Authorities are investigating a claim of nursing home abuse in Rock Hill after a 91-year-old resident alleged her caregiver grabbed her so hard that it caused a wound requiring stitches.
The alleged victim revealed to her son that she was frightened of the caretaker, and had for months been subjected to both verbal and physical abuse. The son responded by placing an audio recorder in the room over the weekend. One night, the caretaker in question entered her room and yelled at the frail woman to get up. When she was responded too slowly, the caretaker reportedly yanked her arm so hard to pull her up that she tore the skin.
While officials at the facility in question wouldn’t respond to media inquiries, citing the ongoing criminal investigation, they did report that the staffer at the center of the investigation is no longer working there. Officials with the State Department of Health and Environmental Control have also launched an investigation.
As Rock Hill nursing home abuse attorneys, we wish we could say that such incidents were a rarity. While it’s true that these are severely under-reported crimes, an audit released in February by the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services indicates that approximately a third of all nursing home patients are harmed in some way during the course of treatment.
The research here specifically focused on “skilled nursing facilities,” which are those that provide specialized care and rehabilitation services to patients who have endured a hospital stay of three days or more. There are approximately 15,000 skilled nursing facilities across the country, with about 9 out of 10 also certified as nursing homes, which are designed to provide longer-term care.
What officials found was that just in August 2011, some 22,000 patients were harmed and approximately 1,540 died as a result of substandard care in skilled nursing facilities. Of those who survived, 22 percent suffered lasting harm.
What’s more? Nearly 60 percent of all incidents were preventable. There were instances of abuse, but residents were also subjected to substandard treatment, inadequate monitoring, medication errors and just general failure to provide needed care.
Many of these incidents occur at night or on weekends, when nursing homes are equipped with fewer, less-experienced staff.
Over half of the residents who experienced some degree of harm during the August 2011 period had to seek treatment at a nearby hospital, costing Medicare a total of $208 million.
Elder patients are especially vulnerable to abuse and neglect because it may be difficult if not impossible for them to voice what is happening. That’s why it’s so critical for relatives and loved ones to be alert to the possible signs that something is amiss.
Possible red flags include:
- Weight loss. While advanced age and medication can impact one’s appetite, each patient should be receiving the necessary nutrition and hydration. Weight loss is a strong indication that this isn’t happening.
- Bruises. While elderly patients tend to bruise more easily than younger folks, frequent or severe bruising may indicate abuse. A patient whose bruising is the result of a fall may be the victim of neglect or negligence.
- Falls. When your loved one experiences serious and/or frequent falls, this is a clear sign of neglect. It is the legal responsibility of the home to develop a plan for care that will prevent falls.
- Bedsores. These sores are caused by prolonged pressure on certain parts of the body when patients are made to lie unattended for long periods of time. These painful sores can eventually become fatal if not treated.
- Staff inattention. With the rise of for-profit nursing homes, many staffers have been cut in order to reduce labor costs. That means many facilities are understaffed, and providers are overworked. When employees can’t respond in a manner that is timely, mistakes occur, and they are sometimes serious. A stressed out staffer may also be more prone to abuse those in her care.
Contact our South Carolina personal injury lawyers at Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.
Rock Hill Police investigate nursing home abuse allegations, March 19, 2014, By Ashton Pellom, WISTV-10
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South Carolina Nursing Home Arbitration Agreements May Not Be Enforceable, Jan. 24, 2014, Rock Hill Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog