Nursing Home Elderly Restraint Lawyer
Physical abuse in nursing homes is one of the most heart-breaking parts of our job as Philadelphia nursing home abuse lawyers. Caregivers who abuse their power over nursing home residents are taking advantage of people who are too unwell and vulnerable to stand up for themselves or tell someone. To make matters worse, many nursing homes turn a blind eye to misbehavior by staff members, or are too understaffed to notice the signs. Often, abusers are caught only after their abuse causes a health problem serious enough to send the victim to the hospital, or make the victim’s loved ones suspicious.
Unlike neglect, physical abuse is an act that intentionally hurts the nursing home resident. Some nursing home staff members who commit abuse have a past history of elder abuse, a criminal record or both. Studies have shown that abuse of alcohol or drugs is also more likely in abusers. And unfortunately, scientists have also found that physical abuse is more likely to happen to patients with dementia, Alzheimer’s or another mental condition that makes them “difficult” in the eyes of the caregiver. Confronted by residents who won’t be quiet, stop wandering or make nuisances in other ways, some nursing home staff members respond with unacceptable physical violence.
Inappropriate use of restraints is a special form of physical abuse in nursing homes. Nursing homes use physical restraints to keep patients with movement problems from hurting themselves by falling out of bed or chairs, or getting up without assistance. However, research has suggested that restraints do not prevent injury and may even cause it. Injuries from restraints can include everything from bruises to strangulation to falls that cause broken bones. The FDA estimates that restraint use causes more than 100 deaths a year. Research suggests that prolonged restraint use weakens bones and muscles and increases dependence. And of course, residents strongly dislike having their freedom curtailed. As a result, use of restraints in nursing homes has dropped dramatically since the early 1990s.
Nonetheless, some nursing homes continue to use restraints — for their convenience, not for the resident’s safety. With or without a doctor’s supervision, abusive nursing home staff members use restraints to control residents whose behavior they do not like. In fact, some improper use of restraints leads to further injuries from neglect. If patients are left restrained without attention for too long, they may develop bed sores, hygiene problems, malnutrition or dehydration.
More and more, nursing homes may improperly use “chemical restraints” instead of physical restraints. This is a euphemism for controlling the resident’s behavior through powerful drugs, which can include sedatives, painkillers and psychiatric drugs. This is a violation of the resident’s dignity and the family’s trust in the nursing home staff. But it can also have severe health consequences, because some of the drugs have serious side effects or even major defects that raise the risk of life-threatening complications. For example, atypical antipsychotic drugs are frequently used to control the behavior of patients with dementia, even though none is approved by the FDA for this use. Scientists have connected at least one such drug to an increased risk of death in patients with dementia, as well as serious side effects like diabetes and strokes.
As with most nursing home negligence in Pennsylvania, physical abuse and improper restraints are especially likely in homes with staffing problems. High resident-to-staff ratios may save money for the home’s management, but they can overwork staff members, leaving them without the time they need to give residents’ needs their full attention. High turnover at homes exposes residents to a parade of changing caregivers who don’t always remember or care about their needs. It may also indicate wider problems with management. Both situations create gaps in supervision that abusive staff members can use to cover their tracks.
Contact a Philadelphia Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
If you have discovered abuse of a loved one at a nursing home, state and local authorities may already be investigating. When accusations are substantiated, nursing home staff members and the homes themselves may pay fines or lose their professional licenses. In cases of elder abuse, local prosecutors may also file criminal charges. These are good and necessary steps to protect the public — but they can leave victims and families as an afterthought. Our Philadelphia nursing home abuse lawyers can help families recover the high hospital bills and other costs of abuse at a home. In cases where the state won’t take action, it can also expose unacceptable practices at a home and prevent other families from falling victim.
The law firm of Rosenbaum & Associates represents families in Philadelphia, its New Jersey suburbs and all of Pennsylvania in legal claims over abuse at nursing homes. If your family has been victimized, don’t hesitate to call us for help deciding what to do next. For a free evaluation of your case, please call us toll-free at 1-800-7-LEGAL-7 (1-800-753-4257) or send a message through our Web site.