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Nursing Home Concerns: Neglect, Overmedicating, Sexual Abuse

The decision to move a loved one to a long term care facility is a difficult one. Knowing the facility can provide the necessary care is often the primary concern, but there are many dangers lurking in the halls of nursing homes across America. Cases of nursing home neglect, overmedication, sexual abuse, and cultural insensitivity are all too common and can make a stay at a care facility uncomfortable or even unsafe.

Neglect

Residents should always receive the attention and care their conditions require. However, nursing home residents often experience neglect due to understaffing, lack of appropriate training, or abuse.  Sometimes these incidents of neglect result in bedrail injuries, falls, or worse. Though 90% of nursing home residents report that they or another resident have been neglected by staff, very few report instances of neglect.

Overmedicating

Neglect might also lead to another danger for nursing home residents: overmedication. The medication needs of patients may not be met as promised due to lack of staff or training. However, more often overmedicating occurs when staff attempt to sedate patients or force compliance, a situation commonly referred to as chemical restraint.

Occasionally overmedicating nursing home patients may have even more intentional roots. In 2017, CNN found that the pill “Nuedexta is being increasingly prescribed in nursing homes even though drugmaker Avanir Pharmaceuticals acknowledges in prescribing information that the drug has not been extensively studied in elderly patients.” Journalists also found physicians that frequently prescribed the pill to nursing home patients received hundreds of thousands of dollars in promotional payments from the drug company. Overmedication for whatever reason can cause lasting damage to nursing home residents.

Sexual Abuse

Another disturbing trend is being uncovered in nursing homes: sexual abuse. According to a CNN report, “1,000 nursing homes across the country have been cited for somehow mishandling or failing to prevent alleged cases of sexual assault at their facilities in recent years.” The horrific testimonies from family members of former nursing home patients were brought to a senate hearing in March of this year. Their stories are a plea for increased regulation and oversight in nursing homes with regards to sexual misconduct. Though these new reports are bringing the issue to national attention, cases of sexual abuse have been all too common for many years in the nursing home industry.

Cultural Misunderstanding

In all three cases, patients are slow to report and many never do. There are dozens of reasons not to report, but many nursing home residents suffering from mental decline or communication barriers may be unable to report.

One potential barrier to communication could be cultural differences. As a diverse group of adults are aging, facilities have been slow to adjust and welcome those who have different cultural norms. Muslim patients are often not offered halal meats or care with a same-sex employee to align with their religious practices. Patients with limited English skills are often unable to understand the messages within the facility and have difficulty communicating their doctor’s notes on their condition back to their family and loved ones. Hispanic and Arab communities are calling for an effort to be made to bridge this cultural gap.

Across the board, nursing homes must do better to protect our aging citizens. Currently, many Americans end their lives in conditions of trauma, abuse, or isolation. If you or a loved one has experienced any injuries or pain and suffering from the above concerns, you deserve justice. Contact the team at Deliso Law for a free consultation. We are experienced in nursing home negligence and abuse and have Arabic and Spanish speakers on staff. Call 718-238-3100.

by Allison Theresa