An increasing number of New Mexico's nursing homes continue to be questioned about the signs of abuse and neglect that seemingly appear over and over again. In fact, our state's nursing home quality scores consistently rank near the bottom of the nation.
Of the several types of abuse that can occur inside a nursing facility, one of the most disturbing involves acts of inappropriate sexual behavior. Unfortunately, our law firm has consulted with several family's on this issue. And while it may seem like these types of crimes can only occur in lesser known, or poorly rated facilities, sexual abuse lawsuits are filed against nursing homes of all types, elite or not.
Why is Sexual Abuse Occurring in our
One of many concerning facts about nursing home sexual abuse is that it's not always easily detected, especially in comparison with more outwardly forms of abuse that leave broken bones or bed sores, etc. Because it's sometimes difficult for family and friends to determine whether or not sexual misconduct has occurred, it leaves the loved one who is suffering from the abuse susceptible to emotional trauma, and in some instances, life-threatening injury.
As is common with anyone who has suffered from sexual abuse, those who are victim to a sexual predator in a nursing home are often reluctant to speak out, as they feel ashamed or embarrassed. In other instances, the resident may be unable to speak due to their physical or cognitive limitations. If no one recognizes the symptoms of sexual abuse, or if the resident is not being properly monitored, it leaves them with no choice but to suffer in silence, often making the situation worse and/or increasing the chance for repeat violations with one or multiple residents.
When an act of sexual abuse occurs inside a nursing home, it's often assumed that a lawsuit would only be filed against a staff member or doctor, as they spend the most time in the facility, but these are certainly not the only individuals who have been named in these types of lawsuits. In fact, it's not uncommon to find that a fellow resident who has psychological disorders, or is prone to acts of criminal behavior, is committing acts of sexual misconduct.
Ultimately, a nursing home is responsible for anyone who gains access to the facility, this includes strangers, family of other residents, workers making deliveries, etc. These types of acts typically occur when a nursing home fails to provide adequate security and supervision. A large number of nursing homes don't require any type of "guest sign-in" for visitation and/or lack proper security measures such as cameras or guards.
In any of the above instances, it's possible that a lawsuit can be filed against the nursing home for allegations of sexual abuse, as it's the ultimate responsibility of the staff and doctors to ensure the safety of your loved one, including keeping them safe from anyone who has access to the facility's inside and outside property.
What are the signs of sexual abuse?
As mentioned above, due to cognitive or physical limitations, not every resident is capable of reporting acts of sexual misconduct. Knowing what signs are present when sexual abuse occurs can be the difference in your loved one's safety, or their continued suffering.
The following signals are possible symptoms of sexual abuse and should never be ignored:
- Sudden fearfulness or refusal to communicate when a certain person is present
- Bruises or bleeding near or directly on genitals
- Blood stains on clothing and/or bed sheets
- Unexplained (or emergence of) pain while sitting
- Infection in the genital area, and/or emergence of an STD
- Emotional outbursts, depressions, or withdrawal from usual activities
These are only a few signs that signify the possibility of sexual abuse. If you have any suspicion that your loved one is being abused by anyone that has access to the nusring home, it's critical that you contact authorities to file a proper report. The investigation and corrective measures taken may save your loved one's life and also prevent the further abuse of other patients in similar facilities.
Our attorneys have worked on numerous nursing home abuse cases, and those that involve sexual abuse are often complex and require months of legal investigation. Our Albuquerque office has always provided FREE consultations to family members who suspect cases of sexual abuse, and we're happy to speak with you by phone, at your home, or in our offices. The call is confidential and there are never any charges for us filing a lawsuit unless we are successful in making a recovery on your behalf.