Richard-Schmidt - MSM&C

Attorney at Mueller, Schmidt, Mulholland & Cooling

Practice Areas: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Workers’ Compensation, Personal Injury

The Iowa Capital Dispatch has reported three health aides were fired for alleged emotional and physical abuse at the facilities they worked. Rebecca Schade, an aide at Blackhawk Life Care Center, was fired for mocking a resident who regularly cried out for help due to an illness. She had previously received a warning for telling another resident her hair “looked awful.” 

Kelli Nehring, a certified nurse aide at Bethany Manor, was terminated for not reporting suspected abuse immediately. She had intervened when a resident was yelling but only reported the incident when she later noticed bruising on the resident’s arms.

Yawavi Kpognon, a medication manager at Dial Silvercrest Corp., was fired for not administering prescribed pain medication to a hospice resident. She failed to contact an on-call nurse when she found no syringes filled with morphine, leading to the resident experiencing pain and sustaining a head injury. 

Spotting Emotional Abuse in Nursing Homes

Emotional abuse in nursing homes often goes unnoticed because it leaves no physical marks. However, its impact can be devastating for residents. One common sign of emotional abuse is a sudden change in behavior. Residents may become withdrawn, anxious, or depressed without a clear medical reason. Another indicator is the reluctance to speak openly, especially in the presence of nursing home staff. Observing interactions can also provide clues. Staff members who belittle, threaten, or ignore residents are likely culprits of emotional abuse.

Physical Indicators: How to Spot Neglect in a Care Facility

Neglect in a care facility can manifest in various physical indicators and should not be ignored. One of the most noticeable signs is poor personal hygiene. Residents may appear unkempt, with dirty clothes or unwashed hair, indicating a lack of basic care. Unexplained weight loss can also be a red flag, as it may point to inadequate nutrition or feeding assistance. Additionally, frequent injuries like bruises or falls could suggest a lack of proper supervision.

Bedsores are another concerning sign, often resulting from prolonged periods of immobility without adequate turning or repositioning. A cluttered or dirty living environment can also indicate neglect, as can expired or missing medications. Observing these physical signs can help family members identify neglectful situations. Prompt attention to these indicators can lead to immediate improvements in the resident’s living conditions and overall well-being.

Financial Exploitation: What to Watch For in Nursing Home Billing

Financial exploitation in nursing homes can be a subtle form of abuse that often goes unnoticed until significant damage has been done. One sign to watch for is sudden changes in billing practices. Unexplained charges, duplicate billing, or frequent errors can indicate a problem. Another red flag is the lack of transparency in financial transactions. If a facility is reluctant to provide detailed invoices or avoids answering questions about costs, it may be cause for concern.

It’s also important to monitor bank statements and financial records for unauthorized transactions. Sometimes, staff members may gain access to residents’ financial information and make unauthorized withdrawals or purchases. Family members should be vigilant in reviewing financial documents and questioning any irregularities. 

Medical Negligence: How Inadequate Care Can Lead to Severe Consequences

Medical negligence in nursing homes can have severe consequences for residents, affecting both their physical and emotional well-being. One common form of medical negligence is medication errors. Incorrect dosages, missed doses, or administering the wrong medication can lead to a range of health issues. Another area of concern is the lack of timely medical attention. Delays in diagnosing or treating medical conditions can result in complications that could have been avoided with prompt care.

Inadequate staffing can also contribute to medical negligence. When a facility is understaffed, residents may not receive the attention and care needed, leading to neglectful situations like untreated bed sores or falls. Monitoring the quality of medical care, including staff responsiveness and medication management, can help family members identify problems before they escalate. Awareness of these issues is the first step in ensuring a safer and more caring environment for nursing home residents.

Legal Options: Steps to Take After Discovering Nursing Home Negligence

Discovering negligence in a nursing home can be a distressing experience for families. Knowing what steps to take can help address the situation effectively. First, documentation is key. Collecting evidence such as photographs, medical records, and witness statements can provide a strong foundation for any future actions. Second, reporting negligence to the facility’s management is an important step. While it may not solve the problem immediately, it puts the facility on notice and may prompt internal investigations.

Additionally, filing a formal complaint with state or local health departments can bring official scrutiny to the facility. Some states have hotlines or online portals specifically for reporting nursing home abuse or neglect. Lastly, consider transferring the resident to another facility if immediate safety is a concern. While these steps won’t undo the harm already done, they can help prevent further neglect and improve conditions for all residents.

Iowa Laws: Understanding State Regulations on Nursing Home Care

Understanding Iowa regulations on nursing home care can empower families to advocate for their loved ones effectively. Iowa law mandates nursing homes provide a safe and clean environment, adequate staffing, and appropriate medical care. Facilities are also required to respect the rights and dignity of residents, including their right to privacy and freedom from abuse or neglect.

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals oversees nursing home compliance and conducts regular inspections. Violations can result in penalties, ranging from fines to license revocation. Public records of these inspections are available, offering families a resource to assess the quality of a nursing home.

Filing a Complaint: Reporting Procedures for Nursing Home Negligence

Nursing Home Abuse Law

When negligence is suspected in a nursing home, filing a formal complaint is an important step in addressing the issue. In Iowa, complaints can be submitted to the Department of Inspections and Appeals, which is responsible for regulating nursing homes. Complaints can often be filed online, by mail, or over the phone. When filing, it’s important to provide as much detail as possible, including names, dates, and specific incidents.

Once a complaint is filed, an investigation usually follows. Investigators may visit the facility, review records, and interview staff and residents. Based on their findings, citations, fines, or other corrective actions may be issued. While filing a complaint may not yield immediate results, it does contribute to official oversight and can lead to improvements in care for all residents. Being proactive in reporting negligence can make a meaningful difference in the quality of nursing home care.

In the event that the negligence in a nursing home leads to more severe consequences, such as injury or even wrongful death, understanding the legal recourse available is crucial. Families may be entitled to chain-reaction compensation if the negligence has set off a series of events leading to additional harm. In the tragic case of a fatality, exploring Iowa wrongful death claims can be a necessary step in seeking justice for a loved one. Additionally, in situations where harm is caused by faulty medical equipment, victims have legal options for victims of defective medical devices in Iowa, which is a significant aspect of consumer protection law that addresses defective medical devices.

If you are dealing with a nursing home negligence case, contact or call us at 515-444-4000 as soon as possible for a free consultation.

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