Every older adult in every community of Kansas City, MO has the right to a dignified existence, access to the medical care they need, and the resources to maintain a high quality of life. We put our trust in nursing homes to uphold this right and provide our loved ones with the best conditions for health, happiness, and meaningful relationships.
But when nursing home administration and staff don’t put residents’ needs first, our loved ones may suffer the devastating effects of neglect or abuse at the hands of caregivers. If your loved one was the victim of unreasonable or negligent conduct in a nursing facility, a Kansas City nursing home abuse lawyer from Thomas Law Offices can help you get justice.
At Thomas Law Offices, we provide compassionate, results-driven legal services to Missouri nursing home residents who have suffered elder abuse or neglect. We specialize in winning nursing home abuse cases, and we use our experience defending elder rights to help your family move forward after a preventable tragedy.
Schedule a free consultation at our law office to discuss your case further with one of our nursing home abuse attorneys.
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What Is Considered Nursing Home Abuse?
According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), as many as five million older adults suffer abuse every year in the United States. This may be a conservative number; however, based on how widely neglect, nursing home abuse, and financial exploitation go unreported—only an estimated 1 in 24 cases are reported.
The NCOA categorizes abuse into the following types:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Confinement or restraint
- Passive neglect (failure to meet basic needs)
- Willful deprivation of necessities or intentional exposure to risk
- Abuse of an elder’s finances or resources
We’ll discuss these types of abuse and neglect in more detail below, including signs to look for that can indicate your family member is being mistreated.
Remember, you do not need concrete proof to report abuse. It is the job of the appropriate state agency to investigate reports of suspected abuse. If you have any reason to suspect mistreatment, reach out to one of the resources listed below and an experienced nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible.
How Our Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Help You
The thought of seeking a lawyer to discuss your family’s sensitive matter may bring you some worry. It’s understandable to be hesitant to take such a private and emotional issue to someone outside the family.
At our law firm, we’ve met with countless clients who are completely unsure how to proceed after they suspect nursing home abuse at their loved one’s assisted living facility. And all of these families have one thing in common—they want what’s best for their loved one.
We never take it lightly when clients come to us for help after nursing home neglect or abuse. With confidentiality, compassion, and respect, we will sit down and discuss what we can do to help you and your family member. This may include:
- Investigating the actions of nursing home employees
- Determining how nursing home negligence led to your family member’s injuries
- Interviewing the nursing home administrator, staff members, and others who can provide a comprehensive picture of the conditions at the assisted care facility
- Removing an abuser from contact with elderly residents
- Pursuing the appropriate legal action on your family member’s behalf
- Making sure your family’s medical bills, cost of moving, pain and suffering, and any out-of-pocket expenses are covered by the at-fault party’s insurance
- Ensuring other residents are protected, free from abuse, and receiving proper care
Even if you’re not sure if you’re ready for legal representation, it’s a good idea to schedule a free case evaluation with a firm of nursing home abuse lawyers who can review the details of your case and advise you of your rights and legal options. This will equip you with the information you need to be the best advocate for your loved one.
The Most Common Types of Abuse and Neglect in Kansas City Nursing Homes
A nursing home abuse case may involve one or more of the following types of elder abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.
It may be difficult for family members to believe that a loved one’s injuries were caused by rough handling or physical violence. Sadly, nursing home residents may be victimized by staff members who push, shove, hit, slap, pull, kick, or physically restrain elderly patients, leading to severe injuries and worsening health.
Signs of Physical Abuse
- Broken bones or bruises
- Unexplained injuries
- Broken eyeglasses, jewelry, or other personal items
- Noticeable fear around certain nursing home staff members
- Injuries that did not receive adequate care
- A failure to notify family members of injuries
Emotional abuse, also referred to as verbal or psychological abuse, is a non-physical way to cause harm. Examples include belittling, threatening, manipulating, bullying, insulting, and socially isolating a nursing home resident. This type of elder abuse not only causes severe mental and emotional injuries but is also linked to deteriorating physical health as well.
Signs of Emotional Abuse
- Emotional pain, anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns
- Changes in personality, habits, and sleeping patterns
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Unwillingness to communicate
Any non-consensual sexual contact or exposure is considered sexual abuse. Some residents of nursing homes are not able to give consent due to a cognitive or physical condition, and these individuals are most in need of protection. Sexual abuse encompasses acts including rape, unwanted touching, coerced nudity, sexual assault, and forcing a resident to watch, discuss, or engage in sexually explicit materials, topics, or activity.
Signs of Sexual Abuse
- Bruising near genitals or breasts
- Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Bleeding or bloody underclothing
- Signs of emotional trauma
Forging checks, stealing money, and changing names on wills or deeds are all forms of financial abuse your loved one may not realize is occurring. Drastic changes to bank accounts or legal documents can also indicate financial exploitation.
Signs of Financial Abuse
- Large, sudden withdrawals from an account
- Names added to legal documents
- Missing valuables
- Evidence of purchases of products or services your loved one doesn’t need
- Frequent, unusual use of a credit card or ATM card
- The sudden appearance of long-absent friends or relatives in the elder’s life
Nursing Home Neglect
Neglect is when a nursing home fails to provide necessary, life-sustaining services when there is a legal duty to do so. Being busy or understaffed is not a reason for nursing home facilities to become lax in the care they give to residents.
Neglect cases can have consequences just as serious as abuse. Many types of personal injury, including nursing home falls, can occur when an elderly person doesn’t receive the care, help, assistance, proper nutrition, and other resources they need to thrive.
