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Abuse and neglect of nursing home residents by workers is disturbingly common: why?

by  on  Nursing Home Abuse

In April of this year, seventeen workers at a nursing home in New York were indicted on charges of felony neglect. The 300-bed health care facility opened in December 2011, and through February 2014– a little over two years–it had received 119 complaints and incident reports. The facility also had been issued an incredible seventeen citations, eleven of which were for quality of care issues.  

As your Denver nursing home attorney knows, this is not an isolated incident, or even a particularly egregious one. In June of this year, Reuters reported that nine employees of another nursing home in New York were indicted on charges relating to the death of a resident. The company running the nursing home was also indicted for an alleged attempt to conceal the circumstances surrounding the resident’s death. Reports state the 72-year-old victim was staying at the home for temporary rehabilitation. The respiratory therapist allegedly failed to connect her to the ventilator at night, and then ignored the alarms and text messages on her pager for two hours. According to the report, the therapist also ignored the warning alarms sounding from the patient’s room when she stopped breathing, as did the nurses and aides. The facility administrators allegedly concealed the computer records that documented the alarms. 

What causes such widespread abuse and neglect of nursing home residents by the very people charged with their care? One factor is that nursing home aides are low-paying positions, often filled by very young people with little or no training or experience in elder care. Working with residents who are debilitated, uncommunicative, or combative due to dementia or Alzheimer’s is difficult work requiring patience and education of these conditions. When a nursing home fails to properly train and educate its workers, it creates a situation ripe for abuse. Compounding this problem is a stunning lack of supervision of aides in many nursing homes. Your Denver nursing home attorney points out that the failure to properly train and supervise employees creates liability on the part of the nursing home, since the home is ultimately responsible for the duty of care toward the residents.

Another factor leading to nursing home abuse is the failure of nursing facilities to properly screen employees. Nursing home residents are among the most vulnerable members of our population; therefore, the people hired to work with them must be thoroughly vetted. Performing criminal background checks and checking references are the minimum due diligence required. Failure to adequately screen an employee can create liability for harm committed by the employee, since it may be considered  foreseeable due to the employee’s history.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home and see or suspect abuse or neglect, you should report it immediately to authorities. Contact Jordan Levine at Levine Law for a consultation regarding how best to protect your loved one and assert their legal rights.