Articles Posted in Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

When someone is admitted to a Maryland nursing home or care facility, it is typically because they cannot perform the necessary daily tasks to lead a normal life. In many – but not all – cases, younger residents suffer from severe intellectual disabilities that render them incapable of providing consent for sexual intercourse. However, there have recently been reports of pregnancy among nursing home residents.

Last December, a nurse at an Arizona nursing home called the police in a panic when a resident unexpectedly gave birth. Apparently, this was the first time anyone at the nursing home knew that the woman, who was non-verbal due to a near-drowning accident, was pregnant. As it turns out, the pregnancy was the result of the resident being raped while at the nursing home.

One of the many questions this tragic situation raises is, how could the nursing home fail to notice that the resident was pregnant? The woman’s family wonders the same thing, and has filed a claim against the State of Arizona based on the state’s failure to provide sufficient oversight.

When a Maryland nursing home employee is subject to neglect or abuse, the local prosecuting authority has the discretion whether to pursue criminal charges against the accused. Typically, if criminal charges are filed, the victim of the abuse or neglect will wait until the resolution of the criminal case to pursue a civil claim for damages. If the accused is found guilty at a criminal trial, this may help the victim obtain a judgment against their abuser.

While a criminal conviction may make it easier for the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect to recover for their injuries in a personal injury lawsuit, it is important that Maryland nursing home residents and their families know that there is no requirement that the accused is found guilty – or even charged – with a criminal offense. This is due to the different standards of proof in civil and criminal cases.

To be found guilty of a criminal offense, a jury must establish that the accused is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This is a very high standard. However, in a civil claim against a Maryland nursing home, the plaintiff need only prove that the defendant was liable by a “preponderance of the evidence.” Most jurists understand this standard to mean that it was “more likely than not” that the defendant is liable under the plaintiff’s theory.

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Reports of neglect and abuse are common in nursing homes and skilled care facilities. However, the exact number of Maryland nursing home residents who are neglected or forced to endure physical or sexual abuse is difficult to determine. One reason for this is because many nursing home residents have a very difficult time successfully reporting abuse or neglect.

There are several reasons why a nursing home resident may have a difficult time successfully reporting abuse or neglect. For example, some residents may be ashamed of what they have experienced or fear that their reports or abuse or neglect will be met with skepticism from loved ones. However, the more common reason for a resident’s failure to report nursing home abuse or neglect is their inability to do so.

Those who are inclined to prey upon the aged or disabled often select the most vulnerable individuals of this population as victims. Predators do this knowing that their victims will likely be unable to report what has been done to them and, even if it is reported, the reports may not be taken seriously.

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While sexual assault has always been a concern among those who have family members living in Maryland nursing homes, given the recent headlines those concerns have come to the forefront. Back in December of last year, a 29-year-old resident in a long-term care facility gave birth to a baby boy. The woman had been incapacitated and in long-term care since she was three years old.

According to a recent news report, police have arrested a man they believe raped the woman. After the resident gave birth, police obtained a DNA sample from the baby. Police then obtained DNA samples from each of the nurses at the care facility where the resident was staying. Evidently, the DNA taken from the baby matched one of the nurses who was charged with overseeing the resident. The nurse had been working at the facility since 2011, and there is no indication at this point that there had been any previous complaints or similar incidents. Of course, given the compromised condition of the residents in the facility, it is likely that other incidents would not necessarily be reported.

Signs of Sexual Assault

Certainly, this news comes as a shock to many. However, sexual abuse is not uncommon in nursing homes and skilled care facilities. One reason for this is the compromised condition of the residents make them ideal victims for predators. In addition, many nursing home residents have little contact with those outside of the facility, and fear that they may not be believed if they did make a report.

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In a shocking case that sounds as an alarm to families of Maryland nursing home residents as well as those throughout the country, police are investigating after a nursing home resident in a vegetative state gave birth on December 29 in Arizona. According to a recent news report, the woman was 29 years old and had been in a vegetative state and coma for over a decade after she had almost drowned, according to a news source. Staff at the facility reportedly did not realize the patient was pregnant until she went into labor.

