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Denver Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit

Denver, Colorado, is one of the few places in the United States of America where reporting signs of suspected elder abuse is mandatory for all concerned citizens. After regular statistics showing that over 11,000 cases of elder abuse were reported each year, Colorado signed the mandatory reporting law into effect in 2014. Now, the law states that anyone who suspects than an elderly person in one of Denver’s many nursing homes is being abused, yet doesn’t report that suspicion, could be held liable for a criminal neglect charge.

In the summer after the mandatory reporting law went into affect, over 3,800 cases of suspected elder abuse were reported across the entire state. Citations were also levied against those who failed to report when they had suspicions.

What to Report

If you have never been a mandatory reporter before, you may not be aware of the signs to watch for. Denver law defines elder abuse in three ways: abuse can occur when an elderly person is physically, mentally, emotionally, or sexually abused. Neglect can occur when an elderly person’s basic needs, such as food, water, shelter, and hygiene, are not met; and exploitation occurs when the patient’s financial information is stolen or used improperly without their knowledge.

The signs for each of these are different. Physical abuse often manifests as bruises, broken bones, and other injuries that don’t appear to be self-inflicted. Mental, emotional, or sexual abuse may cause the elderly person to withdraw from their usual social activities and become depressed or anxious.

Neglect can sometimes look like illness or self-neglect. Poor hygiene, malnutrition, dehydration, or a lack of basic utilities like air conditioning and heat, are signs of neglect. Exploitation may be witnessed when an elderly person suddenly begins selling personal property, or when their financial transactions are unusual compared to previous years. Stolen property is also a sign of financial abuse.

How to Report

In Denver, the Adult Protection Hotline is 720-944-2994. You can also dial 311, and they will contact you to the correct body.

If the elderly person is in immediate physical danger, you should first contact the Denver police and emergency services. They can remove the person from any life-threatening situation, and then turn the investigation over to the proper channels.

If the investigation through the Adult Protective Services leads to a trial, the APS can assist an elderly citizen or their family in obtaining a lawyer. One that specializes in elderly abuse cases is the best option for families seeking a malpractice suit. The state of Colorado places a 250,000-dollar cap on non-economic damages in these kinds of suits.

That means that in addition to money that was actually lost on medical care, attorney fees, loss of job, and other situations, the “unquantifiable” amount for emotional distress and pain can only be up to 250,000 dollars.

Denver Regional Council of Governments

The Denver Regional Council of Governments oversees the Area Agency on Aging Ombudsman Program, which is another service through which cases of elder abuse in Denver may be investigated. They work with the Adult Protective Services to help represent the rights of the elderly patient, and ensure that the alleged victim is kept up to date and made part of the decisions.

The Ombudsman Programs also offer educational services that help seniors and their family members watch for and avoid instances of abuse in the future. Their safety seminars and training courses can help seniors learn how to avoid abuse and scams. They also do abuse prevention training in the nursing facilities themselves, to help staff learn how to prevent abuse.

 

Sources:

 

https://drcog.org/programs/area-agency-aging/elder-abuse-prevention

 

https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/denver-human-services/protection-prevention/adult-protection-elder-abuse.html

 

 

 

 

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