Reports of nursing home abuse up in Ohio

When our loved ones are no longer able to care for themselves, a nursing home is often the most viable option for busy relatives to ensure that their loved one's needs are seen to. Once a suitable nursing home is chosen, it is expected that the facility will provide adequate care. The sad fact is that even in the best of facilities, nursing home abuse can occur.

In Ohio alone, nursing home abuse complaints have nearly doubled this year, according to Attorney General Mike DeWine. According to DeWine's office, 131 cases involving suspected abuse have been opened so far this year. As a comparison, during this same time in 2012, only 74 of such cases were open.

About half of the abuse complaints for 2013 came after June 6, when DeWine announced that his office is cracking down on nursing homes suspected of providing residents with inadequate or abusive care.

Signs Of Abuse

DeWine's crackdown on nursing home abuse is surely reassuring to the Ohio families who have loved ones in nursing homes. In addition, it highlights the need for family members to be informed and vigilant as to the signs of nursing home abuse.

When selecting a nursing home, all but a few take the time to take tours of the facilities, speak to staff and learn about the level of treatment that the residents receive. Once a loved one has been moved in, a close family member may make regular visits to ensure that he or she receives proper care.

Despite these efforts, evidence of mistreatment or abuse of residents is not always obvious. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, be on the lookout for these common signs of abuse or negligence:

  • Sudden weight loss
  • Infections
  • Broken bones
  • Unusual cuts, bruises, illnesses or wounds
  • Poor hygiene or the smell of urine or feces
  • Evidence of restraint or sedative use
  • Extreme changes in emotional or physical behavior (e.g., withdrawal or infantile behavior)
  • Evasive behavior among the staff (e.g., refusing or delaying access to the resident during visiting hours)
  • Bedsores
  • Concern or fear of one or more staff members

If you notice signs of nursing home abuse, it is important to document your observations. Review your loved one's file for questionable entries, making copies as needed. Question the staff and management. Take photos of anything out of the ordinary.

It is important to know that help is available when dealing with suspected instances of nursing home abuse. An attorney experienced in nursing home negligence can assist you in your investigation and help you determine who is at fault. Additionally, he or she can advise you of your right to recover damages under Ohio law and ensure that the responsible party is held accountable.