Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse and Negligence

When you place your loved one in a nursing home, you hope and expect that they will be safe, properly cared for, and treated with kindness. Although many long-term care facilities provide excellent care, nursing home abuse and neglect are distressing realities that occur with shocking frequency.

In fact, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), up to 5 million older Americans suffer abuse every year. Many of these victims reside in nursing home facilities. Recognizing the signs of abuse and neglect is essential for protecting the well-being of your loved ones and holding facilities accountable for their duty of care.

Physical Signs of Abuse

Many people would be shocked to discover the rate at which sexual assault occurs within nursing homes. There have been over 16,000 complaints of sexual assault at long-term care facilities since 2000. When we put our family members and loved ones in a Massachusetts nursing home, it is often because we believe they deserve a level of care and attention that we are unable to give them. Not only do we expect the professionals we trust with our loved ones to treat them with the care they deserve, we absolutely do not anticipate that they will be the victim of sexual assault. Sexual assault within nursing homes in not limited to staff either; it may also be propagated by other residents or visitors. The nursing home has a duty to protect your loved ones against sexual abuse, and our Boston nursing home lawyers will hold them liable if they did not take adequate measures to prevent against the abuse.

If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of nursing home sexual assault, you may be entitled to compensation. If you can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that your loved one was sexually abused while at a long-term care facility, you will be awarded damages. Importantly, this standard of proof is lower than that in a criminal trial, which opens up options for people who may not have sufficient proof to initiate criminal proceedings against an abuser. No matter who the abuser is, the nursing home may have to provide compensation. Our experienced nursing home abuse attorneys can help you uncover any relevant facts that will help your case.

There are any number of ways a nursing home may act negligently in protecting their residents from sexual assault. Here are a few examples in which nursing homes fall short:

  • Negligence in hiring staff. Nursing homes need to screen all applicants and check their criminal records to ensure they will not pose a risk to patients. Previous allegations of abuse or sexual assault ought to be taken seriously and be thoroughly investigated.
  • Negligence in investigating sexual assault complaints. If a nursing home has reason to know of a staff member sexually assaulting residents, they must adequately investigate the allegations and take steps to prevent the assault from happening again.
  • Negligence in protecting residents generally. If the nursing home is found to have fostered a culture that allows for this abuse, this almost certainly will give rise to a finding of negligence on their behalf.

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The story of an Arizona woman who gave birth to a baby boy despite being in the midst of a more than decade-long vegetative state made headlines around the world and shocked all who heard the story – not just about how such a thing was physically possible, but how such a deplored act could occur in a facility where the woman was supposed to be cared for. It shows how even in places where we hope our loved ones will remain safe, predators may still be roaming the halls looking for an easy victim.

Elder abuse and other vulnerable victims

While the Arizona story rightfully grabbed headlines due to its bizarre and sickening details, the unfortunate fact of the matter is that similar acts of abuse actually happen relatively frequently throughout the nursing homes and palliative care centers across our country. All such crimes have a similar backdrop – facilities with little oversight, vulnerable clients and potentially dangerous caregivers who feel emboldened by those first two factors.

The National Council on Aging estimates that as many as 1 out of every 10 senior citizens is abused in some way – whether it is physical, mental, sexual abuse or abuse in the form of being manipulated through targeted schemes to take their money. The Arizona case showed a clear example of a caregiver taking advantage of a helpless individual for their own sexual satisfaction, and such horrible activities unfortunately do happen each year in care facilities around the country.

Despite the estimation that nearly five million senior citizens are victimized each year, only 1 out of every 14 victims is likely to report. This could be because they are unable to report the crime due to dementia or memory loss causing them to forget the abuse happened, or perhaps they are scared of speaking up for fear of being ignored and facing retribution from their abuser.

However, as this case clearly showed, the elderly are not the only ones at risk of being exploited. Those in a coma, those in vegetative state and even those who are simply incapacitated while staying in a hospital due to chronic conditions are all at risk of being abused by caregivers, many of whom might be the very people charged with taking care of them.

Any abuse of helpless victims is inexcusable

A perpetrator for the Arizona sexual abuse case has thankfully been captured through DNA evidence. It is not known at this time if the family of the victim will seek retribution against Hacienda Health Care, the facility where she was held for more than 10 years during her vegetative state, but it would certainly not be a case without merit.

