How Do You Prove Nursing Home Abuse in Indiana? | Laws and Guidelines
Leaving a loved one in a nursing home is undoubtedly one of the hardest things many families have to do. In most cases, the decision is made in the interest of the sufferer, ensuring that they receive the medical care they need.
However, when reports of nursing home abuse reach families, it can be devastating. Unfortunately, cases of physical abuse aren't as far-fetched as one might think. There are over 40,000 cases of nursing home abuse in Indiana each year.
Sadly, this is an alarming statistic, and cases of nursing home neglect and physical, emotional, or psychological abuse should not go unpunished. This is why it is essential that families understand what the law says about the rights of residents and contact a nursing home abuse attorney to file a lawsuit in the event that such abuse does occur. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can answer questions like, "What is psychological abuse in a nursing home?"
Why Is Nursing Home Abuse So Prevalent in the US?
According to statistics from Nursing Home Abuse Justice, as many as 5 million people are abused in nursing homes in the US each year. Why is this statistic so high?
The care provided to seniors in nursing homes around the country is significantly impacted by understaffing. Some nursing home owners just won't employ the staff they require. Overworked staff members are less likely to treat nursing home residents with the care they deserve.
According to federal regulations, nursing home operators are only required to employ "sufficient" staff. This allows them to determine their own definition of "sufficient," which has resulted in carelessness, abuse, and real dangers to the health and safety of patients at many Indiana nursing home facilities. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can provide insight on Indiana wrongful death and survival action.
What Counts as Nursing Home Abuse?
When family members suspect nursing home abuse, it's essential for them to first understand what it is and what constitutes nursing home abuse.
The phrase "nursing home abuse" describes any act or omission (neglect) that harms a patient in a long-term care institution.
Even while not all residents in Indiana nursing homes are elderly, the bulk of them are people over the age of 64 (roughly 85 percent). As a result, the phrases "nursing home abuse" and "elder abuse" are frequently used synonymously.
Keep in mind that a nursing home abuse lawsuit will differ from a medical malpractice case, in which the plaintiff must present medical records to prove that the healthcare worker in question was not consistent with acceptable standards of medical care.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
There are five types of nursing home abuse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They are as follows:
Sexual abuse refers to any compelled or unwelcome sexual contact with a resident. This could involve forceful sex, penetration, or non-contact behavior like sexual harassment.
Acts like hitting, slapping, kicking, or pushing constitute physical nursing home abuse. It often happens when an older person sustains illness, discomfort, or damage as a consequence of the purposeful use of physical force.
Emotional or Psychological Abuse
Nursing home abuse is not limited to physical or sexual abuse. This category covers both verbal and non-verbal actions that cause older adults emotional agony, anxiety, or fear. Name-calling, humiliation, property destruction, and denial of access to friends and family are a few examples.
Unfortunately, financial abuse is another prevalent form of nursing home abuse. It involves the unauthorized or improper utilization of a nursing home resident's assets.
This might be in the form of money, benefits, possessions, or property that is used for the benefit of someone other than the resident. Examples of financial abuse include using a credit card without authorization, stealing money from an older person’s account, and modifying a will without consent.
When families send a loved one to a nursing home, they often do so because they want them to receive the kind of medical care they deserve. However, in many cases, the senior's fundamental needs are not met. Food, water, housing, clothing, hygiene, and basic healthcare are among these needs.
Understanding Indiana Law
The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act outlines the fundamental rights of nursing home residents, particularly the right to be treated with respect at all times. This act defines a set of minimum requirements for the care of residents.
Moreover, the Adult Protective Services Act, which is a state law, stipulates that nursing care workers have a legal obligation to notify authorities of any suspected abuse or neglect, as well as hazards or risks to nursing home residents.
Obligation to Report Abuse
According to Indiana law, anyone who learns about nursing home abuse is legally obligated to report it. The matter can be reported to local law enforcement and/or the Child or Adult Protective Services.
Who Can Be Held Liable in a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit?
In most cases, the nursing home is responsible for such abuse or neglect. Here are a few examples of why the facility may be liable:
Poor or inadequate training of staff.
Understaffing or overworking employees.
Failing to conduct background checks on staff members.
Not implementing the appropriate procedures to protect residents from disease.
Using dangerous physical restraints that cause injury to patients.
Remember that as per the doctrine of respondeat superior, a nursing facility can be accountable for the negligence of its staff as long as the staff members were acting in the course and scope of their employment when the abuse or neglect took place.
Since hitting someone is beyond the nature of work, a nursing home would not be penalized if a worker did it on purpose. A lawsuit against the employee may be filed in this case.
Because determining liability may be confusing, it's best to go to a trusted legal advisor with the experience and expertise to assign liability and help build a case against the party or parties at fault.
Signs That Nursing Home Residents Are Being Abused or Neglected
Nursing home neglect or abuse isn't always apparent. Fortunately, there are tell-tale warning signs that family members can look for. These include the following:
Fear and anxiety
Confusion or depression
Sores or additional health issues
Violence or agitation
Not participating in activities they once enjoyed
The nursing home is unsanitary
He or she smells bad or is dirty
How Do You Prove Nursing Home Abuse in Indiana?
There's no doubt that abuse in nursing homes can take many different forms and is not always easy to spot. Staff employees or even other nursing home patients have been known to abuse residents.
Witness testimony, surveillance footage from the treatment facility, company files from the facility, and personal medical records review may all be crucial for proving nursing home abuse.
While considerable evidence can be obtained during the discovery phase of a judicial procedure, in cases of nursing home abuse, the majority of the crucial material should be gathered and kept well before filing any lawsuit.
Fortunately, with the help of well-versed nursing home neglect attorneys in Indianapolis, family members can hold the party at fault liable for abusing their loved one.
Nursing Home Records
It is also possible to obtain nursing facility documents through discovery, which may reveal information that was previously unknown. Nursing homes frequently maintain records of the employees who are on duty, any residents or patients to whom they may be allocated, and the care requirements of the residents.
These records can assist an attorney in identifying those present when the abuse took place and demonstrate that a certain employee or a number of employees participated in the abuse. Furthermore, these documents are often admissible as evidence because they are regarded as business records.
Security Camera Footage
In many cases, hallways and public areas have security cameras. The footage from the security cameras in the nursing home can help families prove that acts of negligence or abuse took place. In some cases, nursing homes may allow family members to install private security cameras in their loved one's rooms. It's always best to check with the facility, as these cameras can provide vital evidence and may even prevent abuse in nursing homes.
There’s no doubt that the testimony of witnesses constitutes important evidence. The abused victim, other elderly care facility patients, or other employees may have been present as witnesses. It's possible that some witnesses, who may have observed the abuse taking place, can provide more details.
Other times, eyewitnesses can support the allegations of abuse made by a loved one with their own accounts of such mistreatment. In a single nursing facility, it is not uncommon for several individuals to experience abuse.
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Can Help
Nursing home neglect and abuse can have serious psychological consequences for nursing home residents who may already be grappling with health issues. Fortunately, family members can take action to stop this from happening. The first step is to report abuse to the authorities before engaging a reliable Indiana nursing home abuse attorney to pursue restitution.
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is a trusted team of legal representatives who fight aggressively to ensure that victims and their family members get the justice they need. Contact the firm today and let them go to war for you!