Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog

Earlier this month, a Michigan man was arrested and charged with Abuse of a Vulnerable Adult for the alleged abuse of a nursing home resident at the home where he worked. According to a local Michigan news report, the resident suffered from dementia and had only been at the nursing home facility for six days before the abuse occurred.

im-still-mobile-1114180-mEvidently, the abusive employee became frustrated with the Alzheimer’s patient and began to get violent. In fact, the employee recently confessed to “punching, pushing, [and] sitting on [the resident] five times during his shift of March 11, 2015 when he was agitated with [the resident].” The abuse resulted in deep purplish-blue bruises on the resident’s back, chest, chin and torso. The abusive employee faces up to two years in prison as a maximum sentence.

According to the article mentioned above, the very same nursing home was fined almost $15,000 just two years ago for several incidents, including the death of one patient who allegedly didn’t receive CPR when he should have.

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A 26-year-old Ellicott City assisted-living caretaker has been charged with abusing a 93-year-old Alzheimer’s patient who was under her care. According to a prominent Baltimore newspaper, the woman was arrested for abuse of a vulnerable adult and second-degree assault. Evidently, the victim’s family had certain suspicions regarding the care that their family member was receiving and  set up a hidden camera in his room to verify their concerns.

The video footage shows the caretaker hitting the man several times by striking him across his arms and torso. The disturbing footage also shows the caretaker pushing him several times. This abuse resulted in several bruises. After viewing the footage, the family immediately contacted Howard County police. The officers arrested the woman at her home, and she is currently released on bail.

hospital-1031747-mCommon Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

In the above case, it was fortunate that the man had family members who were concerned about his well-being and were able to notice the signs of abuse. Unfortunately, in many of these cases the victim is so ill and frail that they are often unable to notify anyone of the abuse they are suffering. This can result in serious injuries and even in the death of a patient. There are some signs that families can look for that may indicate that their loved one is being abused.

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A recent online article by the Huffington Post explains that elder abuse is everyone’s problem because the people who are directly affected by it don’t have the means or ability to create any meaningful reform of the system that perpetuates the abuse. Throughout the article, several interesting and startling points are made about nursing-home abuse. Perhaps most startling is that fact that, although rare elsewhere, sexual abuse of the elderly is most common at nursing home facilities.

waiting-room-583561-mSome one in ten elderly people are suspected to have at one time suffered some kind of abuse. The most common type of abuse is financial in nature, and it is most commonly committed by a loved one who is close to the victim. However, sexual abuse of elders is a frightening occurrence that may not be as rare as we think—or hope.

Due to several factors, those who are inclined to prey on the helpless are often drawn toward the elderly. One reason is that many elderly victims have no one they can report the abuse to, assuming they are even physically well enough to communicate with others at all. Another reason is that caring for the elderly can be an especially stressful task. Job frustration undoubtedly plays a role in many cases of elder abuse. None of these reasons, however, are a valid excuse for the kinds of abuse that occur each day in nursing homes across Maryland.

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Earlier this month, a West Virginia resident filed a lawsuit on behalf of his female client against a nursing home at which his client had recently resided. According to one local West Virginia news source, the man is pursuing claims against the nursing home based on the home’s alleged negligence in caring for his client as well as purported physical abuse she endured while in the home’s care.old-folks-116318-m Evidently, the lawsuit was filed at the end of 2014, for events that occurred earlier that year. While there are no specifics about what is alleged to have happened, the court paperwork suggests that the plaintiff’s claims are based on the nursing home’s alleged failure to live up to the duty which it assumed when it accepted the woman as a resident.

Specifically, the lawsuit claims that the home “failed to properly hire, train, retain, manage, supervise and otherwise oversee the staff to ensure compliance with applicable care and staffing standards and failed to provide [her] with a safe environment.”

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Earlier this year, the legal guardian for a 19-year-old boy who died while a resident at a Maryland group home for foster children in need of constant care filed suit against the group home, asserting that their negligence resulted in the boy’s premature death. According to one local Maryland news source, the patient died after spending several weeks in the group home for a bed sore that had spread to his bones.

hospital-room-449234-mEvidently, the lawsuit, which was filed early in February, claims that the group home was inadequately staffed when the 19-year-old patient was a resident in the home. The lawsuit notes that the group home specializes in the care of foster children who require constant or near-constant care, and that the home failed to provide an adequate number of nurses and other staff members to create a safe environment.

