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A recent survey showed that more than 40 percent of residents in nursing homes suffer mistreatment. Unfortunately, nursing abuse — whether it is physical abuse or emotional abuse, for example — is not always easy to pinpoint in West Virginia and elsewhere. However, here are a few abuse signs for which to be on the lookout.

Examples of physical abuse include slapping, pushing, hitting and illegal restraining or confinement for no reason. Signs that this type of abuse is taking place include negative behavior changes, depression, bruising and scratches. If a relative in a nursing home begins to have unexplained bruises, it may be a wise move to ask the nursing staff what caused these bruises.

Emotional abuse examples include ignoring or isolating a resident, as well as yelling blames at him or her. In some cases, nursing staff threaten the resident or use hurtful words against him or her. This type of abuse is not easy to pinpoint. For this reason, it is critical that the family members of a nursing home resident pay close attention to any changes that may take place in his or her behavior as a result of emotional abuse.

If people discover that their loved ones are suffering from physical abuse or other types of abuse in nursing care facilities, it is within their rights to seek justice through the civil court system. An understanding of what facts need to be proved will likely be critical for succeeding in these types of cases. A civil court will decide financial damage claims only if liability has been established to the court’s satisfaction in West Virginia.