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Houston Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit

The City of Houston, Texas, has a short, but straightforward law regarding the care of elderly citizens. It states that any person who causes another person, age 65 or older, to suffer serious bodily injury, serious mental deficiency or injury, or serious mental impairment, is guilty of an offense punishable by law.

This law came about after a 1996 statistic that reported that over 1,860,000 cases of abused elders existed in the state of Texas. There have been no specific studies done on which counties or cities are responsible for the largest parts of these crimes, but the Family Violence Unit and the Texas Adult Protective Services investigate all accusations of neglect, exploitation, and abuse regarding anyone 65 years old or older.

Mandatory Reporting in Houston

There are state laws in place that require all Texas residents to report any known or suspected cases of elder abuse. The elderly population of Texas numbers over two million, resulting in over ten thousand cases of elder abuse each year. While elders who are abused or neglected in a long-term care facility that receives Medicaid are protected by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, any elders living in a private residence are protected by the TAPS (Texas Adult Protective Services).

Elder abuse is defined by both organizations as including physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, as well as neglect, abandonment, and exploitation.

Types of Abuse

If you live in Houston, work or live around senior citizens, and suspect that a person may be a victim of abuse, it’s important to understand what each of these terms means under the law.

Physical abuse is clearly defined as “pain or injury inflicted upon a person’s body”. Sexual abuse is a violation of the person’s consent regarding sexual contact. Emotional abuse could include verbal abuse, threats, harassment, or even intimidating a senior into certain behaviors.

The law also covers confinement, where an elderly patient is restrained or kept isolated for any reason that is not directly related to an ongoing medical problem. Neglect means that a person’s basic needs, such as food, medical care, clothing, or shelter, are not being provided. This can come in two forms: passive neglect, in which the caregiver simply fails to provide these things, and willful deprivation, in which the caregiver specifically denies these things in order to harm the individual.

Finally, exploitation means that an elderly person’s finances have been mishandled or withheld from them by another person.

The signs of abuse vary depending on the situation. Bodily harm like scratches, bruises, and bedsores may be easier to spot than neglect, which can simply look like illness. Dehydration, malnutrition, a lack of electricity or air conditioning, a sudden loss of income or property, or a general lack of medical attention are all signs that abuse may be occurring.

Resources

There are many resources for residents of the Houston area who need to report instances of elder abuse or neglect.

The first step is to call local law enforcement if the elderly citizen is in any immediate danger. The Adult Protective Services can also be called if the private residence or nursing home is not accepting Medicaid for the care of the elderly person.

At this stage, the APS would perform an investigation, providing interpreters and immediate care where necessary. As a reporter, you are allowed to remain anonymous, and are immune from any liability. Additionally, anyone who suspects elder abuse and does not report it can be held liable for felony crimes. While a false claim of abuse is against the law, reporting any suspicious behavior is encouraged to protected the senior citizens of Houston.

 

Sources:

 

https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/adult_protection/

 

http://www.houstontx.gov/police/fvu/elder.htm

 

http://www.elderoptionsoftexas.com/

 

 

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