We have repeatedly gone up against many New Mexico nursing homes and are familiar with how to combat the strategies they use to try and escape accountability.
Elderly adults living in nursing homes are uniquely vulnerable to the dangers of physical abuse. Many do not have the means to defend or even advocate for themselves when an abusive staff member or another resident attempts to inflict harm. Victims and their families have the right to seek compensation when nursing homes fail to prevent and address any level of physical abuse that occurs in their facilities.
At the Harvey & Foote Law Firm, we make it our mission to be the difference in people’s lives when they find themselves in these tragic situations. Our experienced Albuquerque nursing home physical abuse lawyers have handled thousands of cases and understand how to successfully advocate for victims and their families. Our team is compassionate about what you are going through and is confident we can get you the justice you deserve.
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Types of Physical Abuse That Can Occur in New Mexico Nursing Homes
Physical abuse in a nursing home may be perpetrated by facility staff members or other residents. In some cases, the abuse may be intentional, while in others, it may be an unintended consequence of other factors. Either way, the consequences can include bruises, burns, sprains, scarring, broken bones, and even death.
There are three major types of physical abuse a resident may experience in a nursing home:
- Active abuse. “Active abuse” is perhaps the most straightforward category: It is what you probably picture when you think about “physical abuse.” Active abuse is any deliberate action that is meant to inflict pain. Examples include punching, kicking, shoving, and squeezing.
- Abuse of restraints. Restraints are sometimes needed to keep a resident still for medical reasons. They should only ever be used for brief periods where they are absolutely necessary. The use of restraints can become abusive if they are employed punitively or as an instrument of convenience.
- Physical neglect. Nursing homes must provide their residents with sufficient food, clothing, and care, which includes a safe, clean living environment. Neglect can lead to residents not receiving the things they need to stay healthy, which is considered a form of abuse.
Common examples of physical abuse in nursing homes can include:
- Hitting: This involves striking a resident with an open or closed hand, which can result in physical injury, bruising, or pain.
- Kicking: Some caregivers may resort to kicking residents, which can lead to severe injuries, fractures, or internal damage.
- Pushing: Pushing residents forcefully can cause them to fall, resulting in injuries such as broken bones, sprains, or head injuries.
- Slapping: Slapping residents can cause physical harm, pain, and visible injuries like bruising or swelling.
- Striking with objects: Caregivers may use objects to hit or strike residents, which can cause serious injuries, fractures, or lacerations.
- Burning: Deliberate burning of residents with hot objects or substances can lead to severe burns, scarring, and long-term pain.
- Unnecessary restraints (physical or chemical): Some nursing home staff may use physical restraints (such as belts or ties) or chemical restraints (sedative medications) without a legitimate medical reason, which is considered abuse.
- Overmedication: Administering excessive medication or sedatives to control or subdue residents is a form of physical abuse.
- Force-Feeding: Forcing residents to eat or drink against their will, often leading to choking or physical harm, is a form of abuse.
- Deprivation of Food or Water: Withholding food or water as a form of punishment is a serious violation of residents' rights.
- Denial of Medication: Refusing to administer necessary medications can have severe physical consequences for residents.
- Neglect of Basic Hygiene: Failure to provide residents with proper hygiene care, such as bathing, grooming, and changing clothes, can result in physical discomfort and health issues.
- Intentional Injuries: Deliberate actions, such as burning or cutting residents, constitute extreme forms of physical abuse.
- Inadequate Medical Care: Failing to address residents' medical needs promptly or appropriately can result in physical deterioration and harm.
- Rough Transfers: Mishandling residents during transfers from beds to chairs or vice versa can lead to falls and injuries.
Common Causes of Physical Abuse in New Mexico Nursing Homes
Sometimes, physical abuse is the result of malice. A facility staff member or another resident may simply wish to cause harm and target a vulnerable person.
Not all physical abuse in nursing homes is premeditated. Overworked staff members may become frustrated and resentful, leading to situations where they cause physical harm out of anger. Furthermore, if a facility is critically understaffed, physical neglect may be inevitable.
No matter the explanation, physical abuse, including neglect, is never justifiable. Our Albuquerque nursing home physical abuse attorneys can evaluate your loved one’s circumstances and review your legal options.
Signs of Physical Abuse in a New Mexico Nursing Home
Your loved one may not be able or willing to tell you about any physical abuse you have endured. You must be vigilant about looking for signals that could indicate your loved one has been harmed or continues to be in danger.
Warning signs of nursing home physical abuse include:
- Unexplained bruises, welts, or lacerations: Look for unexplained injuries, especially in areas of the body that are not typically prone to accidental bumps or falls, such as the face, neck, or genitals.
- Fractures or broken bones: Residents who suddenly have multiple fractures or broken bones without a clear explanation may be experiencing physical abuse.
- Burns: Unexplained burns, particularly if they appear to be from hot water, cigarettes, or other sources, can be a sign of abuse.
- Bedsores: Neglect or abuse can lead to bedsores or pressure ulsers, which are painful and can be a sign of improper care.
- Restraining marks: Straps, ropes, or other physical restraints can leave visible marks on a resident's wrists or ankles.
- Scratches or abrasions: Signs of scratching, pinching, or other abrasive injuries may indicate abuse.
- Fear or withdrawal: A resident who becomes withdrawn, fearful, or anxious around specific staff members may be experiencing abuse.
- Agitation or aggression: Some residents may display aggressive behavior as a response to abuse or frustration with their situation.
- Changes in medication: Unexplained changes in a resident's medication, such as increased sedation or inappropriate use of drugs, can be a sign of abuse.
- Infections or unexplained illnesses: Frequent or severe infections can be a sign of neglect or inadequate care.
- Malnutrition: Unexplained weight loss may result from inadequate food intake and can be a sign of physical abuse.
- Poor hygiene: Neglect may manifest as a lack of assistance with personal hygiene, dirty or unchanged clothing, or unsanitary living conditions.
- Dehydration: Inadequate fluid intake can lead to dehydration, which may result from neglect in providing residents with sufficient water.
- Caregiver's refusal to allow visits: A member of the facility’s staff who refuses to let you be alone with your loved one
- Inconsistent explanations: If the staff offers inconsistent or implausible explanations for a resident's injuries or condition, it may indicate abuse.
Who Is Responsible for Physical Abuse in New Mexico Nursing Homes?
Nursing home staff members, medical professionals, visitors, and other parties are generally liable for any physical abuse they perpetrate. Additionally, however, nursing homes must provide a safe, healthy environment and quality care to their residents. This includes implementing reasonable efforts to proactively prevent and stop any type of abuse. Therefore, facilities can also become liable for physical abuse perpetrated by staff or other residents if they fail to facilitate a safe environment or sufficiently address reports of misconduct. Understaffing a facility, overworking employees, undertraining staff, and ignoring reports of mistreatment are all actions that can potentially make a nursing home liable for physical abuse.
How the Harvey & Foote Law Firm Can Help
If there is evidence your loved one has been physically abused or neglected in a nursing home, but you are not sure what to do next, our team can provide tailored guidance and legal support. Our first priority is getting your loved one to safety. Then, we will help you report the abuse to the appropriate authorities, gather documentation, and get to work on your case against the negligent nursing home. Your loved one and your family may be entitled to compensation for damages, and we will always attempt to maximize what you recover.
Our Albuquerque nursing home physical abuse lawyers will work to hold the negligent facility accountable and get you compensation for:
- Past, current, and future medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
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