Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog

Earlier this month, a study was released by the New England Journal of Medicine analyzing the frequency with which nursing home residents have suffered from abuse at the hands of their caretakers. The result was that one in 10 older Americans suffer abuse of one kind or another. According to a national news source that reported on the study, the actual statistics may be significantly higher than those that were reported because of reporting problems inherent in the nursing home context.

wheelchair-1430696The report indicates that the “young old” are the most likely to be abused, since they are the ones who are most often living with a spouse or adult child:  the two groups who are found to engage in abuse most frequently. However, the report also notes that nursing home abuse is much more prevalent than many realize or are willing to acknowledge.

Physical Abuse in Nursing Homes

Perhaps one reason why the instances of in-home abuse are so high is the fact that the abuse statistics include financial abuse. Removing financial abuse from the equation, the ratio of abuse occurring in a loved one’s home and in a nursing home drastically decreases. This is because the most common type of abuse in nursing homes is physical abuse.

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Earlier this week, researchers in Michigan released their discoveries in a recent study seeking out the common causes of nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect. According to the study, the working conditions for the employees of the nursing home have a big effect on the quality of care that residents are provided.

wheelchair-1576246The study concludes that worker safety and happiness are directly related to resident safety and happiness. In fact, the article relies on the premise that, for the most part, individual nursing home employees are not bad people, but they are sometimes left in frustrating situations or those in which it is nearly impossible to provide the proper level of care. Chief among the problems that can lead to an abusive or neglectful situation is understaffing. In fact, it is believed that many of the most skilled and dedicated nurses leave the private nursing home sector due to frustrations related to understaffing.

Another factor, according to the study, is the quality and level of training that the employees receive prior to being allowed to work on their own. The more training that employees receive prior to being let out on their own, the lower the instances of abuse or neglect.

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Earlier this month in California, the family of a woman who died while in the care of a skilled nursing facility filed suit against the facility, claiming that the negligent care their loved one received while at the facility led to her early death. According to one local news source, the lawsuit alleges that the nursing home did not meet the state-mandated requirement for staff member-to-patient ratio, which was a major cause of the inadequate care.

hospital-walkway-1223350Evidently, the elderly woman had lived at the facility for the three years prior to her death. About a month before her death, the woman suffered a serious fall and broke her hip. Her family was not notified, and she was not taken to the hospital until the next day. The woman remained hospitalized afterwards and died about a month later.

The woman’s family claims that the facility failed to create a proper care plan for their loved one, whom the nursing home staff knew suffered from seizures. They also claimed that the nursing home did not properly train staff, failed to monitor high-risk patients, and failed to report any discovered violations to the state.

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Earlier this month in San Diego, the U.S. Department of Justice and the California Department of Health joined the San Diego Sheriff’s Department in investigating potential elder abuse that stemmed from a nude video of a nursing home resident being posted on social media. According to one local news source, the video at issue was a short clip of several nursing home residents mocking a nude, elderly female resident.

snapshot-2-1419000Evidently, the clip was sent through the social media site, Snapchat. The transmission of the video presents several problems, and numerous parties may be criminally liable for their actions. In fact, thus far, two employees of the nursing home have been suspended while the investigation is conducted. According to the nursing home’s attorney, the facility welcomes the investigation because it is clearly against the facility’s protocol.

Judging by the attorney’s comments, it would seem that the nursing home is trying to distance itself from the employees’ actions as much as possible, likely because management knows that the facility itself could also potentially be held liable for this kind of infraction. In the meantime, however, the nursing home management is cooperating in the investigation. Charges have not yet been filed but are expected in the coming weeks.

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Earlier this month, charges were filed against a nursing home, alleging that the plaintiff’s loved one, who was a resident at the home, suffered through a pattern of abuse and neglect, leading to a rapid decrease in the man’s condition. According to one local news source, the nursing home named in that lawsuit recently sought to remove the case from state court to federal district court.

u-s-supreme-court-1-1221080The Allegations of Abuse and Neglect

The plaintiff in the lawsuit is claiming that, while her loved one was staying at the defendant nursing home, he suffered from a series of serious injuries caused by neglectful and abusive staff. The allegations made are that the resident was not cared for properly and developed a serious medical condition that was made worse by the lack of treatment provided by nursing home staff. The plaintiff also claims that nursing home staff failed to keep her apprised of her loved one’s condition until it was too late.

In response to the allegations, the nursing home sought to remove the case to federal court. The outcome of the case is yet to be determined.