Caregiving facilities have a dire responsibility to ensure the safety of their clients, especially those who do not have the ability to take care of themselves and rely on their caregivers. For a caregiver to not only ignore their responsibilities and oaths to provide care, but to actively take advantage of the vulnerable people they are charged with helping, is a sick violation of humanity that must be accounted for utilizing the full extent of the law. Continue reading

Transitioning to a nursing home can be emotionally and physically challenging for your loved one. He or she will need to adapt to a new living environment and the loss of certain freedoms and autonomy. The reliance on caregivers for basic daily needs – such as nutrition, bathing, hydration and medical care – places nursing home patients in increased danger of neglect and abuse. Fortunately, the majority of nursing homes have the best interests of patients in mind at all times. Exceptions do exist, however.

Nursing home staff have a responsibility to protect patients from harm. Although not every accident is preventable, staff should take precautions to ensure that patients don’t suffer injuries caused by their own limitations. One of the most common easily-preventable injuries is facial trauma. According to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the high incidence of facial trauma in nursing homes is cause for concern. The study used data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) to track reports of facial injuries in U.S. nursing homes over a five-year period. The results showed that:

  • more than 100,000 nursing home patients received emergency treatment for facial injuries,
  • 84 was the median age of patients with this type of injury,
  • about 65 percent of the patients were female,
  • injuries involved lacerations, fractures, and injury to soft tissues, and
  • nasal and orbital fractures were the most common.

If you suspect that your loved one is being neglected or abused in a nursing home facility, it’s imperative that you take immediate action. In addition to reporting the suspected mistreatment to management, you should contact a Boston nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible.

Fall Injuries are Not Inevitable

The loss of balance and coordination that often accompanies aging makes elderly nursing home patients more prone to falls. Brittle bones and the body’s diminishing capacity to heal itself can turn a simple fall into a debilitating or deadly injury. Patients are most at risk of facial injuries when they are being transferred to another bed or to a chair, or when they are walking without proper supervision or the assistance of a walker. All fall injuries can be life-threatening to an elderly patient, but facial injuries can also damage the patient’s ability to speak, or even breathe.  Although elderly patients have a higher risk of falling than their younger counterparts, falls are not inevitable. Don’t let nursing home staff tell you otherwise.

Was Negligence a Factor?

Nursing home staff have a duty to provide your loved one with reasonable care based on his or her unique needs. When understaffing, inadequate training or negligent hiring results in an injury, the nursing home or its employee(s) should be held accountable. To prove negligence, you must be able to show that the following situations existed:

  • The nursing home owed a duty of care to the patient.
  • The nursing home breached its duty of care.
  • The injury was a direct result of that breach.

If you believe that your loved one’s fall injury is a result of neglect, a MA nursing home abuse lawyer can help you recover damages. Continue reading

If you have an elderly loved one in a nursing home, he or she may be at greater risk of elder abuse and neglect now that the new administration has relaxed nursing home accountability for these injustices. Nursing home industry reps lobbied the administration, claiming that current laws are too focused on “catching wrongdoing rather than helping nursing homes improve.”

Mark Parkinson, president of the American Health Care Association, a nursing home industry trade group, wrote a letter directly to Trump, asking him to provide nursing homes with “relief” from overly-harsh investigations and fines.

Among the most commonly reported, serious nursing home violations are: falls, neglect, mistreatment, and bedsores. During the four-year period between 2013 and 2017, approximately 40 percent of federally-regulated nursing homes nationwide were cited for at least one “serious violation.”

A Slap on the Wrist

Under the new guidelines, nursing homes that are first-time offenders may get off with a simple warning, even if the violation results in the death of a patient. Further, even repeat offenders will likely receive lower fines for their violations than previous years.

Much of the nursing home abuse in this country already goes unreported or underreported. Advocates for elder safety fear that these relaxed regulations will only exacerbate an already serious problem. A MA nursing home abuse lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if a loved one has been abused or neglected in a nursing home or long-term care facility.

