The residents of Maryland nursing homes are a vulnerable population. While most nursing home residents have family somewhere in the state, the reality is that family cannot always be present to witness how staff is treating their loved one. On top of that, many residents suffer from some kind of mental illness or incapacitation that can affect their ability to accurately and credibly relay information about the way they are being treated. Given this landscape, it does not require much of an imagination to see why nursing home abuse is underreported.

AbusiveUnder the law, any instances of abuse or neglect of a Medicare beneficiary must be reported to the authorities. However, according to a recent report, a newly released government study issued by the Department of Health and Human Services found approximately 130 instances of unreported abuse of Medicare beneficiaries, dating back to 2015.

The abuse discussed in the report is extremely serious, including rape, seduction, sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, abandonment, maltreatment, and sadism. The article details the abuse sustained by an elderly woman that was documented not in nursing home records but in the woman’s medical records after she was admitted into the emergency room. Evidently, a nursing aide entered the woman’s room to find a male nurse on top of the elderly woman, grabbing her breasts and ejaculating on her.

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Maryland nursing home residents have the right to live in a safe environment, free from mistreatment. Abuse against residents can take many forms, including physical abuse, financial exploitation, sexual abuse, neglect, and psychological abuse. A nursing home is responsible for keeping its residents safe and free from abuse. Under federal regulations, a nursing home is required to have policies and procedures in place to prohibit abuse, neglect, and exploitation, to investigate and report all allegations of abuse, and to protect residents from mistreatment.

Laptop ComputerDifferent types of claims can be filed against nursing homes that fail to keep residents safe or when employees are responsible for abuse. For example, a nursing home may be liable in negligence and medical malpractice claims, as well as claims involving intentional abuse. In addition to being responsible for its staff members’ actions, a nursing home may also be responsible for failing to have adequate policies in place to prevent abuse and to report allegations of abuse.

Social Media Abuse Becoming More Common in Nursing Homes

According to one news source, a new form of abuse is become increasingly common across nursing homes. What is being called “social media abuse” involves staff members taking inappropriate videos or photos of patients in their care and posting them on social media. One news outlet that has been tracking incidents of social media abuse in recent years has documented 65 cases, but it believes this is only a small portion of these posts. Resident advocates generally believe nursing home abuse and neglect is underreported because many residents cannot report abuse due to their age or developmental impairments.

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Maryland nursing home plaintiffs must prove that the nursing home staff or management was somehow negligent or involved in some type of wrongdoing before they are able to recover compensation for their loved one’s injuries through a Maryland nursing home case. However, this can be difficult in some cases. For example, residents often have mental incapacities that prevent or restrict them from reporting or testifying about abuse, and it can be hard to uncover evidence corroborating the abuse. That being said, there are a number of ways in which abuse can be corroborated.

Old HandFor example, a facility may have resident records that make reference to an incident. In fact, federal law requires that nursing facilities maintain clinical records for all residents, and the records must be kept for at least five years. A facility’s failure to keep records may be used against the facility in court. Another potential source of information is other nursing home records apart from the resident’s records, such as employee schedules or training manuals that show whether a facility had adequate staff, training, and procedures in place at the time of the incident.

A resident’s statements about the incidents to others may also be admissible in some situations. Other residents or guests may have observed incidents or other issues within the facility. Expert witnesses can also testify about the facility’s training and procedures or a resident’s injuries, for example. Sometimes, there is video inside the facility or photographs that were taken after the incident.

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One issue that often arises in Maryland nursing home cases is the effect of an arbitration agreement on a resident’s claim. In a recent case, one state’s appeals court considered whether an arbitration agreement was enforceable even though the resident passed away before the rescission period had passed.

ContractIn that case, an elderly woman had been a nursing home resident in a 24-hour nursing facility. After her death, the woman’s family filed a lawsuit against the nursing home facility, claiming elder abuse, negligence, wrongful death, and violations of the Patient’s Bill of Rights under state law. The nursing home argued that the case had to be resolved through arbitration because the resident had executed two arbitration agreements with the facility.

The arbitration agreements had language that was required by the state, which mandated that there be a 30-day “cooling off” period. During the cooling off period, either the nursing home or the resident could decide to rescind the agreement. The resident died 10 days after the woman signed the agreements, before the 30-day period had passed. The woman’s family argued that the agreements were not valid because the woman died before the expiration of the 30-day rescission period had ended.

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Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are responsible for caring for their residents and providing them with a safe environment, free from mistreatment. Abuse and neglect can often be difficult to detect, particularly since many residents in long-term care facilities are unable to report their experiences for a number of reasons. Maryland nursing home abuse may be more obvious to an outsider, but neglect can be more difficult because it is often unclear what the cause of a resident’s condition is. Neglect is a failure to care for a person in a manner that would avoid harm and pain, or a failure to react to a situation that may be harmful, and it can be intentional or unintentional.

Caretaker's HandsOne news article recently exposed the dire conditions facing one nursing home resident in upstate New York. According to the article, a resident at a group home for the severely disabled was found with maggots in his throat. Ever since the resident was in a car accident 26 years ago, he had been unable to walk, speak, or breathe without the help of a ventilator. After the maggots were found in the 41-year-old resident’s throat last summer, he was sent to the emergency room and treated. Apparently, this was not an isolated incident, since the resident had to make several trips to the hospital.

