Instances of nursing home abuse and neglect have been widespread since before 2020 and the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic. The arrival of the novel virus presented many challenges to elder care that have reduced the quality of life of many nursing home residents. Instances of abuse and neglect have also sharply increased since the beginning of 2020. A recent trade publication describes some of the factors and issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic that has put a strain on the nursing home industry and contributed to increased instances of abuse and neglect.

The rise of Covid-19 put a strain on the staffing of nursing homes, assisted living centers, and long-term care facilities. Illness, lockdowns, and travel restrictions made it more difficult for nursing homes to find qualified staff to offer care to their residents. Understaffed nursing homes resulted in residents being neglected as there were simply not enough skilled workers to offer care that met a reasonable standard. In some cases, the needs of residents increased as a result of the lessened social interaction and restrictions on family contact caused by covid-19 restrictions.

Although reduced staff and increased need help explain the uptick in abuse and neglect instances, these explanations do not make a valid justification for substandard care. Nursing home residents who have been victims of abuse or neglect, and their families, are entitled to recourse. Nursing homes often carry malpractice and liability insurance to cover their financial responsibilities in the event of abuse or neglect. The nursing home and long-term care industries contribute billions of dollars in profits to owners and executives, funded by both private payers and the federal government through Medicare and Medicaid. Victims need not shy away from seeking compensation simply because the pandemic made administering nursing homes more difficult for the owners and executives.

The abuse and neglect of older adults and vulnerable individuals in nursing homes is a growing concern for many families whose loved ones require medical care at these facilities. While some types of abuse may be evident to outsiders, Maryland nursing home abuse and neglect goes undiscovered in many situations. In these cases, the victims may suffer long-term abuse resulting in serious consequences such as death.

Maryland has certain mandatory reporting laws in place that require medical providers, police officers, and human service workers to report suspected cases of elder abuse. In cases where the reporter is a staff member of a hospital or public health facility, they must report the situation to the organization’s head. Although the law requires mandatory reporting, others who suspect abuse should also report their concerns. Despite the laws, many people fail to report abuse for fear of retaliation or retribution.

In addition to physical abuse, older adults and vulnerable individuals are more likely to face exploitation and neglect in these facilities. Further, older adults who reside in these institutions may turn to self-neglect and self-harm after experiencing this type of abuse. Staff and family members should look for signs of abuse when interacting with nursing home residents, especially on residents who cannot communicate effectively.

Nursing home residents in Maryland deserve to live in a safe and sanitary environment free from abuse and mistreatment. If abuse or certain other incidents occur at a Maryland nursing home, the nursing home is required to report the incident to the state. Facilities that receive federal funding must abide by federal regulations, and under federal regulations, a facility is required to report all allegations of mistreatment, neglect, or abuse, including injuries of unknown sources, and misappropriations of resident property. Incidents must be reported to the state within 24 hours. Maryland nursing homes are required to investigate all allegations of abuse and reports from investigations must be reported to Maryland’s Office of Health Care Qualify within five working days of the alleged violation.

Nursing homes are also required to have policies and procedures in place to keep residents safe and free from abuse. Abuse can include physical and mental abuse, exploitation, or neglect. Facilities that fail to report abuse are subject to fines and other sanctions. Victims of abuse may be able to receive financial compensation through a Maryland nursing home claim.

Nursing Home Faulted for Failing to Report Suicide Attempt

Recently, a nursing home was cited after it failed to report a suicide attempt as required. According to one news source, the facility reportedly failed to report a suicide attempt in which the resident had attempted to wrap sheets and cords around their neck. No internal investigation was conducted and the facility failed to report the incident to the health department as required. The recent inspection also revealed that a staff member borrowed $200 from a resident, which was also a violation. The staff member was supposed to repay the money in monthly installments and when the staff failed to make a payment, the resident complained to the facility. Yet, the facility failed to report the misappropriation of the resident’s money. The facility was also faulted for failing to report physical abuse among residents and failing to provide enough supervision and assistance to prevent accidents among residents. The facility was placed on a government list of the nation’s worst nursing homes earlier this year which included 86 nursing homes across the U.S.