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
- Malnourishment and dehydration
- Bedsores (pressure ulcers)
- Poor personal hygiene
- Untreated health issues
- Unsuitable room temperatures or unseasonal clothing
- Lack of access to a bathroom or lack of help reaching one
- Abandonment or elopement
- Dirty clothes and bed linens and other unsanitary conditions
Medication Errors or Overmedication
Errors in medication or missed doses can lead to severe health complications. Another serious issue is overmedication, or the use of chemical restraints to control nursing home residents and render them more docile and compliant. Finally, failure to control viral infections and stop the spread of flu, COVID-19, or other viruses or bacteria in nursing homes can have devastating results.
Health care providers have a responsibility to ensure that residents of nursing homes are receiving the proper medication—on schedule and in the correct dosage amount—and are given protection in the form of medication, physical barriers, or vaccines to combat life-threatening but preventable infection.
Signs of Improper Medication
- Lethargy, personality changes, confusion, and other signs of overmedication
- Frequent illness
- Evidence of pills that don’t have an evident purpose
- Sudden changes to a medication schedule without explanation
- Worsening of a health condition that should be improving with medication
How Does Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Happen?
It’s important to remember that there is never an excuse for nursing homes to abuse or neglect residents, no matter how stressful the conditions are. The purpose of a nursing home facility is to care for those who cannot care for themselves. We should be able to trust nursing homes to prevent personal injury and wrongful death and provide the means for a healthy and fulfilling life. When facilities violate that trust, action must be taken to protect those who are most vulnerable.
When our Kansas City nursing home abuse attorneys investigate elder mistreatment cases, we often see repeated patterns of inadequacy that run at the staff and administrative levels. This frequently involves:
- Underqualified and poorly-trained staff
- Unmet staff-to-resident ratio standards
- Staff burnout, stress, anger, and job dissatisfaction
- Underpaid staff members
- Inadequate screening and background check protocol
- Cutting corners to save money on food, supplies, and activities for residents
- Lack of accountability, oversight, and reporting requirements
Why Does So Much Nursing Home Abuse in Missouri Go Unreported?
In both Missouri and on a national scale, nursing home abuse cases are vastly unreported.
There are several reasons for this. Firstly, your loved one may not be able to communicate what is happening to them. If they have a medical condition, remembering what happened or verbally expressing it can be a challenge. Abusers tend to take advantage of these more vulnerable individuals. There’s also the chance your loved one is scared of retaliation or feels shame about what occurred. That’s why it’s so important to remain vigilant about monitoring the quality of care your loved one receives.
Nursing homes may also play an active role in preventing the reporting of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. To avoid fines, penalties, exposure, loss of reputation, and forced closure, a facility may try to sweep elder mistreatment under the rug, even turning a blind eye to abuse perpetrated by staff members. As Kansas City nursing home abuse lawyers, we often need to act quickly to preserve the evidence we need to build a case against a negligent assisted living facility.
How To Report Nursing Home Abuse in Kansas City
According to the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services (DHSS), anyone who suspects someone is being abused, neglected, or exploited can make a report. If you believe an elderly person is experiencing nursing home abuse in Kansas City, the first thing you should do is make an immediate report. If you are unsure how to make a report or are uncomfortable doing so, a nursing home abuse attorney from our law firm can help you alert the proper authorities.
You can make an online report with DHSS 24/7 or by calling the Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline, 800-392-0210, every day from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. In emergency situations, always dial 911.
If you are calling on behalf of a Kansas City nursing home resident, the Division of Regulation and Licensure staff will conduct an investigation at the facility. Investigation proceedings are generally initiated within 24 hours. To learn more, you can contact the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services by email at email@example.com.
Missouri also provides adult protective services (APS) to community-dwelling adults who may be suffering abuse, neglect, self-neglect, or exploitation or do not have the means to provide for their own daily needs. You can locate the Adult Protective Services office in your area by searching by county name. If you suspect abuse in Kansas City, MO, the Jackson County office (phone: 816-922-1369), Cass County office (phone: 660-530-5525), or Clay and Platte County office (phone: 816-781-8136) can help connect you to the right resources.
How You Can Help Someone Who Suffered Abuse
If you believe your loved one suffered abuse, neglect, or exploitation at a Kansas City nursing home, there are actions you can take to help them get justice and move forward.
As much as possible, try to:
- Spend as much time as you can with your loved one
- Encourage them to talk as they are comfortable, but never force a conversation
- Listen without judgment or doubt
- Observe and record any instances of abuse on video or in photos
- Take pictures of injuries and broken objects
- Take your loved one to a doctor you trust
- Keep all medical records and physician’s notes
- Contact the Missouri Ombudsman Program to find an advocate for your loved one
- Schedule a case evaluation at a Kansas City nursing home abuse law firm
We Advocate for Nursing Home Residents in Kansas City
Learning your loved one was harmed in their nursing home can leave you feeling like you have nowhere to turn for help. We want you to know that the Kansas City nursing home abuse attorneys from Thomas Law Offices are here to help in any way we can. As soon as we get your loved one in a safe environment, we can begin working to secure the resources for them to live their remaining years in health and security.
Reviewing the care your loved one received, the injuries or illnesses they suffered, and other damages related to the abuse or neglect will show us how the nursing home failed to provide your loved one with the care they deserved. We’ll assess the injuries and losses to find the compensation your loved one is eligible to receive and will begin advocating for their financial recovery.
Get in touch with a nursing home abuse lawyer from our law firm today. We’ll begin with a free consultation to help you find the best solution that will give your family member the future they deserve.