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When Nursing Home Residents Abuse Other Residents

Nursing home abuse is often characterized as mistreatment of a vulnerable, elderly resident at the hands of caregivers and other staffers. However, about one in five nursing home abuse incidents involve other residents. One study published in 2016 revealed verbal taunts, physical assaults and sexual assaults were all part of the abuse those residents suffered at the hands of other residents.

We saw it recently here in Florida, when The Gainesville Sun reported one facility was forced to halt admissions after two fatal incidents, one a fall and another the brutal beating of an 86-year-old resident by a 52-year-old resident with a traumatic brain injury. The younger man reportedly knocked the older man to the ground – twice – and over a two-minute stretch, while no staffers were anywhere in sight, the younger man pummeled the older victim no fewer than 56 times. The catalyst for the fight, according to news reports, was that the younger man believed the older resident had eaten his cupcake.

At the time of the incident, no staff member was attending to residents in that unit and there was no one in charge of monitoring video surveillance for that unit. By the time the staff finally got there, the beating was over. That particular 45-bed facility has a long history of resident safety violations over the last five years. Two administrators were arrested in late 2015 in separate incidents reportedly involving patient neglect. After the beating and the fatal fall, an administrator reportedly broke down while being interviewed by police, telling investigators she was “overwhelmed,” had a short staff and the employees she did have were poorly trained. 

Incidents like these are no doubt underestimated because so many go unreported. An in-depth report by CNN last year revealed federal government regulators had cited some 1,000 nursing homes for the failure to prevent alleged incidents of sexual assault, rape and abuse at their centers over a recent three year period. The reality is far too many cases of neglect and abuse occur at nursing homes, and it too often goes unchecked. When an incident does become high-profile, it’s a reminder of how bad the situation really is.

Although nursing homes might not intend for residents to be harmed by other residents, the fact is they owe a duty of care to those in their charge to make sure they are safe. As West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorneys know, this means providing adequate security and staffers to properly monitor patients and respond to emergencies. It means working actively to identify which patients may pose a threat to others or have a tendency for violence, and then appropriately remedying those issues – or at least providing enough supervision to ensure the troubled patient isn’t in a position to freely harm others.

In the case of the beating victim in Gainesville, authorities say other residents tried to intervene and help, but weren’t strong enough. Staffers didn’t arrive until a minute after the beating was over. The perpetrator had reportedly been arrested numerous times before for assault and battery, but was never prosecuted because he was deemed mentally incapacitated. Staffers insisted he had shown no signs of aggression since being admitted to the facility in 2015, but certainly they were aware – or should have been aware – of his history and violent tendencies. What’s more, after he was temporarily removed from the facility after this incident, he was evaluated and allowed to return. The facility says he is now being supervised one-on-one. A report by the Agency for Health Care Administration found no indication staffers were trained on how to care for and monitor a patient with his background.

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:

After probe, Williston ALF ordered to halt admissions, Dec. 7, 2017, By Cindy Swirko, The Gainesville Sun

More Blog Entries:

Hidden Camera Use Weighed After Florida Nursing Home Abuse Revealed, March 14, 2018, Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Blog

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