Oklahoma Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
It is difficult to imagine how anyone could harm a person entrusted to his or her care, particularly when the patient is a vulnerable senior citizen. Despite this, the sad truth is that elder abuse is a common problem across the US. Even in professionally run nursing homes, where families are promised that their loved ones will receive quality medical care, cases of abuse are reported every year.
If you have evidence of abuse and wish to take action against the parties who have harmed your elderly relative, the Abel Law Firm is here to help. Our experienced Oklahoma nursing home malpractice attorneys can help you fight back on behalf of your loved one. To learn more about the rights of nursing home patients and their families, call us at (405) 239-7046.
If you suspect that a loved one is being mistreated by nursing home staff, you may want to speak with an elder care professional. Even if your fears are unfounded, an investigation can bring you peace of mind – while reminding medical staff that someone is looking after your relative. To report suspected abuse to Oklahoma’s Adult Protective Services, you can contact the Statewide Abuse Hotline at (800) 522-3511.
Nursing Home Abuse Warning Signs
While abuse can be obvious to outside observers, it can also be subtle and hard to detect. This is especially true in nursing homes, where patients’ relatives may not be able to see them on a daily or even a weekly basis. You may want to discuss your options with our Oklahoma nursing home negligence lawyers if you have noticed “red flags” such as:
- Staff members who are unwilling to answer questions or let you tour certain areas
- Unexplained bruises, cuts, or other injuries on your loved one
- Deterioration in your loved one’s health not explained by pre-existing conditions
- Signs of trauma in your loved one (regressive behavior, sudden aggression, social withdrawal)
- Unnecessary restraints or overmedication
If any form of abuse or neglect has occurred, your family deserves adequate compensation to get your relative the care he or she needs. We can help you fight for justice on behalf of your family.
Frequently Asked Questions
How is elder abuse defined?
When nursing homes (or family members, spouses, or adult children) take over the care of our loved ones, sometimes these centers may not treat our elders with the respect and proper care that they deserve. Elder abuse covers a wide area of abuse, but it can include physical, sexual, or emotional abuse of the elder. It can also include confinement, which is where an elder is restrained or isolated other than for medical reasons. It can also include passive neglect (failure to provide food, clothing, or other necessities), and willful deprivation (denying other care, medical devices, or other physical assistance unless the elder has expressed desire to go without it). Financial exploitation, or the misusing or withholding an older adult’s resources, is another common abuse issue. Any of these forms of elder abuse can lead to permanent physical and mental damages in your loved ones.
Can abusers face any criminal penalties?
Most states have penalties for anyone who victimizes or abuses older adults. In Oklahoma, it is a criminal activity to abuse elders. It best to check with an attorney to find out what an abuser’s punishment could be in Oklahoma. More and more law enforcement officers and prosecutors are being trained on elder abuse, and the ways to utilize criminal and civil laws so that abusers can be brought to justice. The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) compiles elder justice laws, statistics, and other state resources on their website.
Is elder abuse common in the United States?
The National Council on Aging reports that about one in ten Americans that are at or over the age of 60 have faced abuse ins some form. This puts the estimate at as high as 5 million elderly people who face abuse each year. Another NCOA study estimates that only one in fourteen cases of elder abuse are even reported to authorities. Since elders are vulnerable to abuse by not only the nursing homes but also by family members, elder abuse occurs almost more often than not in any caretaker/elder relationship. The NCOA further states that in nearly 60% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is typically a family member. The abuser can be any gender, and two-thirds of perpetrators are adult children or spouses.
Are some people more vulnerable to elder abuse than others?
Some medical issues can make an older adult more vulnerable to abuse, including social isolation and mental impairment. For instance, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can be included in this list. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) states that some recent studies show that nearly half of those with dementia experienced abuse or neglect. The NCOA further reports that interpersonal violence occurs at somewhat higher rates among adults that have disabilities, which is rather unsettling.
How can someone report elder abuse?
It is recommended to call 911 if an older adult is in immediate danger. If anyone suspects that an older adult is being mistreated, they should contact a local Adult Protective Services office, a long-term care ombudsman or the police. For further information on various scenarios and ways to get help in elder abuse situations, contact the NCEA. Or you can go to the Eldercare Locator website, which was created by the U.S. Administration on Aging to connect the public to services for older adults. They can be reached at 1-800-677-1116.
For more information, see: http://eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Index.aspx
U.S. Nursing Home and Long-Term Care Facility Abuse – Statistics
Elder abuse can occur in community settings like private homes as well as institutional settings like nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Elder abuse brought national public attention in the 1970s when facilities were relatively unregulated and had little oversight. The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) has reported that in 2014, nursing home residents totaled approximately 1.4 million, and the number of residents in residential care communities was 835,200.
Listed below is research related to abuse in long-term care facilities:
- In 2014, the National Ombudsman Reporting System (NORS), 14,258 (7.6%) of approximately 188,599 complaints that were reported to Ombudsman programs involved some type of abuse, exploitation, or neglect.
- In May 2008, a study conducted by the U.S. General Accountability Office showed that state surveys understate major problems in licensed facilities. 70 percent of state surveys typically miss at least one deficiency, and 15 percent of the surveys miss actual harm of a nursing home resident.
- Now more common than physical abuse by staff, abuse of older residents by other residents in long-term care facilities is considered a major problem.
See https://ncea.acl.gov/whatwedo/research/statistics.html to learn more.
Elderly Population Growth Rate and More Statistics
The U.S. elderly population has been growing at a dramatic rate. The 2010 census has determined that more than 40 million people in the U.S. (more than 13% of the population) are over 65 years old. Further, nearly 6 million individuals in that group are over 85 years old.
From this oldest age group, the portion of this population is expected to increase to 19% of the population over the next 40 years. As a result, this population growth has created an equivalent increase in the number of elderly residents that will be in nursing and elder care facilities. Without an action plan, elder abuse statistics will more than likely rise with this growth of the elderly population. Listed below are some alarming statistics:
- Almost a third of all nursing homes violated Federal standards designed to keep their residents safe between 1999 and 2001.
- Of those, almost one in ten had egregious violations that could have injured or killed a resident.
- Almost all nursing home residents (90%) have seen one of their peers neglected and over 40% of nursing home residents have reported some form of abuse.
- Almost half of the people who care for the elderly admit to having abused or neglected their patients.
- In a study, more than 50% of Certified Nursing Assistants admitted that they have verbally abused, yelled at, or used foul language towards their patients.
These statistics are shocking and certainly a cause for concern. It is important to uncover any unhealthy or abusive living conditions your loved one may be experiencing. If you suspect something like this may be happening to someone you know, our attorneys may be able to help.
Oklahoma nursing home abuse attorney Ed Abel and his team at the Abel Law Firm are dedicated to protecting senior citizens’ rights. To discuss your grounds for legal action, contact us at (405) 239-7046.