Oklahoma Elder/Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has developed regulations for nursing homes to follow in providing care for their residents. Those regulations include definitions and guidelines designed to help prevent elder abuse. Although these regulations are in place, the state of Oklahoma has limited ability to conduct reviews of nursing homes. If you have reason to believe or suspect that a nursing home may be in violation of patients rights, there are important steps you can take to provide help on behalf of the residents.

Abuse is identified as a willful or reckless act by another person, which has the potential to result in physical injury or death. Abuse is also defined as the failure to take action to prevent injury or death, including neglect. Some obvious signs of abuse include bruises, broken bones, bedsores, or a sudden decline or change in physical or mental health.

Elder/nursing home can take many different forms, which may include physical, sexual, and psychological abuse; malnutrition; financial exploitation; identity theft; and pure neglect. If you have made the difficult decision to place a family member in a nursing home, you and your family member shouldn't have to suffer through any type of neglect or abuse at the hands of a caregiver or even other residents.

Visible injuries are the type that will be noticed right away. Some examples include broken bones, cuts, scars, bruises and bed sores. If you notice any of these signs, it is important to report it immediately. You can ask any member of the caregiving or medical team at the nursing home to explain the incident surrounding the injury or malady, and if you are not given sufficient or satisfactory answers, you may want to bring the matter up with administrators. Some nursing homes have liaisons to whom you can turn for help.

Examples of neglect include insufficient food and water, insufficient bathing opportunities, failure to change the resident's undergarments in a timely manner, failure to supply personal hygiene products, and failure to assist in the basic functions for the resident.

Hitting, punching, slapping, poking, or pinching are abusive behaviors and are prohibited by the regulations that govern nursing home operations. If body parts are touched or exposed for the purpose of anyone's sexual gratification, without the resident's expressed and informed consent, those acts are considered to be sexual abuse and the resident's rights are being violated.

The state of Oklahoma has laws in place to protect elders from other types of abuse, as well as physical abuse. Emotional abuse includes humiliation, harassment, or threats of punishment, as well as seclusion that prevents interaction with other residents or access to his/her room (except for certain brief, monitored periods). Additionally, any verbal, written or gestured message used in a negative or belittling context is considered to be abusive even if the resident has mental or physical disabilities that prevent comprehension.

As always, if you have reason to believe that anyone, including a nursing home resident, is in life-threatening danger, you should immediately call 911 or the local law enforcement agency. If you believe that a situation is not an emergency but suspect that nursing home abuse is occurring, it is appropriate for you to contact either the Oklahoma Health Division or a qualified elder/nursing home abuse attorney. An elder/nursing home abuse attorney can provide excellent advice and is experienced in ensuring the safety and well-being of nursing home residents.


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