Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse

In most cases alleging Maryland nursing home abuse or neglect, if successful, the plaintiff will receive compensation for the injuries sustained by their loved one. This normally includes the costs of medical expenses, and it may also include an amount for the emotional pain and suffering their loved one endured as a result of the abuse or neglect. In some rare cases, punitive damages may also be appropriate.

CourtroomMost of the various types of damages available to a plaintiff in a Maryland personal injury case are focused on the plaintiff. However, the focus of punitive damages is on the especially egregious behavior of the defendant. Indeed, the purpose of punitive damages is to deter the very kind of behavior the defendant exhibited that led to the case being filed.

Punitive damages in Maryland are rare and require a showing of actual malice. This means that a plaintiff must show that the defendant possessed some kind of ill-will or spite. Thus, punitive damages are usually only appropriate when the defendant is found to have engaged in intentional wrongdoing, rather than merely negligent conduct. A recent case is an example of a situation in which punitive damages were found to be appropriate by a court.

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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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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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Over the past several decades, the numbers of residents at nursing homes across the country have increased. Coinciding with this increase in population has been a frightening increase in the instances of nursing home abuse and neglect. Indeed, by some estimates, one in 10 nursing home residents will suffer some kind of abuse during their stay.

Crossed HandsMore recently, there has been a push for the placement of hidden cameras by advocates for the elderly as well as by the families of those who have been affected by nursing home abuse or neglect. Indeed, several states have encouraged residents to place hidden cameras in their rooms. That being said, other states have not yet ruled on whether hidden cameras are permissible, given the fact that the camera must be placed on nursing home property and may require the nursing home’s permission.

While documenting abuse or neglect cannot prevent it from occurring, it can certainly make holding the culpable parties responsible for their actions easier in both civil and criminal courts. According to a recent news report, hidden cameras in a New Jersey nursing home have resulted in charges being filed against at least one former nursing home employee for the abuse of a resident.

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A claim of negligent hiring is based on the idea that an employer has a duty to protect others from a risk of harm posed by employees of which the employer knows or should know. If an employer fails to exercise reasonable care to ensure that other employees and customers are not at risk of harm from its employees, the employer may be liable for negligent hiring. For example, an employer might be liable for hiring an employee with a violent criminal record and providing the employee with a firearm. Liability may also be appropriate when an employer fails to check an employee’s past employer references, which would have revealed that an employee was unfit for the position.

iPhoneIn Maryland, a negligent hiring claim requires the plaintiff to show:

  • The employer owed a duty to the injured person to use reasonable care in selecting its employees;
  • The employer’s conduct in hiring or retaining the employee was not reasonably prudent under the circumstances;
  • The employer’s failure to exercise reasonable care caused injuries to the plaintiff; and
  • The plaintiff suffered damages.

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A family’s worst nightmare may be that their loved one is being abused in a long-term care facility, but neglect is another form of mistreatment, and can also have devastating consequences. Neglect is the failure to care for a person in a manner that would avoid harm and pain, or the failure to react to a situation that may be harmful. Neglect can be intentional or unintentional. Examples of unintentional but neglectful care include: incorrect body positioning, lack of assistance eating and drinking, lack of bathing, and ignoring calls for help.

Dark HallwayAbuse and neglect often are not obvious, but there may be signs that can hint at both. Some of these signs are dehydration, malnutrition, bruises, food poisoning, poor hygiene, bed sores, falls, and wandering. There are different statutes and regulations that protect the rights of senior citizens and nursing home residents.

Rights of Nursing Home Residents

Nursing home residents have the right to live in a safe environment and to be free from mistreatment. Mistreatment involves abuse, including physical, mental, verbal, and sexual abuse, neglect, or the failure to provide proper care to a resident, and exploitation, or the illegal or improper use of a resident’s money or belongings.

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