Resident-on-Resident Abuse in Nursing Homes: Is the Nursing Home Responsible?
Dealing with the mental and/or physical decline of a loved one is a difficult process to witness, and evaluating whether it is time for placement in a nursing home to ensure he/she receives the appropriate level of care is often emotionally painful. But, once the decision is made to place a family member in a nursing home and the facility is chosen, there is little choice but to trust that the administration and staff will provide the care and consideration necessary to keep the family member comfortable and happy. There are only so many visits and phone calls a person can make to check up on the loved one’s wellbeing before having to concede there is no way to completely monitor what happens. Making that leap of faith is hard, which makes it even more devastating when your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse or has suffered an injury due to negligent care. One area of particular concern is abuse by a resident toward another resident. In fact, according to article recently posted by Fox News, one in five nursing home residents may experience verbal or physical abuse from another resident. Researchers studied reports of abuse by staff, family members, other residents, and legal guardians to conclude that a significant number of nursing home residents experience some type of abuse, with much of it linked to cognitive degeneration that can lead to aggression. Given the prevalence of this damaging behavior, it is important to know how much responsibility a nursing home has for injuries caused by actions by its residents. The potential liability of a nursing home in these situations will be discussed below.
Responsibility and Training
Nursing homes have a legal obligation to provide a safe and secure environment for all the residents. This means facilities are potentially responsible if a third party injures or abuses a resident on the property. Further, nursing homes are also responsible for ensuring their staff receives the necessary training for dealing with unruly or aggressive residents. For example, if a resident hits or pushes another resident, the home could be liable if they failed to provide adequate security or training that could have alerted staff to the likelihood of aggression before it occurred. As noted above, many incidents of resident-on-resident abuse stem from neurological conditions that affect a person’s ability to control their emotions and/or actions. One of these conditions is Alzheimer’s, a disease seen in a significant amount of elderly residents. Florida has a law that specifically requires nursing homes to give staff working with these residents specialized training on how to communicate with a person suffering from dementia and methods to manage their behavior. If a resident with this type of condition injures another resident, and the person tasked with caring for them did not receive the proper training, the facility could be liable for negligence.
Once the unthinkable happens and a loved one is injured, the next question is how to show the nursing home should be held responsible. The basic outline for a negligence claim against a nursing home includes:
- the facility owed a duty to exercise reasonable care toward the resident. This duty of care is established by contract and federal and state law, and basically mandates the nursing home provide appropriate medical treatment and maintain a safe environment. What is considered reasonable care is somewhat murky because it depends on the needs of the resident and standard of care applied across the industry, so it is determined on a case-by-case basis;
- the nursing home breached this duty of reasonable care, such as not dispensing medication;
- the breach was the cause of the resident’s injuries; and
- the resident suffered an injury as a result of the breach.
Get Legal Advice
If a member of your family suffered at the hands of nursing home staff or other residents, it is important to hold someone accountable to prevent this happening again, and to receive compensation for the injury. The Miami Law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado understands the pain your family is experiencing and will fight to get the compensation you deserve. Contact us for a free consultation.