Your loved one moved to a Wisconsin nursing home for one reason—to stay safe. You trusted that the nursing home staff would attend to your loved one’s needs and that she would live comfortably and with dignity. You never expected that the people who were supposed to keep her safe would be the ones to harm her, but now you suspect—or you know—that your loved one has been abused or neglected in a Wisconsin nursing home and you need to take action to protect her.
For decades, our lawyers have been providing compassionate and skilled representation for people who have been injured in Wisconsin nursing homes. We believe that a full recovery starts with knowledge about your loved one’s legal rights. Accordingly, if you believe that your loved one may have been hurt in a nursing home then we encourage you to read our FREE Guide for Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Victims and to browse this page and our website.
Types of Injuries Caused by Nursing Home Abuse
The injuries caused by different types of nursing home abuse or neglect can be significant and may include:
- Bedsores. Nursing homes should take reasonable precautions to prevent bedsores and should check for bedsores so that they can be promptly treated if they do occur. If these steps are not taken, then the nursing home staff may be negligent and the nursing home resident may suffer a serious injury or fatality.
- Infection. The failure to routinely wash hands or sterilize equipment can result in dangerous infections. If a nursing home resident develops an infection due to staff negligence or if staff members do not recognize symptoms of an infection promptly, then a serious injury can result.
- Fractures. Nursing home neglect or abuse can result in a bone fracture if a resident falls or is assisted in a rough or unsafe way.
- Suffocation. Residents who get stuck in bed rails, tangled in linens, or who choke on their food may suffocate. They may be deprived of oxygen and they may die.
- Sexual abuse. It is hard to imagine, but sexual abuse of nursing home residents—particularly of those with dementia or who are unable to speak—does occur and can result in significant physical and emotional injuries.
- Death. Any of the injuries described above may result in the untimely death of the nursing home resident.
While nursing home abuse or negligence can result in any of these injuries, they are not all caused by the same type of abuse or negligence.
Recognizing the Different Types of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Some of the common ways that people suffer injuries form nursing home abuse or neglect include:
- Falls. A fall, particularly for someone who is old or ill, can be serious or fatal. Nursing home staff should know whether certain residents are at risk of fall injuries and should take appropriate precautions to prevent falls and the resulting injuries.
- Malnutrition or dehydration. Your loved one may have been provided with food and water, but could she ingest it? Was her intake monitored? Did the food comply with her dietary requirements for her diabetes, heart condition, or other physical condition? Did nursing home staff take reasonable steps to make sure that she was getting adequate nutrition and hydration? If your loved one was malnourished or dehydrated, then she may have suffered a severe—or even deadly—preventable medical problem due to the abuse or negligence of nursing home staff.
- Medication errors. Your loved one depends on his of her medication. However, if nursing home staff members give the wrong medication, give the wrong dose of medication, or fail to give medication as directed by a doctor, then serious and potentially fatal complications can result.
- Failure to maintain clean and safe facilities. Clean and safe facilities can prevent infection, slip and fall hazards and other dangers for nursing home residents.
- Violation of government standards. The government has specific regulations in place to protect the safety of nursing home residents. When these regulations are violated residents may be put at risk.
- Wandering and elopement. Nursing home staff should identify which residents may be at risk of wandering off or leaving the facility and have a specific plan in place to prevent unaccompanied departures.
- Use of physical or chemical restraints. Physical restraints or medication to cause a chemical restraint should never be used to make life easier for staff. Instead, they should only be used in consultation with a doctor for medical reasons and an in accordance with specific protocols.
- Other forms of negligence. Any time a staff member is not paying attention or doing her job the way a reasonable staff member would in a similar situation nursing home negligence may occur. This could include, but is not limited to excessive cell phone use on the job, napping on the job, or being otherwise distracted while at work.
These types of nursing home abuse and neglect are caused by different factors, such as:
- Understaffing. If the nursing home failed to provide enough staff to reasonably care for the number of residents and their specific needs, then the nursing home may have been negligent. That negligence may have caused your loved one’s injury.
