Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are tasked with the responsibilities of providing residents with care and resources to maintain their physical, mental, emotional, and social wellbeing. While reputable facilities are known to provide high levels of care with experienced employees, there are a number of facilities that either intentionally or unintentionally harm those who reside there. If you’ve had a loved one harmed in their long-term care facility, you can help them recover with the help of a Columbus nursing home abuse lawyer.
While Thomas Law Offices is located in Cincinnati, we’re dedicated to helping individuals and families all around Ohio who have been wronged by negligent nursing home facilities. If you believe you have a case, we can schedule a free case evaluation where we’ll discuss what has taken place, what your legal rights and options are, and how you wish to proceed.
Nursing Home Abuse in Columbus
Within ten miles of Columbus, there are currently 26 nursing homes. According to Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare program, 15 of the 26 rate below average or much below average. Facilities are rated on health inspections, staffing, and quality measures.
Of the seven facilities rated much below average, one, Majestic Care of Columbus LLC, has been cited for abuse—specifically in regard to 25 health citations noted on January 16, 2020. Based on medical record reviews, residents and staff interviews, and policy reviews, the facility failed to ensure all residents were free from verbal or emotional abuse or threatening behavior. At the time of the citation, four alleged abuse incidents had been reports, with one confirmed.
While a nursing home resident can be injured and abused in a number of ways, most incidents fall into one of the following categories, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse:
- Physical Abuse. Physical abuse occurs when a resident sustains bodily injury, physical pain, or impairment as a result of physical force. This could include hitting, slapping, kicking, shaking, pinching, and burning. Additionally, inappropriate use of drugs and physical restrains force-feeding, and physical punishments of any kind are also examples of physical abuse.
- Emotional Abuse. Emotional abuse, sometimes referred to as psychological abuse, happens when a staff member inflicts anguish, pain, or distress through verbal and nonverbal acts. This could include verbal assaults, threats, intimidations, insults, humiliation, or harassment.
- Sexual Abuse. Sexual abuse is defined as non-consensual sexual contact of any kind. This can happen with a person who is incapable of giving consent or actively chooses not to. An abused resident could be subjected to unwanted touching and all types of sexual assault or battery.
- Financial Exploitation. Financial exploitation happens when a nursing home resident’s funds are used illegally or improperly. Examples include an employee cashing personal checks without authorization or permission, forging signatures, stealing money or possession, and improper use of power of attorney.
- Neglect. While abuse is always labeled as intentional, neglect is typically unintentional. This happens most often when nursing homes are understaffed, and residents are left to fend for themselves. This can result in dehydration, malnutrition, slip and fall accidents, and bedsores.
- Abandonment. This happens when a nursing home facility deserts a resident at a hospital, nursing facility, shopping center, or other public location. This can happen if the facility is incapable of handling the resident’s medical conditions.
If your loved one has suffered abuse or neglect in their nursing home, they may be hesitant to come forward with their experiences. It’s important to regularly check on your loved one and closely monitor their health and general wellbeing. If you feel as though they are being mistreated, report the matter to the facility and make sure you fully understand their rights as a nursing home resident in Ohio.
Ohio’s Nursing Home Bill of Rights
If you have a loved one residing in a nursing home, you should have been informed, prior to their admission, of Ohio’s Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights. This falls under Ohio Revised Code §3721.13. It’s important to be familiar with these rights, so you can ensure your loved one is receiving the care they are entitled to. Residents’ rights include the following:
- Being free from physical, verbal, sexual, psychological, and emotional abuse
- Being treated with courtesy and respect at all time
- Having access to a safe and cleaning living environment
- Accessing a residents’ rights advocate
- Receiving adequate and appropriate medical treatment and nursing care
- Accessing all information on their medical file and being informed of their medical condition, prognosis, and treatment plan
- Having clothing and bed sheets washed and changed to ensure proper sanitation and comfort
- Being able to voice grievances without fear of repercussion
- Participating in decisions that affect their life
- Having unrestricted communication and visitation with family, social workers, and legal representation
- Knowing the costs of all services offered at the home, with the right to withhold payment for any services billed but not rendered
- Accessing opportunities that allow them to remain active
- Observing religious obligations and maintain individuality
- Retaining personal possessions
- Being free from financial exploitation
In the event any of those rights are breached at any time, an official complaint should be filed with the facility. If the nursing home fails to address the issue properly, it’s best to seek guidance from an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney.
What to Do If You Suspect Your Loved One Is Being Abused
If you suspect your loved one is being abused in their nursing home facility, it’s important to remove them from the dangerous situation as soon as possible. In regard to reporting, there are four ways to report nursing home abuse and neglect in Ohio.
First, you can call the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Complaint Hotline. Real-time intake staff cover the hotline from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The hotline voicemail is covered 24 hours per day, seven days a week and is checked twice per day. You also have the option of emailing the ODH or filing out the ODH Complaint Form. No matter which method you choose, the complaint will be investigated according to the nature of the complaint. You will receive notice that your complaint has been processed and an additional letter giving notice of the outcome of the investigation.
Your fourth option is to contact a nursing home abuse lawyer. While you’ll want to file a claim with the ODH in one of the formats discussed above, contacting an attorney is the only way to ensure your loved one’s rights and suffering will be taken seriously.
The Importance of Working With a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Regardless of the circumstances prompting your nursing home abuse claim, working with an experienced attorney is the most assured way to be awarded the compensation your loved one needs to recover.
The claims filing process is complicated and multifaceted. When you work with Thomas Law Offices, we’ll handle the paperwork, conversations, and negotiations. This way, you won’t have to worry about missing deadlines or jeopardizing your claim. instead, you can focus on ensuring your loved one receives the care they need to recover as fully as possible.
While we handle your claim, we will review your loved one’s medical records to identify how their care was inadequate, interview potential witnesses and residents and employees of the nursing home, evaluate businesses records to determine the facility’s hiring practices, collect photograph evidence and security tapes, work with medical experts to determine the cause of your loved one’s injuries, and determine what to value your claim at.
When we figure out what your loved one is owed, we will fight to ensure that it what they receive. Insurance companies or lawyers who represent the nursing home may try to pressure you to take a lower settlement than you deserve. When you work with a nursing home neglect attorney, you won’t have to worry about having those conversations. Instead, your lawyer will fight for full and fair compensation on your behalf.
Contact Thomas Law Offices
Thomas Law Offices is dedicated to helping nursing home abuse victims and their families recover when a negligent facility causes injuries and harm. Filing a claim can be challenging, but a Columbus nursing home abuse lawyer will do what it takes to make the process as easy as possible for you.
While we will do our best to reach a reasonable settlement through negotiations, it’s important to understand that this doesn’t always happen. If that’s the case, we’ll help you file a lawsuit in civil court to pursue compensation through the means of a judge’s or jury’s official verdict.
Filing a lawsuit is subject to the state’s statute of limitations. In Ohio, you only have two years after the date of injury to file. If that deadline passes, you’ll be rendered ineligible for compensation and the nursing home won’t be held accountable for their actions. Your attorney will make sure your lawsuit is filed on time.
If you’re ready to pursue justice on your loved one’s behalf, schedule a free case review today. We’ll explain your right and help you determine the best course of action to protect your loved one and their future.