Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog

Nursing home abuse is a serious problem across the United States. However, due to the fact that many instances of abuse go unreported, keeping track of the exact number of abused residents is something that is easier said than done.

hands-833821-mA recent study released by the Gerontological Society of America suggests that the number of abused nursing home residents may be higher than ever expected, affecting as high as one in five residents. According to the report, the abuse is not only being committed by overworked nursing home employees, but also by fellow residents.

The report suggests that the higher-than-expected rate of abuse is due at least in part to resident-on-resident abuse. This is not to diminish the contribution of employee abuse, since that is still a large part of the problem.

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Earlier this month in Denver, Colorado, a man was convicted by a jury of sexually molesting two elderly female nursing home residents. According to a report by one local news source, the 42-year-old man was found guilty of two counts of the felony charge of sexual assault on an at-risk adult and one count of unlawful sexual conduct on an at-risk adult.


Evidently, the first instance of abuse took place at the Broomfield Skilled Nursing Center during the week of July 10, and then again with another patient on August 14. During the trial, the jury heard a tape of the man speaking to his fiancée, where he admitted to her what he had done and told her that he felt he deserved to be punished for it. In addition, both of the victims testified against him at trial.

The man, while found guilty earlier this month, will not be sentenced until January 2015.

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A few years back, in 2010, a 94-year-old woman died while a patient in a San Diego nursing home after she was run over by a large food cart. According to a report by one local news source, the woman’s family recently reached a settlement agreement with the defendant nursing home.


Evidently, the nursing home uses large carts to transport the residents’ meals and other equipment. These carts are over six feet tall and about 2-3 feet wide. The carts do not have slats or any way for people pushing the cart to see through or around the cart as they are moving it. Therefore, it is nursing-home policy that any time a cart is moved, two employees should be assigned to the cart.

However, when the 94-year-old woman was struck by the cart, it was only being pushed by one person. In fact, it seems as though the facility rarely, if ever, used two employees to control the cart.

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Earlier this week in Winter Haven, Florida, two Certified Nurse Assistants were arrested and charged with battery after they were caught on video beating a 76-year-old nursing home patient. According to a report by one local news source, the man is an Alzheimer’s patient and could not effectively communicate what was happening to his family. However, after his family noticed that he had unexplained bruises on his body, they decided to place a “nanny cam” in the man’s room to see what was going on.

healthcare-upclose-885334-m.jpgAfter 30 days of monitoring the camera, the man’s family were shocked to learn that two of the CNAs charged with caring for their loved one were actually threatening him and physically abusing him. As it turns out, the elderly man has had several other roommates who were moved out by family members, citing staffing problems in the room. One fellow resident’s wife told reporters that the man had actually complained that he was being treated roughly by the weekend staff.

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Extendicare Health Services is one of the largest nursing home chains in the nation. It is also the subject of one of the largest, if not the largest, settlements in a quality-of-care case the country has ever seen. According to a report by one news source, Extendicare recently reached an agreed-upon $38 million settlement.


The charges against the nursing home chain were several. Some of the charges related to improper billing of the federal government. However, the bulk of the claims were in regard to the standard and quality of care that Extendicare was providing to its aging residents.

According to the report, the investigation focused on 33 Extendicare facilities in eight different states, including Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Kentucky, Washington, and Wisconsin. The claims alleged that the facilities employed fewer nurses than were needed to support the number of patients that the facility housed. In addition, there were claims that the nursing home staff members were not being adequately trained.

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In a disturbing story out of Syracuse, New York, a certified nurse aide has been formally accused of sexually abusing a physically disabled resident in a Utica nursing home. According to a report by one local news source, the state Attorney General has filed a nine-count indictment against a man who formerly worked at Focus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.

Evidently, the man was charged with the following counts for alleged forcible sexual assault that took place on May 21 of this year:

  • Three counts of sexual abuse in the first degree;
  • Three counts of willful violation of health laws; and
  • Three counts of endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person in the second degree.

If the man is convicted at trial, he will face up to 21 years in prison.

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Earlier this month in Damariscotta, Maine, a fire in a nursing home resulted in 22 residents needing to be evacuated for their safety. According to a report by the Bangor Daily News, the fire was started by a small electrical fire that began in the attic space. Luckily, the fire was contained to a six-by-six-foot diameter.


Evidently, the fire was put out mostly with the use of a chemical compound used to help put out fires. In addition, one bucket of water was also used to help quash the flames. The nursing home’s sprinkler system was triggered and kept the fire under control until emergency crews arrived with more sophisticated equipment. Despite the relatively small size of the fire, an entire wing of the nursing home was evacuated. In total, 22 residents were forced to evacuate as a result of the fire.

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Earlier this month in Connecticut, two nursing homes were fined by the State’s Department of Public Health in connection with various reports of substandard care. According to a report by one local news source, the allegations involved verbal abuse, unmonitored bedsores, and the care of a patient who fell 15 times in just four months.


Evidently, one nursing home was fined $1,650 after it was discovered that residents repeatedly fell while they were unsupervised and alone. In the case of one man who fell 15 times between January 5 and May 18, he was discovered several times on his own in the meal area, lost, at times when meals were not being served.

Nursing home employees had to undergo additional training earlier this year, but that training seemed to have little impact on the quality of care that was being provided to residents. Residents continued to fall off the toilet, in the shower, and in common areas while unsupervised.

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A new bill in Illinois called the “Put A Registered Nurse in the Nursing Home Act” is being introduced by Representative Jan Schakowsky. The bill, which still needs to be voted on before it would have a chance at becoming law, would require that any nursing home facility receiving either Medicare or Medicaid funds have a Registered Nurse on duty all day, every day.


According to a report by HealthCare Dive, the current requirement is that any qualifying nursing home must have a nurse on duty for at least eight hours a day. This requirement was passed back in 1987, and there has been little regulation of nursing homes passed since then.

Some states are currently mandating that nursing home facilities have a nurse on staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, the new law would make that requirement extend nationwide. Currently, it is estimated that almost 12% of nursing homes do not have a full-time nurse on staff 24/7. The cost of one full-time nurse is approximately $68,000.

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A recent article by the Chicago Tribune outlines the debate the State of Illinois is having in determining whether nursing homes should be required to allow video cameras to be installed in patient rooms in order to document the type of care the nurses are providing to their patients.

The article explains that there are two sides to the debate, and even patient advocates are skeptical that cameras are a good idea in all circumstances. Right now, there are about five states that allow a family to install a camera in their loved one’s room. Each state’s law is a little different, but a few things must be considered about the use of cameras in nursing homes, such as:

  • The loss of privacy that nursing home residents would suffer as a result of the cameras always being on;
  • The expense of the equipment and the occasional monitoring of the videos;
  • The effect, both positive and negative, that recording patient interactions may have on the nursing home as a workplace;
  • The admissibility of the tapes in civil or criminal suits against the nursing home and its employees; and
  • The privacy of visitors, guests, and nursing home faculty and how it may be affected by the cameras.

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