If you know or suspect abuse in a nursing home, you must report it.
You can report the abuse to the Georgia Department of Community Health’s Healthcare Facility Regulation (HFR). That division oversees healthcare facilities in the area. You can call or submit a complaint online.
If a loved one has suffered abuse, you might also need a nursing home abuse lawyer. You could have a legal case against the nursing home. To discuss your situation with one of our attorneys at John Foy & Associates, call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online.
What Counts as Elder Abuse in Georgia?
Abuse is not always obvious, at least not at first.
According to the Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services, abuse of elder and disabled adults is incredibly underreported.
Family members need to know the signs and types of abuse that can happen.
Someone might use physical force to cause harm. The victim might experience injuries, pain, or physical discomfort.
Types of physical abuse can include:
- Hitting, slapping, or beating
- Misusing medications or restraints
- Forcing the patient to stay in one place
- Burning or scalding
- Acts that cause pain, broken bones, cuts, or bruises
Someone might not display physical signs of emotional abuse. However, the patient’s behavior can change, such as becoming more withdrawn.
Examples of emotional abuse include:
- Verbal threats or insults
- Threatening violence or neglect
- Ignoring or giving the silent treatment
- Isolating the patient from loved ones or activities
Neglect is a type of abuse. A nursing home employee is guilty if they neglect a resident from their fundamental rights.
Types of neglect can include:
- Not providing essentials like water, food, and medical care
- Withholding food, clothing, or other necessities
- Having unsafe living conditions
- Not treating injuries or other immediate needs
- Leaving the resident in dirty clothing or bedding
Bedsores are often a sign of neglect, such as leaving a patient in one spot on their bed for too long.
Financial abuse can mean using a resident’s money illegally or without their knowledge. For example, family members might notice bank withdrawals that the resident didn’t make or approve.
Sexual abuse is more common in nursing homes than people realize. Residents are often too embarrassed or ashamed to mention the abuse to family members.
Types of sexual abuse include:
- Inappropriate or non-consensual touching
- Sexual assault or harassment
- Forcing the patient to view sexual materials
If you notice signs of abuse, don’t wait to take action. It’s vital to get the victim away from the unsafe environment and report the actions. You might also have legal options against the nursing home.
Get the strong arm
Signs of Abuse to Report
Loved ones should observe carefully if they have any suspicions about abuse.
Abuse can look different for each case, but here are some common signs:
- Broken bones
- Black eyes or other bruises
- Scrapes, cuts, or other injuries
- Open wounds
- Marks on the breast or genital areas
- Infections without explanation
A resident can suffer injuries from physical abuse or neglect. For example, maybe a resident fell in the nursing home because a caregiver failed to keep a safe watch.
Nursing home abuse can have behavioral signs, too. The victim might become quiet, depressed, or anxious. Weight loss, dirty clothes or bedding, or hunger can also be signs of abuse.
The resident might not come out and say that they were abused. But if family members suspect foul play, they should investigate and speak up.
Is Nursing Home Abuse a Crime?
Under Georgia law, elder abuse is a crime. If you choose to sue, the guilty party can face civil and criminal charges.
Willfully inflicting physical injury, pain, or sexual abuse on an elder or disabled adult is a felony, according to OCGA §16-5-102. A conviction can mean prison time or up to $50,000 in fines.
In a personal injury claim, the victim can seek damages for what they’ve suffered. The nursing home will have to pay for the damages and possibly face large fines.
Get a Free Legal Consultation
Nursing home abuse is never okay. If a loved one was the victim of abuse, contact a nursing home abuse lawyer near you. You can discuss the details with an attorney and understand your options.
At John Foy & Associates, we’ve been helping injury and abuse victims for over 20 years. Our trusted lawyers will stop at nothing to fight for your rights. We also do not collect a fee unless we win you compensation.
To get a free, no-risk consultation, call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online.
Filing a Complaint Against a Doctor
Sometimes nursing home abuse comes from a healthcare provider. If the resident suffered abuse from a doctor or hospital, the family can file a complaint with the Georgia Composite Medical Board.
The board regulates doctors and other medical professionals in the state.
Again, it’s also good to speak with a lawyer after this type of abuse.
When Is a Nursing Home Liable for Abuse?
You must show that the nursing home or a staff member was negligent. In Georgia, negligence is another word for careless. When someone’s negligence leads to harm, that person is responsible for the costs.
Nursing homes are typically liable for the actions of their employees. Unless there are criminal charges, the facility might be responsible for your damages.
Damages You Can Claim
When your lawyer builds a case against the nursing home, they will look at your damages.
Personal injury damages are all losses the victim experiences.
Damages can include:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
Nursing home abuse or neglect can cause immense suffering. The victim may experience physical and emotional pain for many years. While we cannot reverse what’s happened, we can seek compensation for what the victim has suffered.
Sometimes, punitive damages are an option for nursing home abuse. Punitive damages are about punishing the wrongdoer and discouraging similar actions again. If there was malicious or wanton behavior, the courts might award punitive damages.
Abuse and neglect are situations where punitive damages might be an option. Talk to one of our lawyers today to know all of your options.
Get Help from a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
To get a free consultation with a trusted lawyer at John Foy & Associates, contact us today.
Call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online for your free consultation.