Unexplained Injury or Accident in the Nursing Home

You’ve just been to see Mom at the nursing home, and while you were there you noticed she had a few bruises on her arm and flinched away from the nurse who was checking her vitals. When you ask the nurse about the bruising, you’re told, “Old people bruise easily.” You don’t know if this is true or not but after seeing these things multiple times, you suspect the staff is being negligent in their care.

Unexplained injuries or accidents in the nursing home are simply unacceptable. Legally, the nursing home must supervise residents adequately and provide a safe environment at all times. If an injury does occur, they must notify a family member of the resident and the resident’s physician regarding the injury or accident. They also must incorporate appropriate interventions into the resident’s plan of care that are intended to stop the injury from reoccurring. 

Types of Abuse

There are several different types of abuse your loved one could be suffering from at the hands of the nursing home staff. If your loved one is suffering from one type of abuse, likely, that they are also suffering from other types. The types of abuse are:

  • Physical: Unexplained injuries, like cuts, bruises, and/or broken bones.
  • Verbal or Mental: Insults, humiliation, harassment and threats.
  • Sexual: Rape, forced nudity and unwanted sexual contact.
  • Exploitation: Stolen property, cash or checks, unpaid bills, and changes to the will.

Signs of Abuse

Signs of unexplained injuries or accidents may point to a more serious problem, such as nursing home abuse. Be on the lookout for: 

  • Unexplained injuries including cuts, bruising, bloody clothing
  • Unexplained accidents
  • Malnutrition or weight gain
  • Dehydration
  • Unsanitary conditions
  • Patient is unkempt looking
  • Infections from cuts or in the genitals
  • Broken bones
  • Sudden death
  • Acting nervous around or fearful of staff
  • Staff delays or refuses your visit
  • Staff won’t leave you alone in the room with the patient

What You Can Do to Battle Unexplained Nursing Home Injuries and Accidents

Take notes about the abuse(s) you have observed, including the date and the nursing home’s response to what happened. For an injury, record the location of the injury and the condition of it when you saw it. If the patient is mentally capable, ask them what happened. It is possible the patient will not answer the question either from fear of retaliation or a sense of loyalty to the staff. If you think your loved one’s life is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1 and have them taken to the hospital. If your loved one is agreeable, capture photographic evidence of the injuries with a ruler for scale. Document the time, date, and location of all photographs taken. 

Share your concerns with the supervisor on duty or the nursing home administrator or director of nursing. If they’re not available, leave a note to be contacted or call them when you get home. Allow them to offer an explanation for what has happened or to investigate your concerns. The nursing home is required by law to address any concerns you have about the patient’s care and must have a written policy. It should be provided to you when your loved one enters the home and should be available to you at any time your loved one lives at the home. Follow up in twenty-four hours if you do not hear back from them.

If the answer you’re given is unsatisfactory and/or conditions do not improve or worsen, you need to contact the state agency for Adult Protective Services, which offers protection for special needs and senior adults, and file a complaint against the nursing home. You should be able to find the information in the phone book or on the Internet. You may want to start looking for another facility for your loved one. You may also call your state ombudsman representative to ensure the rights of your loved one are being upheld.

You may also want to consult with an attorney who specializes in nursing home issues including abuse or neglect. They will be able to tell you what your rights are, what the time limits are for filing a suit, and what they can do to help you. There are many avenues you can explore and your attorney will be able to advise you on the best route for you to take.

Contact the lawyers at Sweeney Law Firm if a loved one has been injured due to an unexplained injury or accident at a nursing home or experienced any form of elder abuse. You and your loved ones may be eligible for monetary compensation for the suffering caused by inattentive or abusive nursing home staff. The lawyers at Sweeney Law Firm specialize in elder care law and will help ensure that the abuse or neglect does not continue and that your loved one receives adequate care. There is no cost or obligation for us to evaluate your case. The Sweeney Law Firm works on a contingency fee basis. There is never a fee unless a recovery is made for you.