There are currently 1.4 million individuals residing in nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the country. In the coming decades, that number is expected to increase significantly as those from the Baby Boomer generation age and begin to require daily medical attention.
While many nursing home facilities provide the care residents need, that is not always the case. For victims of abuse or neglect in Ohio, a Columbus nursing home abuse lawyer from Bey & Associates, LLC may be able to help.
Ensuring the safety of your loved one in a nursing home is paramount. While visiting often, checking in though phone calls, and inquiring about how often state inspections are conducted can help protect your loved one, there are some situations that are beyond your control. That is why you have the right to take legal action when your family member is harmed in their long-term care facility.
Bey & Associates, LLC advocates for victims of nursing home abuse and their families. If you suspect your loved one has suffered in their facility and are trying to determine what steps to take to help them recover, our attorneys can review your situation and explain your legal rights and options.
Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care Facilities in Columbus
According to the Ohio Health Care Association, as of 2019 there were 978 skilled nursing facilities, 774 assisted living facilities, and 336 intermediate care facilities in Ohio. As with the rest of the country, the number of Ohioans 65 and older is expected to increase. Over the next 20 years, the number will double and by 2040 those over 65 in Ohio will triple. By 2050, it’s projected that those over 85 will quadruple.
If you’re in the process of finding your loved one a nursing home, Medicare offers a Nursing Home Compare tool that lets you look at the facilities in your area. The nursing homes are given an overall rating, which is based on health inspection reports, staffing, and quality measures.
In Columbus, there are 15 nursing homes. Of those facilities, six have been rated as much below average, with abuse being reported at one facility. Using the Nursing Home Compare tool can help you determine which facility will provide your loved one with the care they need to live as high a quality of life as possible.
Recognizing the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Even if you choose a facility with a high rating, there’s still a chance your loved one could suffer abuse or neglect at the hands of staff members or other residents. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the types of common abuse in long-term care facilities, as well as what the signs of abuse and neglect are.
To get an idea of how to spot instances of negligence in a nursing home, you first have to understand what the difference is between abuse and neglect. Abuse is an intentional infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, or intimidation—which results in physical harm, pain, or mental suffering. Neglect, on the other hand, is the failure to provide a person with the care and services they need to avoid harm or pain. Neglect is more likely to happen when a facility is understaffed or inadequately trained.
Nursing home abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, or financial. Physical abuse, which is generally the most common, happens when a staff member kicks, hits, pushes, punches, or shakes a resident. Tranquilizing medications and physical restraints are also a form of physical abuse. If your loved one is being physically abused, you may notice unexplained injuries like bruises, lacerations, broken bones, or head trauma.
Emotional abuse can affect a resident in multiple ways. They may become extremely withdrawn or noncommunicative. You may notice they are reluctant to speak to you or they act differently around staff members. Examples of emotional abuse include belittlement, threats, and social isolation.
Sexual abuse happens anytime a resident is forced to participate in a sexual act against their will. When a resident is sexually abused, statistics show that the incident is rarely reported. Because of this, it’s crucial to be aware of the signs of abuse, which include pelvic injuries, developing a sexually transmitted disease, torn or stained clothing, signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicide attempts.
Financial exploitation is possible if a staff member convinces a resident to give them banking information or if they choose to steal belongings. It’s important to keep an eye on your loved one’s finances and an accurate record of their belongings. In the event something is missing, report the matter to the facility immediately.
No matter what type of abuse your loved one has been forced to endure, a Columbus nursing home abuse lawyer can investigate the incident and help you file a claim to seek compensation for your loved one’s losses. We understand how challenging it can be to discover your loved one has been mistreated or abused, which is why we’ll support you through every step of the claims process.
Reporting Nursing Home Abuse in Columbus
The moment you suspect your loved is being abused in their care home, you’ll want to report the matter to management. This way, there will be an accurate record of when you first noticed potential abuse. From there, the facility’s next steps will depend on the situation. If necessary, you have the right to remove your loved one from their facility.
After you report the matter to the facility, there are other ways you can report the abuse in Ohio. Your first option is to call the Ohio Department of Health Complaint Hotline. The hotline, which is available 24/7 and covered by real-time intake staff during normal business hours will make note of the complaint and determine if an investigation is needed. You also have the option of emailing the Ohio Department of Health or filling out an official complaint form.
Once the Ohio Department of Health has the complaint, they will send out a letter of acknowledgment. They send an additional letter giving notice of the outcome once the investigation has been completed. Once you’ve submitted your claim with them, you’ll want to get in touch with a Columbus nursing home abuse attorney to determine what steps to take next.
Protect Your Loved One With a Nursing Home Abuse Claim
While the nursing home facility charged with the care of your loved one should ensure their safety and wellbeing are kept intact, this doesn’t always happen. When that’s the case, you have the right to file a nursing home abuse claim on their behalf to hold the facility or negligent employee accountable for the suffering your loved one wrongfully endured.
If you think you may have a personal injury claim, you’ll want to get in touch with a lawyer from Bey & Associates, LLC. Once you do, they will begin by assessing the situation and determining if there are grounds for a legal claim. They will review your loved one’s medical records and take a look at the facility’s history of care through inspection reports. If they believe negligence is apparent, you can begin building a claim.
To prove negligence occurred, your attorney will likely consult the Ohio Nursing Home Bill of Rights to determine how your family member’s rights were violated. Depending on the situation, they may also find evidence of civil rights violations, consumer protection violations, licensing violations, or criminal culpability.
Once you’ve filed your claim, negotiations can begin. At this stage, it’s likely your lawyer will meet with the facility’s legal team to determine if a settlement is possible. In the event the nursing home tries to settle for less than your family deserves, or they disagree with the claim entirely, your next option would be to take the matter to court with a lawsuit.
It’s important to note that filing a successful claim is dependent upon a number of factors—including abiding by the statute of limitations. In Ohio, you only have one year from the date you knew the harm occurred to bring a lawsuit forward. If you miss that deadline, your loved one will be ineligible for any compensation.
Seek Legal Guidance From Bey & Associates, LLC
If you suspect or have recently learned your loved one has been mistreated in their long-term care facility, it’s time to get in touch with a Columbus nursing home abuse lawyer. While filing an official report will make the incident known and ensure the facility is investigated, doing so doesn’t always result in compensation to help your loved one recover.
Bey & Associates, LLC understands the physical, emotional, and financial ramifications of nursing home abuse, which is why we strive to help clients recover a full and fair monetary award. Not only will receiving compensation help your loved one recover from any physical injuries, but you’ll also be able to ensure they receive the care they need and deserve at a different facility.
While filing a claim can take time, it’s often the best way to hold the facility accountable for their negligence. Our attorneys will guide you through the process, explain your legal rights and options every step of the way, and fight for your loved one’s compensation. To learn more about filing or to get started with a claim, contact us today.