Like domestic abuse, elder abuse often goes unreported. Victims of nursing home abuse and their families typically have no idea where they should turn or to whom they should complain. Sometimes, they are simply embarrassed or are unable to recognize the abuse in the first place. Ohio’s Adult Protective Services Program, along with a qualified attorney, can help.
It’s sad to think of the statistics behind Ohio’s nursing home abuse, but they’re real. At least 31 deaths in the last year in Ohio nursing homes were attributed to abuse or neglect. More than 40% of Ohio nursing homes and long-term care facilities also received a below-average rating on the Federal Nursing Home Compare Standard, while the average state had 35% below-average facilities.
In cases of nursing home abuse or negligence that result in injuries (or death, in the most serious of cases), you should consider retaining legal counsel for representation. The experienced Ohio nursing home abuse attorneys of Plevin & Gallucci will be able to explain your legal rights and assist you with taking legal action against a negligent nursing home and/or its employees.
How Do I Recognize Nursing Home Abuse in Ohio?
Any nursing home or assisted care facility employee can commit acts of abuse or negligence against a resident or patient. The employees who are typically responsible for nursing home abuse or negligence include doctors, nurses, nursing assistants, physical therapists, nurse practitioners, and/or nursing home administrators.
Abuse and negligence can take many forms, including financial exploitation, physical abuse, psychological abuse, and substandard care. Because nursing home residents often are unable or unwilling to report mistreatment, it is very important for loved ones to be aware of the signs of abuse and report anything that seems out of the ordinary to the appropriate state agency.
Signs of abuse include:
- Neglect, which occurs when an adult caregiver fails to provide goods or services that are necessary for the patient’s safety and well-being, taking into account the patient’s individual circumstances and health conditions.
- Exploitation, which takes place when a caregiver uses a patient’s resources for monetary or personal benefit. This may include stealing money or belongings from a patient who would not know of the theft or be able to do anything to prevent it because of their physical or mental condition.
- Physical abuse, which is the intentional use of physical force by a caregiver against a patient, resulting in injury or pain. This may include pushing, hitting, or slapping a patient; force-feeding; improperly withholding medication; or providing medication to a patient without his or her consent.
- Emotional abuse, which involves instances of verbal abuse by a caregiver toward a patient, including improper threats or intimidation.
Where Does Ohio’s Adult Protective Services Program Come In?
Ohio’s Adult Protective Services Program falls under the umbrella of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), which supervises, plans, and develops the program. Each Ohio county has a division of Job and Family Services that reviews and investigates reports and instances of abuse at nursing homes and assisted care facilities, including instances of neglect and exploitation of vulnerable elderly adults.
While the Ohio Adult Protective Services Program is available to adults aged 18 and older who are in danger of harm, including domestic abuse, the majority of reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation received each year are for those aged 60 and older. Between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015, for example, more than 16,000 reports of elder abuse were recorded, with about 7,500 of those categorized as self-neglect.
Investigations from reports are mandated to be initiated within 24 hours, if any emergency exists, or within three working days after the report is received by the county division. Then, the agency will determine if the adult needs protective services. In the same timeframe mentioned above, Adult Protective Services found 642 emergency cases and 7,185 individuals in need of protective services. A little over half of the latter agreed to receive services, while more than 700 weren’t even able to refuse or agree to services due to their mental or physical state.
It’s important to know that those who have a personal or familial relationship with a nursing home abuse victim aren’t solely responsible for recognizing signs of abuse in their parents, grandparents, spouses, or elder friends. And of course in cases where an elder is taken care of by his or her children at home, abuse can and does occur. However, there are professionals who are mandated by law to immediately report suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation. These people are social, medical, and mental health care workers; attorneys; peace officers; senior service providers; coroners; clergymen; and professional counselors.
Get Help from an Ohio Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
It’s hard to believe the types of abuse that can happen right under our noses, but there may be ways to prevent it. Before choosing a nursing home or long-term care facility for your loved one, you should do a basic senses test. On your visit, check out what the residents are doing and what they’re eating. There are signs — and smells — that can tell you if something isn’t right. Trust your gut, and move on to another facility.
Unfortunately, not all cases of nursing home abuse can be prevented. If you or your loved one have been a victim, your first step is reporting the abuse to the Department of Job and Family Services for the county where the abuse victim resides or the county in which the abuse occurred. In Cleveland, you’ll want to call the 24-hour hotline of Cuyahoga County Senior and Adult Services at (216) 420-6700.
Your next step is to contact a qualified Ohio nursing home abuse attorney for a free case review. Plevin and Gallucci’s results include a substantial six-figure settlement for a client who suffered a decubitus ulcer resulting in death due to the care facility’s failure to properly prevent and diagnose the client’s condition. Call us today at 1-855-4-PLEVIN (1-855-475-3846) or fill out our online contact form to get the compensation you and your family deserve.