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Nursing Home Abuse Captured on Camera

A 55-year-old woman has been arrested for abuse of an 89-year-old dementia patient at a nursing home in Minnesota, after the alleged victim’s daughter installed a hidden camera in patient’s room.

Investigators say snippets of video from last month showed the staffer hitting the victim in the head and on her back with her hands and a brush and also pulled her hair. Bruises were reported on the victim’s hands from trying to defend herself.

The accused has denied she struck the patient or pulled her hair, but it may be difficult to deny accusations that are clearly shown on film.

The facility has released a statement calling the incident, “detestable,” adding it was contrary to the facility’s values and “deeply offensive to us as people.”

The facility’s work to distance itself from clear-cut violations of patient rights and safety is somewhat expected, though one wonders what the action might have been had the purported actions not been filmed. Nursing homes owe a core responsibility to patients not only to act quickly to remove known abusers, but also to exercise diligence in hiring and supervision – to ensure nursing home abuse doesn’t happen in the first place.

A spokesman for the company said administrators are reviewing ways to improve mistreatment reporting as well as employee hiring and training. Potential caregivers who have a violent criminal history or prior allegations of negligence or mistreatment would obviously raise red flags.

Further, a facility needs systems and procedures in place that will allow for adequate supervision and accountability. It’s up to the facility to foster a culture that is intolerant of abuse, meaning violations are dealt with swiftly and adequately and that other staffers feel compelled to speak up when they see a problem.

The reality is, few nursing home rooms have cameras in them to capture wrongdoing. But if these facilities are doing all they can to protect the vulnerable and elderly, we shouldn’t need them.

In this case, the elderly woman’s daughter became suspicious of unexplained bruising on her mother, a nursing home patient who suffered from dementia. She installed a hidden camera. What she found confirmed her fears that her mother was a victim of abuse.

The first clip shows defendant staffer pulling patient up from the floor by her hair. In the second clip, defendant striking the elderly woman in the back and head with her hand and a hair brush. A third clip shows defendant striking patient in the head several times, including one time with her elbow.

Law enforcement reviewed those video clips and noted bruising on the patient. Police charged defendant with two misdemeanor assault charges. Laws vary from state-to-state and it’s plausible these same actions, had they unfolded in Florida, would have resulted in felony charges against defendant.

Other instances of family members using hidden cameras to capture abuse abound, prompting some legislators to take action to further this kind of monitoring.

Just three years ago in Virginia, lawmakers passed a measure to allow electronic monitoring in nursing homes and assisted living facilities if the resident or an authorized family member agreed. Unfortunately, it also contained a provision that allows facilities to refuse, so now lawmakers are looking to close that loophole.

Five other states have laws that allow residents to maintain cameras in their rooms.

Here in Florida, it technically is not legal. That’s why if you have concerns that your nursing home resident loved one may be a victim of abuse, call our offices today to learn more about how we can help.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Hidden camera catches beating of elderly patient at Hopkins senior home, Feb. 26, 2016, By Chris Serres, Star Tribune

More Blog Entries:

Court: State Attorney General Can Sue Nursing Homes for Consumer Protection Violations, Feb. 19, 2016, Boca Raton Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog

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