Compassionate Charlotte Nursing Home Neglect Attorneys
Representing injured North Carolinians in nursing homes and assisted living facilities
When we choose a nursing home for a family member, we’re looking for a place where our loved ones can feel safe and get the care they need. Nursing home residents are often there because they need skilled nursing care – and a chance to live with the knowledge that they have qualified help for their medical needs and assistance with the tasks of daily living. When neglect or abuse takes the place of proper care, though, the residents’ rights and dignity are damaged as deeply as their physical and mental health.
At Warren & Kallianos, we bring close to six decades of personal injury knowledge and experience to the forefront when we fight for the rights of nursing home residents who have suffered mistreatment in Charlotte and elsewhere in North Carolina. Our nursing home neglect lawyers have fought for – and won – millions of dollars in compensation for victims and their families:
- $1,225,000 settlement for a client whose infection from an abscessed tooth spread to her brain when the tooth went untreated by the nursing home staff.
- $540,000 settlement for a client whose father died from malnutrition and untreated bed sores while in nursing home care.
- $400,000 settlement for a client who fell and suffered multiple hip fractures due to the home health care staff’s lack of supervision.
- $400,000 settlement for a client who fell when an improperly installed shower chair he was using collapsed, causing a pulmonary contusion.
If you suspect that your loved one is being mistreated in a nursing home, schedule a free consultation with our nursing home neglect attorneys now to find out what options you have. There is no excuse for this type of behavior and our nursing home lawyers will not stand for it.
What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?
Although long-term care facilities are highly regulated, many are understaffed and poorly managed. Nurses and other staff members may be stretched too thin, and even the most caring and attentive staff members may not be the first to spot signs that a resident is being harmed. Inadequate management and unqualified, neglectful, or abusive staff members may be the cause of the problem.
Family members and friends can help by staying alert to potential signs of problems, including:
- Mysterious or unexplained injuries, such as bruises, cuts, scrapes, or even broken bones. Injuries which have an explanation but aren’t being treated adequately – such as a cut that hasn’t been bandaged or dental problems that haven’t been attended to – could be a sign of neglect.
- Poor hygiene, soiled bedding or dressings, dehydration, malnutrition, or medications that don’t arrive on schedule. All of these are examples of signs that the resident is not getting the basic care he or she needs. Plan to visit during mealtimes or when medications are dispensed to be sure that these items are getting to your loved one properly. Similarly, a messy or smelly facility is one that may be neglecting patients in addition to neglecting regular housekeeping tasks.
- Inappropriate use of drugs, restraints, or confinement. Residents should not be drugged “to keep them quiet” or restrained “for their own good,” except in extremely limited situations where their physical health would be immediately at risk. Ask questions of multiple staff members, including supervisors, if you notice sedatives or restraints being used on residents.
- Intimidation, yelling, threats, insults, or demeaning comments. Do staff members speak to residents respectfully? How do they behave when they think the resident is out of earshot? Also, notice what isn’t being said or done – isolating residents, standing over them to be physically intimidating, or giving them “the silent treatment” can be as damaging as verbal abuse.
- Hesitation, fear, withdrawal, or unwillingness to talk. Abuse is scary, and it is natural for a person who is being abused to act frightened, to withdraw, or to lash out. If you notice sudden personality or mood changes in your loved one – especially when certain staff members are in or near the room – speak up.
Bill of Rights for Nursing Home Residents
North Carolina has a Bill of Rights for nursing home residents. Per the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services, those rights include:
- To be treated with consideration, respect, and full recognition of personal dignity and individuality.
- To receive care, treatment, and services that are adequate and appropriate, and in compliance with relevant federal and state rules.
- To receive at the time of admission and during stay, a written statement of services provided by the facility and of related charges. Charges for services not covered under Medicare and Medicaid shall be specified.
- To have on file physician’s orders with proposed schedule of medical treatment. Written, signed evidence of prior informed consent to participation in experimental research shall be in patient’s file.
- To receive respect and privacy in his/her medical care program. All personal and medical records are confidential.
- To be free of mental and physical abuse. To be free of chemical and physical restraint unless authorized for a specified period of time by a physician according to clear and indicated medical need.
- To receive from the administrator or staff of the facility a reasonable response to all requests.
- To receive visitors or have access to privacy in phone use at any reasonable hour. To send and receive mail promptly and unopened, with access to writing materials.
- To manage his/her own financial affairs unless other legal arrangements have been so ordered.
- To have privacy in visits by the patient’s spouse.
- To enjoy privacy in his/her own room.
- To present grievances and recommend changes in policies and services without fear of reprisal, restraint, interference, coercion, or discrimination.
- To not be required to perform services for the facility without personal consent and written approval of the attending physician.
- To retain, to secure storage for, and to use his/her personal clothing and possessions, where reasonable.
- To not be transferred or discharged from a facility except for medical, financial, or his/her own or another patient’s welfare. Any such transfer shall require at least five days’ notice, unless the attending physician orders immediate transfer, which shall be documented in the patient’s medical record.
