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Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect in Iowa

When the time comes for someone to enter an Iowa nursing home, the expectation is that the family member or loved one will be safe and comfortable in his or her new residence and that the facility will provide a quality of care that could not be provided at home.

Unfortunately, abuse and neglect sometimes occur in nursing homes, violating the trust placed in the nursing facility and its workers.

Neglect may result in painful bed sores, infections, and other ailments. Errors in the administration of medications, the failure to obtain informed consent, or the failure to monitor nursing home residents may have wide-ranging consequences. Abuse may occur as physical assault or battery, or, in extreme cases, as sexual abuse.

In addition to protecting all “dependent” adults, Iowa law specifically protects nursing home residents and anyone 60 years of age or older with the “Older Iowans Act,” by committing to their “dignity, independence, and rights” (Iowa Code Ann. Title VI, Subtitle 4, Chapter 231).

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 20 percent, or approximately 600,000, of Iowa’s more than 3 million residents are 60 or older.

Des Moines, Iowa Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyer

If you suspect a family member or loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect in Des Moines, IA, you should contact McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C.. Our experienced personal injury attorneys represent victims and the family members of people abused or neglected in nursing homes throughout Polk County, Iowa, and the surrounding areas of Central Iowa, including Dallas County.

In addition to protecting your family member or loved one from ongoing abuse or neglect, you may be able to recover damages for the infliction of harm. Damages may include both economic losses such as medical costs and non-economic losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of companionship, as well as punitive damages depending on the severity of the abuse or neglect.

The dedicated personal injury attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. can arrange for temporary or emergency protection orders, if needed, to stop any abuse or neglect immediately. We will then aggressively negotiate to seek full compensation for the damages incurred and we are prepared to go to court to seek justice for you and your loved one, if necessary.

Contact McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. at (515) 279-9700 today to schedule an appointment with one of our lawyers. We will explain the steps to take right away if nursing home abuse or neglect is occurring and help your family member or loved one find a safe haven.

Iowa Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Information Center

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Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect in Des Moines, Iowa

Nursing homes are licensed by the state and must comply with a long list of regulations to continue operating. Some facilities fail in their mission to provide quality care due to institutional shortcomings or individual misconduct, leading to accusations of abuse or neglect.

Under Iowa law, neglect of any dependent adult regardless of age is a form of abuse. Iowa law defines the “neglect of a dependent adult” as the “deprivation of the minimum food, shelter, clothing, supervision, physical or mental health care, or other care necessary to maintain a dependent adult’s life or physical or mental health” (Iowa Code Ann. Title VI, Subtitle 6, Chapter 235E).

Dependent adult abuse may be a “physical injury to, … or unreasonable confinement, unreasonable punishment, or assault of a dependent adult which involves a breach of skill, care, and learning ordinarily exercised by a caretaker in similar circumstances” (Ibid.)

“Assault of a dependent adult means the commission of any which is generally intended to cause pain or injury, … or which is generally intended to result in physical contact which would be considered by a reasonable person to be insulting or offensive, or any act which is intended to place another in fear of immediate physical contact which will be painful, injurious, insulting, or offensive, coupled with the apparent ability to execute the act” (Ibid.)

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Types of nursing home abuse and neglect in Des Moines, Iowa

Many factors contribute to nursing home abuse and neglect. Insufficient staffing or inadequate training can lead to workers who have good intentions, but nevertheless act abusively or neglectfully. In other cases, abuse or neglect may be intentional or willful. Documenting abuse or neglect is often problematic and attributing the abuse or neglect to a source may be elusive.

Some of the most common types of nursing home abuse and neglect are:

  • Bed Sores
  • Failure to Monitor
  • Failure to Obtain Informed Consent
  • Medication Errors
  • Physical Assault and Battery
  • Sexual Abuse

Nursing homes are required to forward claims of abuse or neglect to the state for investigation, but sometimes a dedicated and experienced personal injury attorney must make inquiries and conduct an independent investigation into the claims to discover the truth and the culprit.

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Remedies for nursing home abuse and neglect in Des Moines, Iowa

A vulnerable elder or his or her petitioner may seek relief from elder abuse by filing a verified petition in district court. The petition shall state all of the following:

  • Name of the vulnerable elder and the name and address of the vulnerable elder’s attorney, if any
  • The name of the substitute petitioner if the petition is being filed on behalf of a vulnerable elder, and the name and address of the attorney of the substitute petitioner
  • The name and address, if known, of the defendant
  • The relationship of the vulnerable elder to the defendant
  • The nature of the alleged elder abuse
  • The name and age of any other individual whose welfare may be affected
  • The desired relief, including a request for temporary or emergency orders

(See Iowa Code Ann. Title VI, Subtitle 6, Chapter 235F.2.)

