Strategies Used by Nursing Home Staff Members to Conceal Neglect and Abuse

One thing victims and families of victims of nursing home abuse may encounter is staff members at the facility attempting to cover it up. This can be one of the big challenges of pursuing a nursing home abuse case. When perpetrators, administrators, staff members and others involved do not disclose information or actively work to keep it from being discovered, it can be very difficult to determine exactly what happened and all damages suffered.

The New Haven nursing home abuse attorneys at D’Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC are familiar with these obstacles and will launch a thorough investigation into nursing home abuse allegations to uncover what happened and the damages suffered by your loved one. We have successfully recovered compensation for many victims of nursing home negligence.

Not Reporting or Lying about Abuse or Neglect

Although Medicare mandates that sexual and physical abuse of patients be immediately reported to the authorities, a government audit from 2017 revealed that one in four of these cases was not reported.

Medicare requires nursing home personnel to report incidents that involve a suspected crime within two hours if it results in serious bodily injury. If there was no serious bodily injury, personnel are required to report the case within 24 hours. The audit shows facilities are not complying with these requirements, possibly due to the potential of being held liable for abuse or neglect.

In the government report, auditors identified 134 cases in which emergency room workers indicated possible sexual abuse, physical abuse or neglect that occurred between 2015 and 2016. Approximately four out of five of these cases involved possible sexual abuse.

While some abuse cases are not reported, there are other situations when staff members lie about abuse or neglect. For example, a staff member may cause a resident to fall while helping him or her transfer from a wheelchair to a bed or because he forgot to secure a bed rail. The staff member may tell others he does not know what happened, which makes it much more difficult to find out.

There are also situations when there is intentional abuse, such as a caregiver striking a patient, and the caregiver lies about the cause of the injury.

Sometimes staff members just clean things up to hide what occurred. In one of the cases identified in the audit, a woman was allegedly sexually assaulted by a male resident at the nursing home where she lived. Nursing home staff helped the woman bathe and change her clothes, which could have destroyed evidence that may have been found with a rape kit. The incident was not reported to the police right away, as it should have been.

Falsifying Records

Another way that nursing homes can cover up nursing home abuse or neglect is through their documentation. Nursing homes must keep detailed records about care that they provided to the patient, including information regarding:

  • Input of liquids
  • Identifying how many times the patient had a bowel movement
  • Measuring the output of urine
  • Recording vital metrics
  • Noting injuries

If a patient’s injury is due to not following proper protocol, the nursing home may instruct staff to change records. For example, the administrator may direct staff to make notes about checking on a patient or taking certain measurements and backdate these notes to make it look like the resident is receiving the appropriate amount of care and attention. This is often much easier to accomplish when records are kept on paper instead of computerized.

Not Recording Changes in a Resident’s Condition

In other situations, nursing homes may fail to record changes in a resident’s condition. They may not check for bedsores, dehydration or other injuries. They may simply report the same thing they reported the last time without making any adjustments. These records provide no real information about the resident’s condition because they are not accurately reflecting changes that have occurred. This could conceal neglect that is occurring.

Contact a Lawyer to Protect Your Loved One from Abuse

If you suspect that your loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, the legal team at D’Amico & Pettinicchi can help. We are committed to protecting your loved ones from abuse or neglect. We can conduct a thorough investigation to uncover evidence to help us build a strong case. We will work diligently to protect your loved one’s rights.

We know how important it is to protect your loved one and we offer a free consultation where you can learn about your rights. There is no obligation to take legal action and you will not be charged for having us represent you unless you receive fair compensation.