Memphis Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyers
Experienced representation for victims of nursing home abuse and neglect and their families
When we entrust the care of our aging and medically dependent loved ones to a nursing home, we expect the nursing home personnel to be highly trained, skilled, and above all, caring and compassionate. Sadly, the incidents of nursing home abuse and neglect in Tennessee facilities are rising every day. Whether someone is purposefully hurting your family member, or the facility is willfully neglecting to attend to their needs, nursing home negligence is not something you want your loved one to experience.
At Bailey & Greer, PLLC, we know how important it is to you that your loved one feels safe and cared for. Our Memphis nursing home abuse lawyers have been serving families around West Tennessee for close to 30 years. We investigate allegations of nursing home abuse and negligence and hold the parties at fault responsible for their actions.
How can we help?
- What are the different types of nursing home neglect and abuse?
- What are the warning signs of abuse and neglect in Memphis nursing homes?
- What to do if you see an signs of abuse or neglect in a Memphis nursing home?
- Ways to help prevent nursing home abuse and neglect
- How to choose a good Memphis nursing home for your loved one
- How the Memphis nursing home neglect attorneys at Bailey & Greer can help
- Is there a Memphis nursing home abuse and neglect attorney near me?
I highly recommend the office of Bailey & Greer. They took so many questions and so, so much stress off me! Their communication was also always very clear and kept me updated throughout the process. Thank you so much!
What are the different types of nursing home neglect and abuse?
There are many types of abuse and neglect in nursing homes all over the country, often the result of understaffing of nurses and other healthcare providers. Some of the most common types of abuse are the following:
- Physical abuse. While physical abuse is the most readily recognizable form of abuse because you can see the bruises and the broken bones, physical abuse can also harm the elder’s health by causing high anxiety, which can lead to or exacerbate heart problems in those who are already in frail health.
- Psychological/ emotional abuse. Whether the abuse takes the form of insults, ridicule, threatening language, and/or humiliation, this insidious form of abuse is the most hurtful because it affects the resident’s self-image.
- Financial exploitation. The theft of the resident’s money, the use of his/her property without permission, intentionally misusing credit cards, identity theft, and all manner of monetary schemes can be characterized as financial exploitation.
- Staff Inattention (neglect). A nursing home may be understaffed, and as a result, patient care and hygiene may begin to suffer. Residents who are not mobile may get bedsores because linens do not get changed often enough, or staff does not respond to residents’ requests for assistance. Bedsores alone are incredibly painful and dangerous to one’s overall health, especially if it is not treated in a timely manner.
Any circumstance or situation where a nursing home fails to uphold their duty of care to their residents may be grounds for an abuse or neglect claim against them. They must create and maintain safe environments in every possible manner for those they are responsible for, especially because residents with different levels of mental deterioration may need extra supervision and care. Therefore, even something as seemingly “benign” as a resident wandering off or tripping can lead to tragic, severe consequences.
It is important to note that just because you see some of the warning signs that could indicate abuse it does not mean that abuse is taking place. However, if you do begin to see several indicators of abuse such as malnutrition, weight loss, dehydration, unexplained bruising, bedsores, poor hygiene, and marked changes in behavior and demeanor, it is likely time to investigate. In some tragic scenarios, prolonged abuse can lead to the wrongful death of your loved one, so time is of the essence if you suspect a problem.
What are the warning signs of abuse and neglect in Memphis nursing homes?
Because of advanced age and poor health, elder residents who are dependent on others for all their needs are in a vulnerable position. They are often afraid of the abuse, but they are even more afraid of the repercussions that might come if they speak up and report the abuse. They keep silent and simply endure the poor treatment because they feel that they have no recourse.
The National Center on Elder Abuse has done research on the prevalence of elder abuse, but it can be challenging to get accurate numbers because most cases go unreported and therefore undetected and untreated every year in the United States. If you see any of these warning signs when you visit your loved one who lives in a Tennessee nursing facility, take note of it, and take action to report what you have seen. The most common signs of abuse or neglect include:
- Weight Loss
- Change in behavior
- Over medication
- Inattentive staff
- Unsanitary conditions
About bed sores, pressure sores, and decubitus ulcers
Bedsores, pressure ulcers, and decubitus ulcers are different names for the same skin disorder that develops when people spend long periods of time sitting in one position without moving their body around to a different position. When a resident in a nursing home develops a pressure ulcer or bedsore, this is an indication that he or she is not being attended to properly and could be suffering from neglect.
Pressure ulcers develop over a period of time in the places on the body that come in contact with the bed or chair or whatever surface the person’s body remains in close contact for many hours on end. Bedsores go through roughly four stages of development, so they are not like an injury that happens when your skin is punctured or sliced by a sharp object.
- Stage one: The skin is reddish and sore, and it might feel either more firm or softer than the areas of skin around it.
- Stage two: The skin begins to break open and form an ulcer, which is painful and tender. It might look like a blister and be filled with clear fluid. Even at this point some of the skin may have already begun to die.
- Stage three: The ulcer continues to look worse, and a small crater begins to form.
