Elderly Lives Matter®

How threats of retaliation can hide nursing home abuse

On Behalf of | Jun 16, 2024 | Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Nursing homes seem to be chronically understaffed and reports of patient neglect and abuse are frighteningly common – but most don’t make the news until something shocking and outrageous happens that can’t be hidden.

Why isn’t neglect and abuse reported more often? Why isn’t it reported sooner – before it causes serious harm to a patient? It may all come down to the simple fear of retaliation.

Fears of retaliation are not unfounded

According to a report by the Long Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC) that examined more than 100 government investigations, nursing home residents and their families were effectively silenced through intimidation and the fear of retaliation.

Whatever happens, after a report of abuse or neglect is made, the family of a patient is going to eventually walk out of the nursing home and leave the patient vulnerable to all kinds of retaliatory behavior by the administration and staff. That idea can be terrifying. Both patients and their families may decide that it’s better to remain silent than risk even worse treatment than they’ve already received. 

It’s a reasonable fear. Retaliation against patients who complain about their care has been documented to include:

  • Physical restraints
  • Chemical restraints
  • Sexual abuse
  • Refusal to answer call lights in a timely fashion
  • Psychological abuse 
  • Threats of physical violence
  • Threats to delay or deny medical coverage

Even the administration of a nursing home can get into the act. If a patient is perceived as “difficult” by the administration for making complaints about their care, they may find themselves threatened with an abrupt discharge from the facility.

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