- To be notified when the facility’s license is revoked or made provisional. The responsible party or guardian must be notified, also.
How to Report Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse in North Carolina
Every state in the United States has a mandatory reporting statute that requires any person who has reasonable cause to believe that a disabled adult needs protective services. In North Carolina, you can report any incidence or suspected incidence of abuse or neglect to the NC Division of Health Service Regulation at 1-800-624-3004 or 919-855-4500.
We can assist you in reporting the neglect or abuse to the North Carolina Division of Health Service Regulation to ensure an official complaint is filed. We can also act as a liaison between you and the investigative unit as the state agency investigates the allegations.
Common Injuries Resulting from Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse
In some cases, you may not suspect neglect or abuse until an injury surfaces. Although not all nursing home injuries are caused by negligent care, if an injury does occur, be sure to ask questions about how it happened and what is being done to ensure it does not happen again.
Examples of injuries nursing home residents may sustain include:
- Falls. Elderly and infirm people, especially those who need skilled care, are at a high risk for falls. As a result, nursing home staff should be trained to guard against and prevent falls whenever possible. If someone falls and is injured, ask the nursing supervisor what happened and request an incident report.
- Pressure sores. Pressure sores or “bed sores” occur when a person sits or lies in one position for too long without moving. They can be prevented by regularly shifting or repositioning the person, so his or her weight does not stay too long on any one part of the body. This type of regular care should be documented in the resident’s chart. Watch for the discoloration or damaging of skin on the back, hips, and joints. An untreated bed sore can cause a life-threatening infection.
- Sexual abuse of nursing home residents. When an elder or another vulnerable adult is unable to give consent to sexual contact, any sexual advances or overt physical sexual contact is sexual abuse, which can include:
- Unwanted touching, groping
- Sexual assault
Nursing home residents who can speak may not report being sexually abused because of embarrassment and shame. Those who are unable to communicate what has been done to them may exhibit some of these physical and psychological signs of abuse such as:
- Sexually-transmitted diseases
- Bruises in the genital area
- Bleeding in the vaginal area
- Becoming withdrawn or depressed
- Showing fear or anxiety with specific staff members or residents
- Unusual mood swings
- Sexual harassment
- Medication errors. A nursing home resident might not get medications on time, get the wrong medication or dose, or receive a medication he or she does not need. Monitor your loved one’s medical records and check in with staff to see that medications are being given properly.
- Malnutrition and dehydration. A lack of adequate food or water can cause rapid weight loss, organ damage or failure, or severe infections. A person who is losing weight, who seems listless, or who does not have food and water available when you visit may be suffering from neglect.
- Financial exploitation of nursing home residents. Financial exploitation is a crime that is a growing problem that is not often reported. It occurs when someone improperly or illegally gains access to and uses an elderly or vulnerable adult’s funds. Nursing facilities are required by federal and state law to protect residents from reports of financial abuse and investigate any financial exploitation. Examples of financial exploitation might include:
- Forging a nursing home resident’s signature
- Cashing checks without prior authorization
- Coercing an elderly person to sign a document
- Theft of a nursing home resident’s possessions or money
It is estimated that the cost of elder abuse is about $2.6 billion each year according to the National Committee on the Prevention of Elder Abuse.
How Warren & Kallianos Can Fight to Protect Your Loved One
Holding a long-term care facility and its staff responsible for neglect or abuse of residents requires a skilled lawyer who understands the nursing home industry, the state and federal regulatory system, and personal injury law. Charlotte attorneys Jeff Warren and Chris Kallianos have the knowledge and the resources to take on neglectful caregivers and the companies that allow neglect and abuse to happen.
Some of the steps we take to build your case include:
- Obtaining thorough documentation. We collect photos and other evidence you have of injuries, unsanitary conditions, mistreatment, and lack of care. We will meet with you and other family members to gather information of all the dates and times of every incident you remember, along with a description of what happened. We also obtain the complete resident file from the nursing home, which requires the nursing home to document the care provided, including among other things, medication administration, daily care activities, and any incidents of harm. If you have noticed financial irregularities, we can also go through all the financial records to make sure we have a thorough picture of what’s been billed versus the care provided.
- Talking to the nursing home supervisors. If you haven’t already, we will make sure the nursing home is aware of the issues. Every problem you detect should be reported and documented every time you visit, especially if you witness recurring problems. We can start a log of the incidents you have reported, whom you spoke to, and the date and time.
- Pursuing full and fair compensation for your loved one. Our nursing home neglect lawyers will aggressively pursue compensation for your family member’s suffering. Depending on your situation, we may demand justice through settlement negotiations or by taking your case to court.
When you contact Warren & Kallianos and begin taking the steps necessary to protect your loved one, you may also save other vulnerable nursing home residents from experiencing the same type of treatment. Our Charlotte injury attorneys are here to serve you right now.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Trusted Charlotte Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer
We believe that all people should be treated with dignity and respect. If you suspect that someone you love is being harmed in nursing home care, we invite you to call 704-275-5593 or contact us today by phone or by filling out our online form. Your initial consultation with our office is free and confidential.