Peer-on-peer abuse in the nursing home setting is a problem that gets very little attention, but occurs with more and more frequency. A horrific example of this occurred two weeks ago at Chino Valley Health Care Center in Pomona. On November 23rd, John Lazzaro, a 91-year-old resident of the rehabilitation hospital, was killed after being attacked by fellow resident Matthew Harvey, who was only 47.
The details of the attack are kind of sketchy, but according to news accounts Lazarro was found in his room with severe wounds to his arm and face. So severe were the wounds to his arm it required amputation. It is very likely that Mr. Lazzaro couldn’t survive the surgery and died shortly thereafter.
Harvey, a man with purported “diminished mental capacity,” was not arrested, but was taken to a lock-down facility for his safety and those of other residents. No decision has been made whether to press charges.
This case raises all kinds of liability questions. For starters, what is the 47 year old doing in the skilled nursing facility, and what were the disabilities that caused him to be there? If it was due to his diminished mental capacity, what was the cause? Most important, was there a history of violence with this resident, and what did the facility do (or not do) to protect the other residents.
Our law firm has handled several resident-on-resident attack cases, and frequently there is a history of aggressive behavior by one of the parties (yes, sometimes the victim is the instigator) that this nursing home is aware of, but fails to properly address in the care plan. Nursing homes have an obligation to prepare a plan for this situation, and staff appropriately to fulfill the needs of the plan. If it cannot, it has a duty to remove the resident from the facility.
Source: L.A. Times
The Riverside County elder abuse and neglect lawyers at Walton Law Firm provide free consultations to individuals and families who believe a loved one has been physically abused or neglected in the nursing home, assisted living, or home health care setting. Call (866) 607-1325 for a free and confidential case evaluation.