Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse

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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An employee of an Ohio nursing home has been convicted of felony charges of elder abuse after she physically assaulted a defenseless 85-year-old female nursing home resident, who was left bloodied and injured after an incident in the victim’s bedroom. According to a local news report, the defendant is currently incarcerated for other unrelated criminal charges and will be sentenced on the abuse charge in early 2017. Other residents of the same nursing home have also reported physical abuse by the same woman in separate incidents, leading to questions regarding the role of the nursing home management and other staff in detecting and addressing the abuse of residents by nursing home employees and assistants.

Wheelchair BoundThe Former Nursing Home Employee Admitted to At Least One Act of Abuse

The recent abuse conviction was the result of an incident that occurred in March 2016 at a Chillicothe, Ohio nursing facility. Earlier this month, a former nursing home employee pleaded guilty to felony abuse charges for beating an 85-year-old woman in her room after the resident was reportedly “acting belligerent” and calling the defendant names.

After the assault occurred, the nursing home released a statement that the employee was a state-tested nursing assistant and should not have been alone in the resident’s room with her. The nursing home stated that they terminated the woman’s employment once the abuse was reported, but according to a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services report that was prepared by government investigators, several other residents reported being abused by the woman, and the nursing home failed to prevent such acts of abuse, resulting in actual harm to at least one resident.

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Having an aging family member can be stressful and unnerving. Every family wants to make sure their loved one is cared for properly, but figuring out how to make that happen is not always easy. According to the National Council on Aging, about one in 10 Americans age 60 or older has experienced some form of elder abuse—and many cases go unreported. In fact, some estimates are that only one in 14 cases of elder abuse is reported. As a result, many advocates find abuse is even more common than most people think. Elder abuse includes physical abuse, as well as sexual abuse, exploitation, emotional abuse, neglect, and abandonment. Abusers can be family members, or they can be staff at nursing homes and other caretakers.

DollElder Americans are especially vulnerable to abuse, in part because they are often isolated and suffer from mental impairment. Abuse can result in injuries and death and also can negatively affect elders’ financial security, health, and dignity. And as the American population ages, more people are at risk of abuse. In 2014, long-term care providers served about nine million people in the United States. A recent case showed a strange and unexpected case of abuse that affected many vulnerable nursing home residents.

Nursing Home Employees Convicted After Harming Residents’ Dolls

According to one news source, two nursing home employees were recently convicted for abusing residents’ dementia dolls. The two women pleaded guilty for their treatment of residents at a nursing home. The employees, who were both in their 20s, were employees at a nursing home where dolls were used a therapeutic tool for residents to care for as if they were their own children. The nursing home housed residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

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An article recently published by an NBC affiliate in New York helps document a disturbing trend of nursing home abuse and neglect that appears to be caused by understaffed nursing homes, as well as a lack of adequate training and competence among existing staff. According to the news report, an elderly nursing home resident and her family have filed a nursing home abuse lawsuit against a New Jersey nursing home after the resident was allegedly left covered in her own feces for hours as the nursing home staff failed to answer her calls for assistance. Although the proceedings are only in the early stages, the defendant has issued a statement denying any wrongdoing and attempting to discredit the plaintiffs’ claims.

HandNursing Care Is Facing an Epidemic of Neglect and Incompetence

Many factors result in the recent increase in nursing home abuse and neglect complaints, which are often focused on the duties of lower-level staff, such as nursing aides and assistants. Many nursing home residents are not physically active and have few visitors or family members to check up on them. When neglect or abuse does occur, some patients are afraid or embarrassed to tell anyone about it, or they may not know what their rights are or how to make a claim. The majority of funding for nursing home care comes from the federal government through Medicare, and providers have been known to take advantage of the lack of accountability for government funds by employing too few workers and hiring low-cost, incompetent employees to provide care.

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When someone can no longer care for themselves, and their loved ones are also incapable of providing the necessary level of care, many families turn to nursing homes. Nursing homes are charged with caring for those who cannot fully care for themselves, and the duties that come along with this are varied and often depend on the condition of each individual resident. However, some duties are present no matter the condition the resident is in, including providing a safe environment that is free of abusive and neglectful staff.

Call ButtonOne way that nursing homes are able to ensure the quality of the nurses whom they employ is through pre-employment and background checks. These checks look into the past of the applicant nurse to determine which other positions the nurse has held, whether there have been any disciplinary actions taken against the nurse, and whether the nurse has any past criminal convictions. Not only are these types of checks legal, but also they are necessary to ensure a safe nursing home for all residents.

Investigation into Nursing Home Abuse Discovers Management Did Not Perform Pre-Employment Background Checks

Earlier last year, nursing home aides at a New York nursing facility taunted an elderly resident and then took pictures of the abuse. After the discovery of this behavior, an official investigation was conducted, which revealed that the nursing home employing the aides had failed to conduct pre-employment background checks on four of its newly hired employees. It was also discovered that the nursing home failed to provide any abuse prevention training and even failed to follow up on reported cases of abuse. According to a recent news article discussing the facility’s deficiencies, the nursing home has a one-star rating and had 24 deficiencies total in 2015 and 2016. This amounts to more than four times the state average.

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