There is nothing quite as harrowing as reading about the statistics covering nursing homes, where many of us place our elderly loved ones for care, and the abuse, injuries, and death that often occur in them. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, more than 27 percent of elder abuse and neglect reports involve physical abuse, 22 percent involve abuse from one resident to another, 19 percent constitute psychological abuse, 15 percent gross neglect, and almost eight percent of elderly abuse cases involve sexual abuse and financial exploitation. Those who most frequently suffer tend to have serious conditions such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, as well as those with low social support living at understaffed facilities.
One notorious case that came to light this month (January) has drawn a significant amount of attention to the sexual abuse issue, in particular, in many of these facilities. According to reports, police had to collect DNA for all male employees of the home after they found that a woman who was in a vegetative state became pregnant and gave birth due to being sexually assaulted.
South Carolina Ranked Last in Protecting Against Elder Abuse
Sadly, according to one recent study, South Carolina ranked “dead last” (i.e. 51st) in providing protection against elder abuse. Specifically, the study looked at elder abuse, exploitation, gross neglect, protection, and resources for those aged 65 or older, and found that South Carolina scored especially low when it came to abuse, neglect, exploitation, expenditures on protection, quality of nursing homes, and a number of other measures.
What’s the Solution?
One of the solutions proposed by experts in the community has involved establishing an elder death review team in every major urban area; a team that would not only directly address the issue, but also educate the police and prosecutors about how to go after and prosecute the problem. This could also help to address the many gaps left by state agencies that fail to investigate these issues and take action. It is simply unacceptable that a facility that allows a resident to suffer from inadequate supervision and medical neglect be allowed to simply continue to operate, as is, without any repercussions.
There is no question that, if and when negligence, abuse, and other actions (or inactions) taken by these homes that divert from standard care, these facilities can absolutely be held accountable via litigation. However, these types of claims require the knowledge of an attorney who specifically has experience in the complexities of these cases.