Nursing home staff face charges in abuse of elderly patients

ATLANTA Tue Jul 2, 2013 5:47pm EDT

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ATLANTA (Reuters) - Twenty-one current and former employees of a nursing home for Alzheimer's patients in Georgia, including its owner, face a total of more than 70 criminal charges for allegedly abusing elderly patients, authorities said Tuesday.

The abuses included employees restraining patients with bed sheets and subjecting them to "inhumane and undignified conditions" at Alzheimer's Care of Commerce, about 60 miles north of Atlanta, according to a statement from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

"There were accounts of physical abuse, such as staff members striking patients and throwing water on them," the statement said.

"Experts say Alzheimer's patients are more vulnerable to abuse because they are often unable to defend themselves and because forgetfulness can make them less likely to report it.

In 2012, a Congressional report showed that patients suffer abuse or neglect in one in three nursing homes in the United States.

In a nationwide survey conducted in 2010, about 50 percent of nursing home staff surveyed admitted they had mistreated their older patients within the past year. Most of those instances included neglect of the patient.

Earlier this year, a circuit judge in West Virginia upheld a $91.5 million verdict against a nursing home in the death of an 87-year-old woman with Alzheimer's.

Accusations against employees at the Georgia nursing home included "double diapering" of patients, so that the staff would not have to change soiled diapers as often, authorities said.

Investigators also discovered that staff members at the facility had felony convictions on charges such as voluntary manslaughter and identify theft, according to the statement.

The owner, Donna Wright, is among those facing criminal charges, including cruelty to a person 65 years or older, abuse, neglect and financial exploitation, said John Heinen, a spokesman for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

By late Tuesday afternoon, 11 of the 21 suspects had been arrested, but Wright, the owner, was still at large, he said.

There were 27 patients at the nursing home on Tuesday when investigators arrived, and three were taken to a local hospital for medical treatment, he said.

The remaining patients will be moved from the home after consultation with family members, the spokesman said.

(Editing By Karen Brooks and David Brunnstrom)

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Comments (3)
JamVee wrote:
There are, living amongst the civilized population, a batch of sociopaths with no moral conscience whatsoever. Do they seek out jobs tending to our elderly and infirm? It appears that they do.

And, it seems that the more ambitious of this sub-culture aspire to own such homes for the aged. It is a sad commentary on our culture. If all were truly “right with the world”, they would be struck down, en mass, by bolts of lightning and never heard from again!

Jul 02, 2013 7:05pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
ann.stanton wrote:
None of this surprises me anymore when it comes to nursing home neglect and abuse. I went through this with my sister at a skilled nursing facility who was only get get rehab and wound care before going home. She had been in various medical facilities for six months after a dialysis staph infection of her CVC. Finally on the road to recovery, the nursing home found her severely hypoglycemic early on 4/16/12. They refused to give doctor-ordered Glucagen shot but instead gave oral glucose gel while unresponsive. Their contract paramedics did not get to her until 35 min later and she was in a hypoglycemic coma, respiratory arrest and had an anoxic brain injury. They then falsified her medical record which took me a month to find out. I kept her on life support for three months but she remained unresponsive and vent dependent and was worsening. I finally removed her and she died on July 24, 2012. My main concern is with the PA Health Dept and Medicare. I’ve written letters and emails for a year now but no one in government seems to be concerned about nursing home abuse and neglect and falsifying medical records. I’ve even been told that in PA nurses are not supposed to falsify a record but there doesn’t seem to be any penalty for it. Medicare’s Administrator is currently looking into doing an analysis regarding this but I’m not sure what that involves or what they look at. I can see why people just give up rather than trying to deal with government agencies after all this. They just don’t want to do their jobs so why not outsource them and save the taxpayers some money. I keep reading about waste, fraud and abuse but evidently no one wants to admit is really does exist. The nursing homes have no incentive to improve when there is no punishment for injuring and killing the patients.

Jul 04, 2013 7:54pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
lizlsw79 wrote:
It’s deplorable that in the 21st Century that some nursing homes in our country are a disgrace. I work in a nursing home, and I can’t fathom that kind of treatment to a Resident. We treat our Resident’s with the utmost respect, and do everything we can to meet their needs, and to listen to their concerns, and provide them with a loving/home like environmen. As a Social Worker, if I can give anyone some advice about nursing homes, and placing their families in a home. Always ask to see their state survey results, and look the facility up on the CMS website. The Resident, and the family have state and federal rights, don’t be afraid to speak up and know what your rights are! It’s unfortunate that the poor caregivers in this story give other (good and loving) caregivers a bad name. It’s not wonder nursing homes still have a stigma attached to them.

Jul 05, 2013 4:01am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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