Friday, October 21, 2016

Sexual Abuse can Occur in Nursing Homes

When you think of injuries sustained by nursing home residents, you likely think of medication errors, falls, or other injuries caused by neglectfulness. However, many injuries are caused by intentional abuse of residents. In fact, one family recently won a large settlement from Brookdale Senior Living,1 a company that runs many facilities, for the abuse and wrongful death of their loved one.

In addition, if you think of nursing home abuse, you probably consider physical abuse, such as shoving or hitting residents. You may not immediately think of sexual abuse of nursing home residents. Unfortunately, sexual abuse of elderly residents of nursing homes is more prevalent than you may believe. Sexual abuse may include fondling, exposure of residents, exposing oneself to a resident, taking nude photographs of residents, forcing sexual contact, or forcing sexual penetration.

Sexual Abusers in Nursing Homes

Sexual abuse can be committed by many different parties in nursing homes, including:

Staff member
Another resident
Third-party intruder or stranger to the resident

While a nursing home certainly has the duty to monitor its staff members to ensure that no type of abuse is occurring, these facilities also have the duty to provide adequate security to protect residents from abuse by other residents or strangers who may enter the facility. Therefore, nursing homes may be held liable for sexual abuse even if the abuse was not committed by a member of their staff.

Common Signs of Elder Sexual Abuse

In many situations, an elderly loved one may not come to you and open up about the sexual abuse they have experienced in their nursing home. The can be for different reasons - maybe they do not have the mental capacity to understand or remember what happened, perhaps they have been threatened by staff members to remain quiet, or maybe they feel too ashamed to say anything. For these reasons, you must be fully aware of the signs of sexual abuse so you can recognize if your loved one may have been a victim. Some of the most common signs include the following:

      Having trouble sitting or walking

Thumbprints or bruises on the breasts, inner thighs, buttocks, or genital area

Unexplained itching, redness, or soreness in the genital area

Genital bleeding

Blood stains on undergarments or bedding

Sudden sexualized behavior that is inappropriate or aggressive

Unexplained genital infections or diagnoses of sexually transmitted disease

Withdrawal or shamefulness

Reluctance to get undressed

Showing fear of certain staff members or of physical contact

These are far from the only signs of sexual abuse in nursing homes. If you notice any physical, emotional, or behavioral differences in your loved one, it is always wise to have them examined by a medical professional.

What to do if You Suspect Sexual Abuse

If your loved one has been abused in a Brookdale Senior Living facility or any other type of assisted living or long-term care facility, it is critical that you ensure their safety first. Often, the best option is to remove them from the home and select another residence for them. In addition, you must ensure they receive all of the medical attention they need. They should be tested for sexually-transmitted diseases and any lacerations or contusions should be properly treated.

After their safety and physical health are attended to, you should not delay in contacting a dedicated Florida nursing home abuse attorney to discuss the possible courses of action to obtain justice for your loved one. In addition to criminal charges against the perpetrator, your loved one has the right to file a claim for personal injury against the nursing home and the offender. In this claim, your loved one can seek damages for the following and more:

Physical pain and costs of medical treatment needed;

Emotional trauma and injuries;

Punitive damages.

Contact a Clearwater Nursing Home Abuse Attorney as Soon as Possible

At the Dolman Law Group in Clearwater, Florida, we firmly believe that nursing homes such Brookdale should take appropriate action to prevent any type of abuse in their facilities, especially sexual abuse. If you believe that your senior loved one has suffered any type of harm, please do not hesitate to call our office to discuss your options. We are here to provide compassionate and confidential assistance throughout your case, so call our nursing home abuse lawyers at 727-451-6900 for a free consultation today.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

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