Articles Posted in Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

When selecting a nursing home for a loved one, there is only so much vetting that can be done. At some point, family members must place trust in a nursing home to provide their loved one with the care they need and deserve. All too often, however, residents of Maryland nursing homes end up suffering abuse or neglect at the hands of their caretakers.

Dark RoomNursing home abuse can take a number of forms. Common instances of abuse involve a frustrated employee who takes their anger out on an innocent resident. However, in some cases, the allegations of abuse are even more disturbing. Indeed, sexual abuse in Maryland nursing homes appears to be far more common than most people understand.

Nursing homes and their employees are responsible to provide all residents with a certain level of care. While nursing home employees cannot be held liable for every adverse health event that occurs at their facility, when a patient is injured due to the negligent or intentional conduct of a nursing home employee, the injured party and their family may be entitled to financial compensation through a Maryland nursing home lawsuit. Sexual abuse certainly falls into this category.

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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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Over the past decade, instances of resident-on-resident abuse in nursing homes have greatly increased. One of the most common forms of unwelcome resident-on-resident contact is sexual abuse. When a resident suffers sexual abuse while at a nursing home facility, various legal issues may arise.

Comfort DollDetermining Who Is Responsible in Cases of Resident-on-Resident Sexual Abuse

There are two very important issues that must be determined early in a personal injury lawsuit alleging resident-on-resident sexual abuse. The first is whether the abuse was permitted to occur based on a lack of supervision at the nursing home. If so, the nursing home may be responsible under the legal theory of negligence. Generally speaking, nursing homes have a duty to care for and protect residents from certain harms, sexual abuse included. When a nursing home fails to provide a resident with adequate protection, the nursing home may be liable as a result.

The second important issue that must be resolved is whether a valid arbitration agreement has been signed by the resident or a member of the resident’s family. In many cases, nursing homes will claim that any case arising out of the care they provided to a resident must be settled through arbitration. Most often, arbitration clauses – which waive a party’s right to use the court system and require the case to be submitted to an arbitration panel – are in the nursing home pre-admission contract.

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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 50-year-old New York man has been charged with multiple felonies after authorities confirmed allegations that he sexually abused at least six disabled residents at a nursing home facility where he was employed. The charges were discussed in a recently published local news report, which stated that the man has been indicted on 33 felony charges based on the alleged abuse, which occurred over a six-month period in 2014 and 2015 at the nursing home where he was employed as a counselor to care for the residents.

Old Woman's HeadThe Alleged Perpetrator Used His Trusted Position to Abuse Several Patients

According to a summary of the allegations that is contained in the article, the defendant was employed as a counselor at the nursing facility in upstate New York and began abusing the residents in July 2014. The man’s victims were six residents of the facility who had all previously suffered traumatic brain injuries and were initially unable to report the repeated acts of abuse, some of which allegedly occurred while the victims were asleep or incapacitated. The defendant is said to have used his position as a counselor and caretaker to gain access to the residents and forcibly perform sexual acts on them. If the man is convicted of all of the charges brought against him, he could face 10 years in prison.

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The problem of sexual abuse committed against nursing home patients by employees or medical providers continues to surprise authorities and victims’ families, who often discover that a loved one has been victimized for an extended period of time before any action is taken. For various reasons, elderly victims in nursing homes are less likely than other victims to report sexual abuse to their families or authorities, and it may take an abuser being caught in the act for authorities to be notified. A New York nursing home employee recently pleaded guilty to abusing a 99-year-old nursing home resident in an act that was witnessed by another employee and may not have been reported otherwise.

Elderly HandsAfter the Abuse Was Discovered, Criminal Charges Were Pursued by State Attorneys

According to a local news report discussing the criminal case proceedings, the perpetrator was a certified nursing assistant who was employed by the nursing home to provide care for the victim and other residents. The report states that on several dates in April 2016, the man placed one resident in a bathroom, while he abused his victim in the attached bedroom.

One of the acts of abuse was discovered by another nursing home employee who entered the bedroom. Authorities were subsequently notified, and they arrested the perpetrator, who admitted other instances of abuse and later pleaded guilty to an 11-count felony indictment filed on the matter.

