A jury awarded nearly $600,000 in damages to the estate of a man who was abused while a resident at a nursing home in San Antonio. Emilio Gonzalez lived at the Retama Manor Nursing Center for six years before his death in 2007. Gonzalez's daughter, Mary Koenig, sued the nursing home for untreated bed sores her father developed while living in the nursing home. Two of the bed sores were so severe that they went down to the bone and required hospitalization at a special treatment center.
The attorneys representing Gonzalez's estate argued that the nursing home purposefully kept its facility understaffed in order to cut costs. For example, the attorneys alleged that one nurse would be assigned as many as 60 residents to care after at one time. The nursing home argued that it was not understaffed and insisted that the severity of Gonzalez's bed sores was caused by his terminal lung cancer, not neglect.
The jury awarded Gonzalez's estate $250,000 for physical pain and suffering, $150,000 for mental pain and anguish and $192,439.88 in medical expenses. However, because of the Texas cap on tort damage awards, the award is likely to be reduced to $250,000 in damages and $75,000 in medical expenses.
Nursing Home Abuse: Recognizing the Signs
Bed sores are one of the most easily recognizable warning signs that abuse or neglect may be occurring at a nursing home or other care facility. Other warning signs of nursing home abuse include:
· Bruising, scratches, lacerations and other cuts or sores
· Red marks on the arms, legs, wrists and/or ankles
· Broken bones
· Unclean appearance, poor hygiene, dirty hair
· Unclean clothes and bed linens
· Unexplained weight loss
Physical abuse is not the only type of nursing home abuse. Residents also can be abused emotionally, which can be much more difficult to detect because the only signs may be behavioral changes. Some of the types of behaviors that may indicate emotional abuse include:
· Confusion, disorientation and other signs of over-medication
· Depression, sad or upset
· Unexplained quietness, withdrawn, no longer talkative
· Agitated, aggressive or angry behavior
· Secretive behavior
In some cases, nursing home residents may be financially exploited by either those who work at the facility or by family members or friends. Examples of financial exploitation include making unauthorized withdrawals from a nursing home resident's bank account, check forgery or illegally taking other personal property from the resident.
It is common for those who are responsible for abusing nursing home residents, whether physically, emotionally or financially, to try to make the resident feel isolated. One of the ways they may do this is by trying to prevent the resident from spending any one-on-one time with visitors, other residents or even other employees. If a loved one notices that the same employee seems to always be present during visits and there are other signs of nursing home abuse or neglect, then the loved one should report their concerns to the nursing home and the Texas Department of Adult Protective Services.
Contact an Attorney Today
If a loved one has been abused, neglected or financially exploited while living in a nursing home, assisted living or other facility in Texas, you should immediately report the abuse to the proper authorities. An attorney experienced in handling elder abuse cases can discuss your legal options with you. This may include filing a civil claim against the nursing home and the employees responsible for the abuse. For more information, contact a lawyer today.