Nursing Home Abuse in Oklahoma

Nursing home abuse can take a variety of forms, including physical, emotional, financial and sexual. Protect your loved ones by understanding their rights.

The Oklahoma nursing home abuse lawyers at Hasbrook & Hasbrook are committed to protecting seniors from abuse, obtaining just compensation for physical and/or emotional injuries suffered by victims of abuse, and holding those responsible accountable. Nursing homes have a responsibility to ensure a comfortable, safe and healthy environment for all residents. Providing an adequate level of care is not voluntary, it is mandatory, as set forth by federal and state guidelines. In short, nursing home residents have rights!photo_elder2

According to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services, over 90 percent of nursing homes were cited for federal health and safety violations in 2007. Ninety percent! Unfortunately, statistics for actual instances of abuse can be difficult to come by and are often underestimated. Why? Victims of abuse are often afraid (or unable) to complain or tell loved ones about mistreatment for fear that the situation will only get worse. Nursing homes themselves are reluctant to divulge records. And the symptoms of some forms of abuse may not be readily apparent unless you know what to look for.photo_elder1

If you are the victim of nursing home abuse, or think that a senior you care about is being abused, contact our dedicated Oklahoma nursing home abuse lawyer immediately for assistance. We can work with you to put an end to it and obtain fair compensation for any injuries suffered.

About Neglect/Abuse

Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse in Oklahoma

Nursing home abuse can take a variety of forms, including physical, emotional, financial and sexual.

Physical Abuse in Oklahoma

One form of physical abuse commonly seen in nursing homes is the denial or withholding of basic needs such as water, food, proper medication, and hygienic care. This in turn can lead to serious medical problems such as dehydration, malnutrition, pressure sores and, if gone unaddressed, death. Nursing homes can also be held liable for failure to provide adequate safeguards that lead to a resident falling down and suffering severe physical injury. Conditions that can lead to a fall include:

  • Wet or cluttered floors
  • Inadequately maintained wheelchairs
  • Lack of bedrails or assistive rails in hallways or restrooms
  • Lack of adequate supervision
  • Improperly trained staff
  • Malnutrition or dehydration
  • Over-medication, under-medication, or inappropriate medication
  • Unsecured windows and doors

In addition, outright physical assault is, tragically, not at all uncommon. Numerous nursing home residents fall victim to assault by both nursing home staff and fellow residents every year. Hitting, kicking, shaking, shoving, pinching, beating, and burning are all forms of assault and can result in broken bones, head injuries, lacerations or worse.  Injuries are not always obvious, since they can be hidden by clothing; even broken bones may be hard to notice if the victim is bedridden. Staff may also try to explain away injuries by claiming they are the result of a fall.

Emotional Abuse in Oklahoma

Nursing home emotional and verbal abuse can be defined as a staff member saying or doing something that is detrimental to the resident’s self-esteem. This might include cursing at, criticizing and insulting a resident, as well as the use of threats, insults, and humiliation. Emotional abuse may not lead to physical injury, but is one of the cruelest and psychologically damaging forms of abuse.

Financial Abuse in Oklahoma

Financial abuse of a nursing home resident can be defined as a situation in which an individual takes or uses the money and/or property of the resident with the intention of defrauding the victim. It can occur when resident’s personal belongings, assets or financial resources are taken from them without consent, either because the resident was incapacitated and therefore unable to give consent, or because he or she was subjected to threats, intimidation, manipulation, and deception. Typical examples include cashing the resident’s checks without authorization, forging a signature, stealing money or possessions, or fraudulently convincing a resident to sign a contract, will or other document.

Sexual Abuse in Oklahoma

Nursing home sexual abuse involves any inappropriate touching or unwanted sexual activity. Elderly residents are particularly vulnerable and make easy targets for sexual predators. Types of behavior or actions that can be considered sexual assault include forcing a resident to view pornographic material, sexual harassment, threats, unwanted kissing and touching, and genital contact or penetration. Such assaults can be perpetrated by fellow residents who were improperly monitored by the facility; nursing home staff; and even nursing home visitors.

If you or someone you love has been victimized by abuse, contact our Oklahoma nursing home abuse attorneys immediately to put a stop to it and seek compensation for physical injures and/or pain and suffering.

Signs of Abuse

As we have noted, it can be difficult to spot signs of abuse, and victims are often unable or unwilling to report that they are being abused. Here are some indications that a loved one is being abused.

Signs of Physical Abuse in Oklahoma

  • Bruises on the wrists, inner arms, thighs or neck; old and new bruises very close to one another; bruises that look like they could result from the use of restraints
  • Burns, scratches, deep cuts and bleeding
  • Dry or cracked lips, pronounced drowsiness, staring into space, and drooling can indicate improper medication or over-medication
  • Restraints on wheelchairs or beds
  • Unexpected or sudden death

Signs of Emotional Abuse in Oklahoma

Your loved one often seems:

  • Fearful and/or anxious
  • Depressed
  • Withdrawn and unresponsive
  • Angry or extremely agitated
  • Confused and disoriented
  • Unwilling to talk, or in a state of denial, about his or her situation or the level of care provided

Signs of Sexual Abuse in Oklahoma

  • Genital pain or bleeding
  • Bruises on inner thighs or external genitalia
  • Trouble walking or sitting
  • Torn, stained or bloody underclothing
  • Sexually transmitted diseases

