Nursing Home Lawyer Baltimore, MD
Family members who are concerned about their aging relative in a nursing home facility can rely on a nursing home lawyer Baltimore, MD from Brown Kiely, LLP
for advice on how to take action. Nursing home mistreatment is a serious issue for our legal team at Brown Kiely LLP, with neglect being a top form of abuse against the elderly. Nursing home neglect occurs when staff fails to provide a proper level of care to their residents.
When a senior resident is being neglected, there may be signs that something just isn’t right. Contact us immediately if any of the following red flags are observed in your loved one:
Lack of Personal Hygiene
When tending to senior residents, care staff must help with personal hygiene. A number of residents probably need assistance getting themselves dressed, brushing their hair, showering, clipping fingernails, and cleaning their teeth. A resident may quickly become neglected and suffer from poor personal hygiene if left alone to do these tasks independently but aren’t capable of doing so.
Examples of lack of personal hygiene that may signal your loved one needs more care than their nursing home is providing:
They are dehydrated because they are not able to drink by themselves or they are forgetting to drink by themselves.
Dehydration can show up as a variety of symptoms, some of those are: they may have a dry mouth, they may be tired, their eyes may appear sunken, they will not be urinating regularly, their urine will be a darker color than normal, they’ll have muscle cramping and they may feel dizzy. Knowing these signs can allow you to help hydrate them and contact an attorney about your loved one’s care, as dehydration can cause issues with the other organs, especially if there are any underlying causes that are not being treated or taken care of properly.
Your loved one is showing signs of malnourishment.
This could be because while they are receiving food, they are unable to eat the food provided (could be that it is not soft enough, or otherwise health related), or they cannot eat the food without some extra help. Some signs of malnourishment or malnutrition, which can potentially save your loved one’s life if caught, are: are you noticing their weight seems to be trending downwards?
Ask yourself the following questions about how you can help better their eating habits: are their eating habits changing, are their medications known to affect their ability to be hungry, do you have a meal plan in place that you know your loved one enjoys, are you able to use local services such as meal deliveries or otherwise ensure your loved one has food they enjoy, and can you turn meals into social events so that it’s less like something they have to do and more like something they want to do.
Your senior relative is forgetting to take medicine for their treatment.
Your loved one may also show signs of having forgotten their medications for their treatments, if no one is watching them take the medicines, they may not remember too. The symptoms for forgetting medications vary depending on what the medication treats and what your loved one has that they’re treating.
Your loved one’s bedroom may be very dirty, as if they’re forgetting to take out the trash and clean up after themselves.
Obviously, in a nursing home, your loved one should have a nurse who checks in with them daily and even does some of the above. So if it isn’t happening, reaching out to an attorney may be your best bet to understand if abuse is happening and stop further abuses.
Their bedsheets may be soiled, or living conditions may be otherwise unsanitary.
If you can smell urine, you should definitely look at how they are treating your loved one. Does your loved one have clothing that fits? If they do not, it may be because they are neglecting their own self-care and the nursing home has not noticed that they need more help than they were previously receiving.
Nursing homes tend to have high turnover rates, meaning there may not be enough care staff around to adequately tend to each resident’s personal hygiene. Our team can help you decide whether neglect may be happening to your cherished family member.
Dirty Living Conditions
Nursing homes must always provide senior residents with a room or space that is clean and safe. Federal law requires nursing home facilities to uphold protocols that reduce infection, in addition to offering sanitary and comfortable living quarters. If you recently went to visit your loved one and saw the living conditions were unkempt, the bed was soiled, or other signs that cleaning has not been done in some time, please contact our team immediately. Here at Brown Kiely LLP, we can help you take action before the situation escalates further.
A nursing home facility must see that residents get around and are as active as possible, based on their capabilities and limitations. Many nursing home facilities have programs for walking, so residents can build muscle strength, improve circulation, reduce spasms, and increase their balance. If a resident becomes neglected, he or she may have to lay in bed for several hours or days at a time.
If you believe your senior loved one had been bedridden for so long that he or she lost mobility entirely, do not hesitate to seek representation from a Baltimore, MD nursing home lawyer.
Neglect can also cause problems psychologically for a senior resident, especially if he or she comes to fear caregivers and is afraid to speak up about mistreatment. A senior resident may withdraw from family and endure emotional outbursts. Any major emotional changes in your senior relative must be taken very seriously and addressed quickly. A resident may even refuse to perform daily self-care in response to the neglect, by doing things like denying food and not taking necessary medications.
