How to Report Nursing Home Abuse in Pennsylvania
Finding out that your elderly loved one has suffered abuse or neglect in a Pennsylvania nursing home, can leave you with many different feelings, such as shock, sadness, anger and frustration. When you place your loved one in a nursing home, you place your trust in that facility. You trust that the staff will take good care of your loved one, provide all the basic necessities, and treat your loved one with respect and dignity. When your trust is broken, and your elderly loved one ends up injured, neglected, or treated with disrespect, you may be unsure what you need to do first.
The first step you should take is to immediately report the nursing home abuse. In the Pennsylvania West Chester, Chester County and Philadelphia areas in Pennsylvania, you will report nursing home abuse to specific agencies. As a starting point, consider the following:
- If your loved one is in imminent danger, call the local police or 911 immediately.
- If there is no immediate danger, you might first want to contact the Pennsylvania Department of Health (800- 254-5164), as this agency can potentially provide additional resources. You can also send an email to DPH at firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out the agency’s online complaint form. In fact, DPH recommends taking the following steps when nursing home neglect or abuse occurs:
➢ First, speak to the Nursing Home Administrator or the Director of Nursing at the nursing home where your loved one resides. All nursing homes are required to have a system in place to both address your concerns and find an acceptable solution.
➢ If your concerns are not promptly addressed, your next step might be to contact the state Long-Term Care Ombudsman at the Pennsylvania Department of Aging: (717) 783-8975.
➢ In the state of Pennsylvania, an ombudsman is also available on the local level, at each Area Agency on Aging to investigate and help resolve any complaints regarding nursing home abuse. In the Philadelphia area, contact the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging at (215) 765-9000, or go to their website at http://www.pcacares.org/. In Chester County, contact (610) 344-6350 or go to the website at http://www.chessco.org/aging.
- After reporting the abuse to the authorities, you should immediately contact an experienced Pennsylvania nursing home abuse and neglect attorney from the Ciccarelli Law Offices. Particularly in cases when the nursing home administrator fails to provide you with satisfactory answers as to why your loved one was injured, our knowledgeable attorneys can help you understand what legal rights your loved one has, and will ensure a thorough investigation into the incident is conducted.
How Prevalent is Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?
According to nursinghomeabuse.org, as many as five million elders are abused each year, whether in their own home, in a relative’s home or in a nursing home. One study found that nearly a quarter of all nursing home residents have experienced at least one instance of physical abuse while residing in the facility. Since an extremely large number of those who are abused or neglected ever report, it is difficult to determine exactly how often nursing home abuse actually occurs. The elderly are particularly vulnerable, and often physically frail. They are dependent on others for their every need, including food, water, hygiene, medical care and medications. Because of this, elderly nursing home residents can be intimidated or threatened into not reporting abuse and neglect. Other elderly residents may not be mentally capable of reporting the abuse.
Physical nursing home abuse is definitely the most prevalent, followed by psychological abuse, gross neglect, sexual abuse and financial exploitation. Although elderly men and women are both at risk for nursing home abuse and neglect, women are more likely to be physically abused, and those with mental impairments are especially vulnerable—as many as half of all those with dementia are neglected or abused. Unfortunately, nursing home residents who come from a lower socioeconomic status are also more likely to be abused and neglected, as well as those who do not have frequent visits from family or friends. Nursing homes may also facilitate environments which create an increased risk of elder abuse, due to understaffing, burnout, staff resentment, or even ineffective administration and policies.
Neglect and Abuse in Nursing Homes
While physical abuse can consist of pushing, shoving, pinching, slapping or hitting an elderly resident, there are many other forms of abuse and neglect. As noted, elderly nursing home patients are heavily dependent on others for their most basic needs. There are four basic types of nursing home neglect, including:
- Medical Neglect—a failure on the part of nursing home staff to either adequately attend to or prevent medical issues, including cognitive disorders, bedsores, infections, lacerations, mobility issues and diabetes.
- Social or Emotional Neglect—When a nursing home resident is continuously left alone and ignored, or yelled or cursed at by overstressed staff, they can suffer severe emotional trauma. All patients have the right to take part in nursing home activities to the extent they are capable of, to have someone talk to them daily, and to be free from verbal harassment.
- Neglect of Basic Needs—Every nursing home resident has the right to have good meals and plenty of water on a regular basis.
- Neglect of Personal Hygiene—Many nursing home residents are unable to bathe themselves, do their own laundry, change into clean clothes daily, change their bedding or even brush their own teeth. They require assistance for all these tasks, and when that assistance is withheld, the resident suffers a loss of dignity.
Warning signs of neglect can be subtle, and family members may not always see the signs right away. Behavioral changes might be explained away by nursing staff as being related to dementia or Alzheimer’s, therefore it can take some time for loved ones to realize neglect or abuse is ongoing. Some common symptoms of nursing home neglect include malnutrition, bedsores, frequent infections, sudden weight loss, falls, dehydration, frequent injuries, withdrawn behavior or significant alterations in appearance or personal hygiene.
Getting the Help You Need from the Ciccarelli Law Offices
Our highly experienced attorneys believe your loved one deserves an aggressive advocate in his or her corner, and we want to be that advocate. If your elderly loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact the Ciccarelli Law Offices today. Nursing home abuse cases can be complex—call (610) 692-8700 or (877) 529-2422.
When you need a team of experienced Pennsylvania nursing home neglect and injury lawyers, Contact the Ciccarelli Law Offices by email or phone at (610) 692-8700 or (877) 529-2422. We represent nursing home injury clients throughout the greater Philadelphia area including Chester County, Bucks County, Delaware County, Berks County, Lancaster County and Montgomery County. We offer multiple office meeting locations, home visits and hospital visits and serve clients in many locations including Philadelphia, Lancaster, West Chester, Reading, Downingtown, Coatesville, Kennett Square, Exton, Honey Brook, and Oxford.