When a family decides to place a loved one in a nursing home, they often worry about whether their loved one will receive the appropriate monitoring, proper medication, and other necessary medical care. These are important aspects to consider, but they do not represent all the risks the elderly face in nursing homes. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse at the hands of frustrated, tired, and/or mean employees can cause just as much, if not more damage than medical mishaps.

In a recent criminal case, a veterans’ home employee was charged with elder abuse after reports of extreme physical force used on patients surfaced. According to reports, the employee punched one patient on the forearm, slapped another while changing him, and twisted the arm of another patient which broke his skin and caused him to fall to the floor. It is alleged the employee kept that patient on the floor so long he went to the bathroom on his own floor and was later found hiding behind his recliner.

While this woman is currently facing criminal charges that may land her in jail, the nursing home residents that were injured by her will not be made whole through the criminal justice system. These victims not only have to physically recover from their injuries, but they must struggle emotionally to redevelop trust in the system that betrayed them.

One way for these injured residents to try to regain their normal life is to file a lawsuit. A successful lawsuit will accomplish two things. First, the victim may obtain compensation to pay for any medical expenses stemming from the injury and to soothe any pain and suffering. Second, a successful lawsuit punishes the institution for not closely monitoring their employees and failing to hire safe staff. Such a lawsuit, therefore, helps ensure the implementation of enhanced safety procedures that may protect future nursing home residents.

Source: Billings Gazette, “Colstrip woman charged with felony elder abuse at veterans home,” Cindy Uken, May 30, 2013