Evidently, the company’s CEO resigned after heading the company for 28 years and police opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy. The facility specializes in caring for individuals with intellectual disabilities. According to the Medicare website, the facility received a “below average” rating from health inspectors in 2017. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services also gave the facility’s quality of care a rating of “much below average.”

The state’s Department of Health Services stated that it would conduct an inspection of the facility after the incident. Another incident at the facility was reported in 2013. At that time, a male staff member made sexually explicit remarks to patients, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Phoenix police are now conducting an investigation and collecting DNA from all male staff members at the facility. The family’s attorney stated that the family is “outraged, traumatized, and in shock by the abuse and neglect of their daughter” at the facility. The attorney also said that the baby was “born into a loving family and will be well cared for.”

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Maryland nursing home residents must consider whether their ability to sue a nursing home is limited by agreements that were signed at the time of their admission to the facility. This is because Maryland nursing home admission agreements often contain arbitration clauses, which may limit a party’s ability to bring a lawsuit in court.

Arbitration is a form of out-of-court resolution where an arbitrator, rather than a judge or jury, makes a final decision in the case. Many nursing homes routinely include arbitration agreements within their admission paperwork, as a way to avoid lengthy and costly litigation. In arbitration, the procedural rules are relaxed, and an arbitration decision is generally final, and cannot be appealed. Because of these factors, arbitration favors more sophisticated parties who frequently find themselves in court.

Resident Unable to Sue After Alleged Rape in Nursing Home

According to a recent news article, an 87-year-old nun said she was raped at night at her nursing home. She claimed that someone entered her room at night, pinned her down on the bed, and raped her.

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Nursing home residents have the right to reside in a safe facility free from abuse of all kinds. Abuse can take different forms, including sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect or isolation, financial abuse and exploitation, and emotional abuse. Under Maryland Family Law Article § 14-101, abuse is defined as “the sustaining of any physical injury by a vulnerable adult as a result of cruel or inhumane treatment or as a result of a malicious act by any person.”

Maryland nursing homes have a responsibility to keep residents safe by taking steps to prevent abuse. Nursing homes must develop and implement written policies and procedures that prohibit the abuse and neglect of their residents. Nursing homes also cannot employ individuals who have been found guilty of abusing, neglecting or mistreating residents, and nursing homes are required to check the state’s nurse aide registry. In addition, nursing homes are required to investigate and report all allegations of abuse within 24 hours after discovery of any incident. Reports from investigations must be reported to Maryland’s Office of Health Care Qualify within five working days of the alleged violation.

Signs of abuse can be wide-ranging, but may include missing property, insufficient funds in bank accounts, unsanitary living conditions, bedsores, fear of a certain person, broken bones, unexplained injuries, and a history of repeated injuries.

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Perhaps no decision is more difficult to make than deciding whether a parent or other elderly loved one needs the professional care of a Maryland nursing home. While all family members would like to be able to care for their aging loved ones in the comfort of their own homes, given the advanced medical needs of many elderly family members, this is not a realistic option.

When it comes time to consider sending a loved one to be treated by a Maryland nursing home, there are many considerations. Most important, of course, is the reputation of the nursing home for providing a safe and respectful environment. While nursing homes as a whole may not enjoy a good reputation for the level of care they provide to residents, there are professional and caring Maryland nursing homes, so families should not accept any level of abuse or neglect, and they should report instances of either immediately.

Over the past few years, sexual abuse among nursing home residents has seen a dramatic increase, not just between staff members and residents, but between the residents themselves. According to a recent news report, it may be that the instances of abuse are not necessarily more frequent than they used to be but that family members and authorities have become more adept at spotting the abuse. In part, this is due to the increase of cameras in nursing homes.

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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.

Nursing 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.

Different 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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