Arizona became an unfortunate focus of national attention in January following the news of an incapacitated woman’s sexual assault and subsequent pregnancy at the Hacienda Healthcare facility. A nurse has been arrested and charged for the assault, while two doctors have left the facility. Police are still investigating Hacienda Healthcare for signs of abuse against other patients.

For those with loved ones in care facilities and nursing homes, this is bone-chilling. Incapacitated adults are susceptible to abuse for the same reason they require long-term care — they can’t speak out for themselves. To combat this, Arizona has strict laws about the care of vulnerable adults. According to A.R.S. § 46-455, endangerment, neglect, abuse, or exploitation can lead to felony charges. Civil cases also allow for punitive damages, which means the victim receives compensation not just for medical bills, but to financially punish the perpetrator.

Yet tragically, abuse cases still happen, despite stiff consequences. To prevent abuse and neglect, lookout for warning signs in care facilities. Questionable staff behavior includes:

  • Preventing loved ones from visiting patients
  • Insisting a staff member be present during family visits
  • Restricting patients’ movements, activity, and communication
  • Threatening or yelling when talking to patients
  • Changes in mood and behavior in a patient at a staff member’s presence

Equally crucial are changes in behavior or condition of your incapacitated loved one. Some potential red flags are:

  • Unexplained bruises or injuries
  • Bed sores
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Lack of sleep
  • Weight loss

Because vulnerable adults often can’t communicate what they’re feeling or experiencing, these subtler behavioral signs are key to spotting potential abuse. By being aware of both staff and patient behavior, you can be more assured of the quality of care your loved one is receiving.

Good care facilities take precautions, carefully vet their employees, and are open to questions and concerns from family. These policies provide a clue regarding a facility’s vigilance about the safety of their patients.

If you suspect abuse, contact a lawyer. The personal injury attorneys at Bellah Perez, PLLC have a heart for incapacitated adults. We take these cases seriously, ensuring you and your family receive the highest compensation for vulnerable victims. Call our nursing home abuse lawyers today: (602) 252-9937.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.