Nursing home neglect and abuse is a shameful and horrifying reality in some South Carolina long-term care facilities. Physical, emotional, sexual, or financial abuse at the hands of facility employees and administrators can cause serious harm to vulnerable residents.
If you suspect a loved one is being mistreated in a nursing home or long-term care facility, there are steps you can take to protect them while holding the facility and responsible parties accountable. Speak with a Walterboro nursing home abuse lawyer to determine the best steps to take to help your loved one. Our dedicated personal injury attorneys are prepared to guide you throughout the legal process.
Forms of Mistreatment in Nursing Homes
Residents of nursing homes and other long-term or assisted care facilities deserve to have their medical, physical, emotional, and social needs met. A failure to address any of these needs could constitute abuse or neglect.
Medical neglect occurs when a facility is not providing appropriate medical care to its residents. This form of mistreatment may take the form of depriving an individual of access to a doctor, administering too much or too little medication, withholding medication as a punishment or coercion tactic, or failing to ensure that patient has medical aids such as walkers, canes, glasses, hearing aids, or dentures.
Neglect can also take the form of failing to assist residents with daily personal care needs such as bathing or changing clothes and adult diapers. Not providing residents with regular meals and hydration or making sure they consume sufficient food and fluids can also be considered neglect.
Pursuant to South Carolina Code §35-53-10(8), physical abuse of vulnerable adults may involve slapping, pinching, punching, burning, kicking, or striking a nursing home resident.
Depriving an individual of food or water, sexually abusing them, or using medication to control their behavior is physical abuse under the law. Placing the patient in physical restraints without medical justification or for an excessive period is also considered physical abuse. If you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected in a long-term care facility, reach out to a dedicated lawyer in Walterboro today.
Indicators of Neglect or Abuse
Most residents in long-term care facilities are aging or dealing with serious medical issues, and some deterioration in their condition over time is often expected. However, you should monitor your loved one’s condition closely and ask pointed questions about their complaints, injuries, or unexpected changes in their physical, mental, or emotional state.
It is important to be familiar with the following signs of neglect or abuse:
- Change in demeanor, particularly increased agitation or fear
- Poor hygiene
- Bedsores or pressure ulcers
- Unexplained falls
- Repeated falls or wandering
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Broken bones, cuts, bruises
- Sexually transmitted diseases
If you have noticed any of these indicators, you should reach out to a nursing home abuse attorney right away.
Take Effective Action to Address Concerns
If your loved one is being abused in a nursing home, you should take immediate action. Bringing concerns to the facility administrator should be the first step. However, if the neglect or abuse seems to be part of a pattern of ill-treatment, additional steps may be appropriate.
South Carolina has a long-term care ombudsman—an official tasked with investigating claims of maltreatment in long-term care facilities. Their contact information is available on the state Department on Aging’s website. A seasoned lawyer could help you file a complaint with the ombudsman in your area.
South Carolina licenses nursing homes through the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). Consequently, you can register a complaint of abuse or neglect by calling DHEC or by emailing a complaint to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Department of Social Services in your county can also investigate reports of nursing home abuse through its Adult Protective Services Program. An experienced lawyer could help you understand your legal actions after learning your loved home has experienced nursing home abuse.
Speak with a Walterboro Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Knowing your vulnerable family member has been mistreated in a long-term care facility is infuriating. Our Walterboro nursing home abuse lawyers could help you ensure that your loved one is safe and take legal action on their behalf. Contact us today to set up your initial consultation and begin working on your case.