Elder Abuse Statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), elder abuse is “any

abuse and neglect of persons age 60 and older by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust.” Elder abuse doesn’t always occur in a nursing home facility; it also happens with in-home care, and a family member is often the one responsible for the abuse or neglect. However, nursing home abuse and neglect are most common in understaffed facilities with poorly-trained workers. The statistics below shed some light on the severity of this growing problem:

  • The actual rate of elder abuse is nearly 24 times greater than what is reported.
  • The most common type of elder abuse is psychological, which is typically more difficult to detect or prove than physical abuse.
  • In the state of New York, at least 260,000 elderly adults have reported some type of abuse.
  • The “National Elder Mistreatment Study” revealed that up to 10 percent of those surveyed had suffered some type of abuse in the 12 months leading up to the study.
  • A 2000 study conducted by the National Center on Elder Abuse found that of 2,000 nursing home residents surveyed, 44 percent had suffered abuse, and 95 had suffered neglect, or had witnessed someone else being neglected.

A Boston nursing home abuse attorney can help you recover damages if a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect. Continue reading

Stories of nursing home abuse and neglect are tragically, and disturbingly, common. If you have a loved one in a Massachusetts nursing home, don’t despair. There are ways to ensure that your loved one receives proper care in a safe, compassionate environment. Read on to learn how about choosing the best nursing home for your loved one, and how to identify elder abuse and neglect.

Choosing the Best Nursing Home for Your Loved One

If you are still in these preliminary stages, ask around. Once you’ve gotten referrals for good nursing homes, visit them yourself. The questions below will help you know what to look for when you visit.

  • Ask if you and your loved one can have a meal in the dining hall. How does the food look and taste? Meal times are also a good opportunity for social engagement. Do residents look happy? Are they smiling and talking freely?
  • Does the home look and smell clean? Nursing homes can have less-than-pleasant odors, but if the building reeks of garbage, stale urine, and feces it may indicate a larger problem.
  • Observe the staff. Do they appear to enjoy their job? Do they seem overworked and easily agitated? Do they interact well with each other? And you can do more than observe. Asking the staff these questions directly can tell a lot.
  • Also ask the staff about a day in the life of a resident. How do they spend their afternoons? Are there activities available throughout the day, or is everyone hidden away in their rooms, watching television alone?

Types of Abuse and Neglect

Elder abuse isn’t always physical. Emotional and financial abuse can be more difficult to detect. Types of abuse and neglect common in nursing homes include:

  • Physical abuse: hitting, smacking, shoving, over-use of restraints, force feeding
  • Psychological or emotional abuse: threats, humiliation, manipulation, isolation, withholding food
  • Neglect: not giving proper medications or dosages, lack of food and water, unsanitary bed linens and clothing, failing to regularly move an immobile patient to prevent bedsores
  • Financial exploitation: using money or property without the elder’s permission, forcing the elder to sign over a will or deed, forging the elder’s signature on financial documents, identity theft, stealing money
  • Sexual abuse: any type of unwanted contact of a sexual nature, including touching, rubbing, sexual assault, and rape

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According to an August 2017 National Public Radio (NPR) article, more than 25 percent of severe nursing home abuse cases go unreported. NPR obtained this information from the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services. Considering that in New York state alone, approximately 260,000 nursing home residents reported some form of abuse in 2010, the estimated number of unreported cases is staggering.

In 2000, the National Center on Elder Abuse conducted a study of 2,000 nursing home residents. The revealing study discovered that 44 percent of those surveyed had been abused, and a shocking 95 percent had suffered neglect or had witnessed others being neglected. And surprisingly, more than half of the nursing home staff members surveyed admitted to mistreating their patients. A Boston nursing home abuse attorney can help you determine how to proceed if your loved one has been the victim of abuse.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Some of the signs below can be the result of an honest mistake or a medical condition. However, if any of these issues arise and seem persistent or unexplained, they may indicate abuse or neglect:

  • Bedsores
  • Unexplained injuries, bruises, or medical conditions
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Poor hygiene
  • Lack of food or water
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Dirty bed linens
  • Unsanitary living conditions
  • Missing eyeglasses, dentures, walkers, or other necessary items
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Cigarette burns
  • Sprains, fractures, or broken bones
  • Overmedication
  • Victim seems fearful, angry, or withdrawn
  • Torn or bloody undergarments
  • Infections in the genital or anal area
  • Painful urination or defecation
  • Pain when sitting or walking

What to Do if You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse

If your loved one is in a nursing home, it is crucial to know how to recognize signs of nursing home abuse and neglect. The following tips can help you protect your loved one from becoming a victim.

  • Ask: It might sound simple, but asking your loved one if he or she is being mistreated is the best way to assess their situation. In some cases, victims of elder abuse will remain silent out of fear of retaliation. Questions such as, “do you feel safe?” or “who is your favorite staff member?” may elicit a more honest response.


