Nursing Home TBIs
As our family members age, many feel that they are no longer able to provide their loved ones with the level of care that they need. As a result, more and more Americans are entering nursing homes every year. Although the majority of nursing home staff are competent professionals who have the best interests of their patients in mind, there are always a few bad apples. In some cases, abuse at the hands of nursing home staff can lead to traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
The attorneys at Slappey & Sadd have extensive experience representing victims of nursing home abuse, including those who have suffered TBIs. If you suspect that a family member who lives in a nursing home is suffering from nursing home abuse and may have developed a TBI, it might be a good idea to have a personal injury attorney look into your case to get to the bottom of what happened. When you hire a skilled lawyer, you can be assured that you will someone actively advocating for you and your loved one's interest when taking on a nursing home.What is Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse, which is a sub-category of elder abuse, covers a wide range of behaviors, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and sometimes even neglect and exploitation.
A few types of elder abuse, including nursing home abuse and neglect, include:
- Physical abuse: Physical abuse includes inflicting physical pain or injury upon a patent. This can include hitting, biting, scratching, pinching, or pushing.
- Sexual abuse: Sexual abuse means touching, fondling, intercourse, or any other unwanted sexual activity with a patient when the patient is unable to understand, or unwilling to consent
- Emotional abuse: Emotional abuse includes verbal assaults, threats of abuse, harassment, intimidation, or humiliating the patient
- Confinement: Confinement means restraining or isolating a patient for any reason other than a medically necessary reason
- Willful deprivation: Willful deprivation involves denying a patient something they need, such as medical care, shelter, food, or physical assistance, and thereby exposing the patient to the risk of physical harm
- Financial exploitation: Financial exploitation means misusing or withholding of a patent's financial resources
As the American population ages, nursing home abuse and neglect has become much more widespread than it used to be. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), one study found the prevalence of elder abuse to be approximately 10%, including physical abuse, psychological and verbal abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, and neglect. However many experts believe that the actual numbers for elder abuse are much higher since most cases of elder abuse go unreported.
NCEA also highlights several risk factors that put certain patients at higher risk of becoming victims of elder abuse, including:
- Low use of social support
- Experience of previous traumatic events
- Functional impairment and poor physical health
- Lower income and poverty
Nursing home abuse can involve a wide range of injuries, from cuts and scrapes to broken bones to poor personal hygiene. One of the most severe injuries that nursing home abuse victims suffer, however, are traumatic brain injuries (TBI). A traumatic brain injury is defined as an injury to the brain that is caused when an external force causes brain dysfunction. This is usually caused by a violent blow or jolt to the head that causes the brain to shift around inside the skull. Mild traumatic brain injury may affect the brain cells temporarily, but more severe traumatic brain injury often results in bruising, torn tissues, bleeding, and other physical damage to the brain. These types of injuries could result in long-term complications or even death in the most serious cases.
TBIs in nursing homes can occur for several reasons. Because older adults are often in a frail condition when they enter a nursing home, they are much more vulnerable to slips and falls than the general population. If a patient hits their head during a fall, the blow can result in a TBI. Another more disturbing explanation for a nursing home TBI is that a member of the nursing home staff could have struck the patient in the head. Even if a nursing home employee does not physically hit a patient's head, they may still be liable for a TBI through neglect. For example, if a patent falls and suffers a TBI because nursing home staff did not properly monitor the patient, the nursing home may be to blame.How to Spot TBIs in Nursing Home Patients
If you suspect that one of your family members is suffering from nursing home abuse that resulted in a TBI, there are several signs to watch out for. It is especially important that you thoroughly examine your family member for evidence of abuse because, unfortunately, many nursing home abuse victims are not always forthcoming about the abuse that they have suffered. A few signs and symptoms that your loved one may have suffered a TBI include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
- Profound confusion
- Agitation, combativeness, or other unusual behavior
- Convulsions or seizures
- Weakness or numbers in fingers and toes
- Slurred speech
Because many symptoms of a TBI often take several days or even weeks to appear, it is important that you monitor your loved one for any physical or behavioral changes every time you visit them.Establishing Liability for Nursing Home TBIs
When you put a family member into a nursing home, you do so because you expect that the professionals on staff will be able to care for them in the best manner possible. Because nursing home staff are professionals, they owe their patients a very high duty of care, which includes taking all reasonable measures to prevent them from suffering injuries. If the staff fail to take reasonable steps to prevent their patients from being injured, including suffering TBIs, then they might be legally liable for the injuries due to negligence.Contact an Atlanta Nursing Home TBI Attorney
If you suspect that your family member who lives in a nursing home has suffered a TBI as a result of nursing home abuse, you may be able to bring a personal injury action against the nursing home. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 404.255.6677. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including the following locations: Lawrenceville, Columbus, and Dalton.