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Minnesota Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

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Minnesota Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

There may come a time when you need to check your loved one into a nursing home or assisted living facility. This is never an easy choice for a family. Indeed, even when it is clearly the right call, it can be an incredibly stressful decision to make. When you do check a loved one into a nursing home, you are putting a lot of faith in the hands of that facility. Nursing homes have legal duties to protect the health and safety of their residents. Yet, sadly, all too often, these facilities fail to live up to that responsibility.

We understand the devastating impact caused by nursing home abuse and neglect. When a care facility violates your trust, we can help. We strive to protect other residents and their families from maltreatment and substandard care, and to honor the dignity of their loved ones whose safety and rights have been disregarded. Oftentimes nursing homes think they can hide the truth and they should be held accountable for the damage they cause.

At Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm, our experienced Minnesota nursing home abuse lawyers have extensive experience fighting back against bad acting nursing home and assisted living facilities. We can help you take action to protect your loved one and bring a legal claim against the responsible parties. If your vulnerable loved one has been the victim of abuse or neglect as at Minneapolis-St. Paul nursing home, please contact our team today.

What is Nursing Home Abuse?

In the video above, attorney Mark Kosieradzki talks about abuse of the elderly and vulnerable in nursing home and other care facilities.

How Does Abuse in Nursing Homes Happen?

Mark talks about some of the issues that lead to abuse happening in American nursing homes. One of the biggest issues he identifies is the unfortunate understaffing of many care facilities. This understaffing makes it difficult for facility staff to be accountable to one another. They are often alone with residents leaving the opportunity for abuse wide open. Mark points out in the interview that one of the important things that can be understood more thoroughly through the litigation process is not only what happened but why it happened.

Chemical Restraint is a Problem in Nursing Homes

Many people envision nursing home abuse as consisting of rough treatment, such as slapping, punching, grabbing, or pinching. But giving unnecessary drugs to chemically restrain a person is also a huge problem inside nursing homes. In particular, some nursing homes routinely use anti-psychotic drugs on residents who do not need them—solely to make the resident docile.

How big of a problem is this? According to one study, about 1 out of 4 nursing home residents received an antipsychotic drug, though only 7% had received an approved diagnosis for its use. This means a large number of residents are given these drugs without any medical necessity. According to the same study, almost 42% of residents were given antipsychotic medicine in violation of the nursing home prescribing guidelines.

Under pressure from the government, nursing homes have made a concerted effort to reduce the use of drugs to restrain patients, with some recent success. However, you should pay close attention to whether your loved one has recently been prescribed any of the following:

  • Haldol
  • Risperdal
  • Seroquel
  • Zyprexa
  • Geodon
  • Abilify

Nursing Home Abuse is an Epidemic

Tragically, nursing home abuse is a very serious problem in Minnesota and throughout the United States. According to data provided by the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), 10 percent of all nursing home residents face abuse or neglect on a semi-regular basis. Notably, within this data, the NCEA includes a caveat stating that the true figure is almost certainly far higher, because nursing home abuse and neglect is chronically underreported.

More must be done to combat this widespread problem. In the coming years, the nursing home population in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region is expected to explode due to the aging of the baby boomer generation. The NCEA expects the total nursing home population to double between 2010 and 2040, and abuse and neglect could become an even bigger problem if corrective action is not taken.

Patients Have Important Rights

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have legal obligations to protect the rights of patients. Indeed, nursing home residents have important legal rights under both federal law, such as 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, and state law, including the Minnesota Health Care Bill of Rights. Specifically, some of the most important legal rights include:

  • The right to live in a safe environment, free from abuse, exploitation and discrimination;
  • The right to have full information regarding their living arrangements;
  • The right to reasonably participate in health care decision making;
  • The right to complain about the facility without worrying about facing punishment;
  • The right to privacy, lifestyle choices and visitation time; and
  • The right to overall dignity and respect.

Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

To prevent your loved one from becoming a victim, it is imperative that you know the common warning signs of a nursing home abuse and neglect. Whenever you visit with or communicate with your loved one, you should always keep a close eye out for the following:

  • Untreated medical conditions, such as cuts, wounds and sores;
  • Unacceptably dirty clothing or bed sheets;
  • Bruises, abrasions or other injuries;
  • Signs or smells of poor hygiene;
  • Sudden and unexplained weight loss;
  • Sexually transmitted diseases or infections;
  • Changes in behavior, including fearfulness or withdrawal;
  • Any other strange personal behavior;
  • Unusual or unexplained financial transactions;
  • Problems with staff members;
  • Disorganization within the facility;
  • Direct complaints from your loved one; and
  • Anything else that makes you feel ‘anxious’ or ‘uneasy’.