- Stage four: The crater on the pressure ulcer has grown deep enough to reach muscle and bone, and it has caused damage to the tissues, tendons, and joints.
In stages three and four, if there was any pain around the sore it is likely gone because the skin has been so damaged in that area. This is when significant complications such as bone and blood infections can develop if the pressure ulcers are not treated.
Because bedsores appear in hidden places that you would not see when you come to visit your loved one, such as on the back of the head, the shoulders, the buttocks, and heels, unless you look for them you will never know they are there unless your loved one complains about them. If the resident is non-verbal or immobile, then you must keep an eye out for bedsores each time you visit if you suspect any kind of neglect. If you see a bedsore, or pressure ulcer on your loved one’s body, you must bring it to the attention of the nursing home staff.
About malnutrition and dehydration
Dehydration and malnutrition are life-threatening conditions, which can lead to death if not addressed immediately. If you have a loved one who lives in a nursing home and you have been noticing that he or she is losing weight, looking gaunt and dehydrated – especially if he or she is unable to feed him or herself – bring it to the attention of the nursing home administrator right away, as this is a sign that your loved one’s care has been neglected.
Regulations governing nutrition
Nursing homes must adhere to state and federal guidelines when it comes to providing nutrition and hydration for every resident. They must also report any significant changes in the resident’s condition to the treating physician and the resident’s family member in a timely manner. Nursing homes are also supposed to record what every resident eats and drinks every day along with what medications or supplements they are taking.
Warning signs of malnutrition and dehydration
While malnutrition and dehydration happen quickly, there are warning signs of both conditions. Unless immediate care is taken, you could face the tragic loss of your loved one. A nursing home abuse victim may exhibit:
- Dull skin
- Sunken eyes
- Chapped lips
- Weak muscle tone
- Confusion and disorientation
He or she may also develop illnesses like pneumonia, anemia, or urinary tract infections. Dehydration in particular is such an easy thing to prevent, but when it happens it can cause so many health problems. Dehydration weakens the resident’s immune system and slows down the body’s healing process, leaving the resident more susceptible to developing bed sores. It can also make dementia symptoms worse.
About wandering and elopement
Wandering and elopement are common problems in nursing homes, especially when the residents are suffering from later stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Sometimes families who have been caring for elderly loved ones at home will choose to place them in a nursing home when it becomes clear that they are unable to keep them safe from wandering off.
If you have a loved one that you know tends to go wandering off, the administration and staff must be made aware of this fact, and they must protect your family member from harming themselves. Nursing homes have all kinds of tools and procedures to guard against elopement such as:
- Body alarms on the patient, the bed and on exterior doors
- Video monitoring of all exit doors
- Supervision of those residents known to wander
Falls occur at nursing homes quite frequently. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports that “millions of older people—those 65 and older—fall. In fact, more than one out of four older people falls each year, but less than half tell their doctor.” As the number of seniors living in nursing homes rises, so will the number of injuries and deaths related to falls.
Some of the more common causes of falls in nursing homes include:
- Muscle weakness and problems walking
- Environmental hazards in the nursing home including wet floors, poor lighting, and poorly maintained wheelchairs
- Over-medicated patients, and patients who are being chemically restrained are at a greater risk for falling
- Poor foot care, poorly fitting shoes
- Improper use of walking aids
- Failure to monitor patients at-risk for falling
- Inadequate staff training
- Improper transfer techniques by staff members
If your loved one has suffered an injury such as a broken hip from a fall in a nursing home, you may be able to take legal action against the facility. These facilities owe their residents a duty of care to maintain a safe environment for them at all times.
About physical and chemical restraints
Elderly nursing home residents who are suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s can also become belligerent and combative towards staff. Nursing homes have used both physical and chemical restraints to manage the behavior of difficult residents, but unless they are used in strict accordance with federal and state law, physical and chemical restraints can be abusive, cause injury and harm, and violate the rights of the resident.
Federal law prohibits the use of restraints for nursing home patients for discipline or convenience. The Nursing Home Reform Law of 1987 assures that nursing home residents shall be free from physical or chemical restraints imposed for purposes of discipline or convenience. Restraints may be imposed for the following purposes:
- To ensure the physical safety of the resident or other residents, and
- Only upon the written order of a physician that specifies the duration and the circumstances under which the restraints may be used. There is, however, an exception for emergency situations when a written doctor’s order cannot be reasonably obtained.
There are two types of restraints that can be used in a case of nursing home abuse. They include:
- Physical restraints. Anything from tucking sheets in too tightly around residents, strapping them into their bed or wheelchair, raising bedside rails so they cannot get out of bed, and/or using straps or ties to keep a resident from being able to get out of a chair can be considered abusive or neglectful.
- Chemical restraints. Using antipsychotic medications, sedatives, anxiety medications, and any other drug that might be used to discipline a resident or control behavior but is not required to treat any medical symptoms is an abuse of powers by the staff.
When you are visiting your loved ones in a nursing home and you notice that they have unexplained bruises on their arms wrists or ankles, they appear to be more groggy or lethargic than usual, or if you notice other residents who appear to be physically or chemically restrained, bring it to the attention of the administrator immediately.
