Entrusting a loved one to a skilled nursing facility can be a tough decision. If that action results in harm to your family member, that can be devastating for the entire family.

A Maryland Heights nursing home abuse lawyer at our firm could help you during this difficult time. Our hardworking injury attorneys understand your predicament and want to help you safeguard your loved one and recover compensation for the damage done.

Defining Elder Abuse

Missouri takes protecting its most vulnerable residents seriously and has enacted legislation defining and criminalizing abuse of the elderly. Missouri Revised Statutes § 565.184 defines maltreatment of older persons as purposely, knowingly, or intentionally causing emotional distress, failing to provide care, or acting in a way that causes substantial risk to the individual’s life, body, or health. Under Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 558.002.1(1) & 558.011.1(6), anyone convicted of elder abuse may face up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

How Do Nursing Home Residents Suffer Mistreatment?

Unfortunately, due to their mental and physical frailty, some nursing home residents are more susceptible to mistreatment by staff or other residents. While some abuse occurs unintentionally, many other forms result from mismanagement or administrative decisions designed to increase profits, such as short staffing or overmedicating patients to keep them compliant.

The most common types of elder abuse seen in assisted living facilities includes:

  • Physical harm
  • Emotional distress
  • Sexual violence
  • Financial manipulation
  • Neglect (general and medical)

Although residents may be unable to communicate maltreatment to their families, relatives must be vigilant and look for signs of neglect, such as unexplained bruises or broken bones, pressure sores, poor hygiene, sudden weight loss or gain, changes in mood, depression, anxiety, or unexpected fluctuations in bank account balances. If any of these or other such conditions exist, families should consider consulting with a reliable lawyer in the area who is well-versed in nursing home abuse to hold the negligent facility accountable.

Legal Protection from Nursing Mistreatment

In addition to Missouri criminalizing elder abuse, the federal government enacted the Nursing Home Reform Act in 1986. This law establishes a resident’s bill of rights, the essential services a facility must provide, and the minimum standards the home must meet. Failure to meet these requirements triggers an enforcement process, the resolution of which ranges from giving the nursing home an opportunity to correcting violations to monetary penalties to termination of provider agreements with Medicare and Medicaid.

The Federal Code of Regulations, codified under Section 483.12, clarifies that all nursing home inhabitants have the right to a safe living environment, free from abuse, neglect, misappropriation, and exploitation. In addition to the overall protection, Section 483.10 describes the rights and comforts promised to all skilled nursing residents. The list includes the rights to privacy, dignity, individual choice, open and free communication without the fear of retaliation, accommodation of physical and mental needs, participation in group activities, maintaining personal belongings, and personal involvement in the resident’s medical care plan, including the refusal of treatment or medication. The bill of rights also bans the use of physical and chemical restraints unrelated to proper medical treatments and as a means of discipline.

When a facility violates the Nursing Home Reform Act’s protections, local nursing home mistreatment attorney may guide families through the process of reporting the egregious actions to the proper authorities and seeking damages for the harm caused to their loved ones.

Contact a Maryland Heights Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Immediately

If you suspect that a relative living in a nursing home is not receiving proper care, do not hesitate to seek guidance from a compassionate attorney. A Maryland Heights nursing home abuse lawyer could help you protect your loved one, hold the facility accountable, and collect appropriate damages. Call us today.