Our San Diego nursing home abuse lawyers know that both federal and state law guarantee elderly patients certain rights and protections, including the right to adequate medical treatment and care, as well as the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Those protections include the right to be free from physical or chemical restraints that nursing home staff may wrongfully use to control or discipline patients.
On the other hand, some unscrupulous staff members may deny elderly residents treatment or take medications from their patients. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, a forty-year-old registered nurse, Amy M. Armstrong, was recently caught stealing pills from an elderly hospice patient. The nurse was employed by a hospice agency to provide care for the patient in the patient’s home. A family member of the victim suspected that the nurse was stealing the medication and alerted police. Police set up video cameras in the victim’s home so they could catch the nurse in the act.
While police watched, the nurse removed the victim’s narcotic painkillers from the victim’s home. When officers moved in to arrest the nurse, they discovered the narcotic painkillers and anti-depressants on the nurse’s person. The nurse was charged with two counts of felony theft by taking, two counts of California elder abuse, and two counts of possession of controlled substances. She is currently being held on bond.
Thanks to the diligence of the police and the elderly patient’s family member, this negligent caretaker was caught red handed. Unfortunately, abusers often target the most vulnerable members of our elderly population. In this case, the nurse—who had been hired to provide care and comfort—was stealing the medication necessary to ease the pain of an elderly hospice patient. As a result, the nurse faces both criminal and civil sanctions.
In other instances, San Diego negligent nursing homes may overuse medication to manage “hard-to-control” patients, particularly those with dementia. This type of elder abuse is often referred to as using medication as a chemical restraint. Caregivers may attempt to take the easy way out instead of providing each patient with the attention and individualized treatment he or she deserves. Family members should be aware of important warning signs such as if your loved ones are unusually lethargic or disoriented for no reason. They could also appear confused at times or extremely forgetful.
If you suspect that a loved one is being abused in any way, one way to help stop abuse in its tracks is to check in on your loved ones frequently. Calling or visiting elderly relatives or friends can alert family and friends to the signs of abuse. Family members should feel free to check in with their loved ones’ doctors or caretakers and to either support their loved ones as they voice complaints or concerns about care or raise such concerns themselves. Many facilities permit and encourage residents or family members to recommend changes in policies or services to facility staff.
If your concerns go unaddressed, family members should not hesitate to report abuse. Reporting elder abuse is essential to preventing the abuse from escalating. Our San Diego elder abuse attorneys know how to walk you through the process and how to help you protect your loved ones.
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