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Nursing home database reveals neglect

A recently compiled database of over 10,000 nursing home inspection reports reveals a pattern of negligence in nursing homes both in New Jersey and in at least one neighboring state.

Documented instances of nursing home neglect include several episodes of patients wandering away from their facilities. In one case, a man with dementia escaped the notice of nursing home staff when he left his health care center, which already had a documented history of lax supervision of residents, which placed residents in immediate jeopardy. The man's frozen body was found three days later.

The database also documents prescription drug errors in a New Jersey nursing home. After an inspection revealed that a nurse was dispensing unnecessary medication to the home's residents, the nursing home's administration fired that nurse and also made changes in its management organization.

Also uncovered are records of alarming sanitation issues. At one nursing home, a resident had maggots growing in an open wound, but the staff failed to notice them.

Those who compiled this database attributed many of the issues to understaffing. Unlike some of its neighbors, New Jersey law requires nursing homes to have a minimum number of staff on duty, with the exact number of staff depending on how many residents the nursing home is treating at the time.

Nevertheless, the database illustrates that nursing homes at times fail to meet a reasonable standard of care for their elderly patients. Those who suffer an injury as a result may seek just compensation from the nursing home for their injuries.

Now that one in four of all senior citizens will at some point live in a nursing home, families and the general public need to be extra vigilant so as to ensure that the elderly remain secure and safe.

Source: NBC New York, "I-Team: nursing home database uncovers a catalog of horrors," Chris Glorioso and Tom Burke, Sept. 13, 2012

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