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Resident on Resident Abuse Common Says Boca Raton Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

Study finds about 20% of nursing home residents suffer some type of abuse by other residents says Boca Raton nursing home abuse lawyer Joe Osborne.

When most people hear the term “nursing home abuse” they probably imagine a resident being victimized by an employee. While that happens, it’s also often the case a resident is abused by another resident. Either way a negligent nursing home that allows such abuse can be held accountable says Boca Raton nursing home abuse lawyer Joe Osborne.

It’s become common for nursing home residents to be abused by other residents, according to a study covered by CBS News.1  The lead author, Dr. Mark Lachs, states about 20% of nursing home residents suffer verbal or physical mistreatment by other residents. Lachs and other researchers watched residents for a month in ten nursing homes in New York State. More than 2,000 residents participated in the study. It’s the first large scale, systematic study looking at resident on resident abuse, reports Boca nursing home neglect attorney Osborne.

“Mistreatment” suffered by residents covered a wide range of what were considered “unwelcome behavior” that could lead to physical or psychological distress in the person on the receiving end. It includes,

  • Coming into a resident’s room and rifling through their belongings
  • Being struck by a wheelchair
  • Having food taken away
  • Verbal abuse and name calling
  • Physical violence
  • Sexual assault

Lachs says three-quarters of the events were verbal and one quarter were physical. Mistreatment was tracked by performing interviews with staff and residents, observations, chart reviews and reviewing accident or incident reports. Lachs says he wasn’t surprised that violence occurred between residents, but what struck him was how common it was. Of the 2,011 residents in the study, 407 suffered at least one instance of mistreatment.

Lachs says the focus of abuse in nursing homes should change. “(Abusive) staff should be arrested, fired, and prosecuted. But aggression between residents needs to be given attention. You’re probably at greater risk than from a staff member — but we just don’t have good numbers on that yet,” he’s quoted as saying.

Lachs suggests changes in the average nursing home environment could help, including:

  • Improved lighting
  • Controlling overcrowding so stressed residents have more space to themselves and there are less interactions with abusive residents
  • Reducing noise, which can aggravate resident, especially those with dementia
  • Safer public and private spaces for residents with dementia

Developing a new culture in nursing homes could help, Lachs says, because the issue may not be taken seriously. Having nurses and aides to respond to a resident yelling at another instead of ignoring it would be a good step. He compares it to bullying among school students which for a long time was seen as normal but it’s taken much more seriously by schools today.

A nursing home is under an obligation to keep all its residents safe and prevent abuse from whatever the source, including other residents, says nursing home abuse attorney Osborne. Residents who abuse and victimize others need to be properly controlled and, if necessary, removed from the facility. If management doesn’t take this issue seriously and a resident is harmed by another, the facility may be subject to legal action for compensation for the harm done to the victim.

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury caused by a fellow resident of a nursing home in the South Florida area, contact Boca Raton nursing home abuse lawyer Joe Osborne at (561) 293-2600 or fill out this online contact form. You can discuss your case, how the law may apply and your best legal options to protect your rights and obtain compensation for your loved one’s injuries.

  1. CBS News :
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