It is important to note that some of the warnings signs of abuse are consistent with other underlying medical problems. The most important thing you need to remember is that you should always follow up on any potential problems. By addressing things thoroughly and quickly, you can be sure that you have provided the best possible environment for your vulnerable family member.

Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Injuries

Because of Minnesota elder abuse, elderly residents can suffer devastating injuries. Given their age, many residents cannot bounce back as quickly as they used to. An injury that might be relatively minor for a younger person could present life-threatening complications for an elderly loved one. Many abused or neglected residents suffer:

  • Infections
  • Soft-tissue injuries, such as sprains or strains
  • Nerve damage
  • Broken bones
  • Sores
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries

Emotional distress is also common, with some abused residents suffering the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Abused or neglected seniors might begin withdrawing from family and friends or begin acting like children.

Many residents are already struggling with illnesses, and any abuse or neglect might cause them to falter much faster than they normally would. By speaking up on behalf of your loved ones, you can increase the chances that they will be able to recover from their injuries with the help of a Minnesota elder abuse attorney.

What Should You Do If You Suspect a Problem?

In the unfortunate event that you suspect your loved one is currently being mistreated in a Minnesota nursing home, you need to take immediate action. In many cases, family members of the victims report not being sure that any abuse or neglect is actually occurring at all. This is a common problem. Nursing home neglect is difficult to catch. If you have suspicions or if your loved one is making complaints, you need to follow up on the issue: It is always better to be safe rather than sorry.

One thing you can do is show up to the nursing home at unusual hours. For example, if you always visit on a Saturday morning, show up on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening. The nursing home might have adequate staff when you visit, or they might bathe your loved one in anticipating of your visit. By showing up at unusual times, you might catch nursing home staff being abusive or neglectful, simply because they are not expecting you, and this is evidence that you can provide to an elder abuse lawyer in Minnesota.

You should also ask to see a list of medicines that your loved one is being given. You might notice that they are receiving drugs that are inappropriate or that they are not being given something that a doctor has prescribed.

If you need assistance, a compassionate Minneapolis nursing home abuse attorney can help you take action to ensure that your loved one is being properly protected. Generally, concerns of ongoing abuse should be reported to the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center. Though, in cases where there is a medical emergency, you may need to call 911 for immediate assistance. The state of Minnesota provides services that can help you get your vulnerable family member medical treatment and into a temporary location that is safe. From there, your attorney will be able to assess the legal issues and determine exactly what needs to be done to hold the negligent assisted living facility responsible for your loved one’s damages.

Compensation Available to Nursing Abuse Victims

If you or a family member has been a victim of nursing home abuse in Minnesota, you need to take legal action. Our team can help you seek full compensation for your damages. Depending on the specific circumstances of your claim, we may be able to assist you in obtaining financial relief for:

  • Costs associated with relocation;
  • Incidental economic damages;
  • Any medical expenses related to the abuse or neglect;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Mental distress;
  • Wrongful death damages; and
  • Punitive damages.

No two cases are the same, so it is difficult to say ahead of time how much compensation is available. Often, a good attorney can make the difference between receiving a paltry settlement and one that fully compensates your loved one for the abuse or neglect that they have suffered. Schedule a consultation with a Minnesota nursing home abuse attorney who can review the circumstances and offer an individualized case assessment.

How to Build a Case

Few nursing homes will admit to being understaffed or relying on drugs to restrain patients. To hold the nursing home accountable, you will need to build a strong case using the evidence available. Many of our clients have elderly relatives who lack the capacity to testify about what happened, which only makes the gathering of evidence that much more challenging.

At Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm, we begin building a case against the nursing home immediately. The sooner you act, the more likely your chances of finding the evidence you need to hold the nursing home accountable. Depending on the circumstances, we can:

  • Review your loved one’s medical records
  • Visit the nursing home
  • Interview nursing home staff
  • Request secret reports or records about the state of the nursing home

You should avoid delay. Minnesota law only gives injured residents a certain amount of time to bring a lawsuit against a neglectful or abusive nursing home. If you wait too long, you will lose your chance to receive compensation from the people responsible for injuring your loved one.

Our Minnesota Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys Can Help

At Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm we are privileged to help our clients to make sure, without question, that vulnerable adults and the elderly are treated with the respect they deserve. Visit our MN Nursing Home Abuse blog to find resources that can help your family make the right decisions for your loved one. Learn how to identify and report abuse and learn about recent cases and troublesome nursing homes.

If you believe that your loved one has been mistreated in a Minnesota nursing home, we will help. To set up a free review of your claim, please do not hesitate to call us today at (763) 225-2695 or to contact us directly through our website. Our firm is located in Plymouth and we serve communities throughout the Twin Cities, including in Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Wright County, Carver County and Dakota County.

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