Nursing Home Abuse, An Ongoing Problem

While the attorneys of the Brain Injury Law Center are known for our expertise in brain-related cases, some of our most poignant trials have involved nursing homes and the elderly. Nursing home abuse is often purely malicious behavior taken against some of the most defenseless members of society.

Nursing Home Abuse

Abuse At The Potomac Center Nursing Home

Just last year, in our home state of Virginia, one of history’s largest cases of nursing home abuse resulted in a dozen indictments and several convictions of employees at The Potomac Center nursing home, part of the Genesis Healthcare network. In addition to criminal charges against employees of The Potomac Center, civil suits have also been filed.

Aside from unsanitary living conditions, which included rotten food and cockroaches in the living areas, caretakers neglected the residents’ medical and personal care.

One of the residents complained to his wife, who gave the FBI permission to put a surveillance camera in his bedroom. Unbelievably, one of the nurses was accused of holding a pillow over a partially paralyzed patient’s face. Other video footage showed a different employee laughing as she threw popcorn at the same resident while he struggles vainly to swat it away.

Researching A Potential Home

Certainly not all nursing homes are as horrific as this one, but a Congressional report in 2009 said nearly one-third of U.S. nursing homes have been cited for abuse. Spotting the good from the bad is not always easy and a building’s appearance can be deceiving. Staff may be underpaid and undereducated which is a big red flag. Compounding the problem is the fact that residents may not want to tell on their abusers, fearing retribution. Or a resident may be unable to communicate their need for help, due to disabling mental conditions like dementia. Before moving in, try to talk to current residents. A good home should be willing to make you feel comfortable before you move in and not simply make promises of good care once you sign their contract. It is also important to interact with caregivers who will be responsible for you or your family member. Fully “check out the neighborhood” before moving in.

If a family member is currently in a home and you suspect abuse, some signs to look for include:

  • Staff refusing to let visitors see patients, or delaying visits
  • Staff refusing to let visitors and patients meet unsupervised
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Stained clothing and bed sheets
  • Bedsores
  • Poor hygiene
  • Constant thirst (a sign of dangerous dehydration)
  • Behavioral changes, depression
  • Rude and argumentative staff

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If you or a loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse, the perpetrators deserve legal and civil penalties. Contact us to discuss your case and learn about your best options.

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