The Human Rights Watch (HRW) works to investigate, expose, and change human rights violations throughout various parts of the world. Although many people mistakenly believe that the most egregious cases of abuse happen in distant parts of the world, some of the most disturbing abuse cases occur in the United States. Many of these human rights violations involve Maryland nursing homes and assisted living centers for older adults and those with disabilities. A recent report by the HRW revealed that neglect and prolonged isolation of those in nursing homes might have resulted in severe harm to residents.
Reports from independent monitors and interviews from more than 60 people revealed that many nursing home residents suffered dehydration, acute weight loss, bedsores, mental and physical decline, poor hygiene, and inappropriate use of psychotropic medications during this last year. HRW attributes these conditions to inadequate staffing during the pandemic and lack of family oversight because of visitor restrictions. In many cases, family members alert authorities to neglect and abuse occurring at these facilities. Without this additional safeguard, many residents suffered long-term abuse and neglect over the past year.
A researcher at HRW explained that before the pandemic, the government failed to ensure the safety of nursing home residents adequately. The pandemic reflects that these long-standing failures came at a high cost to families. Reports indicate that nearly 40% of COVID-19 deaths occurred at nursing homes. However, these numbers reflect only a portion of the toll that the pandemic took on nursing home residents. Despite the concerns regarding Maryland nursing home residents’ treatment, many laws shield nursing homes from liability for their negligence.