Many families in Washington rely on nursing homes to help care for their loved ones. According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, in the year 2011, there were 1,366,390 nursing facility residents in the United States and 17,597 residents in Washington nursing homes. Unfortunately, not all of Washington’s elderly residents are given the attention and care they need. In some cases, patients become victims of neglect and abuse.
Nursing Home Care in Washington
Families for Better Care is an advocacy group that recently graded states on the care they provide for seniors in nursing homes. Washington received an overall C grade. It was one of only two states to have superior or above-average staffing grades, but it also got a high rate of deficiencies. In fact, four out of 10 facilities in Washington were cited for "abuse, neglect or mistreatment." Despite getting an A grade for registered nursing staffing and hours, Washington scored a D for having so many facilities with deficiencies and an F for the number of facilities with severe deficiencies.
Examples of Nursing Home Abuse
Many elderly patients are dependent on care providers for basic needs. Unfortunately, some care workers abuse their power, neglect their residents and fail to provide the care they were hired to provide. Examples of wrongdoing that can occur at any Washington nursing home include:
- Physical abuse: This is when there is intentional harm caused by a care provider. Signs of physical abuse may include bruising and other unexplained injuries that are not on the medical records.
- Neglect: Facilities must ensure that all residents are given the medication and nutrients they need. When a patient is malnourished, dehydrated or overly sedated, it may be a sign of negligence.
- Financial abuse: It is all too common for people to prey on the weak and elderly. Signs of financial abuse include changes in finances, missing personal items and alterations to wills and deeds.
- Sexual abuse: In some cases, elderly patients are either forced to witness or to be involved in unwanted sexual activity. Symptoms may include sexually transmitted diseases, unnatural bruising and changes in personality. Sex crimes in nursing homes must be promptly reported to local law enforcement.
- Emotional abuse: It is not acceptable to yell at, punish, confine or threaten nursing home residents. Victims of emotional abuse often exhibit drastic changes in behavior and become fearful of others.
Protecting Your Loved One
There are legal options available for victims of nursing home abuse in Washington. Acts of physical or sexual abuse must be reported to the authorities. If you are suspicious that your loved one is being neglected or abused, you may want to file a report, call your local ombudsman or speak with the experienced nursing home abuse attorneys at The Bernard Law Group to better understand your legal rights and options.