The questions on this page were answered by our team of Virginia Beach & Norfolk personal injury attorneys. The questions are categorized by practice area such as car accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death, etc. If you have specific questions about your situation, contact our firm to set up a free consultation with an actual attorney.
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What are the signs a nursing home resident is being overmedicated?
- Appearing to be “out of it”
- Becoming easily confused
- Changes in the resident’s appetite
- Excessive fatigue
- Sleeping more than usual
- Sudden withdrawal from everyone
- Unexplained changes in personality
- Unexplained medical complications
- Unusual physical symptoms
How often does overmedication in nursing homes happen?
According to an investigation by NPR, there are approximately 300,000 American nursing home residents are currently being given antipsychotic medication. These medications were developed for treatment of conditions like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia; however, nursing homes often give it to dementia patients as a way to sedate them. This exposes these residents to dangerous side effects such as heart attack risk, risk of infection, and death. Keep in mind that overmedicating a patient is a form of physical abuse.
What should a family do if they suspect their loved one is a victim of nursing home overmedication?
If a family suspects their loved one is being overmedicated, they should contact a nursing home abuse attorney to find out what legal recourse they have for justice. In addition to civil legal action against the nursing home and staff, the attorney may advise the family to report the overmedication to the appropriate municipal, state, and/or federal agencies. The attorney may also recommend filing a criminal complaint with law enforcement depending on the circumstances of the abuse.
How many senior citizens are exposed to abuse each year, with some leading to serious personal injury?National statistics state that 5 million American seniors are victims of some type of abuse annually. If you suspect your loved one has been abused physically or sexually at home or in a nursing home, you should contact the police, and eventually a elder abuse attorney to consider legal steps.
What are some of the most common negligent acts in North Carolina nursing home abuse cases?The most common include inadequate resident hygiene standards; inattention to injuries or illnesses; mismanaged medication; not giving appropriate clothing; not giving enough food and water; and prolonged isolation of residents.
What are the risk factors for seniors and sexual abuse?
Any resident of a nursing home is at risk; however, studies show the following factors causes that risk to spike:
- Seniors who have no support system in place, such as family or friends
- Seniors who suffer from dementia. Statistics reveal that almost 50 percent of dementia patients have suffered some form of abuse.
- Seniors who have already experienced sexual assault, domestic violence, or other trauma in their past.
- Seniors who are in poor health or are functionally impaired.
How common is sexual abuse of the elderly?
All forms of elderly abuse are tragic, but sexual abuse of the elderly is far too common. According to an investigation conducted by CNN in 2017, there were more than 16,000 sexual abuse complaints filed on behalf of nursing home victims between 2013 and 2017. During that same time frame, more than 1,000 nursing homes were cited by the federal government for mishandling reports of sexual abuse or failing to prevent incidents. More than 100 facilities were cited multiple times.
How prevalent is elder abuse in the U.S.?
As the baby boomer generation begins to reach retirement age, the number of seniors has significantly increased over the past few years. Unfortunately, this also means that the number of seniors who suffer abuse has also increased. According to statistics from the federal government, approximately five million elderly people are abused every year. It is estimated that at least 10 percent of seniors have experienced some type of abuse. Only one in every 14 cases is actually reported.
What are some of the common forms of nursing home neglect and abuse?The most common forms are physical and sexual assault; bedsores; infection; overmedication; involuntary physical restraint; preventable injuries such as falls; dehydration and malnutrition; and failure to give proper medical care.
I want to file a complaint about a nursing home with the Commonwealth of Virginia because I am worried about how they are caring for my family member. How do I file a complaint and will the nursing home find out that I complained?
In Virginia, you would file a complaint with the Department of Health Professions. You can submit a complaint in writing and mail, fax, e-mail, or hand-deliver it. You can download the complaint form here. You can also call 1-800-533-1560 and phone in a complaint. Finally, you can make a complaint in person at a department location during business hours.
It’s understandable that you are worried the nursing home will find out you filed a complaint. The fear of retaliation against the family member who may already be receiving substandard care is enough to prevent some people from filing a complain all together. We must stress that if you think a nursing home isn’t taking care of its residents or is violating the law, you should file a complaint. Complaints can be filed anonymously, though depending on the circumstances of the Department’s investigation, eventually your identity may have to be revealed.
While a complaint will alert authorities to the nursing home’s possible abuse, it will not provide compensation for your family member if he or she was already a victim of abuse. The Department can take regulatory and legal action against the nursing home – including shutting it down if violations warrant it – but the Department’s action is separate from a nursing home abuse lawsuit that would compensate your family member. If your family member has been the victim of neglect or abuse, contact our firm to talk to a lawyer who can help you evaluate your claim.