How to Report Nursing Home Abuse 

(800) 392-0210. 

This is the telephone number in Missouri to report suspected abuse or neglect of someone living in a nursing home or long-term care facility.  If you have a family member or loved one living in a nursing home or other assisted living facility, you should continue reading to learn more about:nursing home

  • How to identify nursing home abuse and neglect
  • The prevalence of nursing home abuse and neglect

  • Common risk factors for nursing home abuse and neglect

  • What to do if you suspect someone is being abused or neglected in a nursing home

No one living in a nursing home and relying on someone employed to provide for their care and well being should suffer any type of abuse or neglect. If you suspect that anyone in a nursing home is being abused, neglected, or mistreated by staff, visitors, or other residents, you should call the number above and make a report. If it is an emergency, call the police at 9-1-1. 

This article provides information on how to identify nursing home abuse or neglect and how to report it.

What is Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?

Nursing home abuse occurs when a caretaker or other person intentionally or unintentionally causes harm to a resident of a nursing home. Such abuse can occur in a variety of forms and can result in physical harm, emotional trauma, emergency medical procedures, permanent injury, and even death.

  • Abuse. Nursing home abuse can occur when a staff member intentionally or unintentionally causes a resident to suffer harm. This harm can occur in different ways. Some common forms of abuse of elderly residents in nursing homes include:

  • Physical.  Physical abuse of nursing home patients can occur when a staff member intentionally causing physical harm to the resident by hitting or striking the resident. However, physical abuse also can occur when a staff member aggressively or inappropriately handles a patient when:

  • Transporting the resident to and from bed;

  • Bathing the resident;

  • Assisting the resident in the bathroom;

  • Changing the resident’s clothes; or

  • Engaging in other activities.

  • Emotional.  Emotional abuse can occur when a staff member disparages a resident, speaks harshly, makes negative personal remarks, or ignores their needs.  Emotional abuse can be intentional or unintentional. Emotional abuse also may include:

  • Threatening or pretending to harm the patient

  • Intimidation

  • Name-calling

  • Embarrassing the patient in front of family or other residents

  • Blaming the patient for conduct or things they did not do

  • Ignoring the patient

  • Isolating the patient from other residents or prohibiting them from participating in activities

  • Not letting the resident go outside or use the bathroom

  • Removing sentimental or personal items from the patient

  • Telling the patient that no one wants to visit them

Any type of emotional abuse can be as harmful to the resident’s spirit as physical abuse is to the body. It can affect the patient’s relationship with family, friends, staff, and other residents.

  • Sexual.  Sexual abuse occurs if a staff member or any other person, including visitors and even other residents, inappropriately touches a resident, especially on the breasts or genital area, without consent. It also can occur when a staff member forces a resident to disrobe, bathe, pose in pictures, or touch other residents. Sexual abuse often occurs to women and patients with dementia who are not able to defend themselves or communicate the abuse to a family member, friend, or other person with authority.

  • Financial.  Financial abuse can occur when someone simply takes money or property from a resident. However, it also can occur when someone takes advantage of a patient’s mental or emotional vulnerability and influences him or her to voluntarily hand over money or property. This type of abuse can be perpetrated by staff, other residents, or even family members and friends.

  • Neglect. Neglect of a patient can occur when a caretaker disregards a resident’s needs or breaches a duty of care undertaken in the course of their employment. Your loved one could be neglected by:

  • Lack of attention

  • Improper food or nutrition

  • Inappropriate medication or dosage

  • Being left in their room or bed for extended periods of time (especially patients with poor mobility)

  • Not providing care or calling a doctor or nurse when needed

  • Failure to change clothing or bedding on a regular basis

  • Not being bathed on a daily basis

  • Not being treated for injuries or illnesses (for example, infections or bedsores)

Nursing home neglect can be the result of sheer carelessness on the part of a caretaker. However, it also can occur as a result of understaffing or the negligent hiring or training of employees at the facility. Regardless of the cause, you should be mindful of any warning signs of neglect of your loved one, especially if they are immobile or incapacitated.

