and suffering, and more. Our team can help notify and update all appropriate agencies on your case and work towards bringing abusers to justice.
What constitutes elder abuse?
Elder abuse is a horrible crime. It can take place in a nursing home, hospital, or at home. It may be difficult to identify the abuser, so you might need to do some investigative work to identify the responsible party. Do not go through this alone; David Brauns and the Brauns Law, PC team can help.
Any intentional or negligent act knowingly committed against an elderly person by another person is elder abuse. David Brauns will help you identify which of the following types of abuse might be taking place and guide you on the best path to protect your loved one:
- Emotional abuse: You may identify this type of abuse by changes in behavior. Depression, withdrawal, outbursts, or other unusual activities may be signs that your loved one is experiencing emotional abuse.
- Physical abuse: This might be the most obvious type of abuse and is typically identified by bruises, cuts, broken eyeglasses, torn clothing, or other unexpected injuries or symptoms. It also includes sexual abuse.
- Neglect: If your loved one is showing signs of extreme hunger or thirst, has lost a lot of weight, seems unkempt, or lacks acceptable hygiene, her caretakers may be neglecting her.
- Abandonment: This may happen if someone responsible for your loved one leaves her in a public place, such as a shopping mall, or at a hospital or nursing home.
- Financial abuse: When a trusted fiduciary takes advantage of an elderly person’s trust for his own financial gain, it is a form of elder abuse. If you feel another party is mismanaging your loved one’s finances, notice dwindling resources, or if your loved one has made wild and unlikely financial decisions, you may be witnessing the effects of financial abuse.
Elder Care & Abuse Laws in Georgia
There are several laws in Georgia that govern the operation of nursing homes. The law divides nursing homes into two groups: long-term care facilities and personal care homes.
O.C.G.A. § 31-8-5 is known as the “Bill of Rights for Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities.” This section includes a complete breakdown of the rights a resident has while living in the care of a long-term care facility. These rights include:
- Freedom from having to work or perform services for the facility.
- Freedom to practice their religion.
- Freedom to meet in private with the person(s) of their choice.
- Freedom to access their medical records upon request.
- Freedom from the use of restraints or isolation, even as a threat, as a form of punishment.
- Visitation hours for at least 12 continuous hours per 24-hour period, seven days a week.
- The right to voice complaints regarding the facility’s policies, procedures, and services.
- A right to privacy, including a right to knowing when a staff member is entering their room and the right to private conversations.
- The right to use their personal property without fear of theft or damage.
- The right to a uniform standard of care among residents.
The other type of elder care facility is a personal care home, although they may also be known as assisted living, residential care, or board and care facilities. These facilities are limited to providing meals, personal care, and companionship for people who only need minor help with daily life needs. These facilities are not licensed to provide medical care.
The “Remedies for Residents of Personal Care Homes Act” (O.C.G.A. § 31-8-5A) regulates personal care homes. This Act defines what constitutes a personal care home and establishes the rights of the residents therein. The Act provides that personal care homes will follow the rules and regulations of the Department of Community Health.
Duluth Nursing Home Negligence FAQ
When a person places a loved one in a nursing home or long-term care center, they trust that these facilities will provide their loved one with the care and treatment that they need. Sadly, this does not always occur, and negligence and abuse are not uncommon in nursing homes.
One of the main reasons nursing home abuse and neglect are so prevalent is that many elderly individuals are socially vulnerable and isolated. They may not have family members or friends who visit them regularly. Moreover, many elderly individuals suffer from some form of dementia, such as Alzheimer‘s disease, and they may not even be fully aware that abuse or neglect is occurring.
Specific symptoms and signs often accompany neglect and abuse in the nursing home setting. If you believe that your loved one may have suffered abuse or neglect at a nursing home, get a lawyer on your side who can explain all of your legal options and the rights of your loved one.
The Duluth nursing home negligence attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm may assist you with filing a complaint with the Georgia Department of Human Services‘ Division of Aging Services. In addition, our team can help you bring a legal claim or file a lawsuit against the nursing home or a healthcare provider who works there.
What are the most common types of Duluth nursing home neglect and abuse?
There are many different types of behaviors that may constitute neglect or abuse at a nursing home or long-term care center.
Some of the most common types of neglect and abuse include:
- Sexually abusing a nursing home resident – Sexual abuse in the nursing home setting involves unwanted sexual attention or touching by a staff member or another nursing home resident. Sexual abuse may include unwanted fondling, touching, penetration, or advances of a sexual nature.
