Atlanta nursing homes and assisted living facilities have an obligation to make sure staff members are not abusive or neglectful to patients. If a staff member engages in inappropriate behavior while doing his or her job in a nursing home environment, the nursing home can be held accountable. However, this is not the only situation in which a home could potentially be sued for nursing home abuse.
A nursing care facility could also be held responsible if the home had substandard policies or provided inadequate supervision to protect one resident from being harmed by another resident.
Unfortunately, resident-to-resident abuse is far more common than most people are aware of. Nursing homes need to establish appropriate methods of protecting patients from being victimized by their peers in all nursing home settings, but especially in environments where many patients have dementia and where the risks of abuse are highest.
Nursing homes need to prevent resident-to-resident abuse because it is such a common occurrence. CBS reported recently on a study which showed how often resident-to-resident abuse happens. The study was conducted over a month long period and it involved surveillance and interviews being conducted at 10 different nursing homes. The homes were in urban and suburban settings and there were 2,011 nursing home patients included in the research. The study was the largest scale research which looked at the risks of patient-to-patient abuse.
The research revealed that 407 residents in nursing homes experienced at least one instance of mistreatment over the course of the month when the study was conducted. Mistreatment included different kinds of abusive or inappropriate behavior, with examples of mistreatment ranging from sexual abuse to physical abuse to nursing home residents going through each other's belongings or stealing each other's food without permission. In about one quarter of observed instances of abuse, the abuse was physical. For the remaining incidents of mistreatment, the abuse was emotional, verbal, or financial.
Any type of nursing home abuse, including emotional abuse and bullying, can have health consequences for patients. A senior who is abused or victimized by neglect is more likely to pass away within the course of the year as compared with someone who has not been subject to any abuse. Nursing homes need to try to prevent residents from being able to perpetrate bullying and harmful behavior on each other.
There are a variety of possible approaches nursing homes can take, including changing the culture of nursing homes so staff members are more responsive to patients and can provide a more calming environment, especially for those with Alzheimer's. If a nursing home falls short in doing what is reasonable to protect patients, victims of abuse and their families can pursue a case for compensation for damages.