Disturbingly, during the past few weeks, we’ve seen a rash of nursing home violence sweeping across the country as frail residents are becoming victims of the the aggressive acts of violent patients at their facilities.
This time, an Indiana nursing home patient died four days after suffering a head injury when was attacked by another patient as she was out for a walk on the grounds of the nursing home. The incident occurred at South Shore Health and Rehabilitation facility on March 6th when a male patient hit the victim so hard that she fell to the ground.
While we can shrug and attribute the rash of these incidents simply to statistical variation, my belief is that these episodes highlight the complete lack of thought that most nursing home operators have when it comes to preventing violence at their facilities.
Given the prevalence of the violent nursing home outbreaks, I would hope that nursing home operators take this opportunity to reassess their policies and procedures for; identifying patients who may be prone to violence, identifying patients who are particularly susceptible to violence and begin to train staff on the needs for supervising patients.
Surely, nursing home operators may claim that such crimes are simply unforeseeable and hence no civil liability should attach. However, from the episodes of nursing home violence that I have been involved in, the violence is really not as isolated an event as the management would lead us to believe. In talking with nursing home staff and other residents, I am universally disturbed by the fact that many episodes of aggressive acts and violence never seem to get relayed to the proper parties.
Nothing will come from wishing this important safety issue away. Given the prevalence of these violent episodes, I think it’s certainly fair for families to address these issues with the administrators at facilities caring for their loved ones and directly ask what policies are in place to keep their loved ones safe from the aggressive acts of other patients.
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