What are the Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect? 

Depending on the situation, certain types of nursing home abuse or neglect may be obvious. For example, physical abuse is often demonstrated by physical marks or bruises on the victim, which may be clearly noticeable. If your loved one has obvious signs of physical harm (even if you do not know the cause of the harm or the harm may not have been intended), you should:

  • First, make sure your loved one is safe and removed from any suspected danger or imminent risk of further harm

  • Report your observations (or suspicions) to an administrator at the facility

  • If you suspect intentional abuse, contact local law enforcement to investigate.

Other types of abuse or neglect described above may not be so obvious. Without physical signs of harm, other types of abuse tend to be more difficult to detect and are less likely to be reported.

Here are some things to look for that may indicate the possibility of some sort of abuse or neglect:

  • Signs that a resident may be emotionally abused may include:

  • Sadness or depression

  • Agitation

  • Nervousness

  • Fear of specific staff members

  • Fear of being left alone or isolated

  • Signs of sexual abuse may include:

  • Bruises or abrasions around private areas, such as the breasts, genital area, and inner thighs

  • Evidence of a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or unexplained genital infection

  • The resident complains of vaginal or anal pain or irritation

  • Sudden and unexplained difficulty sitting or walking

  • Ripped clothing or stained or bloodied undergarments

  • Refusal to participate in activities or engage with staff, or avoidance of social interaction

  • Sudden panic attacks or unexplained changes in behavior or disposition

Of course, there may be innocent explanations for any of these signs. But it is not your job to investigate. Just report your suspicions to a proper authority and let professionals in this area investigate the cause of the suspected harm.  

  • Signs of financial abuse may include:

  • Items or property missing from the resident’s room

  • Unexplained deficits in the resident’s checking or savings account

  • Evidence of neglect of a patient may be supported by:

  • Bedsores

  • Sudden loss of mobility

  • Poor hygiene

  • Sudden or unexplained psychological changes (fear, anger, anxiety, resentment, withdrawal)

  • Malnutrition or dehydration

  • Unexplained injuries

  • Unsanitary living conditions (dirty clothing, bedding, living area)

  • Over-medication or sedation

  • Under-staffing at the facility

If you observe any signs of abuse or neglect of a loved one in a nursing home, do not ignore it. Report your suspicions to a proper authority who can investigate the situation and make sure your loved one is safe.

How Prevalent is Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect? 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Long-Term Care Services, there are more than two million people who receive care in nursing homes. Sadly, the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) estimates that approximately 95% of nursing home residents have been either neglected or have witnessed some sort of neglect of another resident. In a 2020 poll conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), 66% of nursing home staff members who were interviewed admitted that they had abused residents.

Nursing home abuse and neglect are sad realities for those who rely on the care of others for their long-term personal and medical needs. The risk of abuse and neglect is especially high for residents who have no family members or friends who visit them on a regular basis and are able to observe their condition and report suspected abuse or neglect. 

How Can I Report Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?

If you suspect that a loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home in Missouri, you should call (800) 392-0210. This is the hotline for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. If there is an emergency or your loved one is in imminent risk of harm, contact local law enforcement by calling 9-1-1.  If there is not an emergency but you have concerns about your loved one’s condition or complaints, contact a facility administrator to report your concerns.

Call Foster Wallace If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect 

If you notice any signs of abuse or neglect, you also may need to contact an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer, like those at Foster Wallace, LLC. We will act immediately to intervene and make sure your loved one is safe in their environment and is being provided proper care. If your loved one suffers any harm as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, we will make sure that they are compensated for any injuries they suffer.   

If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect, don’t delay in protecting your loved one. Call our office today at 816-720-5875.  Your consultation will be free of charge.

Michael Foster
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Kansas City Personal Injury Attorney
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