A family is pursuing justice after an 82-year-old woman died in the nursing home she was a resident of from injuries consistent with being physically beaten.
Did The Nursing Home Fail Their Resident?
The victim had been living at the nursing home for quite some time. Her family had carefully researched and selected this particular facility after she had been diagnosed with dementia and the disease had progressed to the point where they were unable to care for her without assistance.
Patients With Dementia Tend To Wander
Dementia is actually a term that is used to describe a number of brain diseases which cause physical changes to the brain. Diseases that fall under this category include:
- Vascular Dementia
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
Each of these impact the patient’s ability to remember things and can cause changes in other abilities, such as the ability to communicate, speak, walk, and swallowing. Patients also frequently have behavioral issues and can become suddenly violent – typically because they believe they need to protect themselves.
Dementia doesn’t just impact the elderly – in some cases, younger men and women have early onset dementia.
One of the biggest issues that families and care facilities face is that patients with dementia tend to become confused and wander off, having no idea where they were going and often not able to recognize dangers that they may face. This is why it’s so important for nursing homes to continually monitor patients in their dementia ward, like the victim in this case. However, this particular facility failed to do so.
The frail 82-year-old wandered out of her own room and down the hall where she entered the room of another dementia patient, a man. In his own confusion, the other patient believed that she was someone who was attempting to break into his home and he attacked her.
His attack was so violent that he broke her neck, fracture her nose, fractured multiple ribs, fractured facial bones, and collapsed one of her lungs. Employees weren’t sure how long she waited on the floor until she was found. She did survive the initial attack despite the severity of her injuries but died in the hospital three days later due to complications.
Lawsuit Filed By Her Surviving Family
In the lawsuit filed shortly after her death, her family has alleged that the nursing home was negligent because they failed to provide her and the other patient who, through no real fault of his own, attacked her, with proper supervision. They are seeking compensation for her medical expenses and emotional and physical trauma.
In addition to their lawsuit, a state investigation of the facilities was performed and the nursing home was fined for having four safety violations.
Health & Safety Issues Are Common
You would think, given how expensive most nursing homes and care facilities are, that the care would be spectacular. Sadly, it’s disturbing how often this isn’t the case. Take some of the statistics into consideration:
- In observational studies, aggression between residents is seen an average of 30% of the time in just 8 hours.
- In anonymous surveys, 50% of all employees have admitted to either abusing or neglecting their patients.
- Nurses who neglect their patients often don’t want to, however, there is typically as many as 30 patients assigned to one nurse and they are run ragged.
- Many elderly residents no longer have close family members to notice that they are losing weight, dirty, or abused.
Serious Issues Are Rarely Addressed
In New York, nursing homes are often inspected and while numerous issued are found, the issues that a facility is cited for is often a repeat one. Which means the true issue lies with the enforcement of the citation – there aren’t serious enough consequences.
In addition to this, when a complaint is made, the Health Department frequently fails to investigate it. In 2015, more than 11,000 complaints were received but only about 4,300 were actually investigated, potentially leaving thousands of elderly patients suffering.
That number doesn’t include residents who are being abused or neglected and don’t report it because they are either not mentally aware of what is happening to them or they are afraid because their abuser has threatened them.
It’s vitally important for anyone who suspects elderly abuse or neglect to contact an attorney as soon as possible. It’s already clear that reporting the issue to the Health Department may accomplish nothing but an attorney can immediately begin to fight for a patient’s rights.