A study published online in The Annals of Internal Medicine on June 14, 2016 found that the prevalence of resident on resident abuse in nursing homes is in excess of one in five, as determined by a one-month observational prevalence period. Such nursing home abuse includes psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
The study’s authors found that factors such as higher cognition levels, residing on a dementia unit, younger age, higher nursing home staff caseloads, and seasons other than summer were associated with higher levels of resident on resident abuse.
The study involved five suburban and five urban state nursing homes located in New York. The study involved 2,011 residents in the randomly selected New York nursing homes based on size and location. The participation rate was 83% of the nursing homes and 84% of the eligible nursing home residents. The researchers used resident self-reporting, staff interviews, staff case reports, facility case reports, medical records review, and the observations of the researchers to determine resident on resident abuse events.
The researchers found that 407 of the 2,011 participating nursing home residents experienced a least one resident-on-resident abuse event during the one-month period, between 2009 and 2013 (a 20.2% rate). The researchers found that the most common forms of nursing home abuse were verbal abuse (9.1%), invasion of privacy or menacing gestures (5.3%), physical abuse (5.2%), and sexual abuse (0.6%).
The study’s authors noted the limitations of their study: most of the participating nursing homes were relatively large, all of the resident-on-resident nursing home abuse events may not have been detected, and reporting by nursing home residents and nursing home staff may be subject to recall bias.
The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging.
Incidents of resident-on-resident abuse are often not reported in the press but this recent study highlights its significant prevalence. Victims of resident-on-resident abuse may suffer substantial or life-threatening injuries. Failure to identify possible abusers based on past or present behavior may represent a significant threat to other nursing home residents. Just because a nursing home resident may be elderly or infirmed does not mean that the resident cannot inflict significant harm on other residents. Compounding the potential harm caused by the failure to identify potential nursing home resident abusers is that their victims (their nursing home peers) may not have the cognitive ability to prevent or report threats against their safety or to prevent continuing abuse.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries (or worse) while a resident of a nursing home or assisted living facility in the United States due to nursing home neglect, nursing home negligence, nursing home abuse, or resident on resident abuse, you should promptly contact a local nursing home claim attorney in your U.S. state who may investigate your nursing home claim or assisted living claim for you and file a nursing home/assisted living claim on your behalf, if appropriate.
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