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Knoxville Medical Malpractice Attorney > Blog > Medical Malpractice > Nursing Home Red Flags: Signs Of Neglect, Abuse And Malpractice In Tennessee

Nursing Home Red Flags: Signs Of Neglect, Abuse And Malpractice In Tennessee


Elder abuse is a persistent problem across the United States and Tennessee, with much of that taking place in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The statistics are sobering: 10% of older Americans are subject to abuse or neglect each year, according to the Department of Justice. Sadly, Tennessee ranks near the bottom of U.S. rankings with regard to elder-abuse protections – 45th among the 50 states – and toward the top with respect to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation complaints. This means the state has a long way to go toward addressing these ongoing issues, and those with family members in nursing home care need to remain vigilant. 

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse, Neglect and Malpractice 

It seems inconceivable that your beloved family member could be abused during their stay at a nursing home. But this can happen even if you believe your loved one is in good hands at a trustworthy facility. While employees at nursing homes are mandated to report abuse under Tennessee law, reporting doesn’t always happen. To complicate matters further, most seniors are hesitant to report abuse on their own, for a variety of reasons.

This can leave the task to those checking in on their family members at the nursing home.

Common signs and “red flags” associated with abuse and neglect can include:

  1. Bruises, cuts, welts, rashes and other types of skin damage. These issues aren’t always caused by everyday issues, or bumping into things. Whether it is a one time incident or part of a pattern, anything that appears unusual should be promptly investigated. If you are not satisfied with the facility’s response, you may need to file a report with Adult Protective Services and consult with an attorney.
  2. Broken bones or ligament sprains. As people age, bones break more easily and injuries to wrists or knees can also occur more often, sometimes as the result of a simple fall. However, these injuries are still unusual and your family deserves a detailed explanation as to why or how the injury occurred. If the facility can’t give you a straight answer, you may reasonably suspect that some type of abuse or malpractice occurred.
  3. Bedsores. Bedsores are highly common in nursing home settings, but can also be the result of neglect. If your family member is not being cared for properly, or left unattended for longer periods than required, bedsores can be one of the first and most visible signs of neglect.
  4. Soiled garments and bedsheets. As with bedsores, dirty unchanged linens can indicate a pattern of neglect. Voice your concerns to the facility’s supervisors but also document these instances in case further action is needed.
  5. Signs of emotional withdrawal, depression, or other mood changes. While your loved one might say nothing is wrong, their behavior can indicate otherwise. Changes in behavior, such as mood swings, unwillingness to participate in activities, or decreased appetite and interest in food, can sometimes be indicators of a larger problem. At times, unfortunately, this is the result of abusive conduct by caretakers. You should report any changes in behavior you’ve noticed to the facility. If they can’t provide a proper explanation, you may need to investigate further.
  6. Unexplained declines in health or death. Sadly, your loved one can experience a rapid decline in health or even pass away while in the nursing home setting. Usually the causes are self-evident and can be explained by test results and a physician’s evaluation. Other times, the causes are unclear and need further investigation. In these situations, all possibilities must be explored, including potential abuse, neglect, or malpractice by the nursing home facility. 

Unfortunately, family members are sometimes placed in situations where they have to look out for their loved one’s well being and report abusive conduct. If you suspect that a family member has been abused or neglected at their nursing home facility, it is critical to take prompt action and voice your concerns.

If the nursing home’s caretakers have engaged in abusive or neglectful conduct, they could face criminal charges and civil liability. Your family could be entitled to financial compensation as a result of their conduct as well. In addition to reporting abuse to the State of Tennessee’s Adult Protective Services division, you should also address your concerns with an attorney that specializes in these matters. Having skilled legal counsel at your side can help you during what may be an incredibly difficult process.

Our Knoxville, Tennessee Firm Can Help You Identify Abuse, Protect Your Loved Ones, and Secure Fair Compensation in Nursing Home Malpractice Cases

The attorneys at Atkins Brezina, PLLC, will carefully review all facts and circumstances regarding your loved one’s care. We can help you identify what may have been standard care and what may have constituted abuse or neglect. We can also discuss your full range of legal options based on your situation. Contact a Knoxville Nursing Home Malpractice Lawyer at Atkins Brezina, PLLC, at 865-500-3121 for a free consultation with a skilled and experienced Knoxville medical malpractice attorney.



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