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Like every other state, Arizona has strict state laws in place to protect the elderly and people with disabilities residing in nursing homes. However, even with such laws, cases of abuse and neglect in nursing homes are still common in Arizona. Residents of a nursing home are entrusted to caregivers and the staff to care for their needs. This makes them more susceptible to abuse of all kinds and neglect.
Because cases of abuse and neglect may be difficult to prove in court and many people are unaware of their rights, most cases go unreported. The elderly and their families must familiarize themselves with nursing home laws to guide them whenever such issues arise. Also, working with an experienced attorney can help determine whether an abuse or neglect claim is valid and get advice on available legal options.
This article provides detailed information about reporting nursing home abuse and neglect cases, what must be reported, and the state agencies to contact whenever such cases arise.
How to Report Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Abuse must be identified before it can be reported. While some signs of abuse, such as physical injuries, are apparent, identifying abuse and neglect in a nursing home may be challenging, especially if the victim has cognitive issues and does not remember details.
Besides physical changes, it is important to be sensitive to changes in behavior during visits, as this can be a sign of abuse or neglect. So, how can someone identify group home abuse?
Arizona Adult Protective Services (APS) provides the crucial indicators that signify different types of abuse and neglect. They include:
The presence of bruises, injuries, burns, cuts, and other unexplained injuries could be a sign of physical abuse. Although some injuries might originate from slip and fall accidents, it should be a point of concern if a loved one is hesitant to talk about the injury. Some of the victims might not speak because they fear that the abuser may inflict more harm if they do.
Some injuries, such as head injuries and fractures, may be a result of neglect. Residents who require help to walk may stumble and fall when their call for help is ignored. Also, if the hallways are not clear, they may trip over obstacles and sustain serious injuries.
Other signs of neglect include bedsores, sudden weight loss, malnutrition, poor hygiene, and unclean living conditions.
Behavior and Emotional Changes
Apart from taking note of physical changes, families need to be keen about how their loved one behaves around them and the caregivers. If they appear sad, depressed, exhausted, or emotionally detached, it could be a sign of abuse or neglect. Asking them direct questions about their health, feeding, daily routines, and their relationship with caregivers and staff members can help identify whether all is well.
Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse such as insults, shouts, belittling, and threats leave no marks. It takes keen observation of the person’s relationships with other residents and staff members to notice emotional abuse. If they avoid particular people or appear generally withdrawn, they might be suffering from emotional abuse.
Who Is Required to Report Nursing Home Abuse in Arizona?
Families with loved ones in a nursing home need to understand the proper legal process and channels of reporting abuse and neglect. Arizona nursing home laws require professional healthcare providers, social workers, and peace officers to report nursing home abuse.
However, if families suspect signs of abuse and neglect, they should report it immediately.
Where to Report Abuse and Neglect
Nursing home abuse and neglect can be reported to various agencies.
Adult Protective Services
Adult Protective Services is mandated to investigate reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation among the elderly and residents of nursing homes. Anyone can file an abuse or neglect complaint anytime either online or through their elder abuse hotline.
Local Law Enforcement
Reporting cases of abuse and neglect in a nursing home to local law enforcement authorities will help rescue the victim from the abuser as investigations are conducted if a nursing home resident is in immediate danger. Report without delay for their safety.
Get Help From an Expert Nursing Home Advocate
The elderly and vulnerable adults deserve proper care and protection from those entrusted with their care. Sadly, the amount of nursing home abuse and neglect continues to skyrocket every year. Those who suspect their loved ones are mistreated in a nursing home should act promptly to stop the abuse and neglect.
Also, there is a need to ensure that they are compensated by filing a case with an experienced attorney. The Solomon & Relihan team can help investigate a case, determine who is to blame, and file a claim to pursue compensation for the victim’s suffering. Contact us today for a free case assessment.
Martin J. Solomon is a principal at Solomon & Relihan PC and has been licensed to practice law in Arizona since 1970. He practices exclusively in the area of personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on nursing home abuse and neglect. Martin is a graduate of the University of Arizona College of Law, a past president of the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association, and has served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Arizona Center for Disability Law and the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest. He is a member of the Nursing Home Litigation Group in the American Association for Justice (formerly the American Trial Lawyers Association), the National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform and the Maricopa Elder Abuse Prevent Prevention Alliance.