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Nursing Home Cited Following Deadly Attack of Elderly Patient

Elder abuse and neglect can take many forms. Abuse can occur physically, verbally, psychologically, or financially, while neglect can be reckless or intentional. Unfortunately, the news these days seems to be filled with reports of nursing homes abusing and neglecting their elderly residents. What may come to mind are the images of nursing home staff members physically assaulting the elderly or performing unnecessary and dangerous chemical restraints to subdue patients.

While many nursing home abuse cases involve caregivers harming patients, one particular incident in New York involved one patient abusing another. This occurrence took place last August in a nursing home in Buffalo, New York. According to reports, 82-year-old Ruth Murray was assaulted and beaten to death by another nursing home patient at Emerald South Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

The tragic event occurred after Murray wandered into the room of an 84-year-old dementia patient. According to medical records, the attacker suffered from extreme dementia and, as part of his care plan, was supposed to be checked on every 15 minutes by nursing home staff.  At the time of the incident, however, both the victim and her attacker were unsupervised, which allowed the attack to take place. The New York State Department of Health cited the nursing home for failing to provide adequate care and fined the facility $10,000, its harshest fine.

Additionally, Emerald South is now facing a lawsuit from the victim’s family. The family’s attorney claims that the nursing home failed to adequately monitor its patients, and as a result, the beating was allowed to happen. An investigation by the State Department of Health found evidence supporting this claim.

Specifically, the certified nurse assistant (CNA) assigned to Murray’s attacker on the day of the incident was out of the facility when the incident occurred, instead running errands for a team leader. By the time she made it back, the attack had already taken place. Additionally, the facility failed to report the victim’s death in a timely fashion. Reports show that Emerald South did not report the incident to the proper authorities until two days after the incident occurred. Per the regulations, it should have been reported within 24 hours.

The lawsuit also accuses Emerald South of being understaffed. Certain former employees said the facility has a “heads-in-beds” approach, meaning they seek to fill capacity to the max in order to receive as much patient benefits from Medicaid and Medicare as possible. Objectively, there is nothing wrong with keeping a full facility, but if a nursing home chooses to do so they need to be adequately staffed. Unfortunately, this trend of filling facilities without providing adequate staffing is far too common. It is an improper way for nursing homes to maximize their profits while placing the lives of their patients in danger.

The victim’s death is a heartbreaking reminder of what can happen when nursing homes cut corners and fail to properly monitor the facility. Instances like these can be prevented if nursing home management and staff follow the law and accepted standards of practice. If you feel that your loved one is not receiving necessary attention at a nursing home, or if you suspect the nursing home to be understaffed, alert the proper authorities immediately. Timely detection of these issues could be the difference between life and death. To discuss your situation with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney, call Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz at 1-800-529-4004.