Protective Orders

A temporary or emergency order may be based on a showing of a prima facie (initial) case of elder abuse. If the factual basis for the alleged elder abuse is contested, the court shall issue a protective order based upon a finding of elder abuse by a preponderance of the evidence. The filing fee and court costs for an order for protection and in a contempt action resulting from an order granted under this chapter … shall be waived (Ibid).

Prevention of additional dependent adult abuse

If a peace officer has reason to believe that dependent adult abuse, which is criminal in nature, has occurred in a facility or program, the officer shall use all reasonable means to prevent further dependent adult abuse, including:

  • If requested, remaining on the scene as long as there is a danger to the dependent adult’s physical safety without the presence of a peace officer, including but not limited to staying in the facility or program, or if unable to remain at the scene, assisting the dependent adult in leaving the facility or program and securing support services or emergency shelter services
  • Assisting the dependent adult in obtaining medical treatment necessitated by the dependent adult abuse, including providing assistance to the dependent adult in obtaining transportation to the emergency room of the nearest hospital
  • Providing a dependent adult with immediate and adequate notice of the dependent adult’s rights, … (which) shall consist of handing the dependent adult a document that includes the telephone numbers of shelters, support groups, and crisis lines operating in the area and contains a copy of a written statement; requesting the dependent adult to read the statement; and asking the dependent adult whether the dependent adult understands the rights

The rights specified in the statement include asking the court for temporary help in:

  • Keeping the alleged perpetrator away from you, your home, your facility, and your place of work
  • The right to stay at your home or facility without interference from the alleged perpetrator
  • Professional counseling for you, your family, or household members, and the alleged perpetrator of the dependent adult abuse

Furthermore, if medical treatment is needed, the statement informs the dependent adult of the right to request that the peace officer present assist him or her in obtaining transportation to the nearest hospital or otherwise provide assistance; and if the dependent person believes that police protection is needed for his or her physical safety, he or she has the right to request that the peace officer present remain at the scene until he or she and other affected parties can leave or safety is otherwise ensured.

(See Iowa Code Ann. Title VI, Subtitle 6, Chapter 235E.3.)

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Additional Resources

Iowa Code Ann. Title VI, Subtitle 6, Chapter 235E — Dependent Adult Abuse in Facilities and Programs — Read the section of the Iowa Human Services Code that enumerates the state laws related to abuse of dependent adults in care facilities.

Iowa Code Ann. Title VI, Subtitle 6, Chapter 235F — Elder Abuse — This section of Iowa state law explains the steps to take for relief of elder abuse.

Older Iowans Legislature — The Older Iowans Legislature is a non-profit corporation striving to improve the quality of life of Iowa seniors, with special emphasis on the frail elderly in need of assistance to lead meaningful lives. Among OIL’s goals are expansion of the state’s elder abuse law and the protection of vulnerable nursing home residents from aggressive residents.

Iowa Department of Aging — This state agency provides information about healthy lifestyles and programs for older Iowans, including elder abuse prevention and awareness.

Aging Resources of Central Iowa — Aging Resources of Central Iowa is part of the statewide Elder Abuse Prevention and Awareness Program, which responds to reported concerns of older Iowans who are at risk of, or experiencing abuse, neglect or financial exploitation.

Find an Attorney for Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect in Des Moines, Iowa

If your family member or loved one resides in a nursing home in Des Moines, Iowa, or the surrounding areas and you suspect abuse or neglect by the facility or its workers, you should speak to an experienced personal injury attorney right away. The lawyers at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. will act immediately to stop the abuse or neglect and thoroughly investigate to determine if crimes were committed.

Our attorneys represent the family members and loved ones of nursing home residents who were abused or neglected in Des Moines and throughout Polk County, Iowa, as well as the surrounding areas of Central Iowa, including Dallas County. The lawyers at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. will aggressively seek just compensation for the abuse of neglect of your family member or loved one and help you recover damages for the loss.

We are adept at negotiation with insurance companies, but we are also prepared to go to trial if necessary to obtain justice for you. Call us today at (515) 279-9700 to schedule a consultation so we can end the abuse or neglect immediately and protect your family member or loved one from further harm.