- Verbal abuse of a nursing home resident – Verbal abuse in the nursing home setting can occur when a staff member makes threats against a resident, in an attempt to coerce the resident into doing something against their will. Insulting or demeaning remarks directed at a nursing home resident can also constitute verbal abuse.
- Physical abuse of a nursing home resident – Hitting, slapping, or otherwise striking a nursing home resident in an unreasonable way constitutes physical abuse.
- Failing to care for a nursing home resident properly – When a person lives in a nursing home or long-term care center, the expectation is that the staff there will care for the resident properly and make sure to reasonably address all needs. Proper care involves seeing to the resident’s medical needs, making sure that the resident receives their meals, and bathing the resident regularly. Failing to wash a resident regularly can lead to serious medical problems, such as pressure ulcers.
- Failing to monitor residents – Most nursing home residents are at such a facility because they require medical care around the clock. The nursing home is responsible for seeing to all residents’ medical needs and taking care to monitor these residents. Monitoring residents often requires taking their vitals (including their blood pressure and temperature) regularly, and responding to resident complaints (including pain complaints) and symptoms promptly. In addition, nursing home staff must promptly respond to resident symptoms, such as complaints of chest pains or shortness of breath. Failing to do so may result in a heart attack, stroke, or untimely resident death.
- Failure to ensure facility cleanliness – Nursing homes must make sure that their facilities, including resident rooms, are sufficiently clean at all times. Particularly in the age of COVID-19, unclean facilities can be a breeding ground for germs and ultimately lead to illness or a resident’s death. In addition to keeping resident rooms clean, nursing facilities must also ensure that common areas, including hallways, are clean and free from debris and liquids. When these substances are present on the floor, nursing home residents (especially those who roam) may slip and fall, sustaining a severe injury.
- Medical errors – Many individuals who reside in a Duluth nursing facility are required to take several different types of medication multiple times per day. Nursing home staff members are responsible for making sure that these residents are given the correct medication at the proper time of day and in the right dosage. When nurses mix up drugs or give out an incorrect dosage, serious complications can arise for nursing home residents. For example, some residents may be allergic to a particular medication; if a nursing home staff member negligently gives a resident that medication, then the resident may become seriously ill or even die as a result.
- Inadequate resident supervision – Many individuals go to nursing homes because they can no longer care for themselves and require constant monitoring. Although some nursing home residents require a higher level of supervision than others, all residents require some degree of oversight while staying at the nursing facility. When staff members do not supervise residents properly, they may sustain a fall injury (such as in the bathroom) or some other serious injury that can have a permanent effect. Moreover, unsupervised elderly individuals with dementia may even leave the facility unexpectedly.
If you have a loved one who resides at a long-term care center, such as a nursing home, and you believe that they may be the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, you should retain the services of experienced legal counsel as soon as possible.
Our experienced attorneys can investigate the abuse allegations at the nursing facility. If there is a likelihood of abuse, our legal team can assist you with filing a legal complaint and taking necessary legal action against the nursing facility.
Suppose your loved one was injured or acquired a medical complication as a result of the abuse or neglect. In that case, we can assist you in pursuing monetary compensation and damages from the responsible nursing home staff member or the nursing home itself.
What are some typical symptoms and signs of Duluth nursing home neglect and abuse?
When it comes to neglect and abuse in the nursing home setting, certain symptoms and signs are often present. Unfortunately, these signs may go unnoticed by visiting family members. With that occurs, neglect or abuse can go on for months or years.
Some of the most common symptoms and signs of nursing home neglect and abuse to look out for include:
- Vaginal discharge and bleeding – Discharge or bleeding surrounding a resident’s vaginal area may be a sign that sexual abuse is occurring.
- Mood swings – In many instances, nursing homes residents who are victims of abuse or neglect will become socially isolated and withdrawn. Moreover, they may be more hesitant to take part in activities that they formerly enjoyed. Residents may also appear socially disinterested and not willing to interact with others.
- Bruises and other marks on a nursing home resident’s body – When abuse or neglect is taking place in the nursing home setting, there will be bruises, abrasions, lacerations, cuts, or other marks on the resident’s body in many cases. If you observe any of these marks on your loved one’s body, but you are not aware that they sustained a recent injury, such an injury may be a sign that neglect or abuse is occurring. At other times, these marks may indicate that the resident fell recently, which could mean that the nursing home is not correctly cleaning or maintaining the facility regularly. This lack of attention to hygiene and safety by staff members can be another form of nursing home negligence.
