A Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorney Who Cares
Discover what our dedicated Alabama nursing home abuse lawyer can do for you
Families throughout Alabama trust nursing homes to care for their loved ones. When facilities violate that trust, the consequences can be devastating. Severe injuries, serious health problems and even death often result from nursing home abuse and neglect in Alabama.
Don't give up hope. We understand what you're going through. At Shuttlesworth Law Firm, P.C., our experienced Alabama nursing home abuse lawyer has dedicated their careers to fighting for the rights of families dealing with the aftermath of abuse and neglect. We can help you with your claim or lawsuit, too.
Founding attorney Perry Shuttlesworth is a highly skilled lawyer who handles complicated cases involving abuse and neglect at nursing homes. Abuse and neglect may seem similar, but there are differences. Neglect generally involves improper medical or physical attention, while abuse generally involves unwanted physical or sexual conduct, punishment or isolation.
Abuse refers to an intentional infliction of harm on someone, while neglect happens when the nursing home fails to provide necessary care for the resident. Typically, neglect is reported more frequently than abuse.
Our notable nursing home abuse and neglect case settlements and verdicts
$1.2 Million Nursing Home Neglect Wrongful Death Verdict
Defendant nursing home failed to provide oxygen to a resident.
$1 Million Nursing Home Wrongful Death Settlement
Defendant nursing home’s neglect led to bedsores, which caused a resident’s death.
$625,000 Nursing Home Neglect Wrongful Death Arbitration Award
Defendant nursing home’s neglect led to dehydration, malnutrition, and death.
$375,000 Nursing Home Neglect Wrongful Death Settlement
- What are examples of nursing home abuse and neglect in Alabama?
- What is considered nursing home abuse?
- How can I identify nursing home abuse and neglect in Alabama?
- How do I find out if a nursing home has violations?
- What should I do if I suspect nursing home abuse in Alabama?
- How do I report nursing home abuse in Alabama?
- Why should I hire an Alabama nursing home abuse lawyer?
What are examples of nursing home abuse and neglect in Alabama?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions about nursing home abuse we encounter at Shuttlesworth Law Firm, P.C. Some of the most common nursing home abuse cases we handle in Birmingham and throughout Alabama include:
- Falls - A senior citizen who falls can suffer debilitating injuries, including a broken hip or other bone fractures. Unlike younger bones, older bones can take much more time to heal - an elderly victim may never fully recover from a fall. A fall at a nursing home may be linked to neglect. For example, a staff member without adequate training may be unaware of risk factors and prevention strategies. In other cases, staff members may not understand how to properly move a resident. The person may fall to the floor while being lifted from a bed.
- Inadequate hygiene - A failure by staff to maintain a clean environment can result in a variety of health problems for residents, including infections.
- Dehydration or malnutrition - While withholding food or drink from a resident can be a form of abuse, these types of actions may be a case of neglect. Staff members may fail to provide food and drink on a regular basis to a patient. A lack of nutrition or a poor diet can lead to other serious conditions such as bedsores. The nursing home may deny doing anything improper, which is why it's important to have an experienced attorney who will conduct a comprehensive investigation and reveal the truth.
What is considered nursing home abuse?
Abuse of nursing home residents can include:
- Physical abuse– A patient who is punched, slapped, shaken or otherwise beaten by another person in the nursing home (a staff member, another resident, a visitor, etc.). Physical abuse may also take the form of denying food or drink or improper use of restraints. In some cases of physical abuse, the victim is uncommunicative or unable to tell anyone what happened. Abusers sometimes seek out victims who are especially vulnerable, such as someone suffering from a disease like Alzheimer’s or some other condition linked to a loss of mental capacity.
- Sexual abuse– Some residents of nursing homes are sexually abused by staff members, other residents or visitors. Like victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse victims may be targeted because they have a condition that leaves them uncommunicative. The facility may be understaffed and fails to properly monitor patients. The facility also may be responsible for hiring someone with a prior history of committing such assaults.
- Verbal abuse – Many nursing home residents are subjected to verbal abuse, including being yelled at, insulted or made fun of by nursing home staff members. Constant verbal abuse can take a psychological toll on nursing home residents and cause serious harm.
How can I identify nursing home abuse and neglect in Alabama?
Knowing what to look for can often be a challenge. That's why it's important to be aware of some of the warning signs of nursing home abuse. Signs that your loved one may have been abused or neglected include:
- Bedsores - Unrelieved pressure on the skin may result in a bedsore, also known as a pressure sore, pressure ulcer or, technically speaking, a decubitus ulcer. Bedsores often develop on the resident's feet or ankles and on the hips or tailbone. Staff should understand that residents may need help to change positions regularly. Staff may need to check the skin of at-risk residents on a regular basis.
