Nursing Home Abuse in Minnesota – How to Report Potential Abuse

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Laura Schaefer

About 17% of Missouri’s population consists of older adults age 65+, and they may require nursing home care in the near future. Sending your loved one to a Minnesota nursing home takes incredible trust, and it’s devastating that nursing home abuse in Minnesota exists throughout the state.

Most Minnesota nursing home attendants don’t know they possess resident rights protected by federal law. Such resident rights include:

  • Right to a dignified existence
  • Right to self-determination
  • Right to be fully informed
  • Right to raise grievances
  • Rights regarding financial affairs
  • Right to privacy
Minnesota Ombudsman

Unfortunately, these rights are not always upheld. In fact, the Star Tribune reported that a Bay View facility in Red Wing violated multiple care standards. This was the third nursing home placed under state control in two years through court-ordered receivership.

If you or your loved one in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, Duluth or another town experienced nursing home abuse in Minnesota, read on. Learn about the actions you can take to address the situation and prevent it from happening to others.

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What is Considered Nursing Home Abuse in Minnesota?

Nursing home abuse in Minnesota is defined as the deliberate infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or punishment, resulting in physical harm, pain, or mental anguish.

This includes neglect, physical, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse done by nursing home staff and other residents. If you’re unsure who’s legally responsible for the abuse of your loved one, consult an attorney and gather evidence of the case.

Physical and Emotional Abuse

When a caretaker or another resident inflicts intentional physical harm onto your loved one, nursing home physical abuse took place. This category includes verbal, physical, or mental abuse, as well as abuse enabled through technology.

Examples of physical nursing home abuse include:

  • Hitting, pinching, shoving, force-feeding, scratching, slapping, and spitting
  • Scolding, ignoring, ridiculing, or cursing a resident
  • Threats of punishment or deprivation
  • Forceful use of straps or restraints
  • Rough handling during caregiving or moving a resident
  • Taking, using, and/or sharing photographs or recordings of residents that would demean or humiliate them

Even though emotional abuse leaves no physical scars, there are changes in your loved one’s demeanor that may indicate emotional instability. Don’t underestimate the damage emotional abuse can do to your loved one. Caretakers who are responsible for emotional abuse are violating federal and Minnesota law.

Sexual Abuse

If nursing home staff or other residents force non-consensual sexual contact of any type, they are performing nursing home sexual abuse. This includes rape, improper touching, or forcing a resident to perform sexual acts.

Women with mental impairments like dementia are more susceptible to nursing home sexual abuse due to flaws in their memory. It’s federal law for nursing home residents to be free from abuse, neglect, and exploitation, and that includes sexual abuse (42 C.F.R. §483.12(b)(2)).

Financial Abuse

Financial exploitation involves unlawfully taking advantage of a nursing home resident’s funds or assets. Most states, including Minnesota, prohibit nursing home staff from accessing a resident’s personal funds without consent.

Misappropriation is the deliberate misplacement, misuse, or exploitation of a resident’s belongings or money without the resident’s consent.

Staff members may commit financial exploitation by doing the following:

  • Not placing resident funds in separate interest-bearing accounts where required
  • Threatening or coercing a resident for money to receive care or services
  • Stealing or embezzling a resident’s money or personal property
  • Using a resident’s personal property

Nursing home residents are prime targets for financial abuse due to the massive capital they saved over the years. Protect your loved one from exploitation through expert legal action.

Neglect

Nursing home neglect is the failure to provide basic care necessary to avoid physical harm, pain, mental anguish or emotional distress to a resident. Neglect may or may not be intentional.

Examples of nursing home neglect include:

  • Incorrect body positioning
  • Lack of assistance with eating and drinking
  • Failure to provide assistive walking devices like wheelchairs
  • Unwilling to regularly bathe or clean residents
  • Isolation from group activities
  • Ignoring call bells or cries for help

When issuing your loved one to a new Minnesota nursing home, make sure to ask questions related to their level of care. Inquire about their activities schedule and make sure there is a low staff turnover rate.

