January 22, 2013—St. Louis, Missouri—In a chilling report from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, more than eight nursing homes in St. Louis were found to have serious violations of safety and health issues for patients.
Experts believe that this report is not unique but is representative of the level of safety available in nursing homes across the nation. In fact, recent data collected by the National Center on Elder Abuse suggests that one in three nursing home residents may be subject to some form of elder abuse or neglect.
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An elderly woman was sexually attacked at a Yorba Linda nursing home and Orange County investigators say there could have been more incidents. According to a news article in The Orange County Register, administrators at the Emeritus Senior Living center are maintaining that the incident was isolated. But police are deeply concerned that there could be other victims, possibly even outside the facility, given the “brazen nature of the crime.”
Authorities have charged David Moreno, 28, with sexually assaulting a 69-year-old disabled woman at the nursing home. Moreno, a maintenance worker at the facility, had access to residents’ rooms because of the nature of his job. Police say the incident occurred between June 1 and July 24 of 2012. Read the rest »
A California law that took effect on January 1 expands the requirements for caretakers to report abuse at nursing homes and assisted living centers. According to a news report in the Napa Valley Register, advocates for the elderly hope that Assembly Bill 40′s new requirements will help bring crimes against one of the most vulnerable sections of our population to light, in a prompt manner.
Officials say the purpose of the legislation is to ensure that elder abuse crimes are reported so they can be investigated. AB 40′s key provision “effectively doubles the reporting duties of those required by state law to share knowledge of the physical abuse, abandonment, neglect, isolation or financial abuse of residents” in nursing homes, the report states. Earlier, such crimes would be reported to the care center’s ombudsman or a law enforcement agency. Now, a so-called mandated reporter, who could be an employee, supervisor or administrator, must notify both. Read the rest »
A recent investigation of nursing homes by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed that conducting background checks would have likely flagged some but not all nursing aides who were later disciplined. According to an NPR report, the investigation looked at cases of 1,611 nursing aides who were disciplined for abuse, neglect and theft at nursing homes in 2010. About 20 percent of these aides had prior criminal convictions that would have surfaced in a simple background check.
The article states that on the one hand, it is evident that a straightforward background check could have prevented those with criminal records from working in a nursing home, putting vulnerable senior citizens at risk. On the other hand, it is also troubling that 80 percent of those who were ultimately disciplined could not have been screened with background checks.
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A recent article in The Washington Post discusses the issues involving arbitration agreements, which nursing homes require residents or their families to sign at the time of admission. The implications of such an agreement are definitely far-reaching. For instance, signing an arbitration agreement with a nursing home means that even in the case of a resident suffering an injury due to negligence on the part of its staff members, he or she agrees to bring the dispute before a professional arbitrator rather than file a lawsuit for negligence or wrongful death.
While, accepting the terms of the agreement is often stated to be mandatory for admission to the facility, many nursing homes apparently have adopted the practice of placing the arbitration agreement documents quietly inside the admissions package, without drawing much attention to it. As a result, many seniors or family members who place their loved ones into nursing homes don’t even know about the existence of such a document until they are faced with a situation and find out the hard way.
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California’s attorney general has charged two nurses with felony elder abuse in connection with the death of 77-year-old Johnnie Esco on March 7, 2008. According to a news report in The Sacramento Bee, Esco died after a two-week stay at the El Dorado skilled nursing facility in Placerville, which was owned at the time by Horizon West Healthcare. The company sold its 27 nursing homes last year to Plum Healthcare Group, which is based in San Marcos.
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