Continue reading ›

According to recent statistics from the National Institutes of Health, sepsis and septic shock claimed more lives than lung cancer, breast cancer, and heart attacks. Sepsis tends to affect older adults, especially those who are experiencing ulcers and active infections. While some cases of sepsis are unavoidable, many results from Maryland nursing home abuse or negligence.

Sepsis poses a significant threat to nursing home residents, as many residents suffer from the comorbidities associated with this medical condition. This life-threatening condition occurs when the body is fighting off a fungal, bacterial, or viral infection. The body responds by releasing chemicals into the bloodstream. While this natural mechanism can successfully fight off infections, it can also cause vulnerable individuals to experience a sudden chemical imbalance. This imbalance can result in sepsis or septic shock. If medical providers fail to treat sepsis immediately, the condition can cause permanent organ damage and death.

While anyone can experience sepsis, nursing home residents often carry risk factors associated with fatal sepsis. The highest risk individuals include older adults, pregnant women, and infants. Further, those with weakened immune systems, chronic health conditions, and open wounds and sores are at an increased risk of developing sepsis. Older adults, especially those receiving care at a nursing home, often have more than one of these risk factors. In addition, situational factors such as pneumonia, bladder infections, blood infections, intensive care patients, and nursing home residents on antibiotics are often at risk for sepsis.

Maryland nursing homes and assisted living facilities are tasked with caring for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Families often place their loved ones in the care of these facilities to ensure that their relatives get the critical care they require after a medical event or during the end stages of their lives. These facilities carry a significant amount of responsibility, and the failure to meet appropriate standards can have disastrous consequences on their residents.

Administrators, medical professionals, and other staff members who fail to provide residents with appropriate care may be responsible for the injuries and losses the victim encounters. Many Maryland nursing home abuse and negligence cases stem from the facility’s negligent hiring and retention practices. For example, a state Attorney General’s office recently reached a $90,000 settlement with a nursing home following the facility’s emergency response failures and negligence. According to the announcement, the facility neglected a resident, which resulted in death. Further, the settlement addressed the nursing home’s failure to comply with standard safety regulations and staff competencies. The settlement requires the nursing home company to distribute the funds to a Long-Term Care Facility Quality Improvement Fund. This fund will allow nursing homes to improve the quality of care they provide to residents by ensuring staff competencies and ongoing training.

Negligent hiring claims are relevant when an employer is responsible for failing to engage in a thorough background screening of their employee. Plaintiffs asserting these claims must establish that the employer’s failure to engage in reasonable steps led to the hiring or retaining an incompetent and potentially dangerous employee. Nursing home administrators should conduct a full background check before hiring an employee. These background checks may include reference checks, verification of licenses and educational training, and drug testing.

Most people assume that when they place their loved ones in a Maryland nursing home, they will be well taken care of. But unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect is rampant not just in Maryland but across the nation. For instance, one Pennsylvania nursing home recently made headlines when, partially as a result of inadequate staffing, residents were severely neglected and three even died. Recently, the former manager of the home pleaded no contest to recklessly endangering residents, in a shocking story that highlights how sinister nursing home neglect can be.

The misdemeanor charges stem from incidents in 2017, when a state health department inspection, prompted by five complaints, found severe neglect of residents in the home. One patient had “wounds that went down to the bone with exposed tendon.” The facility was severely deficient in caring for wounds, clearly, but also failed to respond to residents who suffered significant weight loss due to not eating, and inadequately responded to acute changes in residents’ medical conditions. One man told reporters that when his brother, who had soft-palate cancer, stayed in the facility, he was repeatedly forced to go eight to sixteen hours without any pain medicine because the facility ran out. The findings of the inspection were so shocking, in fact, that the state health department revoked the facility’s license—a rare step—and installed a temporary manager.

One suspected reason for the neglect? Inadequate staffing. Research has shown that the presence of registered nurses is essential to high-quality care in nursing homes. But, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the former manager of the home cut staffing significantly, which then led to the neglect.

While nursing home abuse has steadily increased over the last two decades, sexual abuse in nursing homes goes underreported. Like sexual abuse in other settings, Maryland nursing home residents experiencing sexual abuse may be reluctant to report the conduct for fear that others won’t believe them or that they will face retribution. Although other forms of abuse outnumber sexual abuse at nursing homes, these instances can be severely psychologically and physically damaging to the resident and their family members.

