ST. LOUIS NURSING HOME ABUSE ATTORNEY
This content has been written by a team of legal writers and reviewed by Terry Crouppen
Nursing home abuse can lead to severe mental distress and life-threatening physical injuries. Abuse of the elderly in nursing homes is both a civil offense and a crime. If you suspect that you or a loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, get help from a lawyer at Brown & Crouppen Law Firm of St. Louis.
Getting started with your nursing home abuse case is easy. Call us at (314) 501-9510 for a free consultation, or find out if you have a case online. And remember, there’s no upfront cost to you — if you don’t get paid, we don’t get paid. Since 1979, we’ve helped our clients recover over $1 billion as a result of settlements and verdicts, including nursing home abuse & neglect claims.
WHY HIRE A ST. LOUIS NURSING HOME ABUSE ATTORNEY
Nursing homes have a legal obligation to protect residents from abuse. The damages from nursing home abuse can be significant, but the facility owners and operators often refuse to take responsibility. Nursing home providers are often large corporations with vast resources. Nursing homes hire lawyers to represent their best interests, and you should too.
When selecting a nursing home abuse lawyer in St. Louis, you need a law firm with the financial resources to fight nursing homes and specific experience in handling nursing home abuse cases.
MISSOURI NURSING HOME ABUSE STATISTICS
Nearly one in six older adults said that they had experienced abuse in a community setting during the past year, and 64.2 percent of staff admitted to having committed elder abuse during the past year, according to a 2019 study published by the European Journal of Public Health.
The exact prevalence of elder abuse in nursing homes is difficult to determine because such abuse is largely unreported. The Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services estimates that there are as many as 23 unreported elder abuse cases for every reported case.
In 2016, the Special Investigations Unit investigated 54 cases in Missouri, resulting in eight criminal prosecutions. During the same year, adult protective services investigated 50,540 elder abuse allegations. Their investigations found that 58 percent of the allegations were credible.
RECOVER COMPENSATION WITH A ST. LOUIS NURSING HOME ABUSE LAWYER
If you or a loved one has suffered abuse or neglect, a St. Louis nursing home abuse attorney can help you determine if you’re eligible to recover compensation. This may include compensation for economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
1. Economic damages: Economic damages are compensation for monetary losses you can prove with documentation. Monetary losses from nursing home abuse may include medical expenses (such as surgery), costs associated with moving to a safe facility, psychological counseling, assistive devices, lost wages of intervening family members, and the value of real or personal property that was stolen, lost, or destroyed.
2. Non-Economic damages: Non-economic damages are compensation for harder-to-value, subjective losses, including: Pain, Suffering, Emotional distress, Loss of bodily functions, humiliation, inconvenience. Missouri limits the non-economic damages you can recover and adjusts the limit by inflation annually. In 2023, the non-economic damages limit is $457,749 unless the injuries qualify as catastrophic. Catastrophic injuries are defined as one of the following:
- The loss of at least two limbs
- Significant, permanent cognitive impairment
- Irreversible organ failure
- Significant vision loss
If you or your loved one has experienced nursing home abuse or neglect that has resulted in a catastrophic injury, you can recover as much as $801,061 in non-economic damages in 2023.
3. Punitive damages: Damages are occasionally awarded to punish the defendant, which are known as punitive damages. In Missouri medical malpractice claims, you must prove the defendant deliberately or maliciously inflicted the injury to receive punitive damages. This is often provable in nursing home abuse cases.
4. Wrongful death: When nursing home abuse and neglect tragically result in the death of a family member, your family may be entitled to recover substantial compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death damages burial expenses, pain & suffering of the deceased, loss of companionship, loss of guidance, emotional support counsel, medical expenses of the deceased, lost income of the deceased, and punitive damages.
COMMON TYPES OF NURSING HOME ABUSE IN ST. LOUIS
Nursing home abuse may occur in several different forms and does not always result in readily apparent injuries. Our nationally recognized St. Louis nursing home abuse lawyers have successfully handled cases involving the following types of nursing home abuse:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Improper Care
- Financial Exploitation
Nursing home neglect occurs when staff fail to meet a resident’s basic needs, as discussed below.
1. Failure to monitor: Improper supervision of residents can lead to the following:
- Slips and falls, which can be life-threatening in the elderly
- Elopement – wandering away, a common symptom of dementia
- Failure to notice changes in a patient’s health condition
- Failure to supervise residents while smoking, which could result in severe burns
- Failure to monitor residents with violent tendencies
- Failure to supervise residents while eating when they are known to have high risks of choking
2. Failure to prevent bedsores: Bedsores are preventable injuries that occur when nursing staff fail to provide the following care, especially to patients with mobility impairments:
- Reposition the patient frequently throughout the day
- Promptly change wet bedding and clothing
- Keep the skin clean and dry
- Perform regular skin checks to spot bedsores as they begin to form
- Keep the patient nourished and dehydrated
- The use of pressure-relieving mattresses and devices
Bedsores are easier to prevent than to treat. When bedsores reach an advanced stage, they can take years to heal, if they ever heal at all. They can be fatal.
3. Malnutrition & dehydration: Excessive weight loss in a nursing home is a sign of malnutrition. Malnutrition may occur due to depression, a physical medical problem, or a nursing home’s failure to accommodate dietary needs and preferences. Nursing home residents become malnourished when staff members fail to offer the following:
- Feeding assistance
- Thickened liquids to prevent choking
- Pureed foods due to swallowing difficulties or unaddressed dental problems
4. Inadequate infection control: Infection control is especially important for nursing home patients, who often have reduced immunity due to advanced age or medical conditions. Yet as many as 82 percent of nursing homes nationwide have had infection control violations at least once from 2013 to 2017. Insufficient infection control makes residents vulnerable to illnesses and infections. The most common violations include insufficient handwashing, failure to wear COVID-19 masks appropriately, and failure to remove disposable gloves between patients.
5. Insufficient assistance & care: Nursing home patients often need assistance using the restroom, but most nursing homes are understaffed. As a result, patients often wait hours for assistance. In many cases, they cannot avoid accidents while waiting for assistance. They are then left in their wet or soiled linens for hours or days, increasing the risks of developing bedsores, rashes, and infections while depriving them of dignity and quality of life. Almost all of the nursing homes in St. Louis are short-staffed.
Patients with wounds, whether from injuries, surgeries, or pressure ulcers, typically need frequent maintenance of their dressings. When this is neglected, infections can result, and wounds can worsen or take longer to heal.
6. Improper care: Improper care occurs when nursing home doctors and nursing staff misuse medical interventions for their own convenience rather than for legitimate medical purposes.
Nursing homes turn to antipsychotic medications as a form of chemical restraint that serves as a substitute for care. This is especially common in nursing homes that are short-staffed. Patients considered difficult or demanding are often given these medications to keep them almost constantly sedated. This results in severe cognitive decline and reduced quality of life. Antipsychotic medications are commonly administered to patients with dementia, despite the FDA’s black box warning that states that antipsychotic drugs increase the risk of death in dementia patients.
According to the Inspector General of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, 80 percent of Medicare’s long-stay nursing home residents were prescribed antipsychotic drugs from 2011 through 2019.
Indwelling catheters should only be used in cases of severe incontinence because they increase the risk of infection and reduce a patient’s quality of life. However, their overuse is widespread because they provide nursing staff with a substitute for care. It is easier for staff to maintain catheters than to assist with toileting as needed. Urinary tract infections are the cause of 36 percent of all infections in nursing homes, and 80 percent of urinary tract infections involve indwelling catheters, according to BMC Health Services Research.
WARNING SIGNS & EFFECTS OF NURSING HOME ABUSE
According to the National Council on Aging, elderly individuals who experience abuse have a 300 percent higher risk of death than those who have not suffered mistreatment. It also causes or aggravates cognitive decline, depression, distress, and fear.
