legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Nursing Homes in West Virginia
According to Medicare.gov, there are 123 nursing homes in West Virginia. Of these skilled nursing facilities, 61 (49%) rank at or above the national average.
The remaining 63 (51%) West Virginia nursing homes rank below average or much below average in an overall rating compared to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) acceptable standards.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, it is estimated that one in ten men and women over 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse while residing in nursing homes, independent living communities, rehabilitation centers, and senior living group homes.
Consequences for the Victim
The most apparent consequence of nursing home abuse or neglect is the physical pain and suffering that the victim endures. In some cases, the injuries sustained can be minor. But in other instances, they can be life-threatening or even fatal.
In addition to physical injuries, nursing home abuse or neglect victims may also suffer emotional trauma and mental anguish. These injuries can be just as debilitating—if not more so—than the physical ones.
Below is a small sample of violations and citations involving nursing homes in West Virginia that rank much below the national average.
Failure to Protect Residents from Abuse Including Physical and Sexual Assault, Physical Punishment, and Neglect by Anybody
Nursing home residents are some of the most vulnerable members of our society. They often have physical or mental limitations that make them unable to care for themselves.
The disabled and elderly in long-term care facilities rely on the staff at nursing homes to provide them with necessities such as food, water, clothing, and shelter. When these individuals are neglected or abused, it can be a devastating experience for them.
- Failure to transfer a resident as directed by the Nursing Home Care Plan, resulting in actual harm of a left shoulder fracture. (Heritage Center Nursing Center)
- Failure to ensure residents were free from abuse/neglect involved three staff members who were not allowed back in the patient’s room after a rude nurse aide covered her with urine after draining urine from the bladder using a stoma. (Heritage Center Nursing Home)
- Failure to provide services to a resident is necessary to avoid death, physical harm, pain, mental anguish, or emotional distress by not following the doctor’s orders. The deficiency led to the resident’s death. (The Madison Nursing Facility)
- Failure to provide the necessary wound care services to a resident resulted in a negative physical outcome leaving the patient with feelings of despair who failed to follow the doctor’s orders leading to ripping off a scab from a skin graft to remain uncovered. (Valley Center Nursing Facility)
- Failure to ensure a resident’s fall resulted in serious injury was reported timely according to State survey agency requirements after a patient experienced a fall and was transferred to the emergency room for treatment. (Cedar Ridge Health Care Center)
- Failure to identify possible abuse or neglect after a patient suffered an injury of unknown origin, causing a skin tear/abrasion to two toes. (Glenville Center Nursing Home)
- Failure to ensure all residents were free from involuntary seclusion involved 44 residents on transmission-based precaution isolation and may have been exposed to Covid-19. (Huntington Health Care and Rehabilitation Center)
- Failure to ensure an alleged allegation of neglect voiced by a resident was reported to the proper state authorities after a patient stated that a staff member took him to the bathroom and dropped him, requiring an x-ray of the left knee. (Marmet Health Care Center)
- Failure to report falls with serious bodily injury to state and appropriate agencies as required within two hours after discovering the serious bodily injury involving one resident who had two unwitnessed falls on the same day. (Meadowbrook Acres Health Care Nursing Home)
- Failure to implement their policy regarding allegations of neglect and injuries of unknown origin was not reported within the appropriate timeframe to the appropriate state agencies. (Morgantown Health and Rehabilitation Center)
- Failure to implement their abuse prohibition policy regarding reporting and investigation of serious bodily injury after a patient fell from bed resulting in a left hip fracture. (Putnam Center)
- Failure to ensure residents receive treatment and care according to professional standards of practice after a physician was not notified when a resident’s medication was held, and there was no indication the staff notified the physician. (Columbia St. Francis Hospital)
The Link Between Nursing Home Abuse and Health Facility Licensure
Nursing home abuse and neglect affect the victim and the perpetrator. In some cases, state agencies may revoke the health facility's license where the abuse or neglect occurred.
Nursing Home Abuse and Licensure
Nursing home abuse and neglect can lead to injury, illness, or even death. When these incidents occur, they affect the victim and their family and the health facility where the abuse or neglect occurred. In some cases, state agencies may revoke the facility's license.
Losing a medical care license or Medicaid eligibility could significantly impact a health facility. Not only does it mean that the nursing home will no longer be able to care for patients, but it also affects the caregivers who work there.
In some cases, the revocation may be due to gross negligence or misconduct on the part of the facility. In other cases, it may be because the facility failed to meet minimum safety standards. Regardless, revoking a health facility’s license is a serious matter with far-reaching consequences.