  • Use extra caution when your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia: The sad reality is that dementia patients have a higher risk of elder abuse. For this reason, friends and family should pay special attention to possible warning signs, such as withdrawal, unexplained bruises, or poor hygiene.


  • Maintain close ties with your loved one: There is evidence that nursing home patients whose family members visit often are less likely to become victims of abuse or neglect. When family visits often, it is easier to detect changes in behavior, hygiene, and overall health. A MA nursing home abuse attorney can help you recover damages if your elderly loved one has been been the victim of abuse or neglect.


  • Do your homework: Before choosing a nursing home for your loved one, research multiple facilities. Visit the home in person, ask for referrals, and do a google search. The facility should be clean and residents should appear happy. Visiting during shared meal times allows you to see if the food looks nutritious and if residents and staff are engaged in positive interactions. Does the facility have social programs? How long do staff members typically stay on board? Do staff members appear to enjoy their jobs?

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Most people think that elder abuse is something that occurs in bad nursing homes. While this is true, elder abuse happens outside of nursing homes too; the family home is no exception. The purpose of Elder Abuse Awareness Day is to educate people on ways to identify elder abuse so that it can be stopped. A Boston elder abuse attorney can help you determine how to proceed if a loved one has been the victim of abuse or neglect.

Types of Elder Abuse

There are many types of elder abuse; it’s not always physical. The main types to look for include:

  • Physical abuse: This type of abuse encompasses everything from hitting and using excessive force to sexual abuse. Signs of physical abuse include injuries such as bruises, broken bones, rope burns, welts, and burns. The victim may appear depressed, withdrawn, or fearful.
  • Financial Abuse: This type of abuse usually involves an individual who misuses the victim’s financial benefits or assets as his or her own. It’s often a family member. In some cases, financial abuse can involve an unknown person who tricks the victim into handing over money. This can be done in person, over the phone, or online. Signs of financial abuse include an unexplained depletion of assets, and unexplained missing personal items such as jewelry, furniture, and even hearing aids.
  • Neglect: This type of abuse occurs when an elderly person is neglected or abandoned by someone who is supposed to provide their care, such as nursing home staff, a home-health aide, or a family member. Signs of neglect include malnourishment and dehydration, poor hygiene, bed sores, linens and clothing that smell of urine, medical needs not being met, over-sedation, and depression.

Who is Abusing and Who is Being Abused?

Elder abuse can occur anywhere, but the vast majority of elder abusers are family members. Consider the following statistics:

  • 90 percent of elder abusers are family members.
  • Of that 90 percent, approximately 50 percent are children and about 20 percent are partners.
  • More than 50 percent of elder abuse victims are over the age of 80.
  • Two-thirds of victims are women.
  • 60 percent of victims have dementia.
  • 40 percent of victims suffer from depression.

How to Stop Elder Abuse

If you suspect that your elderly loved one is being abused or neglected, it’s important to know how to stop it. In some cases, involving the authorities is necessary. Tell at least one person – law enforcement, a social worker, or a healthcare provider. It’s not uncommon for an elderly person to conceal abuse or neglect out of fear of retaliation from the abuser. A MA elder abuse lawyer can review your case to determine the best legal strategy for moving forward. Elder abuse cases can be complex, and how they are handled varies widely. Financial abuse and sexual abuse cases, for example, will likely be approached in very different ways.

You can also look for signs of abuse by watching the suspected abuser. If a care provider seems to be attempting to dominate your loved one, is verbally abusive, handles your loved one “roughly,” is continually concerned about money, or if you suspect that he or she has substance abuse or mental health problems, you might want to take a closer look. Any of the above may be cause for concern. Continue reading

In March 2017, the journal JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery published a study analyzing the incidence of traumatic facial injuries in U.S. nursing home residents. According to the study results, between January 2011 and December 2015 a total of 109,795 nursing home residents needed emergency care for facial trauma. Most traumatic facial injuries are suffered in fall accidents.

Traumatic Facial Injury Statistics

The study reported that female residents are victims of traumatic fall injuries more than their male counterparts, accounting for about 65.1 percent of injuries requiring emergency treatment. The statistics below provide additional insight into the severity and frequency of facial trauma injuries among nursing home residents.

