Facilities providing live-in care for elder or disabled adults are strictly regulated in Oklahoma. Yet nursing home neglect and abuse continue to be a pervasive problem throughout the state’s nursing homes and other live-in care facilities.
The Nursing Home Care Act specifically states that:
‘Every resident shall be free from mental and physical abuse and neglect … corporeal punishment, involuntary seclusion, and from any physical or chemical restraints imposed for purposes of discipline or convenience …’
Residents often have limitations due to mental or physical conditions and that makes them especially vulnerable to people who do not have their best interests in mind. People who take advantage of the vulnerabilities of residents or who choose not to provide the compassionate care required of nursing homes are committing nursing home abuse.
Negligence is not the kind of thing a care facility wants as their repertoire. Therefore, incentive exists for nursing homes to try and keep allegations of neglect and abuse from becoming known.
A personal injury attorney experienced in nursing home neglect and abuse injuries knows how to investigate claims of nursing home abuse and discover evidence that can otherwise be difficult to obtain. A nursing home abuse lawyer will gather information about what happened and the nature and extent of the injuries. Written demand for compensation will be made to all parties identified as having responsibility for the abuse.
From there, negotiations toward settlement may begin, or it may become apparent that filing a lawsuit will be necessary. When evidence showing abuse is strong, nursing homes are likely to be more cooperative and agree to settle claims out of court.
Nursing home abuse occurs from careless or intentional actions by caregivers toward residents that cause harm to the residents. Nursing home abuse can result from overt actions taken against a resident or by caregivers neglecting to take action on behalf of a resident when care is needed.
There are several ways that nursing home residents experience abuse by caregivers.
The most common type of nursing home abuse is emotional abuse. The abuse may consist of words or actions that cause psychological harm. Because this type of abuse is harder to detect it can continue over long periods of time and is thought to be highly underreported.
Nursing care facilities are home to about 1.3 million Americans, many of whom require some type of assistance to carry out their daily activities. According to Nursing Home Abuse Justice, it has been estimated that as many as 1 in 3 nursing home residents have been victimized by abuse. When nursing home staff were questioned, 2 out of 3 admitted to neglecting or abusing residents.
The problem of nursing home abuse is thought to be far more widespread than the reported numbers indicate. Studies have shown that as much as 97% of the nursing home abuse that occurs in some places goes unreported.
Any nursing home resident can become vulnerable to a caregiver that decides to inflict abuse, but some residents are more likely to be targeted than others. The following types of residents are often the recipients of caregiver neglect and abuse:
When family members or friends are visiting a loved one in a nursing home, it is important to be observant and notice things that are not usual – both physically and mentally. Some signs may be more obvious but other times the signs of abuse may be subtle and harder to identify. The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) advises the following are indications that abuse has happened or may be ongoing:
Nursing home neglect and abuse are thought to exist primarily due to inadequacies on the part of the facility providing care. Nursing homes need to do a better job preparing their caregivers and providing for the safety of their most vulnerable residents.
Nursing home abuse is attributed to some combination of the following factors:
The law in Oklahoma requires that nursing homes provide certain levels of care to residents and also protect them from mental or physical abuse. When those levels of care are not provided and/or abuse occurs, the nursing home can be held responsible – as well as the individual staff members who may have had direct responsibility for the neglect or abuse.
Recent reports of nursing home abuse in Oklahoma demonstrate the nature of this ongoing problem.
Some people argue that operating nursing care facilities as for-profit businesses contribute to nursing home abuse. Lower wages do not attract the most qualified candidates as caregivers and funds are often not allocated to ensure proper training and accountability.
Residents of nursing homes and their families can minimize the risk of nursing home abuse by remaining active and engaged and being alert to the signs or symptoms of neglect or abuse.
The family or loved ones of a nursing home resident can minimize the opportunity for nursing home abuse by:
Since 2013, Oklahoma law has required nursing care facilities to allow residents or their families to install electronic monitoring equipment in a resident’s room. A facility must not interfere with such equipment or discriminate against a resident for installing it. Installing the monitoring equipment may be an effective deterrent to caregiver abuse.
Oklahomans are legally required to report suspected neglect, abuse, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult to the Department of Human Services or local law enforcement as soon as they become aware of the situation. State laws can impose severe penalties on provider facilities in nursing home abuse cases, and caregivers can face criminal charges.
A nursing home resident or the resident’s authorized representative may also make a claim for personal injury against the facility and the individual caregivers responsible for the abuse. Contact the Graves McLain law firm at 918-359-6600.
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