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Identifying Injuries in Elder Abuse or Neglect

Posted on in Personal Injury

Wisconsin elder abuse attorney, Wisconsin injury lawyer, nursing home abuseEvery year, millions of elderly individuals in the United States are placed in residential facilities, nursing homes and assisted living centers. Unfortunately, the National Institutes of Health (“NIH”) estimates that over two million elderly United States residents placed in these types of facilities experience some form of abuse and neglect.

In 2009, NIH found that approximately 5,300 cases of abuse or neglect were reported to the Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services, which maintains a sophisticated reporting system across the state of Wisconsin. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services, of the 5,300 plus cases of suspected abuse or neglect involving elderly individuals in residential facilities, 28 were tragically related to death while another 371 incidents were considered-life threatening.

When you place a family member in a nursing home, you expect that family member to be treated and cared for by professionals who can meet their special needs. Placing an elderly family member in one of these facilities is usually the one of the most stressful and hardest decision you will ever have to make.

Identifying Acts of Elder Abuse or Neglect

It is easy for most people to identify when a battery occurs because it is a physical act and the results of the abuse are usually visible. But, there are many forms of elder neglect besides physical abuse that occur and go unnoticed.

Wisconsin law defines neglect as the “failure of a caregiver, as evidenced by an act, omission, or course of conduct, to endeavor to secure or maintain adequate care, services, or supervision for an individual, including food, clothing, shelter, or physical or mental healthcare, and creating significant risk or danger to the individual's physical or mental health.” This definition also includes, among other things, the failure to protect from health and safety hazards, and the failure to prevent malnutrition and dehydration. Other examples of neglect can be found in the form of:

  • Bed sores;
  • Falls;
  • Fractures;
  • Infections;
  • Wandering;
  • Sudden weight loss;
  • Dehydration;
  • Inadequate supervision;
  • Peer-on-peer abuse;
  • Tube feeding failures;
  • Deprivation of dignity; and
  • Poor personal hygiene.

When you begin investigating abuse of an elderly person in one of these facilities, it is important for you to look for a pattern of neglect instead of single act of neglect, although a single act is actionable under Wisconsin law. The best place to start is the elderly family member’s medical file, if the facility has one, which will address any falls, mobility issues, pain, etc.

Only Certain People Can Sue for Elder Abuse

If your elderly family member is living, then you can sue on his her behalf. However, if the he or she dies because of the negligent conduct, you will most likely be able to file a survival action against the facility.

Cases involving elder abuse or neglect are highly complex in nature and you may overlook issues if you try to tackle it on your own. You should contact an experienced Milwaukee personal injury attorney if your elderly family member suffered injuries as a result of negligence or abuse by staff members at one of these facilities.

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