Nursing home abuse is not something we take lightly at Brown Kiely LLP. Do not shrug off signs that things aren’t right at the nursing home facility. Please don’t let another day go by with your loved one being treated this way, let us help put a stop to it. Call our law firm promptly so a nursing home lawyer can advise you on the best course of action depending on the circumstances of the neglect.
Understaffing in Nursing Homes
Understaffing is one of the most common, yet indirect, causes of nursing home abuse. Across the U.S., including Maryland, many staff of nursing homes are underpaid and overworked. Due to this problem, it is more likely for these caregivers to engage in practices that could be considered abusive or neglectful.
If your loved one has been mistreated while living in a nursing home, and you believe it has something to do with the facility lacking staff, please call our law firm.
Why Nursing Homes Can Be Understaffed
Although no two understaffing situations may be exactly alike, it is possible for some management or owners to have intentional reasons for keeping the facility understaffed; labor costs is one of these. Nursing homes also have a very high turnover rate. This is often associated with long working hours and an environment that can be considerably stressful.
When a facility is unable to keep their nurses and assistants, the residents might be neglected in some way or another. A high turnover rate can result in overworking remaining staff; thereby causing them to be overwhelmed and unable to take care of each patient properly. When this results in an injury or death, a nursing home lawyer should be sought.
Sometimes nursing homes are intentionally understaffed by the owners or the management of the facility. This is typically done because paying their workers can take a toll on the overall economic status of the nursing facility itself, as well as the people that own or run it. When this happens, they will intentionally skew the numbers to favor a high resident to staff ratio. By skewing the ratios, it looks like everything at this nursing facility is good despite the low number of staff members.
Another reason a nursing home may be understaffed is that they have trouble keeping trained nurses, or even have issues training them. This means that they have a high turnover rate and that can cause the available staff to be constantly overscheduled and overworked, which can cause them to be overwhelmed and lead to neglect. In both of these instances, the staff may become overwhelmed and start cutting corners while doing their duties.
Overtime at Nursing Homes
As a leading nursing home lawyer in this community, many of the cases we handle tend to involve staff who are overworked. In the nursing home industry, working overtime is particularly common. While many employees might feel that overtime is a benefit, the extra hours can take a toll on the body. That being said, owners and management of nursing homes tend to favor staff who take on the extra work. While this can garner respect, it can also create an awkward, albeit stressful, environment in which staff feel obligated to work longer hours. Sadly, this can result in patient neglect and abuse.
Overtime is another issue in nursing facilities—this a common thing in most nursing facilities and nursing jobs. This can contribute to the stress levels of the nursing facility’s staff, because they are working longer and longer hours. Overtime is often a benefit to many staffers because it increases their wages.
Furthermore, overtime shows that the staff member is loyal to the facility and that can get them respect from the admin. But this can cause a dynamic to develop where the staff members feel like they must work unreasonable hours to gain respect—and this causes patient care to suffer severely.
Consequences of Understaffing
There are a broad range of consequences that can result from understaffing at a nursing home. Some of these include:
- Residents may not be properly attended to.
- Staff may be stressed and more prone to be abusive or neglectful.
- Any abuse or neglect may exacerbate issues amongst the residents.
- Psychological and physical illnesses can occur in staff members; thereby, leading to a further decrease in staff, and more suffering in patients.
Immobile residents may particularly be at risk when a facility is understaffed. These patients rely on their caregivers for any movement needs, as well as psychological needs. If there is not enough staff at the facility, an immobile patient might not be moved as often as they should. Bed sores, muscle atrophy, infections, and hygiene problems could develop. As our team knows, bed sores are very common in neglect cases, and have been the cause of a number of serious injuries and deaths.
The consequences have a variety of ranges, and causes, but for patients who suffer from immobility—the inability to move on their own—they require their caregiver to provide most if not all of their ambulatory needs. This means they need help eating, walking, going to the bathroom, being turned over in bed and more. With this kind of care required, it can be catastrophic if caregivers neglect them.
When a nursing home is overstaffed it may be impossible for the nursing staff to make enough rounds on all of the non-ambulatory patients to get them turned over as often as they need, and this may lead to muscle atrophy, infections and bedsores among other things.
If you or a loved one has been neglected or abused while living in a nursing home, and understaffing may be part of the cause, please call a nursing home lawyer now.