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Earlier this month, a report was released by a team of researchers at Weil Cornell Medical Center in New York City, looking into the surge in resident-on-resident abuse in nursing homes. According to one news source that reported on the newly released study, abuse between nursing home residents is becoming more and more common, and it occasionally results in serious injury and even in death.

elderly-man-wearing-glasses-1436744The study surveyed about 2,000 nursing home residents across 10 nursing homes in the New York area, looking for instances of inappropriate, hostile, or disruptive behavior. The following statistics were reported:

  • Roughly six percent of residents were involved in an altercation involving hitting, kicking, or biting;
  • Sixteen percent of residents experienced some form of yelling, screaming, or cursing;
  • About two percent experienced unwanted sexual contact or had another resident expose their genitals; and
  • Nearly 10 percent of residents reported having another resident invade their personal space.

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Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Kentucky decided a group of cases brought against a number of nursing homes alleging personal injury. The cases themselves have little to do with each other, but they were consolidated by the court because they all presented the same issue:  whether the nursing home was able to compel arbitration based on the contract that they had on file from each resident.

contract-signing-1474333The relevant facts of the cases are simple. Each plaintiff was admitted to a nursing home with the assistance of someone who possessed power of attorney. As a part of the admission process, the nursing home required that a contract was signed. One clause in each of the contracts stated that any problems or disputes that arose between the parties would be settled through arbitration, rather than through the court system. For each of the plaintiffs, the person who possessed power of attorney was the person to actually sign the document.

When the nursing home residents were injured by the alleged negligence of the nursing homes at issue, the family members of those involved filed suit against the nursing home. The nursing homes, in response, sought to dismiss the cases based on the signed contract consenting to arbitration in the event of a problem.

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Earlier this month in Minnesota, prosecutors filed charges against a 55-year-old nurse for allegedly abusing an 86-year-old nursing home resident who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. According to one local news report, the woman faces gross misdemeanor charges for allegedly hitting and verbally abusing the resident on the evening of January 30, 2015.

school-hallway-1559891Evidently, the woman named in the charges was working with two assistants, who told police that they saw the woman exhibit “instances of aggressive and abusive language and behavior” towards the resident. They reported seeing the woman use a “great amount of force” when washing the elderly man’s genitals, and then they saw her hit him in the legs and threaten to spray body-spray deodorant in the man’s face while yelling at him.

The woman, who is no longer employed by the nursing facility, was charged with criminal neglect and disorderly conduct against the elderly Alzheimer’s patient. She faces up to two years in jail and $6,000 for each of the two charges she faces.

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Earlier this month in Minnesota, a man pleaded guilty to the rape of an 83-year-old nursing home resident just moments after he reached a settlement agreement with the woman’s family in a civil case. According to one local news source, the man faces a potential four years in jail when sentenced. The guilty plea was entered just a few moments after he settled the civil case brought by the victim’s family for the injuries suffered by their loved one.

hospital-6-1518170Evidently, the man was a nursing assistant at a nursing home in Minneapolis. In the morning hours of December 18, 2014, a nurse at the facility recalls looking into one of the facility’s rooms and seeing the man moving back and forth in a thrusting motion. The nurse immediately went to her supervisor and reported the nursing assistant’s behavior. He was then removed from the floor, and the police were called. After conducting their investigation, the man was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Earlier this month, the man settled the civil case brought by the victim’s family. While the exact details of the settlement are not publicly known, reporters were told that one of the provisions of the settlement called for a $15 million fine, made payable to the victim’s estate, if the man ever is convicted of rape again. In addition, the man was required to pay several thousand dollars to the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

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Earlier this month in Portland, Oregon, a man filed a lawsuit against a nursing home where he had previously resided, seeking $9 million in damages. According to one local Oregon news source, the allegations are that the nursing home’s negligent care led to a situation where the man’s penis needed to be amputated, due to an advanced kidney infection that spread to the man’s penis.

medical-series-12-1485454Evidently, the man was initially admitted to the nursing home to recover for a kidney infection. However, while he was there, he began to suffer from what he believed was an infection in his catheter. He notified nursing home staff members, but they allegedly failed to take his complaints seriously. Over time, the infection led to gangrene and eventually life-threatening septic shock. Ultimately, the man’s penis needed to be amputated as a result of the infection.

The lawsuit, which names the nursing home facility as well as the two individual nurses who were responsible for the man’s care, seeks $9 million in damages. Included in this figure is an amount of $1 million for the man’s wife for the loss of “affection society, assistance and companionship of her husband.”

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