Physical Abuse in the Nursing Home

When most people think of abuse, whether they think of spousal abuse, child abuse, or even animal abuse, they think of physical abuse. Physical abuse can occur in many different settings, including nursing homes. When physical abuse occurs in a nursing home, the victim is not always able to fight back or speak up about his or her treatment. This is why it is critical for family members and other loved ones of nursing home residents to learn to recognize the symptoms of physical abuse and what to do if they suspect their loved ones are victims.

As an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer, I can help you be a strong advocate for your loved one. If you suspect he or she is suffering from physical abuse or any other type of abuse, such as emotional or financial abuse, contact my office to discuss the best way to pursue justice for your loved one and potentially recover compensation for his or her damages through a nursing home abuse claim. I have handled many nursing home abuse claims as well as other types of medical malpractice claim since starting my practice in 1982.

Examples of Physical Abuse that Can Occur in a Nursing Home

Physical abuse includes actions like hitting, kicking and shoving a victim, but it is not limited to these. It can also include the intentional deprivation of food, water, or medical treatment. Basically, any act that intentionally causes bodily harm to a victim is a form of physical abuse.

Examples of physical abuse that can occur in a nursing home include:

  • Hitting the victim
  • Burning the victim
  • Failing to provide the victim with medical attention when necessary, in either an emergency situation or simply failing to provide him or her with daily medication
  • Kicking a victim
  • Physically restraining a victim against his or her will if it is not necessary to prevent him or her from harming him- or herself
  • Force feeding a resident
  • Tossing a resident onto his or her bed, into his or her wheelchair, or into any other piece of furniture
  • Pushing a resident
Sexual Abuse in a Nursing Home

Although sexual abuse is often considered to be a separate type of mistreatment from physical abuse, the two can overlap. Both involve harm to the victim’s body without his or her consent and can have a lasting impact on his or her overall health. However, physical abuse can occur without sexual abuse and in some cases, sexual abuse can occur independently of physical abuse.

Examples of sexual abuse that can occur in a nursing home include:

  • Forcing a resident to strip naked
  • Forcing or coercing a resident to engage in sexual activity
  • Touching a resident in a sexual manner without his or her consent
  • Sexual harassment, such as attempting to exchange favorable treatment for sexual activity
  • Rape
  • Photographing residents in sexual or provocative poses without their consent
The Effects of Physical and Sexual Abuse

Physical and sexual abuse can both have a significant impact on a victim. These effects can be both physical and psychological.

Psychological effects of physical and sexual abuse can include the following:

  • A change in personality, such as becoming withdrawn, irritable, fearful, anxious, or depressed
  • Changes to the victim’s mental health, such as the development of a post-traumatic stress disorder or depression
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Learned helplessness
  • A loss of interest in hobbies and activities he or she previously enjoyed
  • Mood swings

The physical effects of abuse include:

  • Bruises, cuts, and scratches on the victim’s body. In cases of sexual abuse, these may be on his or her inner thighs or genital area;
  • A change to the victim’s physical health, such as a worsened health condition
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Broken bones
  • In cases of sexual abuse, vaginal or anal bleeding
  • In cases of sexual abuse, a sexually transmitted disease
  • Difficulty sitting, walking, or with other types of movement

Both types of abuse can have a long-term impact on a victim’s health as well. It can shorten a victim’s life or cause chronic conditions to become worse, potentially to a point from which the victim cannot recover. New injuries suffered as a result of abuse can complicate existing injuries and conditions.

Protect your Loved One from Physical Abuse in the Nursing Home

Visit your loved one in the nursing home frequently. During these visits, talk to him or her about the care he or she receives and if you notice any changes in his or her physical health or demeanor, ask about them. Discuss these changes with your loved one and with his or her caregivers to determine their cause. Sometimes, bruising, weight loss and emotional changes are side effects of medication or complications stemming from a health condition.

Discuss your concerns with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer to determine if filing a nursing home abuse claim with the California Department of Public Health Licensing and Certification program would be the most effective course of action. You will need to demonstrate that your loved one was a victim of abuse through evidence like photographs, testimonies from your loved one and others who witnesses the abuse, and a copy of his or her medical record.

California Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento nursing home abuse lawyer. If you or a loved one has suffered negligence and/or abuse in a nursing home setting, please give me a call at 916.921.6400 or 800.404.5400 for free, friendly and no obligation advice.

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Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 5.14.19]

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