Articles Posted in Nursing Home Cover-Ups

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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Over the past few months, there have been a number of nursing home abuse and neglect cases involving nursing home employees or management attempting to cover up the allegations made against them. Unfortunately, in some cases, this has turned out to be a successful tactic to evade liability, albeit through illegal and immoral means.

Folders of PaperAs a general rule, parties must preserve all of the evidence, including physical documents, emails, and even text messages, that may be relevant to a case as soon as that party has notice that a case was filed. This is because the opposing party is entitled to review all of the relevant documents through the process of pre-trial discovery.

Pre-Trial Discovery in Nursing Home Cases

In nursing home abuse and neglect cases in particular, pre-trial discovery is an integral process for the plaintiff. This is because there is likely little way for the plaintiff to have any knowledge of what goes on inside the walls of the nursing home, especially when the plaintiff’s loved one suffers from dementia or some other illness that affects their memory or ability to communicate.

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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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The family of a victim of nursing home abuse in Colorado has brought attention to the story of their loved one to raise public concern and awareness. The family also questions the effectiveness of the reporting policy of an area nursing facility after a 37-year-old employee was allowed to continue working at another nearby facility for months after he was accused of sexually abusing a volunteer.

WheelchairAccording to a report recently published by an industry news source, a former nursing home employee reportedly sexually abused the daughter of another nursing home employee who was volunteering at the facility. This conduct was reported to the facility immediately after it had occurred. Later, the victim’s mother expressed concern that law enforcement and regulatory authorities were not contacted after the abuse was first reported. In response, the facility explained that it was not required to report allegations of abuse by employees against volunteers, only by employees against other employees or patients.

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A pharmaceutical journal’s review of a recently conducted study concerning the prevalence of prescription errors in nursing homes found that while the total number of errors was relatively high, the prevalence of incidents that result in serious complications from the mistakes was surprisingly low. There could be several reasons for the higher-than-normal rate of prescription errors in nursing homes.

Various MedicationsFor one, nursing home residents are more likely than the general population to be receiving medical treatment that includes prescription medication. Nursing home staff may be responsible for dispensing out hundreds of medications from different doctors and pharmacies to various patients, who may not be verifying that they are receiving the correct medicine or dosage and could be harmed as a result. The study found that the level of serious incidents due to these errors was lower than expected, which the authors of the article attributed to the possibility that the errors that led to serious problems were being underreported or misclassified.

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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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Abusing an elderly nursing home resident is a disgraceful act that is clearly in violation of a resident’s rights. Indeed, such conduct can result in both civil and criminal liability. In most cases of nursing home abuse, the criminal case will proceed to trial before the civil case. This can help the families of abused residents who are considering filing a claim against the nursing home because much of the investigation will already have been completed by the authorities. In addition, if the criminal case against the nursing home is particularly strong, this may incentivize the facility to consider a substantial settlement and keep the case from going to trial where even greater damages may be awarded.

gavel-1017953_960_720When a nurse is found guilty or pleads guilty to a criminal offense involving the abuse of a resident, that will not automatically mean that the resident or the resident’s family is entitled to monetary compensation. A criminal prosecution is brought by the government, and seeks to implement a punishment against the nurse or facility. This may involve time in jail, probation, or a substantial fine. While a criminal court can order some restitution, it would not likely be a significant amount.

A civil case, on the other hand, is brought by those personally affected by the nurse’s conduct, and seeks monetary compensation for the physical and emotional injuries caused by the abuse. These cases, if successful, can result in significant monetary judgments against nursing home management, especially if punitive damages are sought and proven.

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Nurses, like doctors and other medical professionals, are held to a high standard. Like nurses elsewhere, nurses in a skilled nursing facility are charged with caring for people who are not capable of caring for themselves. Specifically, these nurses care mostly for an elderly population who often suffer from advanced forms of physical and mental illnesses and diseases.

shredded-paper-1186617However, nurses are humans and are prone to making mistakes, making errors in judgment, and becoming frustrated or angry. Unlike many other medical professionals, however, nursing home employees are often left alone with their patients. This leads to a situation in which a nurse can, unfortunately, act with impunity in regard to how they interact with their patient. In some cases, even when residents report that they have been neglected or abused, the nurse responds with a blanket denial, knowing very well that it will be difficult to prove a case against them.

Nurses have even been known to go as far as altering the nursing home records in an attempt to cover up what happened between the nurse and the resident. That is exactly what is alleged to have occurred in a New York nursing home earlier this month. According to one local news source, a 28-year-old nurse was accused of abusing one of her patients back in December of last year. Specifically, the nurse allegedly slapped the elderly patient’s hands and wrists against a bedside table, covered her mouth, and threw her feet around in a rough manner.

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