A congressional report shows a startling number of nursing home abuse victims. The report found that 30% of nursing homes in the United States had reports of elder abuse. The report found that 5,283 facilities had almost 9,000 instances of abuse over a two-year period.
The report found that elders suffered from several forms of abuse, including preventable accidents, malnutrition, inadequate medical care and untreated bedsores.
“Elder abuse comes in many forms and is often not readily apparent. But, unfortunately, elder abuse is pervasive and has many devastating consequences. Not only are the victims of elder abuse more likely to suffer physical and psychological injuries as a direct result of the abuse or neglect, but they also have a 300% higher risk of death than those who are not abused or neglected,” states nursing home abuse attorney Matthew Sharp on his website.
The report found that 1,601 of the cases were so severe that they put the residents of the nursing home at immediate risk of serious injury or death. The committee’s leader called the finding “shocking.”
Some experts allege that the findings show an inflated number of cases due to regulations. Strict regulations require reporting abuse in even minor cases, where one patient may slap another, for example. These regulations are said to be behind the 30%+ of nursing homes that have reported abuse.
Healthcare officials claim that the regulations are making the statistics look much worse than they actually are. Many officials claim that nursing homes are providing “the best care possible.”
The most severe reports indicate abuse by staff members on many of the elderly patients. Reports include bone fractures, lacerations, kicks, being choked, punched and slapped. One report mentions a staff member walking into a resident’s room, hitting her in the face and breaking her nose.
Other reports include one staff member bribing a brain-damaged resident to attack another resident. The report shows that the staff member offered the mentally ill patient a cigarette to start the fight.
Male attendants have also been reported as abusing female residents and molesting them while bathing.
Social media has also been making abuse claims even worse, according to the Washington Post. Employees have been increasingly sharing photos of their abuse on patients, or photos of abuse caused by another person, on social media. The postings encourage other nursing home workers to share their photos in some cases.
Elderly abuse has risen every year since 1996. The nursing homes, many that run for-profit organizations, are federally subsidized, too. The nursing homes in the study house 550,000 people, or roughly more than one-third of the elderly in nursing homes at the time of the study.
At the time of the study, 11,000 out of 17,000 nursing homes were for-profit.
The nursing home industry recognizes the issue and claims that money is a major factor in abuse. The industry blames insufficient funding on the state level as a reason for low-quality employees, saying nursing assistants made $7 – $9 per hour.
Bills to increase funding and ensure a minimum number of staff have been proposed as a method to curb rising nursing home abuse.