The State conducted an investigation of the incident and found that the resident had been neglected by caretakers. The investigation determined that the maggots in the resident’s throat resulted from the neglect by his caretakers. The staff members were supposed to keep his tracheostomy clean, but for several days, they neglected to do so. The investigation did not uncover which employees were at fault—so no employee was punished, and the investigation suggested instead that the home “consider” brushing up on training on the care of tracheostomies.

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Placing a loved one in the care of a Maryland nursing home is never an easy choice. While nursing homes are not known for providing residents with a stellar level of care, in some cases they are necessary when families are unable to care for their loved ones on their own.

Arbitration ContractUnfortunately, the instances of Maryland nursing home abuse and neglect have recently been on the rise over the past several years. While the law allows for families of abused or neglected nursing home residents to seek compensation for their loved one’s injuries in some cases, the ability of family members to pursue these cases may be limited if the current administration reverses a rule implemented last year.

Arbitration Clauses and Nursing Home Litigation

Before a resident is admitted into a nursing home, a family member must sign a pre-admission form. Hidden among other clauses in these forms is often an arbitration clause, which prevents the family of the resident from filing any case against the nursing home in a court of law. Instead, the clause requires the family to pursue any claim through binding arbitration.

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Maryland nursing home abuse and neglect have been serious issues confronting families and residents for decades. However, with the increasing popularity of social media outlets over the past decades, incidents of nursing home abuse seem to have skyrocketed. Not only has the number of claims increased, but also they have become more and more disturbing.

SelfieA recent trend in nursing homes across the country is the posting of nude, partially nude, or otherwise humiliating photographs of nursing home residents by those who are supposed to be caring for them. Nursing home employees may be motivated by frustration or a twisted idea of humor, but those who engage in this type of abuse are violating the duty of care they owe to the resident, and they are also likely violating criminal laws.

When this type of abuse occurs, it is important for family members to act quikcly. Social media posts can often be removed, leaving little or no evidence of abuse. An experienced nursing home abuse attorney can assist the family members of an abused or neglected nursing home resident in holding the responsible parties accountable through a Maryland nursing home abuse lawsuit. In many cases, the nursing home facility itself will be liable for the conduct of its employees.

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Many families do not have the ability to care for elderly family members, which means that they are forced to leave them to the care of a nursing home. However, ensuring that loved ones are well treated can be a difficult task. Unfortunately, some residents suffer abuse and neglect in nursing homes, including substandard care, starvation, and sexual abuse. In addition, advocates generally believe Maryland nursing home abuse and neglect is underreported because many residents are unable to voice their concerns due to their age or developmental impairments.

Wheelchair BoundNursing Homes’ Duty to Protect Residents from Abuse

A nursing home may be liable for acts or omissions that result in injuries to residents if the nursing home failed to exercise reasonable care to protect residents. All long-term care facility residents have a right to live in a safe environment, free from mistreatment. Abuse can take different forms, from physical abuse to verbal and mental abuse. A nursing home facility is expected to have policies and procedures to prevent abuse and neglect by prohibiting abusive practices as well as investigating and reporting allegations of abuse and neglect.

90-Year-Old Resident Claims Staff Member Beat Her After Wetting Bed

According to one news source, a woman was recently accused of beating a 90-year-old nursing home resident. The woman accused was identified as a 44-year-old nursing assistant at a Texas nursing home. Based on the resident’s report, police allege that the staff member beat the resident for wetting the bed and wearing too many pull ups.

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One of the most significant hurdles Maryland nursing home abuse and neglect cases face early in the process is overcoming a defense motion for summary judgment. Summary judgment is a mechanism by which either party – although very often the defense in personal injury cases – asks the court to resolve the case because the other party cannot legally win the case based on the evidence presented.

StethoscopeA nursing home abuse or neglect plaintiff can overcome a defense motion for summary judgment by showing that there is some issue of material fact that should be resolved by a jury. However, if no issues of fact are present – and the only issues are legal in nature – the court will enter summary judgment in favor of the moving party. A recent case illustrates how one trial court applied the summary judgment standard incorrectly.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were the surviving family members of an elderly woman who died while in the care of the defendant nursing home. The resident was admitted to the nursing home in March 2012 after being discharged from the hospital. Upon admission, the resident suffered from severe pulmonary and kidney conditions. Initially, the resident showed signs of improvement; however, about two months after her admission, the resident’s health began to decline due to a septic infection. The resident died from complications relating to the infection a short time later.

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Often, nursing home residents are elderly and sick, which is why many families bring their family members to a nursing home in the first place. Thus, a family member’s death in a nursing home may not always be cause for alarm. However, the fact that a family member was sick or elderly before their death does not absolve the nursing home of all responsibility.

Hospital BedsThe purpose of a wrongful death claim is to compensate family members for the loss of their family member’s life due to the wrongful act of another person. Originally, under Maryland law, a person’s dependents were not entitled to bring a wrongful death claim. However, in 1852, Maryland enacted the Wrongful Death Act. In Maryland, a wrongful death claim can be made “against a person whose wrongful act causes the death of another.” Normally, the claim must be made within three years of the family member’s death.

Claim Against Nursing Home for Failure to Resuscitate

One family recently brought a lawsuit against a nursing home after a mother died in the nursing home’s care, according to one news source. The family alleges that the nursing home’s staff failed to attempt to revive their mother after she was found “lifeless.”

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