How to Identify and Report Nursing Home Abuse in Pennsylvania

Written by Atlee Hall

When you make the difficult decision to entrust an elderly loved one’s care to a nursing home facility, you expect them to be looked after and attended to. Unfortunately, abuse can happen anywhere.

If a family member is in an assisted care facility such as a nursing home and you suspect abuse, you have options to seek justice. You may be able to recover compensation for your loved one’s suffering.

What Does Nursing Home Abuse Look Like?

Nursing homes are inspected yearly by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and survey reports are available to the public online. You can also see a record of state-imposed sanctions on facilities.

These reports can be helpful in guiding your family’s choice of care facility, but they don’t capture a complete picture of the standard of care a nursing home will provide. Abuse can happen even at highly rated facilities.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse can take many forms, from physical harm to emotional neglect. Types of negligence include:

  • Physical or sexual assault – One of the most heinous types of abuse is physical or sexual assault of elders by staff and even other facility residents.
  • Financial abuse – This type of abuse frequently goes unreported and can be easily overlooked. It can happen when caregivers steal cash and credit/debit cards or get access to a resident’s retirement or social security funds.
  • Psychological manipulation – Mental and emotional abuse is often swept under the rug by nursing home staff and administrators. It can be verbal shouting and intimidation or nonverbal isolation or abandonment of residents.

Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse can be tough to spot, so it’s important to recognize the signs and know what to do if you suspect abuse. Warning signs include:

  • Unexplained physical injuries such as bruises
  • Bedsores on the skin from not being turned regularly
  • Sudden changes in temperament or personality
  • Withdrawal from daily activities or increased depression
  • Drastic changes in weight
  • Evidence of medication errors
  • Missing money or suspicious withdrawals from bank accounts

These are only a few possible indicators your loved one is being abused. Contact an attorney immediately if you notice anything unusual about the elder’s behavior or physical evidence of neglect or mistreatment.

How Does Nursing Home Abuse Happen?

Nursing home abuse can happen for many reasons, such as improper training. Another significant factor is understaffing, which is a problem for many facilities across the country. Regardless of the cause, it’s critical to hold negligent caregivers and facilities accountable for their wrongdoing.

How to Report Nursing Home Abuse

If you suspect your loved one is experiencing abuse in a nursing home, you can file a complaint online with the state Department of Health. The form will ask you to provide the following information:

  • Your name and contact information
  • Your relationship to the patient you’re filing on behalf of
  • Your loved one’s name
  • The name and address of the facility you’re reporting
  • Details of the complaint and whether concerns have been discussed with the facility’s administration or staff

You can also request confidentiality when filing a complaint so the facility will not be informed who lodged it.

Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Abuse?

You can sue a nursing home and pursue compensation for your loved one’s injuries if they were abused. However, you shouldn’t attempt to take on the facility on your own. Nursing homes are typically heavily insured, and their representation will try to deflect their liability.

When you seek a settlement or lawsuit verdict, you can recover compensation for losses such as:

  • Current and future medical bills
  • Long-term care expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental and emotional anguish
  • Permanent impairment

Suppose your loved one passed away due to the neglect they suffered in a nursing home. In that case, you may be able to recover compensation for wrongful death to cover funeral expenses and non-economic damages for your family’s grief.

Was Your Loved One Abused in a Nursing Home? Call Atlee Hall Today

The nursing home abuse lawyers of Atlee Hall have decades of experience representing victims of abuse in Pennsylvania. Our team will hear your story, investigate what happened to your loved one, and fight for justice.

Call (717) 393-9596 today or contact us online to schedule a free case consultation.