Nursing homes are responsible for the care and comfort of those who cannot take care of themselves. Unfortunately, all too often nursing home patients become victims of abuse and neglect at the very hands of those entrusted to watch over them.
The statistics on nursing home abuse are shocking, making it ever more important for family members and friends to ensure that nursing homes treat their loved ones well.
Examples of Preventable Abuse
Torrington Health and Rehabilitation Center in Torrington, Connecticut, was fined $510 and ordered to implement a corrective plan after allowing a patient to choke to death on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Doctors had ordered staff to monitor the elderly, mentally-ill patient while eating after cutting his food into small pieces. They were to encourage him to eat slowly and take small bites, and cue him when to chew and swallow. However, staff left him with an entire sandwich, leading to his death by cardiac and respiratory arrest.
Fairfield, Connecticut’s Ludlow Center for Health and Rehabilitation faced a similar fine for allowing a patient to lose 43 pounds in 46 days. Although the patient needed “extensive assistance” and encouragement eating, staff failed to provide that assistance and the patient began to lose weight rapidly. The nursing home allowed him to waste away and did not order nutritional supplements for over a month.
While these two situations are disturbing, they are not uncommon. More than 30 percent of nursing home residents experience some form of abuse or neglect. In fact, one in four nursing homes were cited for causing the death or serious injury of a patient in 2001. And that number only includes reported incidences — less than 20 percent of abusive incidents are reported.
Many factors contribute to abuse, including inadequate staffing levels and the fact that 92 percent of nursing homes employ at least one person with a criminal conviction.
Common Signs of Elder Abuse
Friends and family of patients in care facilities should take care to watch for signs of neglect or abuse; this is especially true for patients with communication challenges. Some common signs of elder abuse are:
- Unexplained cuts, bruises, burns or fractures
- Sudden behavioral changes
- Poor hygiene
- Changes in financial behavior
- Staff that will not allow family or friends to visit a patient alone
If you suspect that your friend or loved one is being abused, contact an attorney experienced in nursing home abuse cases immediately to discuss the situation and the options. By properly documenting the situation and reporting your suspicions to authorities, you can help stop nursing home patients from being victimized by their caregivers.
I represent clients throughout Fairfield County including Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Trumbull, Stratford, Bridgeport, Westport, Weston, New Canaan, Wilton, Norwalk, Darien, Stamford and Greenwich.