Nursing Home Neglect in OK: Statistics and Common Injuries

Clayton T. Hasbrook

Written by Clayton T. Hasbrook. Last modified on February 20, 2024

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It is difficult to track precise statistics on elder abuse simply because many seniors hesitate to speak up about experiencing mistreatment or neglect. However, the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) cites studies reporting that as many as one in 10 seniors experienced abuse during a one-year period. Abuse can take the form of physical violence, like hitting and kicking, or intentional neglect, in which seniors are deprived of basic needs like food, water, clothing, and sanitation. Neglect can also occur due to understaffing, which is a problem at as many as 54% of nursing homes in the United States.

Broken bones are also highly common. While it’s true that older adults are more susceptible to fractures due to factors like reduced bone density and difficulty balancing, that still doesn’t excuse or explain a preventable injury, especially since nursing homes are supposed to monitor residents who are known to have a high risk of falling. Hip fractures – over 95% of which are caused by accidental falls, according to the CDC – are a preeminent concern due to the life-threatening complications that can result. According to one recent medical study, the mortality rate within one year of fracturing a hip increases anywhere from 14% to 58%.

Common Injuries Associated with Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Neglect and abuse in nursing homes can lead to severe physical injuries, such as:

  • Bed sores or pressure ulcers: These are preventable conditions, not natural effects of aging. They can escalate into critical conditions like aggressive skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma), cellulitis, osteomyelitis, and sepsis, which can be fatal.
  • Broken bones, particularly hip fractures: These injuries are common and can be life-threatening. Over 95% of hip fractures result from falls, underscoring the importance of proactive measures to prevent falls in nursing facilities.
  • Malnutrition and dehydration: A lack of proper nutrition and hydration can weaken immunity and muscle weakness and increase susceptibility to infections and diseases.
  • Unexplained injuries: These can be indicative of physical abuse or neglect and require immediate investigation.

Emotional and Psychological Abuse in Nursing Homes

In addition to physical injuries, residents may endure emotional distress, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Withdrawal
  • PTSD
  • Loss of self-esteem

These issues can stem from emotional abuse or neglect, emphasizing the necessity for comprehensive care that caters to both physical and emotional well-being.

Identifying Signs and Symptoms of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Spotting nursing home abuse and neglect involves observing both physical indicators and behavioral changes. It is important to note that other factors can also cause these signs and symptoms, so it is essential to seek professional evaluation to determine the underlying cause.

Legal Protections for Nursing Home Residents in Oklahoma

Oklahoma safeguards nursing home residents through the Oklahoma Nursing Home Care Act, which establishes minimum care standards and reporting requirements, including:

  • Right to be treated with dignity and respect
  • Right to receive adequate care and services
  • Right to report abuse or neglect without fear of retaliation

Preventing Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

To prevent nursing home abuse, it’s important for families and communities to be diligent. Choosing a reputable care facility, making regular visits, and monitoring for signs of abuse are vital strategies to ensure the safety and well-being of loved ones. Working together can create a safe and supportive environment for our elderly loved ones.

FAQs on Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

What are the most common signs of nursing home abuse and neglect?

Physical indicators include unexplained injuries, malnutrition, bedsores, and poor hygiene. Behavioral and emotional symptoms may present as withdrawal, agitation, changes in sleep or eating patterns, depression, and fear. For example, if a normally sociable resident suddenly becomes withdrawn and refuses to eat, this could signal emotional abuse or neglect.

What should I do if I suspect nursing home abuse or neglect?

Immediate action is vital. Report your concerns to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS), local law enforcement, or seek legal assistance. Documentation of any signs or incidents can be crucial in investigating and addressing the situation.

What are the legal protections for nursing home residents in Oklahoma?

The Oklahoma Nursing Home Care Act provides protections, including the right to be treated with dignity, to receive adequate care, and to report abuse without fear of retaliation. This act ensures that residents have a legal framework to protect their rights and well-being.

What can I do to prevent nursing home abuse and neglect?

Research and choose a reputable care facility, visit your loved ones regularly and stay vigilant for any signs of abuse or neglect. Engaging with the staff and participating in care planning meetings can also help ensure your loved one’s needs are being met.

Where can I get more information on nursing home abuse and neglect?

