Abuse involves ill-treating people or animals using words, gestures, or physical acts. Abuse can be of many types, and it can be emotional or psychological. It can also be physical, where a person physically hurts another person. Abuse is widely prevalent, and it is seen in domestic and professional settings, including places where sick people are admitted, like rehabilitation centers, old age homes, and nursing homes.
When a sick person is admitted to a healthcare facility, it is natural to be concerned about the well-being of near and dear ones. Hence, family members of patients should be careful to notice the usual signs of abuse in patients. If the family suspects any wrongdoing, then they can click here to find out more about the possible remedies that are available against the nursing home.
Some Common Types Of Abuse In A Healthcare Setting
There are many ways in which hospital staff can be a cause of mental agony to the residents. Nurses and attendants have to attend to many patients, and if they are agitated, they might end up shouting at them. At times patients are ignored, and simple requests are denied. Mental harassment becomes all the more worrisome because the residents are already ill and away from their loved ones. Hence noticing signs of psychological abuse is not easy, but unwillingness to communicate or a sense of fear can be signs of ill-treatment.
Physical And Sexual Harassment
Injuries, blood clots, signs of bites, unnecessary use of retraining straps, etc., are all signs of physical harassment. Injuries around genital organs are common signs of sexual violence. Unlike psychological harassment, physical injuries are quite easy to spot, and family members can notice them when they visit the resident during the visiting hours.
If the sick person is asked to give money for doing regular duties like giving food or medicine, it is a violation of duty. If the family knows of any financial transaction from the patient’s account that he is unaware of, then it is a case of theft.
Asking for bank account numbers and credit card PINs. If patients are asked to sign any power of attorney papers, it is a kind of financial exploitation.
Steps To Take In Case Of Suspected Abuse
Discussing The Issue With The Nursing Home Administration
If family members suspect any form of abuse, the most prudent thing to do would be to have a straightforward conversation. Such steps will be helpful if the abuser is another patient, and the staff might shift the abusive patient to another room.
At times patients might also misunderstand or be agitated because of their illness; hence it is essential to check the staff’s intentions behind their actions.
If the explanations are unsatisfactory, it is a good idea to approach the nursing home’s internal grievance redressal cell first. In case a nurse is the potential culprit, the matron or the resident doctor who is in charge of the ward can be approached. Also, being aware of the official explanation will help in drafting a legal case in the future.
Trying To Collecting Potential Evidence
If a lawsuit is to be filed in the future, the attorney will need solid evidence to win the case. If emotional abuse is suspected, seeking a counseling session for the patient can be a good option. Talking to families of other patients who are admitted to the same healthcare facility can greatly help. If the staff is impatient and is in the habit of abusing their patients, other patients must have also faced abuse.
If a psychiatrist validates a case of emotional abuse, then they can be presented as a witness in a court of law. Physical marks on the body, like bite marks or blood clots, can be presented as evidence; hence, they should be photographed immediately.
Filing An Official Complaint
If the family is very sure that any form of abuse has happened and the nursing home staff is unwilling to take responsibility, then lodging an official complaint is the only option. Some countries have an ombudsman where complaints against public healthcare facilities can be lodged. In case there is no such state authority, a complaint may be filed in the local police station under whose jurisdiction the nursing home falls.
When an official complaint has been filed, the ombudsman or the local police will carry out their investigation.
Hiring An Attorney
Even if the police do find the nursing home authorities guilty, they are most likely to challenge it in court in order to protect their reputation. Hence hiring a nursing home abuse attorney is the most prudent thing to do.
Attorneys who have experience in dealing with healthcare facility-related abuse cases use their experience to draft a solid case and minimize loopholes that the other party may misuse. The attorney is the best person to guide you about what to do and what not to do.
They will prepare the case file with the evidence at hand and fight the case in court. Also, if the nursing home authorities want mediation, an attorney can guide them about the rights of the patient and the liabilities of the nursing home. They can also help in giving an idea about an appropriate compensation amount if the nursing home wants to resolve the issue by paying compensation.
The nursing home authorities are legally bound by state laws to maintain adequate staff members, which includes doctors, nurses, and attendants. They are also duty-bound to ensure that the staff they hire is competent at doing their jobs.
Abusing a healthcare facility is legally and ethically wrong because the patients are sick and emotionally vulnerable. People are usually hesitant to file press charges against a place where their loved one is being treated. However, physical, mental, or sexual abuse is a serious criminal offense and needs to be dealt with firmly.