Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities Concealing Nelgect and Abuse

The Seattle Times has investigated elder abuse and neglect and found that it is often being concealed by facilities. At one facility an explosion that had burned a resident's face, causing her to lose her earlobes and the tip of her nose, was a mystery. The resident was a 68-year-old stroke and emphysema sufferer who had lived at the facility for six months at the time of the March 2007 accident.

The police Detective called to investigate the incident had her suspicions. But by the time the detective was called to the elder-care home to investigate, five days had passed, more than enough time for the facility to destroy every shred of evidence.The detective questioned the employees who had work with the resident that night. The caregivers' stories, all lined up. They each said that they had not assisted her to smoke a cigarette that evening and that she was not connected to her oxygen at the time of the explosion.

The detective was still determined to get answers. She found in the Fire Department reports that responders saw an oxygen pump on the deck. She also found out that the resident's husband had taken some of the resident's possessions, including her oxygen pump, to their home for safekeeping. The detective sent the oxygen tank to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for testing. Experts there determined that there was a trail of fire from the resident's nose down to her sternum and that the source of ignition was a cigarette.

The detective then knew that she had been deceived by the three caregivers. The Seattle Times found that over the past five years, at least 357 of the adult family homes in the state have concealed cases of abuse or neglect of their residents. In many cases, the facilities tried to conceal abuse or neglect by forging medical records, lying to state investigators or threatening residents with eviction if they provided witness statements. For more, read the story.

Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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