Tennessee Nursing Home Abuse
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Tennessee law requires a criminal background check for nursing home staff. Yet staffing shortages and budget issues mean that nursing home abuse is still a potential danger in the state. With the possibility that your elderly relative may fall victim to nursing home abuse, it is important to learn about your legal rights and the signs and symptoms of abuse.
What Is Elder Abuse?
Abusive behaviors against the elderly can include financial exploitation, physical or emotional abuse, even sexual assault. The National Center on Elder Abuse, which collects nursing home abuse statistics and data, reports that up to 30 percent of nursing homes commit some form of abuse on elderly patients.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Elder abuse is underreported and more widespread than you might think. If your elderly relative has become withdrawn or irritable, it may be due to abuse by a caretaker. Symptoms of abuse at the hands of a nursing home employee include bed sores, unattended wounds, unexplained cuts or bruises, sudden change in patient behavior, unchanged clothing, or a seemingly overmedicated state. If you notice these changes in your relative, report them to the facility director, law enforcement, and the Tennessee Department of Health as soon as possible.
Tennessee Law and Regulation Protecting the Elderly
All nursing home residents in Tennessee are not only covered by state law, but by the national Nursing Home Reform Act and Americans with Disabilities Act. These laws require caretakers to give patients access to medical and personal information, grant them privacy and confidentiality, allow patients to participate in their own care, give freedom and respect (this means no unwanted restraints or "punishments"), and respect their personal property and possessions.
Failure to uphold the basic rights of nursing home residents in Tennessee can constitute abuse and can degrade the quality of an elderly patient's quality of life or even lead to an earlier death.
If You Suspect Elder Abuse Has Taken Place
Even though state resources, such as the Tennessee Department of Health, can address nursing home abuse at the licensing level, you may wish to pursue criminal or civil litigation against the abusive caretaker and/or facility. This requires the services of an attorney experienced with cases of elder or nursing home abuse in Tennessee. Your Tennessee nursing home abuse lawyer can help determine how to file your claim, advise on the inherent legal issues, and support you as you seek monetary compensation for personal injury and pain and suffering.
Support for Elder Abuse Victims
Concerned about nursing home abuse? You are not alone. There are many support groups and Web sites with information about what is and is not acceptable in Tennessee nursing homes. For the last word on legal issues related to nursing home abuse in Tennessee, consult an experienced Tennessee nursing home abuse attorney. Your attorney will be your first resource as you attempt to protect an elderly loved one.
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