One of the greatest impediments to preventing nursing home abuse is the culture of secrecy in which so many facilities operate. An increasing number are for-profit ventures, too often concerned more about their bottom line than the health and well-being of the patients they serve. Reports or solid evidence of abuse has the potential to threaten those profits, giving administrators an incentive to quiet these reports before they surface.
We see evidence of this in employment action lawsuits that have arisen in recent years. A recent example was reported in Illinois, where McKnights Long Term Care News reports a nurse was awarded $5.2 million after her termination from a nursing home, shortly following her reporting of alleged patient abuse.
Plaintiff in that case was a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at a nursing home in late 2012 when she was fired by her employer, a for-profit nursing home company that operates nearly 55 facilities. She alleged she was terminated because she refused to follow orders by the director of the nursing home to “drop a pill,” which was understood to mean give a double dose of anti-anxiety medications to patients who were agitated. The LPN also alleged she had refused to omit or delete any records that contained suspicious injuries incurred by residents. Continue reading →