Abuse in nursing homes affects a significant number of the nation's most vulnerable population every year, but according to a recent study covered by CBS News, healthcare professionals are not the only culprits. According to the report, about 20 percent of nursing home residents suffer physical, psychological, or verbal abuse that is committed by other residents. Common types of mistreatment reported by residents and staff members include:
- Physical Violence: Resident aggression often results in physical attacks that can cause significant injuries, emotional trauma, and even death to those on the receiving end. In addition to hitting, pushing or kicking, some nursing home residents have reportedly used common ink pens, table knives, and even crutches and wheelchairs to physically harm their neighbors.
- Sexual Abuse: About 1.3 percent of nursing home residents in the study had been involved in sexual mistreatment. This type of abuse, which can include inappropriate behaviors like touching or sexual exposure often causes serious, long-lasting trauma to these frail victims.
- Invasion of Privacy: Approximately 10.5 percent of residents experienced other forms of mistreatment from their neighbors. Common reports included residents entering rooms uninvited, rummaging through belongings, and damaging personal property.
- Verbal Abuse: Many nursing home residents have reportedly been verbally abused by other residents. While name calling, angry words and racial slurs may not be as physically damaging to victims, these actions can still cause significant emotional trauma that can lead to depression, anxiety, and physical health complications as well.
Preventing Resident-to-Resident Abuse in Nursing HomesCrowding and congestion, pain and confusion often cause nursing home residents to become frustrated and angry, and they may be more apt to act aggressively towards other residents. Additionally, resident-to-resident abuse is significantly more common in areas with patients who suffer from dementia or psychological disorders. According to the report, ensuring that homes have an adequate number of staff members on duty, providing training to reduce conflict between residents, treating depression and other psychological issues, and controlling congestion could drastically reduce the number of incidents that occur.
Who is Liable for Resident-to-Resident Abuse?Although instances of resident mistreatment from other residents may not be able to be eliminated completely, the number of occurrences can be significantly reduced and damages can be minimized when nursing homes take the proper actions. When nursing homes are negligent, allowing such abuse or failing to take measures to prevent it, they can be held liable for the damages suffered by victims.