Sadly, nursing home abuse is a dilemma that has been common for some decades. In August 2021, a nursing home in Enid, Oklahoma was investigated for several cases of verbal and physical abuse against at least five of its residents. A report was recently submitted to the Oklahoma State Department of Health citing several incidents of abuse and neglect that occurred at The Commons in Enid.
One incident referenced was an incident where a nurse failed to provide pain medication to one of the residents; another incident referenced was an incident where one of the employees failed to notify the doctor of a patient’s condition after the patient suffered from multiple seizures. The staff is also under investigation for failing to investigate complaints, report allegations of abuse, and failing to protect residents from further abuse during investigations.
The ruling from the State Department of Health claims that these incidents are not isolated and that there seems to be a pattern of repeated abuse and neglect forming. The President of the Commons Board of Directors asserts that there have been significant changes made since the report was submitted. To date, there have been three employees who have been terminated. The State Department of Health is currently in the process of reviewing those changes and plans to return to the facility to make sure the problems are corrected. If the problems have not been corrected, the facility is looking at strong punishment from the state.
What is nursing home abuse?
Nursing home abuse is a form of abuse where caretakers cause harm to residents of long-term care facilities. Whether the harm was intentional or unintentional, it is still considered abuse. Nursing home abuse happens more often than people care to admit. In 2019, The Office of Inspector General reported that 97 percent of nursing home abuse cases across five states were not reported to local law enforcement. If not reported right away, this type of abuse can result in insidious consequences such as trauma, medical emergencies, and even death.
How is nursing abuse allowed to happen?
Some of the factors that contribute to nursing home abuse include understaffing, improper training, and burnout. When employees are not properly trained, the employees can easily succumb to feelings of stress and frustration. Unfortunately, some employees choose to take their stress and frustrations out on the residents. Sufficient staffing also contributes to nursing home abuse by increasing the likelihood of neglect. Persistent staff shortages make it more difficult for residents to receive the proper care and attention they deserve. Many long-term physical and emotional issues can stem from extended periods of neglect.
Types of nursing home abuse
Naturally, when some of us hear the term nursing home abuse, our minds tend to think of incidents of physical abuse. While physical abuse is one of the types of abuse that long-term care residents endure, there are several other types that cause equally damaging trauma. It is necessary for family members to become aware of the type of nursing home abuse their loved one is suffering from so the process of helping them can become easier.
Physical abuse in nursing homes
Physical abuse involves any physical action staff members use to cause harm to patients. When a staff member physically harms a nursing home resident, they are intentionally causing pain or injury to the resident. Examples of physical abuse committed by staff members include hitting, slapping, kicking, shoving, or shaking the resident. If a staff member decides to restrain the resident against their will, that also counts as a form of physical abuse. Some common signs to look out for in reference of physical abuse include dislocations, fractures, head injuries, cuts and abrasions, and bruises.
Emotional abuse in nursing homes
Emotional abuse against a resident involves any type of action that inflicts harm on a resident’s psychological well-being. It can consist of verbal or non-verbal actions that cause psychological pain, anguish, and distress. Some examples of emotional abuse include yelling at residents, bullying, humiliation, taunting, and intimidation. If the staff member tries to isolate the resident from friends and family, that is also a form of emotional abuse. Some of the warning signs of emotional abuse include a resident experiencing depression, anxiety, withdrawal, PTSD symptoms, and agitation. If the resident expresses signs of fearfulness once their visitor begins to depart, that is also a sign that the resident may be suffering from emotional abuse.
Sexual abuse in nursing homes
Sexual abuse against a nursing home resident involves any type of unwanted sexual activity. Similar to emotional abuse, this type of abuse is difficult to detect. Staff members may decide to sexually abuse residents for reasons of psychological manipulation or financial abuse. Some examples of sexual abuse include forcing the resident to disrobe and exposing oneself to the resident. Some regular signs of sexual abuse against a resident include trouble sitting or walking, unexplained pelvic pain or bleeding, STDs, PTSD symptoms, and emotional withdrawal.
Neglect in nursing homes
Nursing home neglect is a form of abuse where staff members fail to provide the proper care for a resident. Nursing home residents can experience both general neglect and medical neglect, or a combination of both. General neglect involves denying the resident their basic needs such as water, food, clean clothing, or safety. Medical neglect involves failing to provide the necessary medical treatment and care for the resident.
Some common signs of general neglect include a resident suffering from dehydration, malnutrition, dirty bedding or clothing, and poor hygiene. Some typical signs that a resident is suffering from medical neglect include the presence of bedsores, medication errors, an undiagnosed or untreated illness, or the presence of a secondary infection. If the staff member fails to provide basic preventative care, that also counts as a form of medical neglect.
Our Tulsa nursing home abuse lawyers have a strong track record of success fighting for the elderly. For help with any nursing home claim, call us now at 918-574-8458, or use the contact form to schedule an appointment. We proudly serve all of Oklahoma including the communities of Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Bixby, Claremore, Jenks, Sand Springs, Sapulpa, Wagoner, Muskogee, and the surrounding areas.
Jacob Biby has spent his legal career helping folks just like you get the resources they need after an injury. He completed his undergraduate degree at Oklahoma State University and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa in 2008. Jacob is licensed to practice in all Oklahoma state and federal courts, and has limited his career to representing individuals and families who were injured by the negligence of other people or corporations. Learn more about Jacob Biby.