Nursing Home Abuse Between Residents: What To Do If Your Loved One Is In Harm’s Way
Nursing home abuse and neglect is a shockingly common occurrence, with nearly 1 in 6 seniors at nursing homes reporting some form of abuse while they resided at a facility. For the nearly 2 million vulnerable seniors living in nursing homes across Tennessee and the United States, nursing home care comes with a disturbingly high prevalence of abusive conduct and various forms of neglect.
Most often, this abuse happens at the hands of nursing home staff that regularly tend to patients. Overworked, underpaid, and sometimes poorly qualified staff may physically, emotionally, or financially abuse nursing home patients. These issues have gained attention and scrutiny in recent years as family members have grown more vigilant about the care of their loved ones.
Another type of abuse can be inflicted by a person’s fellow nursing home residents. Resident-on-resident abuse is another risk associated with nursing home care – nearly as common as abuse by staffers.
Some examples of resident-on-resident nursing home abuse can include:
- Yelling, screaming, or berating another resident;
- Physical fighting, including pushing, hitting, or biting;
- Spying, staring, or making unwelcome visits to a patient’s living area;
- Sexual misconduct;
- Stealing and other financial misdeeds.
Unfortunately, when these things happen, the victims are reluctant or embarrassed to report these issues to staff or their visiting family members. Worse, their concerns may be dismissed by nursing home staff as frivolous or unworthy of follow-up action.
Why do some residents abuse their fellow nursing home residents? Often there is some type of mental illness or trigger that leads to misbehavior and abuse. Factors might include:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD);
- Psychiatric disorders that can cause paranoia and aggression;
- Poor reactions to medication, or mismanaged medication.
Sometimes, aggressive residents are victims of nursing home abuse and are acting out themselves as a result.
Warning signs of nursing home abuse from residents to look out for can include:
- Increased anxiety;
- Changes or loss in appetite;
- Changes in sleep patterns;
- Unexplained cuts or bruising;
- Social withdrawal and behavioral changes.
Ultimately, a nursing home bears the responsibility to keep its residents safe. This includes protection from any form of abuse – including that from a person’s neighbors within the facility. To accomplish this, facilities must maintain appropriate staffing levels and avoid overcrowding or unmanageable resident counts.
Nursing home staff must also ensure that those with violent outbursts are properly disciplined and monitored. Sadly, we hear horror stories about situations where nursing home residents are not only left uncontrolled, but encouraged to fight and misbehave.
Nursing homes must provide proper training to watch for potential signs of abuse, and assess patients for any factors that may result in violence. If a resident is suspected of abusing a fellow resident, they must be monitored and put under an individualized care plan.
If a nursing home fails to do any of the above to address abuse between residents, they can face not only administrative penalties and criminal liability, but legal liability in a civil claim.
The Nursing Home Litigation Attorneys at Atkins Brezina, PLLC, Are Here to Help if Abuse is Suspected at Your Loved One’s Nursing Home
Sadly, it is possible that the places we trust the most can abuse that trust and leave our loved ones in danger. When this happens, they must be held accountable in a court of law. Our Knoxville nursing home malpractice attorneys at Atkins Brezina, PLLC, have the experience and knowledge to fight for your loved one’s legal rights in any type of nursing home abuse case.