Early Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

If you see a sudden change in your loved one’s behavior or personality, it can be a warning sign of nursing home neglect or abuse. Notice also if your loved one shows:

  • Rapidly lost weight
  • Visible bruises or abrasions on their skin
  • Dehydration or malnutrition
  • Changing sleep or personal habits
  • Noticeably less eye contact
  • Fearfulness, timidity, or depression
  • More than normal isolation from family and friends
  • Repeated injuries that require visits to the emergency room

Make sure the facility has adequate staffing and can take care of your loved one’s medical needs. Be vigilant and follow up if anything seems “off”. This can help prevent further abuse against other residents.

What Can I Do to Prevent Further Abuse?

After you report the abuse, the state suggests you follow up with the resident and facility to make sure the neglect or abuse has stopped. Contact the person or agency conducting the investigation and be sure to ask for written copies of findings if allowed by law.

Follow up with licensing authorities to ensure they are aware of any charges against a perpetrator.

According to the National Consumer Voice, it also helps to be familiar with staff members – their names, roles, and responsibilities in resident care. Inform the facility staff about your loved one’s preferences and daily routine.

Pay attention to the care provided in the facility and how it affects your loved one’s condition. Note changes and monitor if staff are responsive to resident requests and are kind and respectful to those within their care.

How to Report Nursing Home Abuse in Minnesota

If you believe your loved one’s state or federal rights were violated, call the Office of Health Facility Complaints (OHFC).

The OHFC is a division of the Minnesota Department of Health. You can contact the OHFC during working hours at 651-201-4201 or 800-369-7994, or by e-mail at [email protected].

Minnesota also has a system for reporting the suspected maltreatment of vulnerable adults available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Make a report by calling 844-880-1574.

When an initial report related to an incident is made, a tracking number is assigned to the incident. The facility will receive a message, including the incident tracking number.

Minnesota Ombudsman

The Office of Ombudsman for Long-Term Care is an independent Minnesota agency that serves people needing or receiving long-term care through complaint investigation, advocacy and education.

The Office of Ombudsman for Long-Term Care
540 Cedar Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
1-800-657-3591

Types of Damages in a Minnesota Nursing Home Abuse Claim

There are two types of damages you can file for in a nursing home abuse claim in Minnesota:

  • Compensatory damages
  • Punitive damages

Economic and non-economic damages are filed under compensatory damages, and are compensation for harm, injury, or expenses incurred by the liable defendant(s).

  • Economic damages: Measurable amounts of money your family spent to remedy the abuse or neglect. These expenses may include medical care, the cost to relocate the patient to a new facility, physical therapy, mental health treatment, etc.
  • Non-economic damages include things like pain and suffering and emotional distress. Under current Minnesota law, there are no caps to the total amount recoverable in any civil action for non-economic damages for personal injury or death against a healthcare provider.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for their actions or inactions and are not capped in Minnesota. These damages are reserved for cases of extreme negligence or malicious harm, all possible under a nursing home abuse case.

Minnesota Statute of Limitations

If too much time passes after nursing home abuse in Minnesota, key witnesses may pass away or not clearly remember details of the events. This is especially true in cases of nursing home neglect or abuse cases.

Therefore, the statute of limitations for nursing home abuse claims in Minnesota is six years.

Find a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer With LegalASAP

Nursing home abuse attorneys typically work under contingency fees, meaning you do not pay them until you win and your settlement arrives. A lawyer can guide you through the legal process and secure your family a much higher settlement than if you represent yourself.

Not sure how to locate an attorney to represent your nursing home abuse in Minnesota case?LegalASAP’s attorney network of 500+ law firms can connect you with an experienced legal advocate in Minnesota.

Laura Schaefer

Laura Schaefer is the author ofThe Teashop Girls,The Secret Ingredient, andLittler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.