Transitioning a loved one to a nursing home can be an extremely difficult decision. When we must take this step, we try to select a facility that will keep our loved ones healthy, happy, and safe. Unfortunately, though, sometimes the care and attention fall short in many nursing homes, and that can have drastic consequences.
As we all can imagine, working at a nursing home is a physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding job. The stress that the staff is under can pave the way for abuse, neglect, and mistreatment of the residents. The COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated this stress and further isolated many nursing home residents. According to a survey conducted by the World Health Organization, approximately two-thirds of long-term care facility staff members admit that they have personally committed abuse within the past year.
If you think your loved one may have been abused or neglected in a Georgia nursing home, you may want to consult with an attorney for help with investigating any potential wrongdoing and with determining whether a lawsuit could be on the horizon. Here are a few frequently asked questions about nursing home abuse and some information on what you should do if your loved one becomes a victim.
What Is Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse is a broad term for any abuse that occurs at a nursing facility. This could include physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Financial exploitation and neglect can also be forms of nursing home abuse. Staff or other residents could be the perpetrators of this misconduct.
One common form of misconduct particular to nursing homes and care facilities is healthcare abuse. This is where staff intentionally or neglectfully fail to provide a resident with medical assistance, medication, or therapy. Neglect may also include deprivation of necessities like food, water, or clothing.
What Are The Signs?
If your loved one is in a care facility, you should be aware of the signs of abuse or neglect. Signs can be physical, psychological, or behavioral. Some physical signs may be readily obvious, like bedsores, wounds, or bruising, but others could take longer to become apparent. A decline in personal hygiene may also be a noticeable sign of neglect. Weight loss, dehydration, and malnutrition may be difficult to notice at first and can be mistaken for symptoms of aging or illness.
Psychological and behavioral changes can also be signs of abuse. Abuse can lead to depression and anxiety. Your loved one might feel unsafe in the nursing home environment and could seem fearful, confused, or withdrawn. If you notice such changes, you should discuss them with the medical providers. If there appears to be no valid medical explanation, you may want to consult with an attorney and potentially report any suspicions of abuse to the state for investigation.
How Do I Report Nursing Home Abuse?
If you suspect that your loved one or another resident has been a victim of nursing home abuse, you can report your concerns to the Healthcare Facility Regulation (HFR) division of the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH). HFR is the state agency responsible for overseeing Georgia’s healthcare facilities. You can file a complaint on the HFR website or call (800) 878-6442 to report the abuse. If the person is in immediate danger, you should call 911 to get them assistance right away. You may also want to contact Georgia’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman if your loved one or another resident needs an advocate.
Who Are Mandated Reporters?
All Georgians are encouraged to report instances of abuse. However, only people acting in certain professional capacities are legally obligated to report. This includes medical practitioners, therapists, social workers, clergy, and law enforcement, to name a few. All staff members of nursing homes are also mandated reporters.
What Are The Legal Consequences Of Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse can violate both civil and criminal laws in Georgia. One law that allows for civil penalties for nursing home abuse is Georgia’s Bill of Rights for Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities, which guarantees nursing home residents certain rights and protections. If a nursing facility is found to be in violation of the law, HFR must order the nursing home to correct the violation within a reasonable period of time. The facility may be prohibited from admitting new residents until they fix the violation. HFR may also impose monetary civil penalties on care facilities if they repeatedly violate the law. The law also gives residents a cause of action against the nursing home. This means that, if your loved one suffers abuse, they may sue the nursing home directly under this law.
Georgia Nursing Home Lawyers
Want to learn more about bringing a nursing home abuse lawsuit in Georgia? If so, you should get in touch with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney. Critically, if you retain the services of a qualified Georgia elder abuse or nursing home abuse attorney, then they can provide you with meaningful advice about the best way to proceed, and can stand up to the nursing home on your behalf to get you compensation and justice. The experienced Georgia nursing home abuse lawyers at Dozier Law are dedicated to helping abused and mistreated nursing home residents recover against those who harmed them. We are here for you and ready to get started on your case today. Reach out to Dozier Law by calling (888) 239-2129 or by contacting us online for a free consultation.