Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect in Iowa: What You Need to Know

Back to Articles

Posted by Pressley Henningsen

If you believe your loved one is suffering nursing home abuse in Iowa, you are not powerless.

What Is Considered Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect in Iowa?

Abuse and neglect of a resident in an Iowa nursing home or facility can take many forms. There can be:

  • Physical abuse – things like dehydration, bed sores, unexplained bruises or scrapes, or broken bones can be indicators of physical abuse.
  • Mental or emotional abuse – anxiety or depression, weight loss, or poor hygiene can potentially mean a resident is being mentally or emotionally abused.
  • Financial abuse
  • Sexual abuse

What are the Causes of Nursing Home Abuse?

Often, nursing homes and other care facilities are understaffed. This is because it is a very difficult job to do. Also, the corporations that own these nursing homes do not pay sufficiently to maintain the right number of staff or the right people in these positions.

In fact, sometimes abuse or neglect can happen because of staff burnout. Many times, staff are tired, overworked, or have been doing the job for too long, and they lose the ability to feel or care about what’s going on in the nursing home.

Other reasons for poor care of Iowa nursing home residents include poor training or poor oversight by management. The staff don’t know what to do and don’t have a supervisor present to make decisions and direct care.

How to Spot Signs of Abuse in an Iowa Nursing Home

Most abuse or neglect can and should be viewed through a commonsense lens. If you suspect that your loved one is not being taken care of, or is being outright abused, you need to investigate it further.

The majority of abuse or neglect happens when a family member is not present, for obvious reasons.  Potential signs of neglect or abuse to look for when you are present include:

  • Bruises, cuts, or other injuries that are not easily explained.
  • If your loved one needs help with toileting and you find they are consistently wet or unchanged if they wear diapers.
  • Empty water jugs or signs of dehydration.

If you suspect that your loved one is being abused or neglected when you are not around, we suggest that you show up at the nursing home at unscheduled times. This includes during the evening and the overnight hours. If you vary your visiting times, it is less likely the nursing home will be able to hide neglect or abuse from you.

How is Neglect Different from Abuse?

There is a difference between abuse and neglect. If you know your loved one has been hurt intentionally, that would be considered abuse – and you should clearly act on that situation immediately.

Neglect is a little different. Just because someone hurt your loved one unintentionally, as through neglect, that doesn’t mean they weren’t negligent in their duties. The nursing home staff know what their duties are and get paid to do them. If they don’t do their job, and your loved one is hurt because of that, it is considered negligent behavior.

What to Do if You Suspect Abuse

The first thing you should do is take care of your loved one’s safety and well-being. That may mean removing them from the abusive nursing home.

Once you know your loved one is safe, you should contact the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (IDIA) and file a report. Provide a simple but complete account of what you saw and heard. They will investigate your complaint and report back on their findings.

While you wait for the IDIA report, you should contact an experienced Iowa nursing home attorney who can provide you more information and the next steps. You will need a lawyer who has experience fighting for nursing home residents and their families.

An easy way to determine whether an attorney has this experience is to ask “Have you tried any nursing home abuse or neglect claims in Iowa?” If the answer is yes, you can rest assured this attorney actually works on these types of cases. This is important for a couple of reasons:

  • Nursing home neglect claims have specific complex federal and state regulations that not every Iowa attorney will know.
  • Defense lawyers have tactics they use routinely in nursing home abuse cases to fight against nursing home residents and their families. An experienced Iowa nursing home abuse lawyer will know these tactics and how to defend against them.

If you believe your loved one has been injured in a nursing home due to abuse or neglect, call RSH Legal today at 1-319-774-1903.

Looking for Iowa Legal Help?

Find out how to get treated fairly after an injury or disability in Iowa

For a free, no-obligation case evaluation, call us at (319) 409-6575
or fill out our Free Case Evaluation form to reach us online