Nursing home abuse is a part of the more widespread problem of elder abuse, even though not all nursing home residents are elderly.
The National Center on Elder Abuse says it is not certain how many Americans suffer elder abuse and neglect. One of the most recent major studies says the rate could be as high as 10 percent, but that study did not consider financial abuse.
Despite the uncertainty about the exact number of elder abuse cases, the study shows that this is a serious problem in South Carolina and across the country.
If a loved one of yours has suffered abuse or neglect in a South Carolina nursing home, the personal injury attorneys at Joye Law Firm want to help you protect them and their right to compensation.
Call Joye Law Firm now or fill out our online contact form for a free case evaluation.
SC Law Protects Nursing Home Residents from Abuse
South Carolina’s Bill of Rights for Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities is meant to protect nursing home residents. Among the guarantees state law specifically makes to nursing home residents are the rights to:
- Be free from physical or mental abuse, corporal punishment, involuntary seclusion or disciplinary use of restraints.
- Be free of restraints used for the convenience of the staff rather than the well-being of the resident.
- Have restraints used only under written physician’s orders to treat a resident’s medical symptoms and to ensure his or her safety and the safety of others.
- Be given psychopharmacologic medication only as ordered by a physician as a part of a written plan of care for a specific medical symptom, with annual review for appropriateness by an independent, external expert.
In addition to the mistreatment of long-term care residents specifically addressed by South Carolina law, other forms of nursing home abuse include:
- Physical abuse — South Carolina’s Omnibus Adult Protection Act provides the following examples of physical abuse: “slapping, hitting, kicking, biting, choking, pinching, burning.” Physical abuse can also include the inappropriate use of drugs to “chemically restrain” a resident.
- Emotional abuse — The South Carolina Adult Protection Act defines emotional abuse as “deliberately subjecting a vulnerable adult to threats or harassment or other forms of intimidating behavior causing fear, humiliation, degradation, agitation, confusion, or other forms of emotional distress.”
- Sexual abuse — Nonconsensual sexual contact between nursing home personnel and a resident, or between residents, is abusive. Sexual abuse in a nursing home is particularly troubling because the resident may be incapacitated to some degree and the staff member is generally in a position of power and authority. Sexual abuse may not involve touching. It could consist of forcing a resident to view pornography or other people’s sexual acts, or to undress in front of someone without a valid reason.
- Financial exploitation — Nursing home residents can be easy targets for theft, and are more likely to be scammed or tricked into giving away their life savings. They are also frequently victims of identity theft and health care fraud, in which a facility charges for medical services that are not provided.
- Neglect — Neglect may include not providing food, nutrition, medication or therapy; failing to provide for hygiene, including bathing and changing clothes or bed linens; or simply leaving a resident alone and unattended for lengthy periods. One of the most common outcomes of neglect is the development of pressure ulcers (bedsores) when a resident is left sitting or lying in the same position for a long time. Bed sores can become large and deep, allowing infection to penetrate all the way to the bone.
We Investigate Nursing Home Abuse in South Carolina
Nursing homes that claim they are overwhelmed or understaffed, or that have a high turnover of underpaid and undertrained caregivers, do not have a valid excuse for allowing residents to be neglected or abused.
If you think a member of your family has been subjected to abuse at a South Carolina nursing home or other long-term care facility, Joye Law Firm can help you determine what happened and work to hold the nursing home accountable.
Call Joye Law Firm now or fill out our online form for a free initial evaluation of your case.