The New York Post recently reported that in December 2009, a Brooklyn nursing home was found guilty of negligence in the case of a patient who developed numerous bedsores while under the home’s care. The jury awarded the patient’s family close to $4 million for pain and suffering, plus an additional $15 million as punishment for trying to cover up the poor patient care. This case is the first to charge a nursing home with punitive damages.
Sadly, this example of nursing home neglect is not the only one. Elder abuse is prevalent in nursing homes around the country, and with serious consequences for patients. Older adults who are victims of elder abuse are more than twice as likely to die prematurely as are adults who are treated properly, according to a study published in the August 5, 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The National Center on Elder Abuse defines institutional elder abuse as “any of several forms of maltreatment of an older person by someone who has a special relationship with the elder (a spouse, a sibling, a child, a friend, or a caregiver)” that occur in residential facilities for older persons, including nursing homes.
Looking exclusively at falls, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that an average nursing home with 100 beds reports 100 to 200 falls each year, representing up to 75 percent of residents. Many falls were caused by environmental hazards like wet floors, poor lighting, incorrect bed height and improper wheelchair use.
A November 2009 report from the University of California, San Francisco, stated that 26 percent of the nation’s nursing facilities were cited in 2008 for poor quality of care, 44 percent of nursing homes failed to ensure a safe environment for residents, 36 percent had food sanitation regulations violations and 33 percent of facilities received deficiencies for failure to meet quality standards.
Full Press Release and Source:
New York Nursing Home Faces Punitive Damages for Elder Abuse