How To Document Evidence For A Nursing Home Abuse Claim

Documenting Evidence for a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit

California is home to over 6.1 million senior citizens, 410,000 of whom live in an assisted living facility, such as a nursing home or a residential care building. Elderly residents at these facilities are vulnerable to elder abuse, neglect, and many other forms of mistreatment.

If you suspect abuse or neglect in a California nursing home, you can report the incident and file an official claim to protect your loved one. This typically requires thorough documentation that shows the signs, symptoms, or consequences of the mistreatment.

Knowing what evidence you need to prove mistreatment can help you report a nursing home for abuse to the relevant authorities to hold the negligent party accountable. Learn how to document nursing home abuse and why working with a Glendale nursing home neglect attorney can help ensure fair treatment during the claims process.

 

What is the Most Common Mistreatment in Nursing Homes?

Elderly or cognitively impaired residents in nursing homes may suffer intentional abuse or neglect due to inadequate staffing or poor training. This mistreatment can result in serious injuries that impact the resident’s well-being and quality of life.

Below are some of the most common nursing home injuries:

  • Bed sores. Also known as pressure ulcers, bed sores are one of the most common signs of neglect in a nursing home. Residents develop bed sores when they are left lying in bed in the same position for too long, causing prolonged pressure on sensitive parts of the skin. Bed sores are painful and, depending on their severity, can take days, weeks, or months to heal.
  • Malnutrition and dehydration. Another common form of neglect and abuse in nursing homes is staff failing to ensure residents are fed and hydrated. This is typically due to staff not checking on residents to meet their needs for food and water. Some residents need assistance with eating and drinking due to conditions like dementia; neglect can also arise from staff failing to provide that assistance.
  • Infections. Residents may develop infections and catch diseases if nursing home staff fail to provide essential care practices, such as hygiene assistance or basic wound care. Infections like MRSA can also spread among residents due to poor facility-wide hygiene practices, such as inadequate or insufficient cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Fall sprains and fractures. Studies show that fall prevention training effectively reduces the rate of fall injuries in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Nursing homes that do not provide fall prevention to their staff members experience higher rates of resident falls and associated injuries, such as sprains and broken bones.
  • Unexplained injuries. Unexplained injuries, such as bruises or fractures without a clear cause, may point to abuse. This occurs when staff inflict harm directly or through forceful handling. Examples can include hitting, kicking, or forcefully restraining residents, indicating mistreatment by staff or other caregivers.

How to Prove Nursing Home Abuse and Negligence

Proving nursing home abuse requires collecting sufficient evidence to demonstrate what occurred and how it affected your loved one. It must show that the facility failed in its duty of care and that this neglect directly harmed your family member.

When documenting a case of suspected nursing home abuse, work with your attorney to gather the following evidence for a well-supported claim:

  • Medical records. Doctor’s notes, hospital records, medication logs, and other medical assessments are valuable pieces of evidence to prove abuse and neglect. They can document and show the deterioration of your loved one’s health and provide an expert opinion on the origin of their injuries, malnutrition, dehydration, and other forms of neglect.
  • Financial records. If your family member or loved one has suffered financial abuse, you may need to include copies of financial documents. Look for bank statements, unexplained cash withdrawals, unplanned changes in your loved one’s will or power of attorney, and other unusual financial activity.
  • Photo evidence. Photographs with exact times and dates can visually document your loved ones’ injuries, such as sprains, bruises, or bedsores. They can also demonstrate poor living conditions, such as dirty or poorly kept environments.
    Document as many photographs as possible and conserve them in chronological order. This collection of photos should show a timeline of abuse or neglect, helping link incidents with specific injuries.
  • Nursing home documentation. Nursing home documentation and records regarding resident rights, discharge policies, and staff training and qualifications can help strengthen your case. Examples include incident reports, copies of the facility’s procedures and rules, staffing logs, and training records.
  • Logs and witness statements. Keep copies of statements from your loved one, residents who witnessed abuse, or sympathetic staff members. Personal logs, diaries, and witness statements can provide additional context and support for abuse or neglect claims.

What to do if You Suspect Neglect or Abuse

If you suspect a family member or loved one is being neglected or abused as a nursing home resident, you can take steps to protect their physical and mental health. Here are the actions needed to hold the responsible party accountable:

  • Gather all relevant evidence. Collect every piece of evidence that can help you prove neglect or abuse has taken place in the nursing home or assisted living facility. Examples include photos, medical records, and witness statements. The more evidence you gather, the stronger your case is when reporting it to the proper authorities.
  • Attempt to resolve the matter internally. Before filing an external complaint, contact the nursing home’s administration. Raise your concerns with the facility and go through the internal complaints process. Maintain records of any communication with nursing home administration or staff, preferably in written format like emails or letters.
  • Contact your local ombudsman. Contact your local Long-Term Care Ombudsman if the nursing home’s internal claims process hasn’t resolved the issue. They can investigate nursing home abuse or neglect cases and provide you with guidance and assistance.
  • File a DPH complaint. In California, reporting a nursing home facility for abuse or neglect begins with filing a complaint with the California Department of Public Health (DPH). You can file a complaint online, by phone, mail, or fax.
  • Include the right information. According to the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), a complaint should include the facility’s name and address, your contact details, the name of the abused resident, and your relation to them. Document each incident with precise dates, times, the names of all witnesses and involved staff members, and records that require examination. Explain each incident briefly, but include as many relevant details and information as possible.
  • Contact the DPH investigator. The California Health and Safety Code requires the DPH to acknowledge receipt of your complaint and notify you of the name of the assigned investigator within 2 working days. DPH will initiate an onsite investigation within 10 working days of receiving a complaint.
  • Wait for the DPH investigation to end. The law requires all DPH investigations to be completed within 60 days of receiving a complaint, after which you will be notified of the findings. If the case requires extra investigation time, DPH may extend the deadline by 60 days after notifying you and the investigated facility.
  • Options after a DPH investigation. If you are dissatisfied with the DPH’s investigation or contest their findings, you have the right to request an informal conference and meet with a DPH district manager. If the results of this conference still do not resolve the matter, you may appeal to the Deputy Director.
    Consider seeking legal advice from an experienced nursing home abuse law firm in Glendale, California, as soon as possible. Nursing home abuse attorneys can provide advice and guidance tailored to your situation while a DPH investigation is ongoing. A lawyer may recommend alternative legal options, including a lawsuit against the nursing facility to recover compensation for your loved one’s damages.

Protect Your Elderly Loved One in a California Nursing Home

Evidence is critical to prove your family members or loved ones have suffered abuse or neglect while in the care of a nursing home. Collecting the right evidence can not only help build a case to safeguard their health and well-being, but it can also help at every stage of the process.

State authorities and your legal representative can use the evidence to hold responsible parties accountable and compensate your family for the harm caused.