Nursing home abuse and neglect is a rampant issue plaguing nursing homes around the country. This problem is not isolated to specific cities or regions. Even nursing homes with stellar reputations can have incidents. Turnover is often high with nursing home employees. That makes it entirely possible that someone who recently started working at a nursing home facility could be guilty of abuse now or in the past. Nursing home abuse cases are beginning to make more headlines, which helps draw attention to the growing problem of elder abuse.
If you or a loved one is considering a nursing home, research is vital. Once your loved one has moved into a nursing home, it’s imperative you don’t let your guard down. Always watch for potential signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse or neglect. If you suspect there is nursing home abuse or neglect, it’s crucial to speak with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer near you.
Abuse in Nursing Homes Cases in the Media
Nursing home abuse happens every day, but not every case makes national headlines. Some cases are so horrific they have been covered by various media outlets. Here’s a look at some nursing home abuse cases that have made headlines in recent years.
Hidden Camera Reveals Nursing Home Abuse in Texas
One of these publicized cases involves a woman, Merry West Teno, who suspected Tomball, Texas nursing home employees were abusing her 93-year-old mother. Teno hid a camera in the room after her mother said someone was hurting her.
The footage revealed Tracy Thompson, one of the nursing home’s employees, was verbally and physically harming Teno’s mother. The level of abuse is disturbing, from Thompson overextending her mother’s leg to putting feces in Teno’s mother’s mouth. Teno shared the video with the police, who launched an investigation and eventually charged Thompson with injury to the elderly.
While the hidden camera worked in this situation, it’s not necessarily an option everywhere because it’s not legal in every state to use a hidden camera in a nursing home. In those states where it’s legal, the footage has provided valuable evidence in some situations. Before you place a hidden camera in your loved one’s room, please speak with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer in your state to verify what the applicable laws are.
Facility Cameras Reveal Nursing Home Worker Abusing Patient
Sometimes you don’t need a hidden camera to catch the abuse. At Advantage Living Center in Warren, Michigan, facility cameras caught employee Ronald Fletcher abusing a 91-year-old resident. The video shows Fletcher grabbing the resident by the back of her neck and shoving her into a wheelchair. He also pounded her head down on the counter in a violent manner, causing a wound. Fletcher then put a bandage on the victim’s forehead, claiming to the police that she fell.
Fletcher had passed his background check and had only been working at the facility for three weeks when the incident occurred. The center fired him and called the police. He was eventually charged with third-degree abuse of a vulnerable adult.
Nursing Home Deaths During Hurricane Irma
There are cases where natural disasters have played a role in nursing home abuse. When Hurricane Irma hit Florida in 2017, there was a sharp increase in nursing home deaths. Researchers looked at data from hundreds of deaths that occurred around this period compared to data from 2015 when there were no hurricanes. They determined the risk of hospitalization and death increased within 30 days and 90 days after the storm. 262 more deaths occurred in nursing homes at the 30-day mark and 433 more at the 90-day mark.
Tragically, 12 residents died at a Florida nursing home during Hurricane Irma after the facility’s power was knocked out by the storm, resulting in no air conditioning. Temperatures were suffocating in the facility, which did not evacuate residents. Eight elderly patients died of heat exposure three days after the storm, while four more died from heat-related causes in the next few days and weeks. These deaths were ruled as homicide. Several employees were charged with multiple counts of aggravated manslaughter, while others were also charged with evidence tampering.
Nursing Home Abuse Statistics
According to the World Health Organization, around one in six people who are 60 years of age or older have experienced some type of abuse in a community setting over the past year. Elder abuse can be a single act or repetitive actions. Neglect is also considered abuse when it involves a lack of appropriate action in a setting with an expectation of trust. This lack of action results in distress or harm to an older person.
Elder abuse in nursing homes and extended care facilities is high. The World Health Organization (WHO) says two in three staff report they have committed abuse in the last year. Elder abuse rates have also increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Statistics from the National Center on Elder Abuse indicate elder abuse is underreported. Their studies suggest that only one in 14 cases of elder abuse are ever reported to authorities. Elder abuse can cost victims billions of dollars every year. In 2009, the estimated loss was $2.9 billion, which was up 12% from the year before. In addition, older adults who are abused or neglected are twice as likely to end up hospitalized, which strains the medical system and costs these victims even more money, as the lawyers at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy, LLP, can explain.
Contact an Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Abuse in the nursing home setting will continue to be a growing problem until more action is taken. It’s imperative to hold these facilities and their staff members accountable for all acts of elder abuse and neglect. When you move your family member to a nursing home facility, you expect that your loved one will be well-taken care of by the trained staff. Patients also have rights designed to protect them from neglect and abuse.
When you suspect your family member is being neglected or abused, it’s crucial to take immediate action. If their life is in danger, contact 911 right away. You should also speak with a skilled nursing home abuse attorney near you.