In addition to the lawsuit filed by the boy’s guardian, the Maryland Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud control team has also opened up an investigation into the propriety of the home as a safe and healing environment. While those participating in the investigation are not at liberty to discuss it, those familiar with the investigation have told reporters that it is centered on inadequate staff levels as well as the overall cleanliness of the facility.

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It is a well-known fact that nursing homes do not enjoy an unblemished reputation when it comes to the quality of care they provide to their residents. In fact, it seems that one can hardly go a couple days without reading about some instance of abuse, neglect, or other misconduct committed by nursing home staff or management.

pills-1213599-mBecause of these concerns, lawmakers across the country have banded together to increase the regulations placed on nursing homes in the hopes that the quality of care being provided will increase. According to one DelmarvaNow report, a local online news source, the following areas will be targeted by federal regulations:

  • Measures of facilities’ use of anti-psychotic drugs; and
  • The use of more refined metrics to check for adequate staffing.

Delmarva Nursing Homes Are On Par

The article goes into a superficial, although somewhat useful, analysis of Delmarva nursing homes, noting that the peninsula’s nursing facilities fare about average as compared to the rest of the nation. One area where the local nursing homes excel is in the area of prevalence of pressure ulcers, use of restraints, and the extent of falls resulting in injury. This is an important category, but it is far from the only important metric in the study.

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Earlier this month, the family of a woman who was raped while a patient at a local nursing home sued the nursing home facility under the theory that it knew of the employee’s history of sexual assault and failed to take any precautions. According to one local news report, the nursing home employee was sentenced last year in a criminal court to two to 20 years’ incarceration for rape.

security-camera-340859-mEvidently, it is alleged that the 22-year-old employee of the nursing home had previous instances of alleged sexual abuse in the past, and the nursing facility failed to take any action against the employee.

The nursing home complied with the police investigation for the most part and claimed that they “administer multiple screens that all employees must pass before hire, including extensive criminal and background checks, reference checks and drug screens.” However, it seems as though this employee and his questionable past may have slipped through the cracks.

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Earlier this month in Illinois, a jury heard a criminal case against a man charged with aggravated battery after his involvement in alleged nursing home abuse. According to one local Illinois news report, the man was acquitted of all charges after the jury deliberated for 90 minutes.

an-old-man-655108-mEvidently, the man was charged with aggravated battery after he allegedly struck a 64-year-old nursing home resident in June of last year. The prosecution put up an eyewitness to the alleged abuse that testified that she saw the defendant strike a resident with a closed fist and then heard the resident ask why he was being hit. The resident began crying after he was hit by the defendant.

However, the credibility of the eyewitness was called into question by the defense, since apparently the defendant had turned down sexual advances from the eyewitness not long before the instance of abuse was reported.

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Earlier this year, a lawsuit was filed against a Florida nursing home after a former resident had to undergo a partial leg amputation that he alleged was due to the sub-standard care he received while staying at the nursing home. According to a report by one local news source, the nursing home named in the lawsuit had been fined over $4,500 over the past several years for various violations.

hospital-1385746-mEvidently, the plaintiff in the current case was suffering from an infection on his second toe. At first, doctors told the man that the toe would need to be amputated, but that the leg was fine. However, after further investigation, doctors determined that the man needed to have his leg amputated just above the knee.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit, who had only stayed at the nursing home for five months at the time of the accident, also suffered numerous falls while in their care.

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Earlier this month in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, a young man faced criminal charges for the alleged abuse of a nursing home resident back in October of last year. According to one local news report, the young man was seen holding the door shut while an elderly patient was trying to get out of her room.

hospital-corridor-2-65904-mEvidently, the young man was also seen dragging the victim by her arms and wrists. According to court documents, the woman had the bruises to prove such abuse occurred.

The alleged abuser’s defense attorney claims that his client, who is 24 years old, was only listening to older, more experienced employees at the time and should not be held criminally responsible for the event. However, the prosecution has subpoenaed the video tape that supposedly caught the entire interaction on film. The videotape, prosecutors claim, clearly shows that he is not merely a loyal employee listening to supervisors, but was engaging in the intentional abuse of the resident.

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