The Buckeye state of Ohio is home to nearly 12 million people and over 960 nursing homes. The state has infrastructure set up to receive nursing home abuse complaints, but they still happen frequently. If your loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse in Ohio due to these issues, you deserve compensation.
The state governor of Ohio recently launched a task force to address chronic problems in the industry, including understaffing, low pay, and a lack of resources. Read on for an overview of how to define abuse, how to report it, and how to prove abuse in your claim.
Whether you live in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, or another part of the state, you and your loved ones deserve justice.
Ohio Nursing Home Resident Rights
Ohio nursing home residents are not only protected by federal law, but they have state-enforced resident rights exclusive to Ohio. These rights should be posted on every Ohio nursing home and easily accessible for all visitors and residents. If any caretaker violates these state rights, they may be subject to legal and federal action.
Below are Ohio’s nursing home resident rights all caretakers should follow, provided by Ohio’s Department of Aging:
- Provide sufficient staff to meet your needs on all days and all shifts.
- Provide you with reasonable notice before changing your room or your roommate.
- Close your door and knock before entering except in case of emergency.
- Assist you in rising and retiring in accordance with your requests.
- Respond to all reasonable requests and inquiries promptly.
- Provide a safe and clean living environment.
- Treat you at all times with courtesy, respect, and full recognition of dignity and individuality.
To read the full listing of rights, visit Ohio Rev. Code § 3721.13. Keep in mind these rights when suspecting nursing home abuse in your loved one’s facility. There’s a sharp difference between necessary care and abusive behavior.
How to Define Nursing Home Abuse in Ohio
Ohio defines nursing home abuse as deliberately or recklessly causing physical harm onto residents. They may inflict abuse through physical contact or improper use of physical or chemical restraints.
Abuse may also be conducted through withholding or overdosing residents on medication. Isolation is also a method of abuse defined in Ohio nursing home law.
Keep in mind that nursing home neglect is also a form of harm staff may use to hurt your loved one.
Make sure to consult with a nursing home abuse attorney to find out which type of abuse or neglect applies to your case. This will let you know what type of damage to sue for against the guilty party.
Physical and Emotional Abuse
According to Ohio law, “physical abuse” means knowingly causing physical harm or recklessly causing serious physical harm to a resident through physical contact with the resident or the use of:
- Physical restraint
- Chemical restraint
- Medication that constitutes a chemical restraint
When a nursing home resident suffers from intentional bodily harm from a caretaker, they are suffering from nursing home physical abuse. Additional examples of physical abuse include:
- Skin bruising
- Bone fractures
- Soft tissue swelling
Psychological abuse is another form of harm that is less overt than physical abuse, but can cause lasting damage. Ohio’s Department of Aging defines psychological abuse as:
“knowingly or recklessly causing psychological harm to a resident, whether verbally or by action.”
Nursing home emotional abuse is any behavior or talk intended to upset or confuse nursing home residents. Some examples of nursing home emotional abuse include:
- Verbal harassment
- Isolation from other residents
- Psychological manipulation
- Repeated threats of harm
Nursing home financial abuse happens when caretakers steal or misappropriate your loved one’s funds. This power imbalance may cause your loved one to fear retaliation because their abuser has their financial information. Keep in mind that Ohio has protections against retaliation when filing criminal charges.
According to Ohio law, “misappropriation” means depriving, defrauding or otherwise obtaining the real or personal property of a resident by any means prohibited by the ORC, including violations of Chapter 2911 or 2913 of the ORC.
“Exploitation” means taking advantage of a resident, regardless of whether the action was for personal gain. The resident may not know of the action, or whether the resident was harmed. Examples of nursing home financial abuse include:
- Financial transfers
- Transferring ownership of wills
- Changing banking information like debit or credit cards
- Control of a patient’s accounts
“Sexual abuse” means sexual conduct or sexual contact with a resident, as those terms are defined in section 2907.01 of the Ohio Revised Code. Ohio has no tolerance for sexual abuse in nursing home facilities. Reports of sexual abuse resulted in convictions for failing to uphold their residents’ rights.
