For anyone who reads this blog, it’s no secret that I’m passionate about protecting the rights of elders and sick, disabled people in Massachusetts nursing homes and extended care facilities. Today’s post is Part Three of three recent posts I’ve dedicated to this subject, and it will outline the typical warning signs of nursing home patient neglect or abuse to look for.
Sadly, the list of these warning signs is a long one, and includes the following indicators:
- Bed injuries
- Patient Dehydration
- Patient mental or emotional withdrawal; Being agitated, anxious, emotionally upset or non-communicative
- Falls, fractures or similar injuries
- Recurrent Patient Infections
- Repeated instances where the patient has been allowed to wander or leave the premises
- Patient Malnutrition
- Pressure ulcers (bed sores.) These are extremely common – and often a sure sign of neglect in failing to turn the patient in bed at regular intervals.
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain; indications of malnutrition
- Any reluctance by the patient to speak about problems or issues in the presence of a staff member. Be careful to observe for this.
- Unexplained patient injuries such as bruises, cuts or welts
- Unsanitary and unclean conditions in either the patient’s room or anywhere else in the facility.
- Unusual or sudden patient behavior changes (such as the fear of being touched, finger sucking, biting, and rocking)
- Any injuries that require emergency medical treatment or hospitalization
- Any incident involving broken bones – in particular hip fractures
- Heavy patient medication or sedation
- Instances where one patient injures another resident
- Instances where the patient frequently becomes ill, and not promptly acted on by alerting a physician and family members
As a Boston, Massachusetts nursing home neglect and abuse attorney, I’ve seen far too many examples of the above, than many people would believe. This is a dark, sad, and segregated corner of our society – and what can happen in nursing homes and “skilled nursing facilities” is often tragic. But even more tragic than this, is the cover-ups that often take place at many Massachusetts nursing homes. Yes, you read that term correctly: Cover-ups. In what form? Medical records and patient care documents that have been deliberately falsified: “Doctored,” edited, “lost,” erased, altered. All in the name of covering up sickening actions abuse and neglect of a defenseless old or sick person. Whatever you do, do not doubt that this happens – at all levels of nursing home management , from the lower-level assistant and orderlies who change beds and move/lift patients, to the staff nurses, and senior management.
Just a few days ago, the Boston Globe published a follow-up story on Synergy Health Systems, which has recently been under investigation by Massachsuetts and federal regulators cited for a number of patient care regulatory violations. Now, evidence has surfaced that indicated patient records at facilities owned by Synery Health – including Woodbriar Health Center in Wilmington – were intentionally falsified to thwart investigators who were combing through patient records as part of their investigation.
Sickening, isn’t it? Yes, to say the least. These most recent developments into examples of Massachusetts nursing home abuse and neglect, underscore ever more: You must monitor and safeguard the care and safety of any family member or loved one who is in a nursing home or skilled nursing facility (see previous two posts on this subject.) Keep a close eye out for signs of the above bulleted warning signs of neglect or abuse. And if you see any evidence of neglect or abuse, contact an experienced Massachusetts nursing home neglect & abuse law firm. I do not recommend that anyone hire a General Practice law firm for these cases – they require the special expertise of an attorney that has litigated these cases for a long time, and has a track record of success to prove it.
Never stop being your loved one’s first watch dog: You simply cannot rely on the staff of most nursing homes to ‘look out’ for your family member: You must be the one to do that. And if you suspect that you loved one is being neglected or abused, contact a very experienced Massachusetts nursing home neglect law firm, immediately.