Nursing home abuse can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Oklahoma City is no exception. In 2019, three long-term care facilities were shut down, felony charges were filed, and workers were fired following allegations of neglect. In one case, workers obtained a mentally incapacitated resident’s debit card to spend more than $32,000 on makeup, money wire services, smoke shop products, and airline tickets.
The State Department of Health has received complaints of physical and psychological abuse in other facilities where residents were choked, sprayed with mace, denied food and water, and the rooms infested with bed bugs and cockroaches.
Known or suspected instances of abuse should be reported to Oklahoma’s long-term care ombudsman at once. Residents and their families may also contact Oklahoma City nursing home abuse lawyers to pursue civil charges against cruel or negligent staff members and the facilities that employ them.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
An Oklahoma nursing home abuse lawyer can investigate many different crimes, including:
- Physical Abuse – Warning signs of physical abuse can be obvious with bruises, lacerations, broken bones, burns, restraint-related abrasions, lost teeth, sprains, or dislocated joints. Often, a poor excuse will be given about a “fall” or some other type of “accident.” Family members may observe a pattern of hospitalization for the same injuries, trips to different emergency rooms, or delayed medical care for injuries. Sometimes the only sign of physical abuse is the elder’s sudden withdrawal from social activities.
- Sexual Abuse – Nursing home staff is strictly prohibited from sexual contact with elders who have dementia, Alzheimer’s, or any other disability that prevents them from consenting to such activity. It is also against the law due to the power differential between caregiver and resident. Signs of elder sexual abuse may include pain, bleeding, or bruising near private parts; treatment for STDs or pelvic injuries; panic attacks; sudden difficulty walking or sitting, or emotional withdrawal.
- Emotional Abuse – Psychological abuse is designed to inflict mental pain, fear, or distress. It may include: insults, humiliation, intimidation, isolation, name-calling, threats, terrorizing or barring access to resources. Residents may appear depressed, withdrawn, or scared, avoid eye contact, have trouble eating or sleeping, or suffer from sudden mood swings.
- Neglect – Elder neglect occurs when caregivers intentionally fail to care for the resident’s needs. Nursing homes provide shelter, bedding, clothing, hygiene maintenance, medical care, nutrition, hydration, and protection from danger. Inadequate supervision often falls under this category. Common culprits include understaffing and overworking, which an Oklahoma personal injury lawyer can help identify through interviews, document subpoenas, and surveillance footage.
- Abandonment – Similar to neglect, abandonment occurs when a caregiver intentionally deserts the elder. Most commonly, a resident escapes the nursing home facility and is later found wandering around confused, lost, or scared. The resident may appear frail, malnourished, dehydrated, or in a state of poor hygiene.
- Financial Abuse – Using an older individual’s financial resources without proper authorization is a crime. Whether it’s government benefits, personal checks, ATM withdrawals, credit card theft, life insurance policies, or signing over property in a will, the elder must be of sound mind and capacity to make such financial arrangements. If not, it is considered a form of abuse and exploitation.
- Self-Neglect – At some point, an elder may be no longer able to take care of their own nutrition, hydration, dressing, finance, or hygiene needs– and yet, no one steps in to help. Signs of self-neglect may include: bed sores or rashes, dehydration, and weight loss, poor sleep, unpaid bills, unwashed clothing, and untreated infections.
Contact us for a free consultation
Our team of Oklahoma City nursing home abuse lawyers can help you advocate for your loved one and recover financial compensation in civil court. At Crowe Arnold & Majors, we have a proven track record of success in this field. We’ve won noteworthy cases in Oklahoma, such as $3 million for sepsis, dehydration, and malnutrition; $2.25 million for a fall; and $1.45 million for bed sores. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney for a free consultation to explore your legal rights.