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Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing Home Abuse

Uncovering Elder Abuse and Neglect in Virginia Nursing Homes

Today, I was reviewing a survey by the Virginia Department of Health of a local nursing home.

What’s a survey? It’s basically a long report where the investigator, a surveyor, comes into the nursing home to see whether the facility and its staff are actually following the law and properly treating residents.

These investigations typically happen once per year, sometimes more, depending on the seriousness of the allegations and whether any consumer complaints have been made during the past 12 months.

And yes, you can contact the state to file a complaint if you suspect a nursing home has mistreated a loved one. The surveyor will follow-up on your complaint for you (and we often can help you file a complaint).

Anyways, the survey of this particular Virginia nursing home found some very upsetting things were going on:

  • Nurses were documenting in the patients chart that they had performed certain care, when they hadn’t;
  • Nurses were cleaning pressure ulcers (think bed sore) then putting the old dirty bandage back on OR documenting they cleaned the wound and didn’t;
  • Nurses were failing to notify the doctors when they were out of medications;
  • Nurses were failing to notify the doctor when patients had lost significant weight;
  • Nurses were failing to notify doctors when patients got sick.

Now, I don’t think for one minute that staff intended to harm their patients. But why does elder abuse and neglect occur in Virginia nursing homes?

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Podcast: Falls in Virginia Nursing Homes and Hospitals Lead to Injury

We hear it too often:

“My mom fell in the  [hospital or nursing home] and suffered a [broken hip or broken femur or concussion or contusion to her head]. What can we do now?”

Here is a brief guide on what to do when a loved one suffers an fall injury:

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Overmedicating Virginia Nursing Home Residents

We hear it too often:

“When I got there, she didn’t even recognize us she was on so much medication.”

“She almost fell out of the wheelchair she was so overmedicated.”

“She hasn’t eaten in days because she is on so much medication she barely wakes up.”

Overmedicating Virginia nursing home patients is a serious problem with potentially fatal consequences for residents. Yet, according to recent data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, it is happening in Roanoke, Virginia, and elsewhere at alarming rates.

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Nursing Home Industry Blames Families that Stand Up for Loved Ones

We subscribe to the  Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, a national publication for nursing home professionals. In this month’s issue, there is a fascinating and somewhat infuriating article on “conflicted surrogate syndrome,” a condition supposedly suffered by the families of nursing home patients.

The article defines the syndrome as “unwarranted, irrational or excessive complaints” made to a nursing home about patient care – yup, you are reading correctly.

Apparently, families that advocate for their loved ones are now being labeled by the nursing home industry as having a psychological syndrome.

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Staunton Nursing Home Employee Charged With Sexual Assault

Update (10/3/2012): According to the Staunton Newsleader, former nurse aide Anthony M. Johnson appeared in court this week and plead guilty to two counts of assault and battery. He received to a suspended 12-month jail sentence. Charges are pending against two Envoy administrators who failed to report the assaults to authorities.

A former nurse aide at Envoy of Staunton, a nursing home in Staunton, Virginia, has been charged with sexually assaulting patients.

The news is saddening, but unfortunately not surprising given what we have learned about employee background checks at many nursing homes. Most fast food chains conduct a more thorough background check to flip cheeseburgers than nursing homes do when hiring health care providers who will be responsible for some of the most vulnerable of our citizens.

We have seen other Virginia nursing homes hire caregivers with felony convictions!  Do you want your mother, father, wife, or husband being cared for by an individual who may have committed a serious criminal offense?  I sure don’t.

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I have heard absolute horror stories about nursing home residents choking in nursing homes, and as a result, dying. Why would someone choke to death in a skilled nursing facility you may wonder? Well sadly, many residents suffer from Dysphagia, which is the medical term for the symptom of difficulty in swallowing. Perhaps they have had…[Read More]


As followers of this blog know, we report and discuss many preventable tragedies and deaths which occur at assisted living facilities and nursing homes. It has gotten almost to the point where these instances of abuse and neglect are reported weekly by some newspaper in the United States. As a result of the poor care…[Read More]


Many bed-ridden or immobile nursing home residents develop pressure sores or decubitus ulcers. These horrible wounds can and should be prevented by frequent repositioning of the resident, along with good hydration and nutrition.Despite the pain and humiliation caused by these wounds, they really get scary when the wound becomes infected. I recently became aware of…[Read More]


This post comes to you by way of Madison, Illinois…but it could happen anywhere. A recently filed lawsuit claims nurses at Rosewood Care Center (Edwardsville, Ill) – a nursing home licensed by Bravo Care – administered 4 milligrams of Coumadin to a resident, despite the fact that her physician had ordered her prescription to be…[Read More]


Great news for patient advocates and families everywhere. A South Florida jury last week awarded $7.75 million to the family of a 71-year-old stroke victim who filed an elder abuse lawsuit against the Fillmore Convalescent Center. How did the plaintiffs prove that their loved one had been abused? A hidden video camera in her room…[Read More]