- Urinary tract infections - A UTI, one of the most common types of infections, may suggest some type of neglect. UTIs can occur anywhere in the urinary tract, including the bladder (cystitis), urethra (urethritis), or kidneys (pyelonephritis). The nursing home may argue that a UTI is a normal risk among people of advanced ages, but many times these conditions are linked to a failure by the staff to maintain proper hygiene or a failure to encourage the resident to move around. In some cases, an improper catheter insertion can cause a UTI.
- Sepsis or harmful infections - Attentive nursing home staff should understand how to monitor residents to keep them safe from developing sepsis, which is the result of a severe blood infection. When sepsis is not treated properly, the consequences can be grave. Residents with sepsis may suffer organ damage or failure. In extreme cases, a resident may suffer a potentially fatal blood pressure drop (septic shock). Death may result from the failure of internal organs. Sepsis may be a result of neglect, because staff members failed to provide clean bedding or left wounds or bedsores untreated. The facility may fail to provide proper hygiene for its residents, which may lead to sepsis.
- Medication errors - A common factor in neglect cases, medication errors may occur because a medical professional gave the wrong dosage or mixed up medications and administered the wrong drug. In some cases, a medication error results because a doctor or nurse gives a resident too many drugs that have bad side effects when combined. In other cases, staff administering the drug fail to check the resident's medical history for any possible allergies or other health issues that could cause a problem.
In addition, you should look for the following signs that your loved one may be a victim of abuse or neglect:
- Unexplained bruises or other injuries. Broken bones, fractures or even cuts may indicate neglect.
- Changes in mood. Has your loved one become more withdrawn or angry?
- Visits restricted. Has the nursing home changed its visitation policy?
- Sudden weight loss. While the facility may dismiss weight loss as nothing out of the ordinary, it may be a sign of an infection or malnutrition.
If you suspect something, say something. It's better to be safe than sorry. Tell the nursing home you believe something's wrong with your loved one. Then contact us. We can meet with you and discuss all the legal options available to your family. Our attorney knows how to investigate abusive nursing homes and hold them accountable.
How do I find out if a nursing home has violations?
The Alabama Department of Public Health, Bureau of Health Provider Standards, maintains a directory of all licensed nursing homes in the state. Alabama’s nursing home directory can be found here.
In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a federally funded program, rates nursing homes nationwide, with 5 stars being the highest rating and 1 star being the lowest rating. The CMS 5-star ratings are based on several factors, including health inspections and staffing levels. The CMS 5-star rating for every nursing home in Alabama can be found here.
If a nursing home has been cited for violations, they can often be found in individual inspection reports for each nursing home in its CMS 5-star rating profile. However, finding such reports and knowing what they mean can be challenging, especially if you have not used the CMS 5-star rating website before.
As a result, if you suspect that a nursing home has violated state or federal laws and your loved one was abuse or neglected, you should talk to an attorney at our law firm as soon as possible to learn more about your rights and legal options.
What should I do if I suspect nursing home abuse in Alabama?
Take action immediately. The longer you wait, the more you could put your loved one - and your potential legal case - in jeopardy. Our suggestions for what you should do if you suspect nursing home abuse in Birmingham or anywhere in Alabama include:
- Notify the nursing home of your concerns
- Have an independent doctor examine your loved one
- Contact the police and ask them (or another government agency) to investigate
- Consider moving your loved one to another facility, even if it's only temporary
- Contact a nursing home abuse lawyer
How do I report nursing home abuse in Alabama?
As explained briefly above, you should take certain steps right away to report nursing home abuse:
- Notify the nursing home right away if you believe abuse is occurring in their facility. Document the report to management so they can’t claim ignorance later.
- If you believe a crime has been committed, contact the local police department.
- Contact the Alabama State Survey Agency, part of the Alabama Department of Public Health, which regulates nursing homes and investigates complaints involving nursing home abuse or neglect statewide. If you are not sure how to do this, simply go to the next step.
- Contact our law firm. Our experienced, Alabama nursing home abuse attorney can help you every step of the way.
Why should I hire an Alabama nursing home abuse lawyer?
When nursing home abuse or neglect happens, many people assume such cases will be resolved quickly and families will be fairly compensated. Unfortunately, that's not always true. In many cases, families don't receive the money or support they need during this difficult time. Facilities often deny any wrongdoing and hire an attorney to handle such disputes. Liability in nursing home abuse cases can be complex, and the nursing homes will use that confusion to their advantage.
Level the playing field. Contact us. As your lawyer, we will aggressively research your case and work tirelessly to gather evidence supporting your claim or lawsuit. This may be your only opportunity for justice. Seize it. Contact a law firm that puts your best interests first. Contact the Alabama nursing home abuse attorneys at Shuttlesworth Law Firm, P.C. Call (205) 322-1411 and schedule a free case evaluation. We’re based in Birmingham and represent families throughout the state.