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Nursing Home Abuse

Georgia Slow to Investigate Nursing Home Abuse Claims

According to a federal watchdog agency, Georgia ranked as one of the worst states for timely investigations into claims of nursing home abuse last year. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Georgia nursing home residents at imminent risk of serious injury or death due to abuse are not able to rely upon the proper state agencies to investigate in a timely manner. Federal law requires that state agencies investigate these types of claims within two days of receiving the complaint, but Georgia took as many as fifteen days before sending an investigator to look into the claims.

The federal agency reported that only Tennessee did worse in response times to claims of nursing home abuse, while almost every other state was able to meet the federally mandated requirements. Georgia and Tennessee accounted for over half of the late responses for investigation nationwide. In 2015, the two states received 912 reports of nursing home residents in immediate danger due to abuse and were late in investigating 654 of those claims. As of early 2017, Georgia had a backlog of 140 abuse and neglect reports it had yet to investigate.

The Georgia state agency has blamed a number of things on its lagging response times, including a high turnover rate, job vacancies, and low pay for the positions needed at the agency that oversees Georgia nursing homes, the Department of Community Health. A spokesperson for the agency claims that the initial backlog in 2017 has been dealt with due to an infusion of state funds. However, the number of claims classified as the most severe – those indicating imminent injury or death – are on the rise in Georgia, seeing a 38 percent increase in the number of those types of complaints between 2011 and 2015. Georgia can face federal sanctions if the agency continues to fail to meet investigation deadlines.

Legal Options for Nursing Home Abuse 

Despite reports of lagging investigations by state officials, the victims and families of victims of nursing home abuse have legal options for holding these nursing home facilities accountable for their actions. Civil lawsuits can be filed against the facility and individual caregivers, staff, and administrators for damages. Compensation for nursing home abuse includes economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include payment for current and future medical bills stemming from the injuries caused by the abuse. Noneconomic damages include payment for pain and suffering, emotional distress, disability, disfigurement, and the loss of enjoyment of life up to $350,000. For the most egregious cases of nursing home abuse, the victim may also be awarded punitive damages up to $250,000 as an additional punishment for the wrongdoer and to deter other facilities from committing similar offenses.

Contact a Lawyer Today

Has your loved one been abused at a nursing home facility? They may be entitled to compensation for nursing home abuse, and the office of Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law can help. Call the office or contact us today to schedule a free review of your claims.

Nanny Cam Catches Nursing Home Abuse

Two women have been charged with nursing home abuse after a hidden nanny cam caught their physical assaults on tape. William John Parks, 89, lived at the Lynn Haven Health & Rehabilitation nursing home in Gray, Georgia. His family became concerned about possible abuse and installed a hidden nanny camera in his room. Earlier this year, the camera caught both the physical and emotional abuse of Parks by two nursing home staff when he was recovering from pneumonia and needed extra care with feeding and personal hygiene.

Vonshell Napier, 37, and Beverly Jackson, 45, were caught on camera abusing Parks in his room. One instance involving Parks struggling to keep his dentures in while eating, and one woman smacked him in the face to keep his dentures in. He was hit in the face again when he accidentally spit some food out while being hoisted into a lift. Other instances of abuse saw the women getting in his face, swearing at Parks, threatening to strike him, and pulling back their hands as to hit him. Napier was arrested and charged with four counts of elder abuse and Jackson was charged with one count of the same crime. They were suspended from their jobs and later fired from the nursing home. Parks died later that year.

Nursing Home Physical Abuse

Unfortunately, nursing home physical abuse takes place far more often than people realize. Physical abuse against nursing home residents can take the form of bites, scratches, burns, pushing, shoving, being hit or slapped, threats or assaults with weapons, and the inappropriate use of restraints. Signs of physical abuse in nursing homes can include cigarette or scalding burns, rope or strap abrasions, internal injuries, multicolored or wrap around bruises on the wrists, upper arms, or ankles, traumatic hair or tooth loss, sprains, broken bones, and dislocated joints.

If you suspect that nursing home staff is committing physical abuse, look for delays between the actual injury and medical care, a history of hospitalizations for similar injuries, varied or incongruent explanations for how the injuries occurred, unexplained or unlikely explanations for injuries, visits to different medical institutions, tense or strained relationships, and unexplained withdrawal from social interactions. Elderly women and residents over the age of eighty years are the most at risk for physical abuse, and residents are 300 percent more likely to die within three years following the abuse. Unfortunately, only one in six nursing home residents actually report their abuse, so it is vitally important that their family and loved ones watch for the signs of physical abuse during visits to the nursing home.

Contact Julie A. Rice Now

If you suspect that nursing home staff and administrators are committing physical abuse against your loved one, the time to act is now. Call or contact Julie A. Rice today in Atlanta for an immediate consultation of your claims to determine what legal actions we can take to protect your loved one living in a nursing home.