Nursing Home Neglect
According to Ohio law, “neglect” means recklessly and unintentionally failing to provide for a resident. This may be through neglecting treatment, care, goods or services necessary to maintain the health or safety of the resident. Failure to do this may result in serious physical harm to the resident.
Common examples of nursing home neglect include:
- Letting residents remain in bed for too long, causing bed sores
- Failing to provide walkers and wheelchairs when needed
- Forgetting to give medication to residents
- Leaving patients alone for too long
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Confinement or restraint that is unreasonable under generally accepted caretaking standards
Even though neglect doesn’t cause intentional harm, facilities are still responsible for the damage they cause due to their neglect.
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Being aware of the red flags of abuse is the best way to take care of your loved one. When suspecting physical nursing home abuse, look for:
- Unexplained loss of mobility
- Repeated ER visits
- Unexplained injuries
Emotional abuse is subtle and leaves no direct physical injuries, but there are signs this type of behavior is happening:
- Emotional withdrawal
- Less eye contact than normal when loved ones visit
- Being unwilling to speak freely or answer questions
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Emotional distress when left alone
Nursing home abuse is sadly common due to ongoing staffing issues in the nursing home industry. Abuse and neglect can be caused by a facility’s administration failing to train or supervise staff. Underpaying and overscheduling staff members can also lead to neglect.
How to Report Nursing Home Abuse in Ohio
You may use Ohio’s Ombudsman or the Department of Public Health to report nursing home abuse in Ohio. You should also file a claim with a nursing home attorney to take legal action against negligent caretakers. Without legal representation, your settlement may not be enough to cover your losses resulting from their abuse.
Ohio Department of Public Health
Complaints are investigated by the Bureau of Survey and Certification using the survey process of that specific provider type.
Please provide as much detailed information as known about your complaint:
- Name and address of the facility;
- Date and time of your concern; and,
- Identifiable resident, patient, and staff information.
To file a complaint you may obtain a complaint form for completion by clicking this Complaint Form link or by calling:
- 1-800-669-3534 (Home Health Hotline)
Ohio’s Office of the State Long-term Care Ombudsman and regional ombudsman programs “advocate for people receiving home care, assisted living, and nursing home care”.
Paid and volunteer staff work to:
- Resolve complaints about services,
- Help people select a provider, and
- Offer information about benefits and consumer rights.
They work with providers, residents, their families, and other representatives to resolve problems and concerns.
- Email the State Ombudsman: [email protected]
- Call the State Ombudsman: 1-800-282-1206
Damages in a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit
There are three types of damages you can file for in a nursing home abuse claim:
- Economic damages
- Non-economic damages
- Punitive damages
Economic and non-economic damages are filed under compensatory damages, compensation for harm, injury, or expenses incurred by the liable defendant(s).
- Economic damages: Measurable expenses suffered due to abuse or neglect. These expenses may include:
- Medical care
- Relocation costs
- Physical therapy
- Mental health treatment
- Non-economic damages are the non-measurable expenses from abuse. Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
These types of damages are capped in Ohio to $250,000 or three times their economic damages, whichever amount is greater. Non-economic damages cannot exceed $350,000 if there is one plaintiff.
Punitive damages are designed to punish fraud, malice, or wanton conduct. Ohio imposes limits on punitive damages. Unless there is an exception, the punitive damages cannot exceed twice the amount of the awarded compensatory damages.
Ohio Statute of Limitations for Nursing Home Claims
The statute of limitations in Ohio for an abuse claim against a nursing home is two years.
If your loved one experienced abuse in a nursing home, file your case as soon as possible. This ensures evidence won’t be lost or forgotten. Fresh evidence will help your lawyer formulate a convincing case to the court, jury, or insurance adjusters.
Connect With an Ohio Nursing Home Attorney With LegalASAP
Nursing home abuse attorneys typically work under contingency fees. This means your family won’t have to pay them until your loved one’s 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 Ohio nursing home abuse case? LegalASAP’s attorney network of 500+ law firms can connect you with an experienced legal advocate in Ohio.
Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler 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.