Signs of Nursing Home Neglect in Oklahoma

  • Excessive or rapid weight loss
  • Poor personal or dental hygiene
  • Uncut or dirty fingernails
  • Uncombed or knotted hair
  • Torn, dirty or stained clothing
  • Urine or feces on bedding or clothing
  • Bedsores (often on the back, buttocks, elbows and/or heels)
  • A scarcity of facility staff

If your loved one is exhibiting signs of potential abuse like these, ask lots of questions. Ask your loved one. Ask the staff. Reluctance to discuss the matter, discrepancies between what your loved one tells you and what the staff tells you, or implausible explanations are all further indications that your loved one is being abused. Please contact us immediately for assistance. Our Oklahoma nursing home abuse attorneys are here to help end the abuse and obtain compensation for any physical or emotional harm done to your loved one.

Nursing Home Residents’ Rights

When people move to a nursing home, they often feel as though they’ve entered a place and situation where they no longer have much control over their lives. That is, a sense of dependency and lost autonomy can set in, leading many nursing home residents to forget one very important fact: They have rights! Rights regarding how they are cared for, the level of care, and many more—all guaranteed by federal and Oklahoma state law. These rights include:

  • The right to participate in care planning and to refuse certain treatments
  • The right to have one’s own physician and choice of pharmacy
  • The right to personal privacy
  • The right to wear one’s own clothing and use personal possessions
  • The right to manage personal finances
  • The right to privacy about one’s medical records
  • The right to have visitors, and be left alone with them
  • The right to be treated with dignity and respect
  • The right to refuse the use of restraints
  • The right to receive information about nursing home policies and procedures
  • The right to be informed about any and all medical conditions and treatments
  • The right to know exactly what services the facility provides
  • The right to know the precise cost of any service provided by the facility in advance
  • The right to freedom from abuse of any kind. This includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, neglect, and isolation
  • The right to remain at a nursing home as long as payment is on time and the facility is operational (that is, the facility is able to attend to one’s medical and other needs)
  • The right to openly discuss the level and quality of care being provided

If you or a loved one is being denied any of these rights, you have the right to seek redress. Contact our Oklahoma nursing home abuse lawyers to learn how we can assist you.

FAQ

Are Oklahoma nursing homes regulated?

Yes. Nursing homes are regulated by state and federal authorities. In Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Department of Health, together with the United States Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, are responsible for regulating nursing homes.

How are Oklahoma nursing home regulated?

Agents from the Oklahoma Department of Health or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services conduct annual inspections, called surveys, to ensure nursing homes are in compliance with state and federal guidelines. These inspections are usually unannounced. They are undertaken more often at nursing homes with a past record of violations, or when a number of complaints have been made against the facility. Following the survey, regulators complete a formal report about the nursing home’s adherence to state and federal guidelines.

What happens when a Oklahoma nursing home violates the rules?

In cases where the survey determines violations, but these violations do not pose an immediate threat to resident safety, the nursing home will be given the opportunity to provide investigators with a plan to make necessary changes, called a Plan of Correction. In situations where resident safety is threatened, regulators can impose fines, appoint new supervisors, suspend new admissions, suspend the nursing home’s license, and other punishments.

What types of damages can be obtained from Oklahoma nursing homes?

Oklahoma recognizes all of the following damages:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of normal life
  • Wrongful death

In cases involving wrongful death, the decedent’s heirs may be entitled to damages for the loss of their loved one. If the victim suffered an injury before passing away, the decedent’s heirs or estate may be entitled to what is known as survival damages. This allows for the recovery of damages for pain and suffering before the victim of abuse passed away.

What is the amount of damages typically awarded?

This is a difficult question to answer because compensation varies greatly due to a variety of factors. These factors include the level of injury or injuries suffered, the age of the victim, the degree of misconduct displayed by the nursing home, and many more. You should contact our experienced Oklahoma nursing home abuse lawyers to determine whether you have a valid claim against the nursing home and what your case might be worth.

How long do cases of abuse against Oklahoma nursing homes usually take?

Some cases are settled rather quickly, in a matter of weeks or months. Other cases can go on for years. It depends on the particular situation, the nature of the injuries and many other factors. You should know that if the injury or injuries suffered by the victim require ongoing medical treatment, it is not a good idea to accept a settlement before the injuries have been successfully treated. Only then will you have an accurate idea of the costs involved and the damages you may be entitled to receive.

What should I do if a risk manager or attorney representing the Oklahoma nursing home calls me about injuries suffered by my loved one?

It is very important that you do not discuss the situation with nursing home representatives such as these. They may seem like they are only trying to help and have your best interests, and those of your loved one, at heart. But remember: they represent the nursing home, not you. Their goal is to protect the nursing home’s interests and minimize any potential financial loss. You have the right to speak with an attorney first before answering any questions or discussing the situation, and you owe it to yourself and your loved one to do just that.

If your loved one is exhibiting signs of potential abuse like these, ask lots of questions. Ask your loved one. Ask the staff. Reluctance to discuss the matter, discrepancies between what your loved one tells you and what the staff tells you, or implausible explanations are all further indications that your loved one is being abused. Please contact us immediately for assistance. Our Oklahoma nursing home abuse attorneys are here to help end the abuse and obtain compensation for any physical or emotional harm done to your loved one.