Sadly, Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes is More Common than You ThinkFeb 24, 2017
CNN Report Sheds Light on Sexual Abuse, Rape in Nursing Homes
Placing a loved one into a nursing home can be a difficult step; we are entrusting a facility and its workers to provide appropriate round-the-clock care as well as medical treatment to our family member. Unfortunately, some individuals take advantage of their position and sexually abuse nursing home residents.
The personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP have decades of experience representing nursing home abuse and neglect victims. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuit.
An CNN investigative report released February 2017 sheds light on this issue; not only does this horrific act happen more than anyone would think, but consequences are reportedly light. "It's impossible to know just how many victims are out there," the CNN report states. "But through an exclusive analysis of state and federal data and interviews with experts, regulators and the families of victims, CNN has found that this little-discussed issue is more widespread than anyone would imagine."
"Even more disturbing: In many cases, nursing homes and the government officials who oversee them are doing little -- or nothing -- to stop it."
Additionally, the report found that nursing home workers continued to be employed and exposed to helpless elderly patients even though there had been similar complaints in the past.
When rape or sexual abuse occurs, residents may not be able to identify their perpetrator. Many residents are very vulnerable and suffer from cognitive or memory-related issues. Furthermore, when authorities further investigate the issue, officials sometimes cast doubt on the victims' allegations.
"There are some situations where they don't realize it's happened, and they don't want to believe it. They just don't understand it," said well-known nurse and Boston College nursing professor Ann Burgess to CNN. "There are other cases where they try to cover it up. ... They blame the victim." Burgess specializes in the assessment and treatment of elderly sexual abuse victims.
CNN notes that the federal government does not keep track of sexual abuse allegations in nursing homes. Federal data collected by the Administration for Community Living show that 16,000 complaints of sexual abuse in long-term care facilities have been submitted since 2000. However, these numbers may not be representative of the whole picture. These reports only include cases were advocates were able to help resolve the complaint.
The investigative report cited other figures that reportedly do not capture the entire picture.
To get a true sense of the situation, CNN conducted its own detailed analysis and found that "the federal government has cited more than 1,000 nursing homes for mishandling or failing to prevent alleged cases of rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse at their facilities" between 2013 and 2016. According to the analysis, nearly 100 facilities were cited multiple times throughout this period.
Oftentimes, sexual abuse is committed when workers view the residents as easy and vulnerable targets. The perpetrators also usually believe they will not be caught or punished for their crime.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
The thought of nursing home abuse and neglect is heartbreaking, especially when the victims cannot communicate the abuse or feel too afraid to speak up. Some residents, especially those with Alzheimer's or dementia, may have difficulty remembering exactly who committed the abuse or what happened.
Signs of sexual abuse in nursing home residents may include unexplained STDs, bleeding in the genital area, and bruising near the genitals, thighs or breasts. The victim's clothing may be torn, stained or covered in blood. They may have trouble walking or sitting. Even if the resident does not verbally communicate the abuse, they may show signs of being afraid. The victim may exhibit anxiety or fear around the caregiver, act agitated or have mood changes, or be depressed and withdrawn.
There are a few signs that could be an indicator of abuse or neglect in nursing homes. These include bedsores, weight loss, falling and unexplained bruising. Bedsores, also referred to as pressure sores or pressure ulcers, are sores caused by unrelieved pressure. If a resident has been laying in one position for too long, they can develop a bedsore.
Legal Help for Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect Victims
If you or a loved one is interested in filing a lawsuit against a nursing home, contact the nursing home abuse attorneys at Parker Waichman today. Our firm has decades of experience fighting for the rights of nursing home abuse victims and their families. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).