Nursing Home Abuse More Widespread Than You Might Think

Although we would like to think it’s not the case, reports and lawsuits indicate that abuse within nursing homes and assisted care facilities are not isolated incidents.

Following the recent U.S. trend regarding hidden cameras documenting nursing home abuse, an 85 year old resident in an Ontario long term care facility placed a camera in order to investigate his suspicions of abuse. The shocking results depicted an elderly woman with dementia being subjected to abuse and humiliation, and have since led to the suspension of at least four employees in that facility.

According to various media reports, the video footage shows one worker repeatedly wrestling and hitting the woman, another wiping his nose onto her clean sheets, and yet another taunting her with rags smeared with her excrement. This is truly deplorable, and even more so considering the poor woman is 85 years old and suffers from dementia.

The nursing home and government are conducting investigations, and police are looking into potentially filing criminal charges.

Apparently, the particular facility involved in this case was actually subject to a class action lawsuit in 1999, detailing hundreds of individual cases of abuse. Then, in 2003, tape recorders set up by families captured staff psychologically and verbally abusing residents, and led to governmental intervention, including an investigation. The initial lawsuit settled just last month, resulting in a reported $7 million pay-out, to be divided among hundreds of abused residents and the families of those who had died during the 13 year long legal ordeal. The settlement also reportedly set aside funds for foundations that are dedicated to educating seniors and patients about their rights.

It is uncommon for a single abusive act to be an isolated incident. Abuse often starts with small impositions upon patients’ rights, and then escalates. It is believed that the stem of these sorts of problems lies in the fact that homes are typically understaffed due to the low wages paid to employees there, as well as the small supply of workers willing to take these demanding jobs.

The types of abuse documented in this case are an upsetting reality for many patients and residents in these types of facilities. In fact, some elderly residents even face blatant physical or other more hands on abuse, if not neglect or lack of adequate medical care. In the state of Maryland, nursing homes are monitored by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. It is the state’s responsibility to monitor all of the homes within Maryland, and investigate potential abuses. Furthermore, nursing homes are governed by the Code of Maryland Regulations, a set of strict regulations that all of the licensed nursing homes in the state must abide by. However, although the state’s duty is to oversee these homes, it doesn’t mean that they will be able to ferret out every potential incidence of abuse. In fact, thorough investigations can take years due to limited resources.

If you suspect that an elderly friend or relative living in a nursing home or assisted living facility within the Maryland or the Washington D.C. areas might be suffering from nursing home neglect or abuse, contact the experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen immediately. We can help assess the situation, and advise you regarding how to best proceed with the potential claim. Our attorneys have many years of experience helping people in Maryland obtain compensation for injuries caused by negligent care or abuse within nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Contact us today in order to schedule your complimentary and confidential initial consultation. You can reach us by calling (800) 654-1949 or contact us through our website.

More Blog Posts:

South Carolina Considers Nursing Home Hidden Camera Bill, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published May 28, 2013
Florida Senate Committee Passes Bill Affecting Nursing Home Lawsuits, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published May 20, 2013

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