  • The median age for those who require emergency treatment is 84.1.
  • The most common facial injuries requiring emergency treatment are lacerations (44.3 percent), hematoma, avulsions, and contusions (41.8 percent), and fractures (12.7 percent).
  • The most common locations of traumatic facial injuries are nasal and orbital (eye).
  • Most nursing home facial injuries are caused by structural housing and fixed items (57 percent), or occur during the transfer of residents to and from bed (22.6 percent).

Although nursing home patients can fall for reasons that have nothing to do with improper care or negligence, many falls could have been easily prevented by taking minor safety precautions. A 2012 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services revealed that about 59 percent of resident injuries that occur in nursing homes are preventable. A MA nursing home negligence attorney can help you determine how to recover damages if your loved one has been injured due to negligence

Nursing Home Negligence

When we make the difficult decision to move our loved one into a nursing home, we do so with the hope that staff will provide excellent care and treat our loved one with kindness and compassion. Unfortunately, nursing home negligence – and even abuse – occurs with shocking frequency. The statistics below shed some light on the severity and frequency of this problem. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if your loved one has suffered nursing home abuse or neglect.

  • Approximately 1.4 million people currently live in nursing homes in the U.S.
  • In 2003, more than 20,000 official complaints were received by authorities.
  • Only one out of every 14 cases of nursing home abuse is properly reported to authorities.
  • More than 90 percent of nursing home facilities fail to hire adequate staff to properly care for residents.

Signs of Nursing Home Neglect

If you notice any of the signs below when visiting your loved one, they could indicate that your loved one is suffering from neglect.

  • Dehydration
  • Appearing agitated, withdrawn, or non-communicative
  • Fractures
  • Head injuries
  • Malnutrition
  • Infections
  • Bed sores
  • Rapid weight loss or gain
  • Unexplained wounds, bruises, and cuts
  • Sudden and unusual behavior changes
  • Reluctance to speak in front of staff members
  • Isolation

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According to the AARP Foundation, a settlement has been reached in the wrongful death lawsuit between the family of Bobby Glenn Tweed and the nursing home they allege is responsible for his death. The family claims that the facility misused strong psychotropic drugs to make the 78-year-old Alzheimer’s patient docile and compliant.

The misuse of psychotropic drugs by nursing homes to “treat” Alzheimer’s patients is not new. In 2014, AARP released an investigative report revealing that psychotropic drug overuse in patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia was occurring nationwide, and at an alarming rate. And the drugs aren’t being administered for the medical benefit of these patients; rather they are being used to “manage” patients who are considered disruptive. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if a loved one has been harmed in a nursing home facility.

The vast majority of nursing homes and staff have their patients’ best interests in mind at all times…but there are exceptions. Negligence and mistreatment occurs with shocking frequency in nursing homes, and the use of drugs to prevent patients from complaining, or being “difficult,” is a growing problem. In some instances, psychotropic drugs are given to patients who are thought to be dangerous to themselves. Although this use may be viewed as medically necessary, there are additional concerns; psychotropic drugs are actually linked to deaths in dementia patients.

When negligence or mistreatment results in the injury or death of a patient, nursing homes can be held liable. Just as hospitals can be sued for negligence and medical malpractice, so can nursing homes. In Mr. Tweed’s case, his daughter – who held the power of attorney – was not consulted about the administration of psychotropic drugs. When a lack of consent to administer medication is evident, a nursing home can also be liable for assault and battery.

Elder Abuse

Older Americans are often forced to rely on others for personal care due to physical and cognitive impairments. Unfortunately, this makes them easy targets for abuse and neglect.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), elder abuse is defined as “any abuse and neglect of persons age 60 and older by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust.” In addition to being physically vulnerable, elderly victims of abuse are often reluctant to report the abuse; they may fear retaliation, or think that nobody will believe them. A MA injury lawyer can help you determine if your loved one has been the victim of abuse or neglect.

The New York City Department for the Aging and Cornell University conducted a study in 2010. The “Under the Radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study revealed that the rate of elder abuse is nearly 24 times greater than what is actually reported to the authorities and social services. Psychological abuse is most common. An earlier report done in 2000 found that 44 percent of the 2,000 nursing home residents surveyed had been abused and 95 percent had been experienced neglect. Further, the same studied revealed that more than 50 percent of staff had admitted to mistreating patients. Continue reading

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