A recently published local news article discusses allegations of abuse that have resulted in state authorities preventing a privately owned nursing facility from admitting new residents until the allegations are properly investigated and any necessary remedial action is taken. Although the report notes that state prosecutors appear unlikely to pursue criminal charges against the parties responsible for the alleged abuse, victims of the abuse or neglect may still have claims for financial damages by filing a civil nursing home abuse or nursing home neglect lawsuit with the help of experienced legal counsel.

CourtroomState Administrative Report Details Abuse Against at Least Eight Residents

According to the report, the state regulatory authority was the first to receive notice that there was possible abuse or neglect occurring at the Brookhaven Manor nursing home in Kingsport, Tennessee. Authorities suspended the nursing home from taking new residents after an initial investigation found credible evidence corroborating the claims of abuse and neglect.

While these reports of abuse and neglect detail conduct that would certainly be criminal under state law, the prosecuting attorney’s office expressed doubt that any charges would be pursued. The attorney noted frustration with the fact that his office was not notified of any of the allegations or allowed to perform any investigation until after the state administratively sanctioned the home. This compromised the investigation by giving allegedly culpable parties an opportunity to tamper with evidence of wrongdoing.

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The family of a victim of nursing home abuse in Colorado has brought attention to the story of their loved one to raise public concern and awareness. The family also questions the effectiveness of the reporting policy of an area nursing facility after a 37-year-old employee was allowed to continue working at another nearby facility for months after he was accused of sexually abusing a volunteer.

WheelchairAccording to a report recently published by an industry news source, a former nursing home employee reportedly sexually abused the daughter of another nursing home employee who was volunteering at the facility. This conduct was reported to the facility immediately after it had occurred. Later, the victim’s mother expressed concern that law enforcement and regulatory authorities were not contacted after the abuse was first reported. In response, the facility explained that it was not required to report allegations of abuse by employees against volunteers, only by employees against other employees or patients.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit brought by a woman who slipped and fell in a nursing home while rushing after her husband as he was wheeled through the facility. In the case, Pipkin v. Azalealand Nursing Home, the court determined that the plaintiff’s proffered evidence was sufficient to survive the defendant’s summary judgment motion, and the lower court was wrong to grant the motion when there were two competing versions of the facts.

Wet FloorThe Facts of the Case

Mr. Pipkin was transported to the defendant nursing home by ambulance. As the emergency medical technicians were wheeling Mr. Pipkin down the hall through the facility, Mrs. Pipkin was trying to catch up. The evidence suggested that she was walking quickly and possibly with a cane. As she passed the shower room, Mrs. Pipkin slipped and fell.

There was conflicting testimony as to the condition of the floor immediately prior to Mrs. Pipkin’s fall. She recalls slipping on something “slick.” Her son, who immediately came to his mother’s assistance, recalls that as he knelt beside her, his knee got wet and that he then realized his mother was lying in a puddle of clear liquid.

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An employee of an Ohio nursing home has been convicted of felony charges of elder abuse after she physically assaulted a defenseless 85-year-old female nursing home resident, who was left bloodied and injured after an incident in the victim’s bedroom. According to a local news report, the defendant is currently incarcerated for other unrelated criminal charges and will be sentenced on the abuse charge in early 2017. Other residents of the same nursing home have also reported physical abuse by the same woman in separate incidents, leading to questions regarding the role of the nursing home management and other staff in detecting and addressing the abuse of residents by nursing home employees and assistants.

Wheelchair BoundThe Former Nursing Home Employee Admitted to At Least One Act of Abuse

The recent abuse conviction was the result of an incident that occurred in March 2016 at a Chillicothe, Ohio nursing facility. Earlier this month, a former nursing home employee pleaded guilty to felony abuse charges for beating an 85-year-old woman in her room after the resident was reportedly “acting belligerent” and calling the defendant names.

After the assault occurred, the nursing home released a statement that the employee was a state-tested nursing assistant and should not have been alone in the resident’s room with her. The nursing home stated that they terminated the woman’s employment once the abuse was reported, but according to a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services report that was prepared by government investigators, several other residents reported being abused by the woman, and the nursing home failed to prevent such acts of abuse, resulting in actual harm to at least one resident.

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Nursing home abuse and neglect have a well-documented history throughout the United States. Sadly, many of the victims of this abuse suffer from serious physical and mental health disorders, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Since the advent and expansion of social media, this unfortunate trend has accelerated. In fact, the problem has become so common that many state legislatures are looking for ways to curb the rampant nursing home abuse and neglect epidemic.

Security CameraAccording to one local news source servicing the Chicago area, Illinois lawmakers have recently passed a bill that will provide funding to install 100,000 cameras in nursing home facilities across the state. The bill, which would not allow for the installation of cameras without a resident’s consent, allocates a $50,000 budget annually to install and service the cameras. It is hoped that the presence of cameras will act not only to provide evidence of abuse after the fact but also to serve as a deterrent to nursing home employees.

Advocates of the bill call it a “win-win for all stakeholders,” explaining that truly innocent nursing home employees who has been wrongfully accused will be able to rely on the video footage to help prove the allegations were unfounded. However, it is expected that the policy will be met with some resistance from the nursing home industry, which is no doubt aware of the fact that the installation of cameras in facilities may result in exposure to additional liability through increased reporting of abuse and neglect.

