Criminal Charges Show Unpleasant Reality of New York Nursing Home Abuse

Whether to put a relative or loved one in a nursing home can be one of life’s most difficult decisions. There is always that fear in the back of one’s mind that the loved one might not be treated in a dignified manner and get the care that he or she deserves.

Unfortunately, sometimes these fears of neglect and abuse are founded. In a New York nursing home abuse case, a nurse’s aide was recently charged with endangering the welfare of a disabled person at a Staten Island nursing home. According to the state attorney general’s office, the nursing home resident was hit on the head repeatedly.

The nursing home resident was a developmentally disabled 40-year-old, suffering from schizophrenia and depression. One evening in February 2009, a paramedic saw a nurse’s aide hit the resident on the head several times. The paramedic reported the incident to a supervisor at the facility. The supervisor, not wanting to get the nurse’s aide in trouble, did not file an incident report as required by law.

It was only after a probe by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit that the attorney general’s office discovered the incident and charged the supervisor and the nurse’s aide. Both pleaded guilty and permanently lost their licenses to work in the health care field. It was later revealed that the supervisor had a history of being disciplined for failing to document incidents involving residents such as medication errors and falls.

What You Can Do to Protect Your Loved Ones

Before putting a loved one in a nursing home, it is important to do research. When you go into prospective nursing homes, speak to other residents and their family members. Also, observe how the staff interacts with the residents, paying particular attention to how the staff treats residents who need extra assistance with routine tasks such as eating, getting up or tending to personal needs.

Once you have put your loved one in a nursing home, visit him or her as often as possible; this will lessen the chance of abuse. When you visit your loved one, ask how he or she is being treated by staff. If your loved one is angry or withdrawn, or has unexplained cuts, bruises or bedsores, these may be a signs of abuse.

If you suspect that your loved one is being abused, report it to the nursing home facility immediately and contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney. In addition to being an advocate for your loved one’s rights, an attorney will work with you to hold those responsible for abuse accountable.