Nursing Home Abuse: Physical Neglect

One of the reasons why senior citizens are faced with the decision to be admitted to a nursing home is that they are in too weak of a physical condition to take care of their own needs. Some cannot walk, talk or do any basic functions necessary for daily living by themselves. Some of them cannot go to the bathroom, take a bath, or shower on their own. Many cannot cook for themselves, or even eat a meal without assistance.

When one is weak, they cannot fight back if somebody decides to take advantage of their unfortunate situation. Unfortunately this can happen in a nursing home situation where the patient is at the mercy of the facility’s staff, be it nurses and nursing aides and assistants, physical and recreational therapists and therapy aides and assistants, administration, secretaries, security, or food service workers.

Each one of these positions involves people who are in contact with patients on a regular basis. Because patients in nursing homes are in a weak or frail condition, it can cause stress to the staff of the facility. They can try the patience of the staff members, who in turn might take out their frustration on the patient.

One of the most common forms of neglect is physical. There are cases where staffs have assaulted patients who do not cooperate in the manner they would like. The patients are too weak, cannot fight back and become intimidated. There are usually no witnesses to the assault and patients are usually not in a condition to give credible testimony in court.

That does not mean a case of physical neglect cannot be proven in a court of law. Physical abuse can be proven most often through physical evidence such as wounds, welts and bruises that cannot be explained in a credible way. The patient might have poor hygiene, inappropriate clothing, and have a general lack of comfort. Physical abuse can also involve inappropriate use of drugs or medications, restraints or confinement.

Some of the alleged incidents happen at night when a patient who cannot sleep becomes unruly and disturbs the entire building. The staff sometimes use questionable methods to quiet the person down, in some cases even locking that person in a dark room for several hours.

If you suspect a case of physical abuse in a nursing home involving a loved one, you should voice your concerns immediately. Each county in Pennsylvania has an Area Agency on Aging that employs Case Workers and Ombudsmen whose job is to investigate cases of elder abuse. Also, contact the attorneys of Michael J. O’Connor & Associates. We have highly skilled nursing home abuse lawyers who can help you keep your family safe.

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