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Failing To Intervene With Violent Patients Is No Different Than Neglecting Other Necessities

elder abuseThere’s been a lot of discussion lately about violence in nursing homes– when a nursing home patient perpetrates an aggressive act towards another patient.

Admittedly, from the outward appearance of these incidents, it may seem like while these incidents are indeed unfortunate, it is unfair to hold a facility responsible for the acts of their patients. After all, is it really fair to hold an individual or entity responsible for the behavior of a person?

However, a closer examination of these incidents usually reveals that most of these violent nursing home episodes are indeed hardly isolated events.  Rather, the more we delve into the backgrounds of these perpetrators– the more we see that there typically is a string of similar situations of abusive or violent conduct in the not to distant past.

From the perspective of keeping patients safe, nursing homes (or any institution for that matter) must take appropriate interventions to prevent subsequent incidents from repeating themselves.  While the circumstance will likely dictate the type of necessary intervention that is necessary, simply letting things stay ‘as is’– without any protective measures is simply unacceptable.

While the arbitrary nature of when a facility is to take interventional measures with violent / aggressive patients is a debate perhaps best left to medical and psychological professionals, I was indeed encouraged by the recent actions taken by the Iowa Board of Nursing Home Administrators in the case charging one of their own with “professional incompetence” and “negligence” for the manner in which a nursing home administrator handled a series of episodes involving an aggressive patient who seemingly was responsible for ongoing assaults of other patients at an Iowa nursing home.

In October, the Board will decide the fate of of the accused administrator, Mitchell Worcester, the administrator at Tabor Manor Care Center.  It was on Mr. Worchester’s clock that a patient at the facility repeatedly abused his peers at the facility.  State inspectors confirmed at least five disturbing incidents over a 16 week span in 2008 when the patient repeatedly violated others at the facility.

In lieu of reporting the incidents to state officials, Mr. Worcester appeared to pretend as thought the episodes were simply “unpreventable”.  When confronted by the Des Moines Register about the incidents he confided, ” I don’t know how you can keep it from happening.”

Apparently, the lack of control Mr. Worcester has over violent patients extends to other areas of his facility.  According to a recent Des Moines Register article, the facility inspection record over the past several year includes:

  • 2009: Unsanitary conditions, inadequate nutrition, resident falls and failing to report the falls to authorities
  • 2010: 18 violations relating the poor care
  • 2011: Improper use of restrains, use of unnecessary drugs and resident safety concerns.

For additional information view our Iowa nursing home law page.

Related Nursing Homes Abuse Blog Entries:

Nursing Home Found Not Negligent In Civil Lawsuit Following Murder Of Patient

Patient Beaten To Death In Chicago Nursing Home

What Can Nursing Homes Do To Protect Patients From Violence Within Facilities?

Elder Abuse: Violence Among Elderly Nursing Home Patients

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