Abuse and Neglect in West Virginia Nursing Homes
The health and well-being of nursing home residents are put at risk when they are subjected to abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, the consequences of such mistreatment can be more far-reaching than many realize.
In some cases, nursing homes that engage in abusive or neglectful practices may have their licenses revoked. It can be highly disruptive for residents, many of whom may be unable to find another suitable facility in which to live.
There are many different forms of abuse and neglect that can occur in nursing homes. Some of the most common types of abuse include:
- Sexual abuse: Touching residents sexually or forcing them to participate in sexual acts is inexcusable.
- Verbal abuse: Screaming, cursing, or humiliating residents is wrong and can be damaging.
- Emotional abuse: Ignoring residents, withdrawing love or attention, or isolating them from friends and family are all harmful tactics.
- Physical abuse: Hitting, slapping, kicking, or harming residents is cruel and unjustified.
- Financial abuse: Misusing or stealing a resident's money or possessions is despicable.
- Medical neglect: Failing to provide necessary nursing care or ignoring medical problems can be deadly.
- Nutrition neglect: Giving residents poor-quality or insufficient food can be dangerous.
- Hydration neglect: Insufficient water or fluids can lead to health problems.
- Safety neglect: Not ensuring that residents are safe from harm can result in serious injury or death.
- Restraint abuse: Forcing residents into uncomfortable or dangerous restraints against their will is unacceptable.
- Chronically understaffed facilities: When there aren't enough staff members to adequately care for residents, it puts them at risk of mistreatment, especially those receiving end-of-life care.
- Lack of training for staff: When staff is not adequately trained in providing medical and personal care for nursing home residents, they may not know how to recognize and report abuse when they see it happening.
- Poor quality health care: When senior living nursing homes are over-crowded, underfunded, and understaffed, the quality of care suffers and can lead to mistreatment of residents.
- Limited visitor access: Restricting family members and visitors' access to residents can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can be mentally and emotionally harmful, especially for those with a private room.
All concerned family members can contact our West Virginia law office for a free consultation to discuss your loved one’s substandard nursing home care case.
Preventable Facility-Acquired Bedsores
Nursing home bedsores (pressure ulcers) are common in elderly patients in West Virginia nursing homes who are bedridden or have a medical condition that compromises their mobility. When these patients are not turned and repositioned regularly, the constant pressure on one area of their skin can cause the formation of painful and dangerous sores.
Bedsores can develop quickly in patients with medical elements, Alzheimer's disease, dementia, or another chronic condition. The staff at nursing homes must be vigilant in monitoring their patients for the development of these sores and be prepared to take prompt action to treat them.
Ignoring bedsores can lead to serious health complications for patients, including infection, sepsis, and even death.
Every staff member at a rehabilitation center, long-term care home, and senior living community must follow established protocols when providing nursing care to avoid developing facility-acquired bedsores, including:
- Perform a comprehensive skin assessment on every new resident from head to toe upon admission and again every day after, which will help identify any potential pressure ulcers or areas of skin breakdown.
- Check the resident’s skin for moisture, redness, warmth, and changes in skin color.
- Gently massage any areas of the body at risk for developing pressure ulcers.
- Use a pressure-relieving device on the resident if needed.
- Change the resident’s position regularly to prevent them from staying in one position too long.
- Keep the resident’s skin clean and dry at all times.
- Apply moisturizer to the resident’s skin as needed.
- Inspect the resident’s bedding and mattress for signs of moisture or damage.
- Make sure the resident has adequate hydration throughout the day.
- Encourage the resident to move around as much as possible.
Nursing home staff must be adequately trained to prevent and treat bedsores. In addition, families of elderly patients should be aware of the danger of bedsores and how to look for early signs of their development.
What Happens To Malnourished Nursing Home Residents
Malnutrition is a serious issue in nursing homes in West Virginia. It can lead to deterioration in residents' health and even death. When food isn't easily digestible, it can cause problems like constipation, dehydration, and weight loss, which can be very dangerous for disabled and elderly patients who are already in a weakened state.
Nursing homes must take steps to ensure that their residents are well-nourished. It means providing a balanced diet that includes plenty of fiber and fluid. It's also essential to ensure that food is easy to digest, especially for elderly patients with difficulty swallowing.
If nursing homes fail to provide adequate nutrition, it can lead to serious health problems for their residents. Those providing nursing home care must do everything possible to ensure that our elderly loved ones get the nourishment they need to stay healthy and strong.