Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse

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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Despite the fact that sexual assaults occur in nursing homes across the country on a routine basis, claims of sexual abuse are consistently too slow to be reported to authorities or investigated by nursing homes when claims are made by residents. According to an in-depth investigation conducted by CNN, most cases of sexual assault in nursing homes do not make it out of the nursing home. This is due in part to the fear of nursing home management that the disclosure of any sexual abuse may result in legal liability.

Dark HallwayAccording to the report, more than 16,000 cases of sexual assault have been reported against nursing home employees since 2000. However, that figure is believed to be much lower than the actual rates of sexual abuse, due to the gap in reporting. It is believed that many victims of nursing home sexual abuse do not report the abuse for several reasons. For example, many nursing home residents fail to report because they are embarrassed of what happened to them. Sadly, those who do report their abuse are often met with skepticism by staff and sometimes even family members.

Another reason why the statistics of abuse may be lower than in reality is that many times nursing homes insist that any out-of-court settlement between a resident and the nursing home be kept confidential and be made without the nursing home needing to admit fault. Notwithstanding that reality, the article discovered over 1,000 cases in which nursing homes were cited for failing to prevent or report instances of sexual assault against a resident.

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Earlier this month, the family of a nursing home resident who allegedly was tied to a wheelchair and given medication without her permission filed a lawsuit against the nurses as well as the nursing home, seeking $17 million in compensation. According to a local news report covering the recently filed case, the complaint claims that two nurses from the facility used bed sheets to tie down the plaintiff’s mother and then administered narcotic medication to “silence” her.

SyringeAccording to the plaintiff’s complaint, on the next morning, nurses found the plaintiff’s mother still tied to her wheelchair. She had allegedly soiled herself over the evening.

Additionally, the plaintiff claims that the nursing home did not disclose this occurrence to her and actually went so far as to cover it up. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that the nursing home fired nurses who brought the conduct to the attention of management. The plaintiff characterizes the nursing home’s internal investigation as “clandestine and superficial.”

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According to a report that has been recently published by a local news source, several residents at a nursing home appear to have been victimized by acts of physical abuse committed by nursing home staff. Some of the abuse was witnessed by other residents or staff, but it had not been reported until a state investigation at one home uncovered nine possible victims of abuse, six of whom required additional administrative action. Despite that, law enforcement had not been contacted for any of those alleged acts of abuse.

Wrinkled HandLaw Enforcement Hears of Abuse, But It’s Too Late to Pursue Charges

The author of the report interviewed a spokesperson for the local police, who only heard about the alleged abuse from the media and reports of the administrative action and other state action taken against the home. According to the report, the police department expressed concern that they only just heard of the abuse, and they stated that they were not in a position to make any arrests because the state action disrupted the element of surprise.

Whether the police department could still investigate and pursue charges or not, at this point, charges appear unlikely. Although criminal charges may not be an option to hold the perpetrators of any abuse responsible for their acts, a civil nursing home abuse claim may be available to stop any abuse and recover damages for economic and non-economic harms that the victims of abuse have suffered.

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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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