Articles Posted in Physical Abuse

When we think about nursing home abuse and neglect, most of us imagine a scenario in which a healthcare professional or nursing home employee mistreats an elderly resident. However, a recent study conducted by Cornell University Weill Medical College found that many facilities actually see “a high level of resident-to-resident elder mistreatment.”

Nursing home abuse can take many different forms, and it can result in serious and life-threatening injuries to your elderly loved one. If you believe that your parent has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, do not hesitate to contact an experienced San Diego elder abuse lawyer.

file0001780974018Aggressive Encounters with Fellow Residents

Statistics in Southern California suggest that elder abuse is an extremely underreported crime, which means that many older adults suffer injuries while their abuses go unpunished. A recent article in the Los Angeles Daily News reported that Los Angeles officials recently indicated that the city will take greater efforts to protect the elderly from nursing home abuse. How will these new measures work? In short, millions of dollars in funding are going to flow in from the Department of Justice and the Verizon Corporation.

DSC_5767Elder Abuse Prevention Grants to the City of Los Angeles

Will San Diego be able to get the kind of funding that Los Angeles recently received? Grants totaling $1.6 million were provided in Los Angeles primarily to train police officers to recognize signs and symptoms of elder abuse—a skill that officials hope will lead to more abuse and neglect reporting. Last year, the Los Angeles Police Department saw a shockingly low number of elder abuse reports—only 100. To place that number in perspective, the LAPD received more than 11,000 claims of domestic violence reports in 2013.

Sometimes we forget that nursing home abuse isn’t always physical, and it may not be obvious. Particularly with older adults, abuse can be verbal, and it can wound seniors both emotionally and psychologically. A recent study conducted by researchers at Northeastern University emphasized that older adults typically aren’t openly willing to discuss their experiences with abuse, so the study provided elderly participants with more privacy when responding to questions about mental and physical anguish. According to an article in the New York Times, the study revealed that more than one-third of seniors have suffered physical abuse, usually at the hands of their caregivers.

Yelling.jpgIt’s no secret that elder abuse and neglect is a serious issue in California and throughout the country. Indeed, over the past few months we’ve mentioned that PBS Frontline and other national news outlets, as well as our own local U-T San Diego, have attempted to raise awareness about nursing home abuse and its serious consequences. Are you concerned that an elderly parent or loved one has been abused in a nursing home or assisted-living facility? It is never too early to speak to an experienced California nursing home abuse lawyer.

Studying “Words that Wound” Older Adults

The Sacramento Business Journal reported today on a new website that the California Department of Insurance launched in order to help educate California seniors. The article highlights a few aspects of the new site called “Senior Gateway”, but once you visit the site, you see that it has a lot to offer to not only seniors, but their families, caregivers and representatives as well.

Here are a few bullet points outlined by the Sacramento Business Journal for what “Senior Gateway” offers:

*Avoiding and reporting abuse and neglect by in-home caregivers or in facilities

Two caregivers are charged with physically abusing a young autistic man inside his family’s home. This story emphasizes the serious issue of whether or not you can trust your in-home caregiver. The U-T San Diego recently reported that two men, Michael Dale Garritson, 61, and Matthew Alexander McDuffie, 27, were charged with abuse after a secret video showed them physically abusing the 23-year-old autistic man, Jamey Oakley – hundreds of times over a three-week period.

This latest news story screams several questions that anyone who employs in-home care must be dying to ask.

How Did This Abuse Happen?

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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.

An 81-year-old nursing home resident beat his 94-year-old roommate to death with a closet rod in their Laguna Hills nursing home. Sheriff’s have arrested William McDougall of Mission Viejo for causing the death, and he has been booked for murder. The victim, Manh Van Nguyen of Laguna Woods, was pronounced dead upon arrival to Saddleback Memorial Hospital.

l9oh7z-l9oh6tmcdougall.jpg The motive in the killing is unclear. Both men were residents at Palm Terrace Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, a licensed skilled nursing facility in Laguna Hills. (More info about the facility here) “What prompted the attack is still under investigation. Obviously, this is very unusual,” sheriff’s spokesperson Jim Amormino told the media. Staff at the nursing home have apparently told sheriff’s investigators that there no prior conflicts between McDougall and Nguyen.

What causes violence such as this in the nursing home? It could be a number of things. First, it is not uncommon for residents with memory impairment such as Alzheimer’s disease to act aggressively toward caregivers and others. Our law firm has represented victims of peer-on-peer abuse in the past. Another possibility is medications. What medications was McDougall on (or not on) that might have contributed to this offense. And, of course, maybe McDougall is just a violent person. No doubt all of this will be uncovered in the criminal investigation, which is just starting.

It was announced this morning that six nursing home workers were arrested for playing a cruel prank on several residents at the Valley View Skilled Nursing Facility. According to a release from the California Attorney General’s office, the employees applied a slippery ointment cream over the bodies of seven elderly nursing home residents to make them “slippery” for the oncoming shift. It is believed that the residents were selected because all suffered from advanced dementia, and could not object to the mistreatment.

“As part of a cruel and shocking prank, these caregivers abused defenseless elders,” AG Jerry Brown said. “This is despicable behavior by people placed in a position of trust.”

After an investigation by the California Bureau of Elder Abuse, the district attorney’s office has filed a misdemeanor criminal charge against each employee for injury to elder or dependent adult; battery committed on elder or a dependent adult; conspiracy; and battery committed while on hospital property.

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Disability Rights California, a non-profit that advocates for the rights of the disabled, recently released a report finding that the physical abuse of disabled adults in nursing homes are frequently not treated as crimes. The study analyzed 12 cases, including the following

• For months, a middle aged nursing home resident suffering from cerebral palsy with cognitive impairment was paraded naked and soaking wet in front of others after being forced by staff to take cold showers. Despite many witnesses, nothing was done.

• A disabled resident in his 40s was punched in the mouth by a staff member and then slapped, drawing blood. When he complained, it took days for the facility to report it to authorities. No charges were brought.

We blogged earlier about the $7.75 million dollar verdict a 71-year-old stroke victim was awarded after she proved to a civil jury that she was abused by caregivers in her nursing home. The lady’s family decided to place a hidden camera near the bed of Maria Arellano, and caught some ghastly footage of an attendant pulling the elderly woman’s hair, bending her fingers and neck, and treating her violently in the shower. Now, as expected, the defendant, Fillmore Convalescent Center, plans on appealing the verdict.

It’s attorney Thomas Beach told the Ventura County Star, “We strongly disagree with the decision and will be taking all appropriate legal steps to set aside the verdict.” Strongly disagree? Of course he disagrees; he told the jury to give her nothing.

What makes this case most interesting is that the plaintiff attorney Greg Johnson made a settlement demand of $500,000 long before the trial. He had compelling video, and a great story, and not only did the nursing home ignore his demand, they never offered him a penny.