Signs That You May Need a Nursing Home Lawyer
Unsanitary Living Conditions
If you have a loved one in a nursing care facility, it is the responsibility of the home to provide a clean, and healthy living environment. When you pay a visit, look at the condition of the room. Are the sheets and blankets clean? Check the floors and walls. The bathroom should also be clean and sanitary. Windows, curtains, and surfaces should be dust-free as dust can create a respiratory hazard. Any signs of neglect of cleaning in the living or other spaces should be a red flag. You may need to contact a nursing home lawyer in Baltimore, MD such as those at Brown Kiely Law LLP.
Residents of nursing homes often are not able to bathe, shower, or perform other personal hygiene tasks. Be mindful of the state of your loved one’s hygiene. Look for signs that they are not being bathed regularly. Unkempt hair, smelling of perspiration or urine, and dirty fingernails are all signs of neglect. Clean clothing is also essential to health and hygiene.
Health is also dependent upon sufficient food and water. Look for signs of malnourishment and dehydration. If there are any signs of neglect, consider contacting a nursing home lawyer in Baltimore, MD. Make sure your loved one gets the care they need and deserve.
Fear and Distress
Living in neglect can cause psychological distress and fear. If your loved one seems withdrawn, afraid to speak to staff, or is prone to outbursts of emotion, that is a sure sign that something is wrong. A resident who is being neglected or abused may even start to refuse care or stop eating. This is a serious situation that requires immediate attention. Brown Kiely Law LLP has qualified attorneys that understand the severity of nursing home neglect.
A good nursing home provides areas and staff that can help residents stay as mobile as possible. A safe walking area and mobility assistance gear such as canes and walkers should be available. It’s important to have residents move as much as they are able to prevent poor circulation and atrophied muscles. Lying in bed all day can cause both of these problems as well as bed sores. If your loved one is showing signs of poor health due to lack of movement, do not ignore it. Contact a nursing home lawyer in Baltimore, MD. A nursing care facility has an obligation to look out for the health and safety of your loved one.
When a Slip and Fall Happens in a Nursing Home
Your mother is living in a nursing home, and one day when you’re visiting, she tells you about taking a fall on the bathroom the other day. She doesn’t think she’s seriously injured, but you want her to see a doctor to be on the safe side. It turns out she has a couple of cracked ribs and a fracture in her forearm. She’s going to need a cast for her arm, then physical therapy to regain full use of the arm once the cast comes off.
The party responsible for your mother’s fall may be the nursing home. If so, you can file a claim against the owner’s insurance company to compensate your mother for medical bills, ongoing medical care and pain and suffering. A nursing home lawyer in Baltimore, MD, from Brown Kiely Law LLP can help you determine if you have a case.
Why File a Claim Against the Nursing Home?
Your mother is living in a nursing home because it’s not safe for her to live on her own any more. The nursing home has a duty of care, a responsibility to make sure your mother is as safe and as healthy as possible. Conditions where she can slip and fall should be minimized to keep her from hurting herself.
If there is a breach of duty of care, the nursing home should be accountable. A claim against their insurance company holds them responsible. If there was gross negligence, you might even be able to recover punitive damages, a payment designed to punish the nursing home for what they did or didn’t do to ensure your mother’s safety. Your nursing home lawyer in Baltimore, MD, from Brown Kiely Law LLP may advise you if they find that’s the case.
When To Call an Attorney?
As soon as you’ve made sure your mother is safe and comfortable, you should take action quickly to call a nursing home lawyer in Baltimore, MD, because evidence of liability can vanish fast.
The first thing your attorney will do is look into whether the nursing home is responsible for the slip and fall. He’ll talk to your mother, interview any witnesses, review records and obtain any video footage. If you wait too long to call a lawyer, memories can fade, especially in the elderly population of a nursing home.
If the attorney finds there’s sufficient evidence of liability, he’ll take care of every step of the insurance process. so you don’t have to. Your nursing home lawyer in Baltimore, MD, has the experience necessary to take on the insurance company and either reach an appropriate settlement or, if necessary, go to trial.
Is It Possible for an Elder to Be Financially Exploited in a Nursing Home?
At Brown Kiely LLP, we receive frequent calls from loved ones who are concerned about missing money, modified wills, and questionable financial matters related to their elderly loved ones who reside in nursing facilities. While a majority of people might associate abuse or neglect in a nursing home with physical harm, a large number of cases actually involve financial exploitation.
