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Verbal Abuse in Nursing Homes Spurs Formal Citations

A state health department has cited seven nursing homes in connection with reports that residents were verbally abused by staffers. The state Department of Public Health in Connecticut cited the nursing homes more than $1,000 each in connection with the incidents. 

In one case, a registered nurse overheard an aide swearing and being disrespectful to the patient. However, it was not reported at the time. The aide was later fired.

In a similar case out of that same state two years ago, six nursing homes were fined by regulators in connection with cases of verbal abuse in nursing homes. In one of those cases, a nursing aide who was assisting a resident in using the toilet swore at the resident, prompting the resident to grab the aide’s shirt and yell. The aide then allegedly pushed the resident down, causing the resident to strike his head on the toilet paper dispenser and land on the wheelchair. The incident wasn’t reported for three whole days. 

Another case also involved an aide who swore at a patient and called him a name. She was later fired, as was the charge nurse who failed to report the incident right away.

Our nursing home abuse attorneys in Orlando know that verbal abuse is one of the most commonly-cited types emotional abuse that happens in long-term care facilities. Patients in the process of transitioning to a long-term care center are often the most emotionally vulnerable. Verbal abuse can be just as destructive to a patient’s health and well-being as physical abuse. Further, verbal abuse too often escalates to some form of physical abuse. It is harmful in and of itself, but is a red flag that there could be even more serious underlying issues.

Verbal abuse by nursing home staffers is especially impactful to patients because staffers have authority over them. However, patients do also suffer verbal abuse from other patients and sometimes even visitors.

In many cases, verbal abuse is born out of frustration or impatience. Staffers at nursing homes are frustrated when a patient is confused, agitated or unable to control bodily functions. Those frustrations are too often taken out on the vulnerable adult in their care.

Some examples of verbal nursing home abuse include:

  • Rude remarks;
  • Yelling;
  • Mocking or insulting;
  • Criticizing;
  • Speaking poorly about patients or other staff members;
  • Trivializing concerns;
  • Accusing or blaming;
  • Threatening.

The effect of verbal abuse can be serious and lasting psychological damage to victims. As it is, many patients are emotionally fragile and disoriented. Just entering a nursing home can be stressful, and being the target of verbal abuse and harassment can make it much worse. In the most severe cases, stress resulting from verbal abuse can actually weaken a patient’s immune system, which is going to make him or her even more vulnerable to other illnesses and conditions.

Verbal abuse is a violation of a patient’s right. Whether it is worth taking to court will depend on whether there is a compensable injury that resulted. Typically, claims of verbal abuse are included in nursing home injury lawsuits that allege some other type of mistreatment as well.

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:

Madison nursing home among 7 in Connecticut fined for verbal abuse, injuries, poor record keeping, April 2016, By Kate Farrish, New Haven Register

More blog Entries:

Nursing Home Industry Group Files Lawsuit to Protect Arbitration Agreements, Nov. 15, 2016, Orlando Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog

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