Nursing home abuse can scar you, your loved one, and the rest of your family. The good news is you don’t have to fight back alone. By obtaining key pieces of evidence that support your claim, and with the help of an experienced Oklahoma City attorney, you can obtain the justice you deserve.

9 Keys to Proving Nursing Home Abuse in Oklahoma City

1. Watch for and Note Common Signs of Abuse

Just as you first review a nursing home facility to ensure it’s right for your loved one, you must continue to monitor the care that person receives. Otherwise, your family member may be one of the more than two million cases of nursing home abuse reported in the U.S. each year. You need to know the most common signs of abuse and note them with the date of the incident.

Indicators to look for include:

  • Dehydration or malnutrition
  • Frequent injuries without explanation from staff
  • Broken bones, cuts, lacerations, or bruises
  • Unexplained mood changes
  • Withdrawal from activities 
  • Appearing uneasy or nervous around caretakers

Restraints Are Illegal

Oklahoma nursing home law states that restraints of any kind – including physical and chemical – are illegal for purposes of discipline or convenience. Restraints are allowed only in emergency situations to ensure a resident’s safety, and if they are used, they must be quick-release. Locked restraints are strictly prohibited. And in most cases, a doctor’s consent is required before the restraints can be employed.

2. Obtain Copies of Medical Records

If the nursing home where your loved one resides participates in Medicaid or Medicare programs, you are entitled to copies of their records. It’s important you obtain these and review them for inconsistencies, including a lack of explanation for injuries, over or underuse of medications, and unnecessary treatments that don’t align with your family member’s health conditions.

You may also find surprising information pertaining to events you were not aware of. For instance, your loved one may have been previously hospitalized for dehydration or malnutrition. They may also have received treatment for inexplicable injuries, bedsores, and other health complications arising from substandard care.

Follow HIPAA Guidelines

Before making a request for medical records, you must be named as your loved one’s authorized representative. This ensures compliance with HIPAA regulations, and once received, the nursing home must promptly comply with your request. Fines may be levied if the nursing home does not meet state and/or federal time guidelines in providing the records to you.

This does not mean, however, that staff will abide by the law without a little pressure from you or your Oklahoma City attorney. They do not willingly assist with elder abuse cases, especially if you have compelling evidence to support your claim.

3. Install Cameras, If You Haven’t Already

Nursing home residents can install cameras and other electronic monitoring devices in their rooms. Oklahoma law is very clear on this, and it is illegal to deny a resident admittance or remove them from the facility if they choose to use private surveillance in their room. 

Cameras can serve multiple purposes. First, they may help deter nursing home abuse simply as staff will know you can see their actions. Second, the recorded footage can be used as evidence if you need to proceed with civil or criminal proceedings. Last, visible footage can help you get to the bottom of suspected abuse. Many times, victims don’t report neglect because they’re afraid and/or don’t want to burden their families.

4. Take Pictures

This point ties into the previous. Seeing is believing, and any visible evidence of abuse you can collect will be very powerful. This includes pictures of injuries your loved one has sustained as well as photos of their living conditions – such as soiled bedding, unsanitary restrooms, and unsafe surroundings. 

You can also use pictures to record the nature of the nursing home itself. Neglect can take shape in many different ways, including a failure to provide adequate security and maintain a sufficient number of caregivers. Recording the absence of such staff can further prove your case.

5. Read Ombudsmen Complaints

A nursing home ombudsman serves as a citizen’s representative. They help resolve nursing home problems related to the rights, welfare, safety, and health of residents. Each state has an ombudsman program and a network of thousands of advocates. Some are part of a paid staff, while others volunteer their services. 
The point is ombudsmen programs in Oklahoma City record complaints filed against area nursing homes. By reviewing these complaints, you can identify frequent allegations of neglect or abuse and help prove a history of substandard care within a particular facility. This information can also substantiate your own claim and help bring the nursing home to justice.

6. Take Witness Statements

Witnesses can provide powerful testimony in substantiating abuse claims. Sometimes, they can even help obtain justice for other patients. Those people you may want to speak with include:
  • Facility employees
  • Other residents
  • Family members visiting residents
  • Third-party vendors, such as food suppliers

Record and date their statements carefully so you and your attorney can rely on their accuracy. Or, ask these witnesses to write and sign their own statements to corroborate their legitimacy.

7. Review Your Loved One’s Banking Information

Financial abuse is another widespread problem within nursing homes that can be difficult to detect. One of the first signs is your loved one not recalling important financial matters, especially if they paid close attention to such matters in the past. For instance, if your family member’s name is on a bank withdrawal slip, but they do not remember taking that money, you may have cause for concern.

Sometimes this is simply a sign of forgetting, which is common as one ages. But other times, these signs indicate someone else has obtained access to the account and is obtaining money. Additional things to look for in identifying financial abuse include:

  • Assets that disappear inexplicably, such as securities and cash
  • Loans that your loved one cannot explain
  • Abrupt and unusual changes in your loved one’s spending behaviors

8. Prove Causation

The first goal with an abuse case is to prove liability. Up to this point, we’ve discussed a number of ways you can do this. Now it’s time to turn attention to proving causation. Many nursing home residents have a preexisting illness or injury. The facility’s administrators and attorneys may take advantage of this and assert you’re trying to claim damages that would have occurred even in perfect living conditions. 

To overcome such an argument, it must be shown the damages you’re claiming never would have accrued if not for the nursing home’s liability. And this ties in with the evidence you’ll need to bring forth, such as your loved one’s medical records and statements from other witnesses.

9. Prove Damages

All successful claims of abuse or neglect yield compensatory damages. These may include economic damages (verifiable losses) and non-economic damages (subjective and personal effects of the abuse). Evidence of damages commonly includes:
  • Invoices and receipts for costs arising from the abuse
  • Medical bills
  • Depositions from medical experts and family members who witnessed the effects of the abuse

If your loved one has suffered abuse or neglect in a nursing home, we’re ready to stand by your side and fight fiercely for your case. We can help you and your family through this difficult time and are experienced in cases ranging from simple to complex. Contact Cannon & Associates today for a free case evaluation.