The vast majority of nursing facilities in Virginia do a good job and fulfill their duties to treat all residents with respect and dignity. Most nursing homes provide compassionate, gentle, and loving care to their residents.
However, elder abuse does still occur in some nursing homes. Some facilities, the outliers, may employ predators. When residents experience harm as a result, the predatory individuals and the facilities that employ them or allow them to operate must be held accountable.
The reasons for nursing home abuse vary, but ultimately, abuse falls into one or more of the following categories:
Learning about specific cases can help you identify the warning signs of abuse or neglect so that you can put a stop to it as soon as you detect it. Below, are five examples and links to devastating stories of nursing home abuse in facilities across the country.
#1 - Sexual Abuse
In 2014, an 83-year-old woman was violated by a male caregiver during her stay in a Minneapolis care facility. She suffered from Alzheimer’s and was “unable to speak, unable to fight back,” according to her daughter.
The after-effects of the incident left the elder in a very poor emotional and psychological state.
A year after the attack, the assailant was sentenced to eight years in prison. Sadly, her daughter will forever feel the guilt of having no choice but to admit her mother into a nursing home, even though the attack was not her fault. According to the nursing home resident’s daughter, “I still feel the guilt of not being able to take care of her myself and having to entrust her care to others only to have her subjected to this unthinkable assault.”
#2 - Neglect
An elderly woman in an Iowa nursing home lost her life after suffering severe neglect. As a result of the neglect, the nursing home was forced to pay a fine of $77,463 for lacking the care necessary to keep her healthy and alive.
According to her daughter, the victim was hospitalized when an overnight nurse reported that she was moaning around 3:00 a.m. When the elder’s daughter got to the hospital, she was alerted by an emergency room doctor that her mother was severely dehydrated and had probably suffered a stroke.
The doctor explained that the victim was without water or any other type of fluid for at least four to five days.
The elder was reportedly crying out in pain often, but no one bothered to call her daughter to let her know.
#3 - Multiple Acts of Sexual Abuse
In the late 1990s, a North Carolina man obtained a nursing degree. Throughout the subsequent 20 years, he was accused of sexually abusing six women in three different nursing homes around the area.
Those he sexually abused were of various ages, from their 50s to 80s, and most ended up suffering from “long-term debilitating conditions.”
Finally, in 2017, the caregiver was found guilty on several counts of abuse. He was then sentenced to 23 years in prison for his horrific crimes.
#4 - Unsanitary Conditions
An Illinois one-star nursing home was in a sad state when the facility was investigated for abuse back in 2008.
According to reports, the lobby had a strong urine odor. A 97-year-old woman was found lying in her own waste. What’s more, she had extreme bruises that the staff was unable to promptly explain. Another elder suffered a bloody bedsore bigger than a golf ball.
Nearly 30 health violations were documented in 2008 during just one inspection of the facility. At the time, the nursing home was determined to be one of the worst in the region.
Additionally, the staff was found to be incorrectly utilizing side railings on patients’ beds. As a result, four months later, a 53-year-old overweight resident had suffocated because he got stuck between the mattress and the side rails. Illinois issued a $50,000 fine for the fatality, which was one of the most substantial penalties in the state that year.
#5 - Mistreatment
An Illinois nursing facility was found to severely mistreat patients. Residents often reported that the food was cold, staff refused to answer calls for help, loud staff members kept them up at night, and workers refused to communicate phone messages from family members.
What’s worse, when residents voiced their concerns, staff would often respond by gesturing toward the cemetery across the street. As a result, residents could not speak out against the facility without fear of retaliation.
As you can see from these stories, there are some American nursing homes that are in a very sad state. However, this is not to say that nursing home staff members, nurses, and aides should not be trusted. If your loved one is in a nursing home, it’s wise to put some level of trust in the facility, but remain diligent in your communication with your family member.
Our elders deserve to live out their remaining years with dignity, but sadly, that is not happening in every facility across the country.
If you suspect that your elder is enduring abuse in a nursing facility, it’s critical that you reach out to a skilled nursing home abuse attorney right away. Additionally, if your family member is still in the facility and is in danger of continuing harm, it’s important that you take prompt steps to protect them from further abuse—immediately contact Adult Protective Services (APS) and the police. To protect others from similar abuse, it also may be advisable to lodge a complaint with the Virginia Department of Health or the Virginia Department of Social Services.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to prove the abuse is happening—you can leave that to us and to the authorities. Don’t delay—reach out to our office with any questions you may have.
Our lawyers at Obenshain Law Group may be able to help you seek the justice you and your family deserve. Give us a call at (540) 318-7360 or fill out an online contact form to get started.