Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse: The Sad Reality

Many seniors are nervous about going to a nursing home, and understandably so. But it can be hard to tell the difference between nervousness about being in a new environment, unfounded fears related to age-related changes in mental status, and signs that something is actually wrong in the nursing home environment.

In our line of work, we’ve seen all too often that nursing home residents’ fears of staff or complaints of mistreatment are often brushed aside. Such reports by aging residents are commonly brushed aside by staff as delusional. This makes it hard for families to determine which complaints should be taken seriously. When family members do press for answers regarding how their loved ones are being treated, they are often described as difficult. They are accused of disrupting their loved one’s care and interfering with the staff’s ability to do their job.

As one recent case in Georgia demonstrated, however, a nursing home resident’s fears can also be a sign of real neglect or mistreatment. In that case, a nursing home was sued by the family of a veteran who died in a nursing home. The director of nursing testified at deposition that she ran to the resident’s room and performed CPR. Luckily, there was video evidence that proved her story was untrue. The video showed that it took over eight minutes for someone to respond to his call for help, and that, even when someone finally checked on him, nothing was done to help him, even though he was gasping for air. When they checked on him again an hour later, he was unconscious. Three nurses stood around his bed. None of them performed CPR. The video showed them leaning on his bed and laughing. The case eventually resolved, and resulted in the nursing home reportedly taking steps to improve their quality of care.  You can read more about the case here.

Nobody wants to believe that this level of gross neglect happens in nursing homes. But it can, and it does. If you’re concerned about a loved one being mistreated, don’t let nursing home staff bully you into thinking that you’re crazy. If your family member suffers a serious injury as the result of nursing home neglect, don’t be afraid to reach out for legal help. There is no excuse for this type of mistreatment.