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Study says resident-to-resident nursing home abuse is common

North Carolina readers may be shocked to learn that around one in five nursing home residents suffer abuse at the hands of other residents, according to a study. The study, which was conducted by researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, is the first large-scale examination of systematic resident-to-resident abuse in nursing homes.

Researchers observed 2,011 residents in 10 urban and suburban New York nursing homes for one month. Of those who participated in the study, 407 suffered at least one occurrence of "mistreatment" during the observation period. Resident-to-resident mistreatment can include a wide range of behaviors, such striking others with a wheelchair, taking food from a plate, rifling through personal property or inflicting verbal, physical or sexual abuse. Around 75 percent of the recorded incidents were verbal, and 25 percent were physical.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 5 million older Americans are the victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation each year. Worse, experts believe that there are as many as 23 unreported cases of elder abuse or neglect for every one that is reported. Over the years, there has been a great deal of attention placed on abuse by nursing home staff, but the authors of the study say more research needs to be done on how to prevent resident-to-resident mistreatment. Possible solutions include better facility lighting and the reduction of noise, which can aggravate dementia patients.

Nursing home facilities have a responsibility to protect residents from all threats, including other patients. The families of individuals who have been the victims of nursing home negligence may want to meet with an attorney to learn about the legal remedies that may be available.

Source: cbsnews.com, "Nursing home abuse common, but from an unlikely source," Mary Brophy Marcus, June 15, 2016

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