When our loved ones require medical care, we want them to be safe. No one wants to consider the idea that their loved ones may be suffering abuse at the hands of their nurse. Yet millions of people staying in nursing homes and hospitals throughout the United States suffer from abuse and neglect at the hands of their nurses.
In order to spot these problems before they get severe enough to cause long-term harm, it’s important to know the warning signs of nursing abuse and neglect.
The Difference Between Abuse and Neglect
While abuse and neglect both cause long-term damage, they’re not the same thing. Abuse is active harm caused with intent. Neglect is passive and causes harm without any particular intention to do so.
As an example, it’s occasionally necessary to restrain a patient. There are laws involving how this is to be done, and breaking those laws is considered abuse. This is because it’s a direct action that causes immediate harm, either through physical damage from the restraints or the use of sedation that hasn’t been approved by a doctor.
However, if a nurse was to simply leave a patient alone in their room, it could be neglect. It’s not necessarily neglect, depending on the mobility of the patient. However, if the patient has mobility problems and is simply left alone, then they are being neglected and will have health and wellness issues over time.
Looking For Signs
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to notice the warning signs. The most immediate sign is failing health or regular injuries. Patients will sometimes get injured through the course of proper care. Sometimes it’s necessary to restrain them more forcefully, or some days their mobility may not be as stable as it is on other days.
But regular signs of injury, and injuries not consistent with the information given, is often a sign of abuse.
In addition, major personality changes can often be a sign of inappropriate medications. Hospitals and nursing homes will often sedate patients when necessary, but it becomes abuse when it’s done outside of strict regulations.
Lastly, if you have a hard time getting information that you should legally be allowed to have, that’s often a warning sign. Sometimes this is simply a matter of bureaucracy or training. However, if it happens consistently then you should begin asking more questions and going over people’s heads.
In a general sense, the warning signs of nursing abuse and neglect are the same as any other style of abuse and neglect. Document any situation that makes you worry, writing down the exact thing that made you question, the date and time you asked about it, and what resolution was reached. That way, if you notice your loved ones being poorly treated you’re able to do something about it.