When a person places their loved one in a nursing home, they do so with the impression that they will be safe and secure. The unfortunate reality is that abuse and neglect are common in these facilities. Even more stressful is the fact that elderly abuse can be difficult to identify. Many elderly nursing home residents are unable to communicate about their abuse, while others are too afraid to mention it.
Given these challenges, knowing what to watch for is important. Knowing what to do if you suspect nursing home abuse could spare your loved one from additional harm. Speak to a skilled attorney to learn about the first steps to take if you suspect nursing home abuse in Lancaster. A knowledgeable nursing home abuse lawyer could investigate the claim and help you hold the negligent party accountable for their actions.
Speak with the Facility Supervisor
When a loved one shows signs of abuse, the first step involves addressing the matter with the supervisor of the nursing home. The supervisor might have evidence to show that abuse is unlikely. For minor issues, it is possible that the supervisor could agree to take steps to address what happened.
Other forms of abuse are so severe that remedial measures are not enough. If the administrator is unable or unwilling to take the necessary steps to address the abuse, it may be time to contact outside authorities.
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Contact the State
If the nursing home fails to make necessary adjustments or if the incident resulted in significant harm, the next step should involve contact state regulators. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control oversees complaints of nursing home abuse. The Department manages a complaint program that investigates accusations of nursing home abuse. Dedicated surveyors from the Department travel to the location of abuse complaints to investigate the claims. Depending on the results, the facility could lose its license to operate as a nursing home.
The Department also maintains a registry of nurse aides with substantiated abuse allegations. The registry is not limited to cases that result in a judicial finding. If a nursing home hires a person named on the registry, their hiring decision could factor into a negligence claim if that person commits an act of abuse.
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Notify Law Enforcement
If an act of abuse or neglect constitutes a crime, it is important to notify the police immediately. The sooner law enforcement is aware of the complaint, the sooner they could begin investigating the case.
The acts that are most likely to result in criminal charges are intentional abuse or acts of severe neglect. Physical or sexual violence commonly leads to criminal charges. The same is true for acts of neglect that result in a lack of food or water.
A criminal case will not foreclose a potential civil lawsuit. In fact, it is common for abuse allegations to result in both civil and criminal cases. An abused nursing home resident is entitled to pursue compensation from their abuser regardless of whether a prosecutor brings criminal charges or not.
Speak with a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Today
If pursuing civil remedies is a priority for your loved one following an incident of abuse, the attorney your family chooses is a critical step. Not all attorneys are the same, however. Given the complex nature of nursing home abuse claims, your family could benefit from the guidance of an attorney that has handled a nursing home abuse claim before. Call today to learn about the first steps to take if you suspect nursing home abuse in Lancaster.