Physical Neglect

The Maine physical neglect attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates are renowned leaders in personal injury law. Our firm is dedicated to providing superior legal services to clients in Portland and other areas of Maine.

Elder abuse in nursing homes is one of the most prevalent and least-reported crimes in the United States. Despite the rise of multi-generational “live-in” households, busy families are often unequipped to provide 24-hour care. After careful research, they rely on nursing homes to provide their loved ones with quality treatment. This is a hard decision for any family, as they argue over what option would provide relatives with a better quality of life. Sadly, many nursing homes do not live up to their expectations. In fact, families are often shocked to discover that patients are abused by the very people they depend on for care. Because nursing home patients are often of an advanced age, they are easy targets for abuse and neglect.

Physical neglect is one form of abuse. It refers to a nursing home’s failure to take care of a patient’s basic physical needs. Incapacitated patients often need assistance getting to the restroom or changing positions in bed. They may require extra pillows to cushion an injury or to sit up and read. At the most basic level, patients require the proper hydration and nutrition necessary to survive. The required fluid and glucose may be administered intravenously, but a third party has to provide the material. Nursing homes are also required to monitor the patient’s physical condition to determine whether the patient needs to be covered or cleaned. They must look for any unexplained changes that would require a change in medication or another visit by the physician.

Consequences of repeated or chronic physical neglect include:

  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Poor hygiene
  • Constipation
  • Hypothermia
  • Open wounds
  • Falls, bedsores
  • Recurring infection

Signs of physical abuse may include unexplained marks or bruises around a patient’s neck or wrists, burn marks or lacerations in unexposed areas, and even fractures or broken bones. Physical abuse will often result in the patient flinching at sudden movements or withdrawal from company. Signs of physical neglect are harder to detect. Because they occur over a longer period of time, heavily-medicated patients may not notice any change until it is too late. Unexplained weight loss, constant fatigue, and depression may provide some clues. Increased swelling in the abdomen may indicate severely impacted bowels. Patients on multiple medications often require the administration of laxatives to prevent this from happening. Chronic infections, wounds, and bed sores are also clues that point to physical neglect.

Federal and state laws hold nursing homes liable for negligence. Liability is based upon the duty of care owed to the patient. Like any medical entity, nursing homes must provide patients with a certain quality of care. Exposing the patient to physical neglect clearly falls below this standard. If the physical neglect results in deterioration of the patient’s health or some other injury, the nursing home may be liable. This may require compensating the injured patient for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other future costs associated with the neglect. Physical neglect in a nursing home can significantly impact the patient’s recovery and future quality of life. If the neglect caused wrongful death, surviving family members are entitled to additional damages associated with the loss of relationship with the deceased.

If you or someone you love is the victim of nursing home abuse, the experienced Maine physical neglect lawyers at Peter Thompson & Associates can help. Our investigators, case managers, and/or expert medical consultants comb the patient’s charts and medical records to find evidence of neglect, even if the nursing home has tried to mask its conduct. We have successfully handled a wide variety of personal injury cases, recovering substantial verdicts and settlements for clients throughout Maine. At Peter Thompson & Associates, we are dedicated to maximizing your recovery at trial or through settlement. Call 800.804.2004 today for a free consultation, or contact us online.

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