Nursing home residents often do not report abuse for the following reasons:
- They fear retaliation.
- They do not recognize the maltreatment as abuse.
- They feel embarrassed.
- They blame themselves.
- They want to avoid worrying friends and family members.
They may even deny abuse is occurring when asked directly.
As a result, their only hope of relief may be a relative or other concerned party recognizing the signs of nursing home abuse. According to the National Council on Aging, the warning signs of nursing home abuse include the following:
- Increased anxiety
- Isolation and withdrawal
- Behavioral changes
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Unexpected changes in financial status or spending patterns
- Weight loss
- Unexplained injuries
- Lack of hygiene care
- Unattended medical needs
- New or worsening bed sores
- Sudden physical or cognitive decline
WHAT TO DO IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE EXPERIENCES NURSING HOME ABUSE IN ST. LOUIS
If you suspect that your loved one has been abused in a nursing home, you should immediately report the abuse to the Division of Regulation and Licensure by calling 1-800-392-0210. You can also file a nursing home abuse report online. Complaints are generally investigated within 24 hours.
Elder abuse should also be reported to law enforcement. You can file a police report through the St. Louis Police Department by calling (314) 231-1212. If you believe your loved one is in danger, call 911.
GET A FREE CASE EVALUATION FROM A NURSING HOME ABUSE ATTORNEY AT BROWN & CROUPPEN
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result of nursing home abuse in St. Louis or surrounding areas, get help from a lawyer at Brown & Crouppen Law Firm. Since 1979, our attorneys have recovered over $1 billion for clients, including settlements and verdicts from nursing home abuse cases.
Getting started with your case is easy. Call us at (314) 501-9510 for a free consultation, or find out if you have a case online. And remember, there’s no upfront cost to you — if you don’t get paid, we don’t get paid.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How long do I have to file a nursing home abuse claim?
The Missouri statute of limitations for nursing home abuse is generally two years from the date of the injury. If the case stems from a failure of the nursing home to inform you or your loved one of a test result, the statute of limitations begins to run on the date the injury is or should reasonably have been discovered. However, the suit cannot be filed later than 10 years after the date of the injury.
How much is my nursing home abuse case worth?
The average settlement for nursing home abuse and neglect case overall is approximately $248,000. However, this is not representative of your case, and settlement amounts will vary due to many factors that are unique to your case.
Who is liable for nursing home abuse & neglect?
Nursing home abuse is a form of medical malpractice, which occurs when a health care provider causes harm by failing to provide a reasonable standard of care.
Nursing homes in Missouri have a legal duty to protect residents from harm. Consequently, nursing homes are responsible for any abuse a resident experiences, regardless of whether the perpetrator is a staff member. In a nursing home abuse lawsuit, an individual perpetrator, such as a doctor or nurse, may also be named.
How common is nursing home abuse in St. Louis?
Of the 130 Medicare-certified nursing homes in the St. Louis region, 90 have below-average ratings, indicating a low standard of care and a higher risk of abuse. However, it is important to be aware that abuse may occur in facilities with any rating.
Three of the 14 nursing homes located within the city limits have average ratings, while 10 are below average. Eight are “much below average,” and one is unrated. The following St. Louis nursing homes have been cited for “freedom from abuse, neglect, and exploitation deficiencies” during the past three years:
- Landsdowne Village
- Royal Oaks Nursing & Rehab
- Bernard Care Center
- Beauvais Rehab and Healthcare Center
- Carrie Elligson Gietner Home
- Dutchtown Care Center
- Grand Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation Center
- Blue Circle Rehab and Nursing
- Autumn Meadows of Cahokia
- Life Care Center of St. Louis
Except for Life Care Center of St. Louis, all 13 of the rated nursing home facilities in St. Louis were cited for resident rights deficiencies, and most were also cited for nutrition and dietary deficiencies.
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