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While it is unimaginable to most people, sexual abuse in nursing homes is more than just a vague possibility. It’s a real threat in nursing homes across the country. With the advent of modern medicine, people are living longer lives. And with the cultural shift of both spouses working and thus being unable to care for an aging loved one, more and more people are ending up at nursing homes.

wheelchair-1430696Of course, any kind of abuse that occurs behind the walls of a nursing home is disturbing, whether it be emotional, psychological, physical, or sexual. However, sexual abuse is particularly upsetting. It may come as a surprise, however, that nursing home staff are not the only ones engaging in the abuse. With that said, the fact that the abuse does not occur at the hands of a staff member does not absolve the nursing home staff and its administration from liability if such abuse does occur. This is because nursing homes have an affirmative duty to reasonably protect their residents, even if the threat comes from another resident.

Resident-On-Resident Abuse in Nursing Homes

Earlier this week in Washington, one nursing home director lost his license for failing to recognize and react to sexual abuse that was occurring in his nursing home. According to one local news report, there were several instances of abuse that nursing home staff saw and reported to the higher ups, and nothing was done.

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Earlier this month in Minnesota, a man pleaded guilty to the rape of an 83-year-old nursing home resident just moments after he reached a settlement agreement with the woman’s family in a civil case. According to one local news source, the man faces a potential four years in jail when sentenced. The guilty plea was entered just a few moments after he settled the civil case brought by the victim’s family for the injuries suffered by their loved one.

hospital-6-1518170Evidently, the man was a nursing assistant at a nursing home in Minneapolis. In the morning hours of December 18, 2014, a nurse at the facility recalls looking into one of the facility’s rooms and seeing the man moving back and forth in a thrusting motion. The nurse immediately went to her supervisor and reported the nursing assistant’s behavior. He was then removed from the floor, and the police were called. After conducting their investigation, the man was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Earlier this month, the man settled the civil case brought by the victim’s family. While the exact details of the settlement are not publicly known, reporters were told that one of the provisions of the settlement called for a $15 million fine, made payable to the victim’s estate, if the man ever is convicted of rape again. In addition, the man was required to pay several thousand dollars to the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

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Earlier last month, a Syracuse, New York woman pleaded guilty to several charges stemming from her involvement in a cover-up that attempted to hide several instances of sexual abuse and other failings at the nursing home at which she was employed. According to one local news source, the woman, who was the director of the facility, pled guilty to two counts of tampering with evidence. Her sentence will be determined at a later date. She may face up to four years in jail for her role in the cover-up.

shredding-day-1192430Evidently, the woman allegedly engaged in covering up failures by the nursing home, including destroying witness statements that explained several instances of sexual abuse between residents. The woman also admitted to concealing a patient’s medication history chart, which would have shown investigators that the nursing facility failed to provide one resident with physician-ordered medication. Finally, she admitted to hiding other medical records that tended to show patient neglect.

Investigators have cast a wide net in their investigation into the nursing home’s staff, and charges are pending against several other employees who may have been involved in the acts or the subsequent cover-up.

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A recent online article by the Huffington Post explains that elder abuse is everyone’s problem because the people who are directly affected by it don’t have the means or ability to create any meaningful reform of the system that perpetuates the abuse. Throughout the article, several interesting and startling points are made about nursing-home abuse. Perhaps most startling is that fact that, although rare elsewhere, sexual abuse of the elderly is most common at nursing home facilities.

waiting-room-583561-mSome one in ten elderly people are suspected to have at one time suffered some kind of abuse. The most common type of abuse is financial in nature, and it is most commonly committed by a loved one who is close to the victim. However, sexual abuse of elders is a frightening occurrence that may not be as rare as we think—or hope.

Due to several factors, those who are inclined to prey on the helpless are often drawn toward the elderly. One reason is that many elderly victims have no one they can report the abuse to, assuming they are even physically well enough to communicate with others at all. Another reason is that caring for the elderly can be an especially stressful task. Job frustration undoubtedly plays a role in many cases of elder abuse. None of these reasons, however, are a valid excuse for the kinds of abuse that occur each day in nursing homes across Maryland.

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