Suspicious Nursing Home Injuries Warrant Investigation
Nursing homes play a vital role as North Carolina’s population continues to age. The state’s 427 nursing homes provide 24-hour medical care and attention to over 30,000 residents, relieving family members of the stress of taking care of their relatives all on their own. When you take your loved one to a nursing home, you do so with the expectation that they will be well provided for.
Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and negligence are all too common in North Carolina. If you see suspicious injuries, you should pursue the matter further.
Any injury can be suspicious, especially when nursing home staff provide no plausible explanation. Instead, staff might claim they do not know what happened, or they offer a story that sounds absurd on its face. If you notice any of the following, you should ask staff what happened:
- Bed sores. Though bed sores are common, staff should be aware of them and take measures to minimize them, such as shifting how you loved one lies down.
- The elderly can bruise easily, but you should still check what caused the bruise.
- Broken bones. Residents can break bones when they fall unattended or when attacked by another resident.
- Cuts or abrasions. Like broken bones, cuts signal that your loved one has been attacked or has injured themselves when unattended.
- Dramatic weight loss. Weight loss can be a sign of untreated illness or neglect.
- Genital infections. This is a clear sign that your loved one is being sexually abused.
- Lack of bathing. Your loved one is probably being neglected.
If you notice any of these conditions, ask staff for an explanation. You should also probably talk to someone higher up at the nursing home so that they can investigate. Sometimes, injuries occur because staff is improperly trained or the nursing home does not have adequate supervision.
Also check whether the nursing home appears sanitary, or whether there is dirt in the rooms and bathrooms. Unsanitary conditions are a sign of negligence, and if the building is being neglected, then residents probably are, as well.
Performing an Investigation
If you suspect something is wrong, you should take immediate steps to determine whether abuse or neglect is the cause. Consider the following:
- Change up your visitation schedule. If staff expect you to show up on Saturday mornings at 10:00, then show up one Wednesday in the afternoon. You might discover that the nursing home is understaffed during that time, or that staff is ignoring your loved one because they think they will not get caught.
- Request the list of medications given to your loved one. Look to see if he or she is given anything that a doctor has not prescribed.
- Stay for a meal. Check whether the food is brought on time and whether it is of poor quality.
- Note whether your loved one is afraid whenever staff are around. Do they stop talking? Start shaking? Even if they are too afraid to divulge the abuse, their reactions can speak volumes.
Ultimately, you should trust your gut. Consult with a nursing home abuse lawyer for advice about how to proceed.
Contact a North Carolina Nursing Home Lawyer Today
At Hodges Coxe Potter & Phillips, we have taken on some of the state’s largest nursing homes for injuries caused by their abuse or neglect. To schedule your consultation, contact us today.