Former Model Eaten Alive By Scabies in Nursing Home

A former model living in a Georgia nursing home died from a massive scabies infestation that ate her alive over the course of months or years. Rebecca Zeni, 93, died in 2015 from a scabies outbreak at the facility. Her official cause of death was septicemia due to crusted scabies, and despite being notified several times about the scabies infestation at the nursing home facility did not inspect it. The forensic pathologist who reviewed the case stated that Zeni was infested with millions of scabies parasites at the time of her death.

Zeni’s daughter moved her to the nursing home facility in 2010 after she was diagnosed with dementia. Scabies is a painful condition where parasite mites burrow into the skin to lay their eggs and survive on the body. The infestation was so bad for Zeni that one of her hands was blackened with the infestation and staff was warned not to touch it, for fear that her hand would fall off. The former chief medical officer of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation claimed it was one of the most horrendous things he had ever seen in his career as a forensic pathologist. He reported that Zeni most likely died a long and painful death over the course of months or years.

Despite the multiple reports of scabies, the Georgia state health department did not inspect the facility and instead just emailed the facility a guide on how to treat scabies. Eleven days later, Zeni died. The nursing home’s logs reported multiple cases of scabies throughout 2013, 2014, and 2015 prior to Zeni’s death. The nursing home has denied all culpability in her death.

Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse takes many forms, including through the lack of care, hygiene, and attention to patients. Claims of nursing home abuse are taken very seriously, and residents harmed by their caretakers are entitled to compensation for the injuries caused. Damages for nursing home abuse includes compensation for current and future medical bills, pain and suffering, emotional distress, disability, and disfigurement. For the most serious cases, where a nursing home resident dies as a result of the abuse, the family of the victim can also sue the facility for wrongful death. This includes compensation for burial and funeral costs, any final medical bills, and for the loss of companionship, love, and security of their loved one. An experienced nursing home abuse attorney can review the facts of your case and advise you as to whether you have a viable claim against the nursing home facility for abuse of your loved one. 

Contact Our Office Today

Do you suspect that the nursing home where your loved one is residing has abused them? If so, you may have a claim against them for nursing home abuse. Call the office or contact Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law today to schedule a free review of your case to determine whether your family member has been abused.

What is Nursing Home Abuse?

With the Baby Boomer generation entering their final stages of life, the number of nursing home residents is higher than it has ever been before in the United States. While we expect that our elderly loved ones will be treated with care and respect while living in a nursing home facility, that is unfortunately not always the case. It is estimated that nearly ten percent of all nursing home residents are abused and neglected by their caretakers, meaning that nearly 150,000 people are subjected to torment and abuse, and even more are suspected of going unreported. Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law understands importance of knowing the signs of potential nursing home abuse and when to report your suspicions of the abuse of your loved one.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Abuse takes place in nursing homes across the country, including here in Georgia, and it can take many forms. Nursing home abuse is typically split into physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse, and the signs of each type of abuse can be different. Physical abuse is the intentional use of force against an elderly resident that causes injury, including battery, assault, and unlawful restraint. Signs of physical abuse include burns, abrasions around wrists or ankles, pain, traumatic hair or tooth loss, sprains, fractures, or dislocated joints, a history of repeated hospitalizations, and incongruent explanations for how the injury occurred.

Emotional abuse is the use of words to verbally degrade, berate, or manipulate nursing home residents. It can take many forms, such as verbal comments, humiliation, habitual blaming, intimidation, isolation, terrorizing, and ignoring the resident. Signs of emotional abuse include low self-esteem, lack of eye contact, refusal to speak openly, seeming hopeless or disturbed, sudden changes in eating or sleeping patterns, and sudden mood swings.

Sexual abuse occurs when a nursing home resident is forced into unwanted sexual activity. This can happen while the resident is sleeping, sick, too weak to give consent, or lacks the mental capacity to do so. Nursing home sexual abuse is significantly underreported, especially if the victim lacks physical signs of trauma. Signs of sexual abuse in the nursing home include the discovery of STDs, difficulty sitting or walking, pelvic injury, bruising on the inner thighs or genital area, anal or genital pain, bleeding, or irritation, extreme agitation, withdrawal from social activity, panic attacks, and suicide attempts.

Financial abuse in nursing homes occurs less often than the other types of nursing home abuse and is defined as improperly or illegally using a nursing home resident’s funds, assets, or property. Nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to financial abuse from nursing home staff and administrators. Signs of financial abuse include unexplained transfers of money or assets, abrupt changes to a will or estate plan, the resident’s living conditions are below their resources, frequent checks being written to a particular caregiver, sudden changes in banking or funds, missing personal possessions, and additional names on your loved one’s bank signature card. If you suspect that any type of nursing home abuse is happening with your loved one, you should call an attorney immediately.

Call My Office

Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law, holds nursing home facilities accountable for claims of abuse in the Atlanta area. Call or contact the office today to schedule a free consultation of your case.

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