Reporting Nursing Home Abuse in California

How To Report Nursing Home Abuse in California

Nursing home abuse is common throughout California. Senior citizens are vulnerable to abuse due to the frequency with which they suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s. Oftentimes victims cannot recall the abuse they suffered, and ultimately it depends on a witness coming forward to an authority figure in a nursing home and reporting the elder abuse. Elderly citizens need to know they have the protection of the law if they suffer physical, emotional, or financial abuse while residing in a nursing home in California.

What Is Nursing Home Abuse?

Nursing home abuse is not uniform, and victims often experience multiple types of abuse over a period of time. Sometimes nursing home abuse is overt and produces visible signs. However, nursing home abuse may also be covert and the only signs of the abuse are the emotional injuries suffered by the victim. Several warning signs may become noticeable as nursing home abuse progresses.

Typically, an individual who is close to the victim is the abuser when the abuse occurs inside a nursing home. Oftentimes nursing home employees such as nurses and support staff are those who abuse nursing home residents. Nursing home abuse may also be physical, emotional, sexual, or financial. Victims who suffer physical abuse experience bed sores, bone fractures, scrapes, cuts, or bruises. It is possible for nursing home victims to suffer physical abuse through neglect.

Sexual abuse is common in nursing homes. Abuse victims may contract sexually transmitted diseases or become pregnant. Those who are suffering from sexual abuse and emotional abuse may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Anger
  • Violent outbursts
  • Mood swings
  • Self-injury

Any nursing home staff who notices a resident exhibiting these symptoms should alert an authority figure. It can be difficult to verify that a patient suffered abuse in a nursing home if that patient has cognitive issues or suffers from memory loss. Unfortunately, some nursing home abuse victims cannot recall their abuse or report their abuser to someone inside the nursing home.

Nursing staff may forget to administer medication to residents to fail to clean a resident’s body. Nursing home abuse may be caused by severe neglect which can lead to serious bodily injury. Also, nursing home residents may suffer financial abuse. An abuser may have a patient change their will or provide them with access to checking accounts or savings accounts. It can be incredibly difficult to observe financial abuse unless you have access to financial records.

What Are The Most Common Complaints About Nursing Homes?

Nursing home abuse complaints are numerous. The complaints may be different for smaller nursing homes. Larger nursing homes may have staffing issues and problems with employee turnover. Smaller nursing homes may have issues with medication management or neglect of patients.

Inadequate Social Interaction

Nursing home residents often do not feel connected to the larger community in which they reside. A lack of participation in events outside the nursing home may cause some patients to experience depression and anxiety. Also, many nursing home residents experience profound loneliness if they do not have any friends or family members to visit them on a regular basis. Social programs in nursing homes can help guests feel connected to others and satisfied with their lives.

Also, social gatherings such as parties and celebrations can help patients feel less isolated. Unfortunately, some nursing homes do not provide these outlets for the residents. Therefore, one of the most common complaints about nursing homes is the lack of social interaction for nursing home residents.

Erratic Sleeping Patterns

Nursing home residents often have specific needs regarding their sleeping patterns. Some elderly citizens may fall asleep at earlier hours or wake up at different hours depending on the state of their health. Also, some nursing home residents may have difficulty staying asleep in the evening. Nursing homes are often loud depending on the time of day or night, and residents may not be able to sleep through the night due to numerous disturbances.
Nursing home staff members may speak loudly during the evenings or watch television at a high volume. Under these circumstances, some nursing home residents will be unable to sleep at night. Sleep deprivation may cause some residents to experience deteriorating health and medical problems. Staff training is necessary to help nursing home residents get the best sleep possible. However, sleep deprivation is one of the common complaints regarding nursing homes in the State of California.

Slow Response Times

Response times vary depending on the size and population of the nursing home facility. Nursing home residents often use electronic call systems to alert staff and nurses that they need assistance. Unfortunately, sometimes staff members and nurses may not respond in a prompt manner to a nursing home resident. It can make nursing home residents feel neglected and lost if they cannot receive the help they need in a timely manner. Also, medical issues which are not addressed as soon as possible may become worse and cause individual nursing home residents to suffer medical complications.

Reporting a Nursing Home to the State of California

Every jurisdiction in the United States has a Long-Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman Program which exists to investigate complaints made by nursing home residents who live in long-term care facilities. This program is enforced by the California Department of Aging. Reaching out to this agency is one of the best ways to initiate the reporting process and help residents and their supporters get help with their claims. The program can be reached by telephone at (916) 419-7513.

Adult Protective Services (APS) also investigates elder abuse in other residential settings including apartment homes and private residences. Also, the California Department of Social Services (DSS) is another resource available to those who want to report elder abuse or neglect. This department may be reached by telephone at 1-844-538-8766.

The Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse (BMFEA) is an additional resource which investigates and prosecutes Medi-Cal funded facilities who engage in elder abuse. Local agencies and non-profits are also available to help family members and nursing home residents who need to report nursing home abuse. It is also necessary to stay abreast of changes in the laws related to nursing home abuse in California.

How Long Do You Have to Report Abuse In a Nursing Home?

Nursing home abuse cases in California are categorized as personal injury actions. The statute of limitations for personal injury actions in the State of California is two years from the date of the injury. It is vital that you have evidence regarding the initial date of injury and any medical records associated with the victim’s medical treatment. Nursing home abuse cases can be complex, but you need to ensure that the civil complaint is filed within the two-year statute of limitations period, otherwise it is possible that the right to seek financial compensation will be lost.

The statute of limitations period exists to ensure that the evidence used in a case will not be stale or lost with the passage of time. Several exceptions exist which will toll the statute of limitations period. For example, an abused victim may not have learned of the abuse or neglect until a specific date after the initial date of abuse if the victim was unconscious at the time of abuse. Many nursing home abuse victims are young people suffering from comas who have no recollection of the initial abuse. Therefore, it is important that you speak with an attorney about the facts of your case so you can determine when the statute of limitations period begins to run.

Contact Berberian Ain Today to Schedule a Free Consultation

Contact Berberian Ain LLP today to schedule a free consultation during which we can discuss the facts of your case. Our telephone number is (818) 808-0048. We know how difficult it can be to process elder abuse, especially when our loved ones are those suffering the abuse. We can help you seek monetary compensation for the injuries you suffered in a nursing home. Our team will be with you every step of the way as we seek justice for you and those who suffer elder abuse in California.