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS), the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), and local elder law attorneys are valuable resources for information and assistance regarding nursing home abuse and neglect.

Can nursing home abuse and neglect lead to legal action?

Yes, if abuse or neglect is substantiated, it can lead to legal action against the responsible parties. This might include claims for damages due to injuries suffered or even criminal charges in severe cases.

How can I choose a safe nursing home for my loved one?

Look for facilities with a strong track record of compliance with state regulations, positive reviews from residents and families, and a low staff turnover rate. Visiting the facility in person and speaking with current residents and their families can also provide valuable insights.

Are there specific laws in Oklahoma regarding nursing home staffing levels?

Yes, Oklahoma has regulations that set minimum staffing levels for nursing homes to ensure residents receive adequate care. Compliance with these regulations is critical for the well-being of residents.

How does Oklahoma enforce nursing home regulations?

The Oklahoma State Department of Health conducts regular inspections and investigates complaints to ensure compliance with state laws and regulations. Facilities found in violation may face fines, sanctions, or other corrective actions.

Can a family member be held responsible for a loved one’s nursing home bills in Oklahoma?

Generally, family members are not responsible for a loved one’s nursing home bills unless they have specifically agreed to be financially responsible. It’s important to understand any financial agreements made with the nursing home.

Legal Remedies for Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Victims of nursing home abuse and neglect and their families have legal avenues to seek justice and compensation. These may include filing a lawsuit for damages resulting from abuse or neglect. Legal action not only helps the affected individual but also helps prevent future incidents by holding negligent parties accountable.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect in Oklahoma, Hasbrook Law is here to help. Our dedicated team understands the complexities of these cases and is committed to fighting for the rights and dignity of our clients. Contact us today for a consultation, and let us help you navigate the legal process to seek the justice and compensation you deserve.

How does understaffing contribute to nursing home abuse and neglect?

Understaffing in nursing homes is a significant factor that contributes to abuse and neglect. Not enough staff members to adequately care for the residents can lead to a lack of attention and oversight. This can result in residents not receiving necessary care, such as regular feeding, hydration, assistance with mobility, and proper hygiene maintenance. Additionally, overworked and stressed staff are more likely to make mistakes or, in extreme cases, act out of frustration towards residents. This can manifest as physical abuse, emotional abuse, or neglect of the resident’s needs.

Can emotional abuse in nursing homes lead to physical health issues?

Yes, emotional abuse in nursing homes can lead to physical health issues. Emotional abuse, which includes verbal assaults, threats, intimidation, or isolation, can cause significant stress and anxiety in residents. This stress can weaken the immune system, making residents more susceptible to infections and illnesses. Additionally, the stress and anxiety caused by emotional abuse can lead to changes in appetite and sleep patterns, which can further degrade physical health. In severe cases, the psychological distress from emotional abuse can manifest in physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive issues, and exacerbation of pre-existing health conditions.

How can families effectively monitor the care their loved ones receive in nursing homes?

Families can effectively monitor the care their loved ones receive in nursing homes by maintaining regular, open communication with both the residents and the nursing home staff. Frequent visits at varying times of the day can help families observe the care environment and interactions between staff and residents. Participating in care planning meetings and reviewing the care plans can also ensure that the resident’s needs are being appropriately addressed. Additionally, families can utilize technology, such as video calls, to stay in touch with their loved ones and monitor their well-being remotely. It’s also important for families to be aware of the signs of abuse and neglect and to know how to report any concerns they may have.

What steps should be taken if a nursing home resident experiences retaliation after reporting abuse or neglect?

If a nursing home resident experiences retaliation after reporting abuse or neglect, it is vital to take immediate action. The first step should be to document the retaliation, noting any changes in treatment, behavior of staff, or conditions since the report was made. This documentation should be presented to the nursing home administration, demanding an investigation and immediate corrective action. If the situation does not improve or there is fear of further harm, the incident should be reported to state regulatory agencies, such as the Oklahoma Department of Human Services or the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Legal advice may also be sought to protect the resident’s rights and to explore options for ensuring their safety and well-being.

Fact-Checked

This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partner, Clayton T. Hasbrook who has years of legal experience as a personal injury lawyer. Our last modified date shows when this page was last reviewed.