About medication errors
Examples of medication errors that cause injuries to Memphis nursing home residents include:
- Crushing medications that should not be crushed
- Giving medications that must be taken with food on an empty stomach
- Allowing residents to swallow sublingual tablets
- Missing a required dose
- Overdosing / under dosing
- Giving the wrong medications
- Expired medication
- Improper administration of the drug
- Stealing resident’s medications for personal use
It is vital that you catch a medication error as soon as possible because it could end up leading to death if the wrong medication is being given, or the right medication is not being given.
What to do if you see an signs of abuse or neglect in a Memphis nursing home?
If you notice any of the signs mentioned above, or if the resident tells you that he or she is being hurt, make sure to report the incident to the nursing home administrator immediately. Find out what the nursing home’s policy is for submitting a formal complaint. If you see evidence that a crime was committed, call the police and file a police report. The nursing home should investigate the incident, although not every single incident may qualify as abuse or neglect.
The state of Tennessee has a long-term care Ombudsman, who provides assistance to Tennessee residents who live in nursing homes. They serve as advocates and help provide solutions when it comes to dealing with the nursing home’s staff and administration regarding the resident’s quality of care, resident rights, and other issues.
Ways to help prevent nursing home abuse and neglect
At Bailey & Greer, we represent families in Memphis, Jackson, and throughout West Tennessee whose loved ones have been abused or neglected in nursing homes, so we know how prevalent the issue is. We believe that by working together, we can help put an end to elder abuse. Of course, the terrible nature of these cases is they cannot always be prevented; mitigating the risks is the only true course of action — but that may be all that’s needed. Your best chance at preventing your loved one from being neglected involves your active participation in his or her life. To that end:
- Visit frequently and unexpectedly
- Become familiar with the Tennessee Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights
- Get to know the nursing home staff and administration
- Keep in communication with your loved one’s doctor
- Monitor weight changes and follow-up with the doctor if he/she is looking thin or pale
- Frequently review the Activities of Daily Living (ADL) chart
- Consider installing a surveillance camera (but review nursing home regulations first)
- Become familiar with the warning signs of abuse and neglect
How to choose a good Memphis nursing home for your loved one
The best way to make the right decision is to research as many options as possible and carefully weigh them against each other. This can be an especially daunting task if you live in an area with several facilities, but there are resources you can turn to for help. Doing the right kind of research is important when choosing a nursing home in Tennessee. Resources you can use include several organizations, including the federal government, which offer free guides that help families research and select a skilled nursing facility:
- Medicare Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home. This guide includes tips on how to pay for nursing home care, your rights as a resident, and other useful information.
- AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) has many resources to help you narrow down your choices. Number one on their checklist is, “How does the food look and taste?” In addition to meeting dietary requirements, the food must be palatable.
- Alzheimer’s Association has helpful information about what to look for and what to ask when choosing a nursing home when your loved one has Alzheimer’
- The National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform offers a free guide that helps families navigate the challenging process of placing a loved one in a nursing home. Their first bit of advice is to do what you can to seek alternatives to nursing home care if that is your loved one’s preference.
Another great resource brought to you by Medicare is their Nursing Home Compare tool, which can actually guide you through the process of comparing your options and file through key information for you. They also offer a free checklist that you can use to take notes about the different facilities.
The site provides the following information to help guide consumer decision making in selecting a nursing home:
- Five-star quality ratings
- Inspection results and complaints
- Staffing information such as how many RNs, LPNs, physical therapists, and nursing assistants in each facility
- Quality measures that describe the quality of care at each facility
- Penalties that have been levied against a facility
- With the revision of the site’s rating system, there are now higher standards for many of the quality measures, changes to how staffing ratios are calculated resulting in higher standards, expanded federal oversight of state inspectors, and increased quality of federal inspections.
How the Memphis nursing home neglect attorneys at Bailey & Greer can help
Our team of compassionate nursing home abuse lawyers knows that finding the right facility is a critical part of your elderly loved one’s safety and care. We also know that even the best looking or best sounding Tennessee nursing homes can prove to be dangerous to your loved ones. At Bailey & Greer, we are strong advocates for the rights of our elders who may be defenseless and dependent on others for their care and safety. We fight for justice on their behalf and assist you in filing a complaint against the healthcare professionals who harmed your family member.
Is there a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney near me?
Our Memphis office is located at 6256 Poplar Ave. If you are unable to come to us due to your injuries, we will travel to visit you in the hospital or rehabilitation center, and we also offer phone consultations and virtual conferences.
Contact our Memphis nursing home negligence attorneys today
When you discover that your loved one has been abused by nursing home staff, you might be filled with anger, but your best move is to contact a personal injury lawyer. Throughout West Tennessee, the lawyers at Bailey & Greer, PLLC, are strong advocates for the rights of our elders. We know the pain and anguish that can come from nursing home abuse. Please call 901-475-7434 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment with a dedicated Memphis nursing home abuse lawyer. We maintain offices in Memphis and Jackson for your convenience.