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Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

Sexual abuse in nursing homes is a sad occurrence.  A CNN  investigation concluded that between the years of 2013 and 2016, the federal government cited over one thousand nursing homes failing to prevent, or otherwise mishandling, allegations of sexual abuse including rape. Even more disturbing is that nearly every instance of sexual abuse is preventable if nursing homes are properly staffed and if employees and residents are properly vetted and supervised.

Several years ago here in Jacksonville, a $750,000.00 verdict was rendered against a nursing home as a result of a female resident being sexually assaulted by a male resident.  The male resident had criminal record for past sexual crimes.  What is worse is that there were also complaints that he was engaging in inappropriate aggressive and sexual behavior at the nursing home before the rape occurred.

Many residents of nursing homes are unable to protect themselves due to dementia or physical limitations, or both.  This makes them vulnerable to resident on resident sexual abuse and abuse from nursing home employees.

While nursing homes are required to do background checks on employees, not all do so.  Furthermore, some abusers have no criminal past. For these employees, proper supervision is key.  In addition, nursing home operators must respond appropriately to any complaint or reports of inappropriate behavior by employees.  There are numerous instances were complaints were found to be “unsubstantiated” only to be followed later by confirmed abuse by the same perpetrator.

Labor costs represent the single biggest expense for nursing homes.  Two unfortunate things can result from this.  First, in order to maximize profits, nursing homes are often staffed at the bare minimum and, at times, records are falsified to hide the fact that the staffing was below state minimums.  Second, hourly rates paid to LPNs, CNAs and RNs by nursing homes are much lower that what is usually paid by hospitals and doctors’ offices.   The result, of course, is that nursing homes often employ candidates that did not meet the standards of non-nursing home providers.

Nursing home residents represent some of our society’s most vulnerable people.  The notion that they may be subjected to sexual abuse in the nursing home setting is unacceptable.  For those nursing home operators who fail to protect their residents, the only means of getting them to do so may be a large verdict.  Things will not change until the cost of neglect and under-staffing exceeds the amount saved in labor costs.

Our Jacksonville nursing home lawyers take neglectful nursing homes to task.  We investigate not only the occurrence itself but the “root cause” as well.  The most common root cause being an effort to cut corners by the nursing home operators in order to save on labor costs. Performing a staffing analysis of a nursing home is no easy task.  A multitude of things must be studied including: time and payroll records for employees; the number of residents in the facility for each day at issue; the overall “acuity” (seriousness of health issues and care requirements) for the residents in the facility, just to name a few.  Failing to do so can foreclose a full measure of justice for the client and prevent an adequate incentive for the nursing home to change its ways.

Please contact us for a free consultation if you are in need of a nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer in the Northeast Florida area, including the following counties: Duval – Jacksonville; St. Johns; Clay; Nassau; Volusia; Flagler; Putnam; Baker; Union; Columbia; and Alachua.