Nursing Home Abuse: A National Tragedy on the Rise

March, 2012 by

A recent congressional study found that nearly one-third of all U.S. nursing homes have been cited for some form of abuse. Among some of the incidents were residents who had been kicked by staff members. Other examples were residents who had been punched or choked. Often residents are abused by staff who is angered that the patients need extra care. Such was the case with Helen Love who suffered broken bones and was choked by a nurse’s assistant. The assistant was upset that Love had soiled herself. The ensuring investigation found that three other employees in that nursing home facility had abuse convictions. Curbing nursing home abuse in Pittsburgh means that all such cases should be addressed by a  nursing home abuse attorney.

The congressional report also noted that nursing home abuse is on the rise, including physical, sexual, and verbal abuse. Often the abuse cases are serious enough to cause serious harm, injury, or even death to the patient. In addition, these are the nursing home abuse cases that are actually reported, with investigators finding that many occurrences go unreported.

These statistics are alarming. The fact is, however, that even one case of nursing home abuse against an elderly or infirm person is one case too many. When a relative needs nursing home care, the family trusts that doctors, nurses, attendants, and aides are going to do everything possible to care for that relative in a compassionate and competent fashion. Families put a great deal of consideration into choosing which Pittsburgh nursing home facility can best care for their loved one. The most important thing that a family can investigate is whether there have been any reported cases of nursing home abuse. They can also tour the nursing home several times, arriving at different times of the day. This affords the opportunity to see what the residents are eating, what activities they are engaged in, and whether or not the family notices any situations where residents are not being treated as they should be.

Despite the most diligent of efforts, however, the statistics suggest that even after close scrutiny of a nursing home facility, abuse can occur, and Pittsburgh, unfortunately, isn’t immune. Do not assume that your relative will always speak up if abuse is occurring. Often the elderly and infirm are either unwilling to complain or unable to articulate what is happening to them. Therefore, it is important to be attentive to any possible signs of abuse. Some of these signs could be unexplained cuts, bruises, or bleeding; unexplained weight gain/loss; poor hygiene; and/or infection. There are other signs unrelated to the patient’s physical person, such as the disappearance of personal property or unusual financial transactions from the patient’s bank account. If any of these signs are noticed, discuss them with the director of the facility. If questions are not answered satisfactorily, contact a nursing home abuse attorney. A Pittsburgh area nursing home abuse attorney can access the needed medical and personnel records to determine if an abuse case exists and, if necessary, can assist the family in filing a suit against the nursing home facility.