The physical signs of sexual abuse are not as apparent to friends and families compared to other forms of abuse and neglect. However, sexual abuse can result in serious emotional, physical, and psychological trauma. Any unwanted romantic or sexual conduct may amount to sexual abuse. Vulnerable individuals residing in these facilities may not be able to consent or defend against these instances effectively.

Many people may perpetrate these crimes against residents in nursing homes. The most likely abusers are staff members such as aides and nurses, fellow residents, and even visitors. Nursing home staff have the most access to the residents and are most knowledgeable about the victim’s ability to communicate what is happening to them. Other common perpetrators are facility residents. This often occurs when the resident suffers a psychiatric disorder or a history of sexual abuse. Finally, visitors, including family members and those on-site for another reason, may sexually abuse residents. Nursing home administrators should take steps to ensure their residents receive protection from those who may have the propensity to abuse others.

Making the decision to send your loved ones to a nursing home can often be an incredibly challenging process. Beyond finding the right place, there’s also the fear that they won’t be treated well—or worse, that they could experience abuse or neglect. During the pandemic, when many of us have been separated or unable to visit our loved ones in nursing homes because of health concerns, our worries are only amplified. Thus, when abuse and neglect of our seniors takes place, those who are responsible can be held accountable through a personal injury lawsuit.

According to a recent news report, a jarring case of elder abuse is raising awareness for the frequency of potential neglect taking place during the pandemic. After a local elderly woman fell in her home and broke her femur in late 2020, she was transferred to a nursing facility. Her son, who was unable to visit her for some time because of COVID-19 restrictions, said that his mother was “in deplorable condition” when he finally saw her. In the two months that she was at the facility, she was abused, lost weight, and developed a multitude of health problems. The woman’s tongue was black, she had missing teeth, and her toes were orange. Her bedding, her son recalled, was soiled and still wet. Local authorities report that the incident is an active police investigation.

To truly play a proactive role in understanding, preventing, and addressing elder abuse and neglect, knowing common signs or clues of abuse and neglect is crucial. Abuse can take various forms, including physical abuse, physical neglect, psychological abuse, or financial neglect and exploitation.

When we send our loved ones to nursing homes, we expect to be able to trust that the facility is taking good care of them. Abuse and neglect in Maryland nursing homes, however, is more common than you may think. For many elders, suffering in silence is common because they may require 24-hour care or are afraid to speak up. When such abuse takes place, those who are responsible must be held accountable.

According to a recent news report, a local state Attorney General announced her plans to assemble a team of agents who will make unannounced visits to local nursing homes to investigate potential cases of abuse and neglect. Based on complaints, performance metrics, and other data on nursing homes, the team will decide which nursing homes to visit. By proactively taking a deeper dive into this area, the initiative could address criminal activity that stemming from abuse and neglect of elders that often takes place in nursing homes undetected. Unlike the state’s licensing and regulatory affairs branch—which already oversees nursing homes for licensing violations—this task force will focus on abuse and neglect violations. The goal, according to state officials, is to ensure that substandard care is eliminated in long-term health care facilities like nursing homes and that potential abuse is addressed.

In Maryland, elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes is all too common. With more than 24,500 nursing homes in the state and a growing aging population, the issue will only become more amplified in the future. Nursing home residents, who often need round-the-clock care and support, rely on staff at these facilities to ensure that they can continue to have the best quality of life possible. When abuse takes place, it is crucial that you know what steps to take to protect your loved ones.

As our loved ones get older, the process of finding and choosing a nursing home can be both taxing and challenging. With so many options available and various factors to consider, it can often feel overwhelming. Not only do you have the responsibility to ensure that all of your loved one’s needs are met, but also that they feel safe, respected, and well taken care of in their new home.

Elder abuse and neglect are common in nursing homes and can be hard to identify until it’s too late. Sometimes, even nursing homes that receive high ratings have occurrences of elder abuse. Thus, it is crucial that you are thorough, diligent, and alert when deciding on a nursing home. Below are a few things to keep in mind when selecting a nursing home for an aging loved one.

Thoroughly conduct research of available options

Contact Information