- Inadequate staff training. Nursing home staff members do not have easy jobs. They often need to take care of people with complicated medical needs, and they need to be appropriately trained to provide reasonable care for residents. If the nursing home does not ensure that staff is appropriately trained and that lack of training leads to an injury, then the nursing home may have been negligent.
- Intentional abuse. Sometimes nursing home staff is not negligent, but rather physically or psychologically abusive. If your loved one has been hit, sexually abused, threatened, or otherwise intentionally hurt by a staff member, then both the staff member and the nursing home could be liable for the significant injuries that your loved one has suffered.
If your loved one has been hurt for any of these reasons, then it is important to take action.
Tips for Protecting Nursing Home Residents
It is your loved one who is vulnerable and who is in the nursing home, and you understandably want to do everything that you can to protect her. Some of the things that you can do include:
- Recognizing the risk factors for potential abuse. All nursing home residents are vulnerable to abuse or neglect, but residents with dementia or those who are unable to communicate may be at greater risk.
- Watching for signs and symptoms of abuse. Some symptoms of nursing home abuse injuries are easier to detect than others. It is important to be aware of all of them and to get prompt medical attention for your loved one if you suspect abuse.
- Advocating for the rights of nursing home residents. Your loved one may need you to speak up for her and enforce the rights to which she is entitled as a nursing home resident.
- Knowing what actions to take if you suspect abuse. It is important to report the incident; it is also important to get your loved one medical help and to make sure she is in a safe living environment as soon as possible.
- Knowing actions not to take if you suspect abuse. You don’t want to confront the staff. You could risk losing evidence or making things worse—and more dangerous—for your loved one and other residents.
- Reporting nursing home abuse. Nursing home abuse should be reported to the state of Wisconsin, to your loved one’s doctor, and to the nursing home administrator. You have the right to consult with a lawyer before making a report, however.
While it is important to protect your loved one as best that you can, it is also important to understand that it is not your fault if the nursing home staff are neglectful or abusive. You can, however, help hold the nursing home accountable by filing a nursing home injury lawsuit. Before you do that, however, you should know more about:
- Collecting evidence. You will need to prove both that abuse or negligence occurred and that it caused your loved one’s injuries.
- Understanding who can bring a lawsuit. Generally, it is your loved one who has legal standing to bring a lawsuit unless you have legal guardianship of your loved one or your loved one has died and you are the personal representative of her estate.
- Filing a lawsuit within the statute of limitations. A lawsuit formally begins when a complaint is filed in court. In Wisconsin, you generally have three years to file a case However, exceptions do apply to this statute of limitations.
- Knowing how to use expert witnesses. Expert witnesses may be able to testify about the standard of care that staff should’ve shown your loved one and about the extent of her injuries.
- Understanding how settlements work. Your loved one may be able to settle her case before trial. However, you need to know if there is a binding arbitration clause and how best to protect your loved one’s legal rights.
- Knowing when to hire a lawyer. It is important to contact a lawyer as soon as you think your loved one may have been abused.
Don’t let anyone tell you that your loved one’s age or medical condition make a nursing home abuse or neglect case irrelevant.
Instead Fight for the Damages Your Loved One Deserves
Compensation in a Wisconsin nursing home abuse or neglect case may include past, current, and future:
- Medical expenses. This includes all of your loved one’s healthcare costs, including hospitalizations, medications, doctors’ visits, and more.
- Out-of-pocket costs. Out-of-pocket costs could include a move to another nursing home or additional nursing care, for example. If your loved one died because of nursing home abuse or negligence, then funeral costs may also be compensated.
- Pain and suffering. Your loved one’s physical pain and emotional suffering may be significant and they are deserving of compensation.
The lawyers of Hupy and Abraham believe that everyone should be treated with dignity and that those who have been victims of nursing home neglect or abuse should be able to recover for the preventable injuries that they suffered. Call us today at 1-800-800-5678 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation and, together, let’s help your loved one live with the honor and safety she deserves.