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A pharmaceutical journal’s review of a recently conducted study concerning the prevalence of prescription errors in nursing homes found that while the total number of errors was relatively high, the prevalence of incidents that result in serious complications from the mistakes was surprisingly low. There could be several reasons for the higher-than-normal rate of prescription errors in nursing homes.

Various MedicationsFor one, nursing home residents are more likely than the general population to be receiving medical treatment that includes prescription medication. Nursing home staff may be responsible for dispensing out hundreds of medications from different doctors and pharmacies to various patients, who may not be verifying that they are receiving the correct medicine or dosage and could be harmed as a result. The study found that the level of serious incidents due to these errors was lower than expected, which the authors of the article attributed to the possibility that the errors that led to serious problems were being underreported or misclassified.

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Having an aging family member can be stressful and unnerving. Every family wants to make sure their loved one is cared for properly, but figuring out how to make that happen is not always easy. According to the National Council on Aging, about one in 10 Americans age 60 or older has experienced some form of elder abuse—and many cases go unreported. In fact, some estimates are that only one in 14 cases of elder abuse is reported. As a result, many advocates find abuse is even more common than most people think. Elder abuse includes physical abuse, as well as sexual abuse, exploitation, emotional abuse, neglect, and abandonment. Abusers can be family members, or they can be staff at nursing homes and other caretakers.

DollElder Americans are especially vulnerable to abuse, in part because they are often isolated and suffer from mental impairment. Abuse can result in injuries and death and also can negatively affect elders’ financial security, health, and dignity. And as the American population ages, more people are at risk of abuse. In 2014, long-term care providers served about nine million people in the United States. A recent case showed a strange and unexpected case of abuse that affected many vulnerable nursing home residents.

Nursing Home Employees Convicted After Harming Residents’ Dolls

According to one news source, two nursing home employees were recently convicted for abusing residents’ dementia dolls. The two women pleaded guilty for their treatment of residents at a nursing home. The employees, who were both in their 20s, were employees at a nursing home where dolls were used a therapeutic tool for residents to care for as if they were their own children. The nursing home housed residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

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Medical and social services and law enforcement authorities throughout our nation are coming to terms with a dangerous epidemic of opiate and opioid abuse that has been affecting Americans of all ages and socioeconomic groups. According to a recently published news report, nursing homes and rehab facilities are not immune from this problem, and a failure to properly monitor both residents and visitors for signs of drug abuse is causing an increase in drug-related overdoses and deaths in several states.

Crushed PillsThe fact that many nursing home residents are highly medicated and isolated from the public view keeps the number of overdoses and drug-related deaths hidden. While nursing facilities cannot and should not be held legally responsible for every instance of drug abuse or overdose that occurs on site, the management and staff of these facilities do have a responsibility to monitor their residents and act reasonably to prevent illegal and dangerous drugs from being sold or illegally consumed by their residents.

Chicago Area Nursing Facility Fined Over $100,000 after Five Residents Suffer Overdoses Within Days

The report explains the case of one nursing facility in Illinois that had five residents hospitalized for heroin overdoses within only days, with two of those patients using the drugs and overdosing again within hours of their return to the facility. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Illinois Department of Health have fined this facility over $100,000 in total for failing to properly monitor and treat their residents with drug addictions.

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A popular national news source has recently published an article discussing a change of policy by the Centers for Medicare Services that should open up many nursing home contracts to the possibility for the resident to sue nursing home providers accused of abuse or neglect directly in state or federal court, instead of being required to submit their claim to arbitration, a process that generally favors defendants.

Old WomanMedicare Foots Some or All of the Bill in Most Nursing Home Agreements

Health care improvements and the changing dynamics of how Americans approach old age and family relationships mean that most Americans who reach the age of 75 will need long-term, full-time nursing care at a residential facility at some point in their lives. With the increase in the breadth of the nursing care industry and the bill often being paid by the federal government, providers are often incentivized to provide substandard care and cover up or downplay signs or accusations of abuse.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

It can be difficult for the families of nursing home abuse victims to know when abuse has occurred. Many of the residents who are the most vulnerable to abuse, whether intentional or the result of neglect, suffer from dementia or other cognitive disorders that may make it difficult for family members to tell if their loved one has been a victim or not. There is also a sense of pride and not “wanting to be a burden” that is often present in older generations, and it may prevent nursing home residents from reporting abuse.

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An article recently published by an NBC affiliate in New York helps document a disturbing trend of nursing home abuse and neglect that appears to be caused by understaffed nursing homes, as well as a lack of adequate training and competence among existing staff. According to the news report, an elderly nursing home resident and her family have filed a nursing home abuse lawsuit against a New Jersey nursing home after the resident was allegedly left covered in her own feces for hours as the nursing home staff failed to answer her calls for assistance. Although the proceedings are only in the early stages, the defendant has issued a statement denying any wrongdoing and attempting to discredit the plaintiffs’ claims.

HandNursing Care Is Facing an Epidemic of Neglect and Incompetence

Many factors result in the recent increase in nursing home abuse and neglect complaints, which are often focused on the duties of lower-level staff, such as nursing aides and assistants. Many nursing home residents are not physically active and have few visitors or family members to check up on them. When neglect or abuse does occur, some patients are afraid or embarrassed to tell anyone about it, or they may not know what their rights are or how to make a claim. The majority of funding for nursing home care comes from the federal government through Medicare, and providers have been known to take advantage of the lack of accountability for government funds by employing too few workers and hiring low-cost, incompetent employees to provide care.

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