Financial exploitation in nursing homes occurs when money, assets, or property is taken through improper or illegal means. A great deal of financial exploitation occurs through coercion, intimidation, and deception. Our team understands that financial exploitation that occurs in nursing homes is not only wrong, it is illegal. If the facility or a staff member is found guilty of it, they could be prosecuted by the state of Maryland. Even with these potential consequences in place, every day in the U.S. a staggering number of elders are being exploited in nursing homes. Unacceptably, it often takes many years before this form of abuse is uncovered and addressed.
Many elders are vulnerable because their minds are not as sharp as they once were, or they may be lonely and longing for communication. These vulnerabilities can lead them to be exploited in many ways. Whether it is a staff member, another patient, or even a family member of a patient, exploitation of the elders’ finances can happen. However, it is often a family member of the elder who will be involved.
It is important to understand that you should speak with an experienced nursing home lawyer if you believe your loved one is being exploited financially, even if the person exploiting your loved one is a family member. Exploitation of finances can occur in several ways, including:
- Theft of personal property, items, or money
- Using funds without permissions
- Fraudulent bank transfers
- Coercion the elder into modifying wills, insurance policies, trusts, deeds, etc.
- Abusing a power of attorney
- Forging signatures
If you believe your elderly loved one is being financially exploited in a nursing home, you should assess the situation by speaking with our team about your options. If you’d like to take action before your consultation, consider the following steps:
- Talk with the elder about their finances.
- If anything out of the ordinary is mentioned, (i.e. new investments), make a note and keep on the situation as it progresses.
- If there is any money missing, try to locate bank records to find out where it is going.
Additional signs of financial exploitation to be aware of:
- Sudden changes in documents
- Excessive ATM withdrawals
- Missing bank cards
- Unpaid bills
- Inability to purchase basic items
- Abrupt changes in investments
- New changes in the ownership of assets
Also note that in general, there are elderly people who are at more risk for financial exploitation. They include elders:
- With dementia
- Who have cognitive impairments
- Are easy to confuse
- Are frail or sick
- Are unable to take care of themselves
- Are incapacitated
- Are lonely or isolated
- Who don’t understand money management
- Have loved ones or friends with money issues or substance abuse problems
Gathering Evidence of the Abuse
Many senior citizens rely on receiving long-term care. Family members must be proactive and watch out for signs of nursing home abuse. If you suspect something isn’t right with their care, you must act swiftly to avoid further incidents of abuse. Unfortunately, making claims about mistreatment while your loved one is still in that nursing home may put them even more at-risk for harm. Removing a relative who is being abused in a nursing home is a delicate matter that must urgently be handled by law enforcement and a member of our legal team.
Here are tips for gathering evidence of the abuse:
Request Copies of Medical Records
If the nursing home participates in Medicaid or Medicare programs, you can receive your relatives nursing home records. be sure to review these records and look for unnecessary treatments, inconsistencies, lack of explanation for injuries, and confusing use of medications. Medical records may have subtle or obvious indications that abuse or neglect is happening, so having a lawyer with an eye for these cases is going to be important.
Photographs and Video Footage
The more visual evidence you can gather of your loved one’s injuries, the better. Capture like bruises, cuts, scars, debri on the floor, soiled sheets, and anything else that doesn’t seem right. Keep in mind that your loved one may be experiencing emotional abuse, which may not have exterior indications. If this is the case, then record them on video or voice during a call about the mistreatment.
Licenses, Inspections, and Current Lawsuits
As your lawyer may suggest, look at past inspections performed by the state, including any citations given, and this may help show that the facility has a history of violating state requirements. Furthermore, the facility may advertise services without having a license. Attempting to get these documents on your own may prove futile, and may require assistance from our team to uncover.
Hiring a Lawyer for Support
Trying to prove that abusive care or negligence happen at a nursing home involves more than enough red tapes. It will have to obtain records from state and county governments, in addition to filing emotions to pressure the nursing home to supply such documents. Nursing home mistreatment goes widely unreported and is unacceptable in all cases. So if you suspect that your senior relative is a victim of heinous acts, you must notify the police, report suspected abuse, and safely remove your relative from that facility.
Contact Brown Kiely, LLP Now
We can help you to explore all legal options currently available to you and your loved one. If you suspect someone you know and care about is being financially exploited, please contact an experienced MD nursing home lawyer in Baltimore from Brown Kiely, LLP today.
If you suspect someone you know and care about is being financially exploited, please contact an experienced Baltimore, MD nursing home lawyer today. We can help you to explore all legal options currently available to you and your loved one.