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.
Nursing Homes Guilty of “Serious Deficiencies”
Rape, verbal and physical abuse, and dangerous neglect are not uncommon in nursing homes, according to the DOH’s report. The information was made public as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request by a group called ProPublica, a non-profit investigative journalism group that looks into allegations of wrongdoing on the part of various organizations. ProPublic compiled the information from the report and made it public in an online database.
According to the report, eight St. Louis nursing homes were fined a total of $67,645 for their failure to correct problems of elder abuse and neglect. In total, 513 Missouri nursing facility have been fined since 2009, for a total of more than $675,000. In Illinois, more than 774 facilities were cited and fined a total of more than $2.3 million.
Some of the highlights from the reports indicate that:
- At least one facility used lockdowns as punishment for alleged patient violations
- One facility banned belts for residents after an attempted suicide, leaving many victims without any way to dress properly and maintain dignity
- One patient was left with chest pain for more than 12 hours before a doctor was called; the patient subsequently died in a hospital emergency room
- A facility was cited for verbal abuse by a staff member who allegedly stated that the residents were “retarded; you have to treat them like kids”
- A dementia patient escaped supervision and drowned in a nearby creek after having been missing for 24 hours
- Two residents died from unidentified illnesses that resulted in fevers of at least 104 degrees; however, no emergency calls were placed for medical aid
- A patient received five times the dose of prescribed medication when a nurse administered 5 mL rather than .25 mL
- Six residents were sexually abused at one home even after complaints from other residents should have alerted the management. Most of the victims lacked cognitive function to report for themselves.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Universal
Unfortunately, the abuses on the elderly outlined against St. Louis nursing homes are not limited to that area. Every nursing home in the country poses a potential risk to patients if hiring practices are not modified and security and safety measures are not observed. If you believe your family member has been abused or neglected in a nursing home, it is important that you contact a personal injury attorney immediately to determine the correct steps to take to protect your loved one.