Nursing Home Abuse Can Be Subtle To Detect: Can A Lawyer Help?


Nursing home abuse and neglect take place when caretakers cause harm to residents in extended care. Both unintentional and intentional harm can be considered an abuse of elders in nursing homes. Unfortunately, such incidents can lead to medical emergencies, trauma, and even death.

The aging population in the United States is a prominent issue, and the same holds true for Arkansas, including cities like Rogers. An increasing number of people are spending their final years in nursing homes. Simultaneously, there are instances of resident abuse in nursing homes at both the state and national levels.

Nursing homes in Arkansas do not have a sound track record of providing high-quality care to their residents. According to a database compiled by ProPublica, over 40% of these nursing homes have reported severe quality violations. This statistic may be a significant contributing factor to the problem of abuse in nursing homes.

Elder abuse can take several forms, including mental, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, as well as neglect, such as inadequate hygiene and poor nutrition. In this article, we will discuss the signs that indicate nursing home abuse, along with the legal remedies available to victims.

Nursing Home Abuse Can Be Fatal: The Types of Abuse

Fox 24 News reported on the death of a nursing home resident in Belinda Kay Burns due to staff negligence. This incident happened a couple of years back in Forth Smith, Arkansas. During her stay at the nursing home, Belinda, who was 56 years old, complained about a burning sensation, suggesting that ants might have been affecting her body.

When the Fort Smith Emergency Medical Service removed the sheet, they found ants crawling up between Belinda’s legs and the catheter on the left side of her body. Such negligence is never expected from a nursing home that is supposed to take good care of patients and ensure their recovery. To bring this to public notice, Thomas Burns, Belinda’s widower, filed a complaint against the Methodist Nursing Home of Fort Smith. 

It is necessary to note such instances and hold the concerned staff or nursing home accountable. One of the best ways to do that is by contacting a Rogers personal injury lawyer, who can provide better insight and guidance on the matter.

They can also inform you about the various types of abuse to help you better understand your case and take appropriate action. The different types of abuse include:

  • Physical Abuse: When staff members at the nursing home intentionally harm a resident physically, it can be classified as physical abuse. Some common examples include kicking, hitting, or pushing a resident suddenly, without any reason.
  • Sexual Abuse: It indicates unwanted sexual activity at the nursing home. A CNN report mentioned instances in which staff members of a nursing home sexually harassed and abused the residents.
  • Nursing Home Neglect: There are situations where the residents might not be attended to by caregivers for a prolonged period. It leads to many health hazards. Such neglect leads to pressure ulcers, sepsis, dehydration, and other fatal side effects.

Identifying the Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

When in a nursing home, a patient’s well-being depends on the caregivers and the staff members. Since it’s a new location for them, patients don’t know how the nursing home works. Therefore, any signs of abuse or neglect might not register with them at first. For instance, not cleaning the resident every day or not calling a nurse or doctor when needed are examples of nursing home neglect and abuse.

Would you like your loved one to receive top-notch care at a nursing home? If so, keep an eye on the following red flags that can help you identify neglect and abuse at the root and take the necessary action:

Lack or Loss of Mobility

Nursing homes with high standards of care have policies and programs that keep the residents physically mobile and active. On the other hand, subpar nursing homes can leave residents in wheelchairs and beds for extended periods, leading to the development of mobility problems.

When residents remain lying on beds or sitting on wheelchairs without proper repositioning, they may develop pressure ulcers that can progress to stage 4 bedsores. Instead of healing, the patient’s health worsens.

Psychological Problems

Often, nursing home residents might develop emotional problems because of negligence from the staff. They might develop extreme fear toward a caregiver. Additionally, patients might not want to cooperate with staff members or open up to them, and they may have bottled up resentment and anger within. If the neglect is constant, it can lead to depression and anxiety. As a result, they may even distance themselves from family members and friends.

An ailing body with a disturbed mind is a fatal combination and can hinder the healing process. Hence, if you notice that your loved one, who is admitted to a nursing home in Rogers, is exhibiting mood swings and emotional instability, it is necessary to check whether they have been facing neglect from the caregivers.

Once it’s proven that your loved one has faced staff negligence for a prolonged period, you can use the evidence to file a legal complaint. Keith Law Group states that with the help of a personal injury lawyer, victims can get compensated for the damages they have suffered. 

The compensation can include loss of income, medical costs, mental anguish, and pain and suffering. With their high level of empathy and understanding, they will ensure that the verdict is in the victim’s favor.

Inadequate Nutrition

There have been situations where residents don’t receive the correct amount of water and food. Is your loved one exhibiting signs of malnutrition and dehydration, such as irritability, tiredness, papery skin, hair loss, and feeling cold? If so, it is necessary to check whether the staff members are providing them with food and water at the correct intervals. If not, you need to take action against it.

Improper Resident Hygiene

Some residents require assistance with personal health care, such as bathing or brushing their teeth. When nursing homes don’t have adequate staff members, they are unable to keep their residents healthy and clean. This can lead to infections, allergies, and sepsis, which can prolong both the treatment and healing time.

Inexplicable Injuries

Nursing homes that have staffing problems will not prevent residents from intentionally or accidentally harming themselves or others. There can be situations where residents might suffer injuries such as concussions, bed rail injuries, and broken bones. Staff members may not report such injuries on time or even be aware of them.


No one admits a loved one to a nursing home expecting that their physical or mental health will deteriorate. Since incidents of abuse in nursing homes are prevalent in Arkansas and its cities like Rogers, it is always better to exercise proper caution. 

For starters, it is necessary to conduct a background check on the nursing home before admitting a loved one. Reading patient or client reviews online is a good way to obtain details about a nursing home.

However, there are times when residents face abuse and neglect from nursing home staff members, despite taking all precautions. In such a situation, it is vital to speak up and increase awareness. Seeking the help of a lawyer and filing a legal complaint is useful. It sheds light on more such cases and also compensates the victims for their damages.

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