- Pungent smells – Whenever there is an unpleasant smell in a resident’s room, the scent may be a sign that the nursing home is not properly maintaining the room or cleaning it regularly. The odor may also be a sign that nursing home staff are not bathing the resident or changing adult diapers regularly.
- Resident illnesses – If your loved one frequently comes down with unexpected illnesses, such instances may be signs they are not receiving the proper medication or that the facility is not a hygienic environment and not being appropriately maintained. When nursing facilities are unclean, residents can develop illnesses that they may not have otherwise contracted.
- Bedsores – A bedsore, which is also called a pressure ulcer, can appear when a resident is not being bathed regularly or turned properly (and regularly) in their bed or chair. Nursing home residents who must sit or lie down for long periods of time, including those individuals confined to a wheelchair or a bed, may experience bedsores. Your loved one developing a pressure ulcer may be a sign that the nursing facility is not maintained properly or that staff members are providing insufficient attention and care to the residents.
If you have a loved one residing in a long-term care facility, such as a nursing home, and you are noticing any of the signs or symptoms listed above, abuse or neglect may be occurring. Speak with a knowledgeable Duluth nursing home negligence attorney at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm as soon as possible.
Our legal team can investigate these signs and symptoms to determine if the nursing home is being neglectful. If so, we can take legal action against the nursing home to pursue and recover damages on behalf of your ill or injured loved one.
Who can I hold responsible for Duluth nursing home negligence?
Depending upon the specific act of negligence, several individuals may be held responsible for nursing home neglect or abuse. Essentially, anyone who works at the nursing home can be liable. These individuals typically include nurses, nursing assistants, physicians, physical therapists, dietitians, and administrators who work at the nursing home and interact with residents regularly.
If you suspect that one or more of these individuals has neglected your loved one, resulting in an injury or illness, the knowledgeable Duluth nursing home negligence attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can help. After investigating your claim, our legal team can assist you with pursuing monetary compensation or damages for the injuries or illnesses that your loved one received. Depending upon the circumstances, you may have a valid legal claim against negligent employees or even the nursing home itself.
To what standard of care are Duluth nursing homes held in cases that involve neglect?
Most nursing homes and their employees hold themselves to a standard of reasonable care. In other words, a nurse should hold themselves to the standard of care of a reasonable nurse who is acting under the same or similar circumstances. The nursing homes themselves are also required to perform reasonably at all times when caring for and medically treating their residents.
In cases where a nursing home employee fails to act reasonably under the circumstances, you or your loved one may file a claim or lawsuit against the responsible employee. Moreover, you may have a legal claim against the nursing home itself for failing to supervise the employee and ensuring that the employee acted reasonably under the circumstances.
Nursing homes are responsible for making sure that they hire and retain quality employees, and that these employees are adequately and correctly supervised and trained. Moreover, when an employee becomes problematic, nursing homes are responsible for terminating their employment.
The skilled Duluth nursing home negligence lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can help you identify the person or persons responsible for neglect or abuse in your loved one’s nursing home. We can then file a claim or lawsuit against all of the responsible individuals or against the nursing home itself.
What can I do?
In Georgia, medical personnel, financial institution employees, law enforcement, and social welfare workers are legally obligated to report elder abuse upon suspicion.
Notify your loved one’s doctor or another trusted professional as soon as possible. If your loved one is in a nursing home or hospital, you will need to report the incident to the facility’s administration.
The long-term care ombudsman program exists to advocate for the safety of elderly Georgia residents. Georgia has a state ombudsman and several community ombudsmen. The Georgia state ombudsman program is responsible for handling regulation and grievances of both long-term care facilities and personal care homes.
In addition, notify the Adult Protective Services (APS) Unit of the Department of Family and Children Services in Duluth Georgia. You can file a report online or call 866-55AGING (866-552-4464)
APS is required to conduct a prompt and full investigation upon receiving a report, which can greatly help your case during the legal process. The Brauns Law, PC team will coordinate with these agencies to obtain any reports or other evidence needed to support claims you need to file for damages on your loved one’s behalf.
If you need help for your loved one, call David Brauns today. We are ready to listen to the details of your case and offer our expert analysis of how to handle your elder abuse case for best results. For a no cost, no obligation consultation, contact us at 404-348-0889.
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