Since the overall quality of care in Missouri’s nursing homes is one of the worst in the nation, patients are at great risk for injuries.

The non-profit citizen advocacy group Families for Better Care has ranked Missouri 47th in the nation in nursing home care. According to Better Care, Missouri is representative of what is “terribly wrong” with nursing home care and oversight in the United States. The group finds that one in five Missouri nursing homes had deficiencies which indicated widespread abuse, neglect and mistreatment of nursing home patients. Better Care adds that state officials and nursing home administrators should be ashamed of the quality of nursing home care in Missouri.

A report on elder abuse prepared for the U.S. Department of Justice reveals that an extremely vulnerable population resides in nursing homes and long term care facilities. The population includes those of advanced age and those with mental or physical disabilities. Nursing home neglect and abuse often results in patient injuries and-in extreme cases-patient deaths. Neglect occurs when patients are not sufficiently well cared for by the nursing home staff with regard to their physical and mental health needs.

According to National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care, the following are examples of nursing home neglect:

  • Lack of adequate toileting of patients leading to incontinence and loss of dignity.
  • Lack of assistance with walking and exercising leading to a lack of mobility.
  • Lack of assistance eating and drinking causing malnutrition and dehydration.
  • Lack of bathing and washing, resulting in poor hygiene.
  • Inadequate hand washing techniques, resulting in resident infections.
  • Ignoring alarm calls or cries for help.

Abuse can be either physical or mental. Mental abuse would include cursing, shouting or threatening residents. Physical abuse would consist of such acts as hitting, shoving and slapping patients. Elderly nursing home patients who experience abuse have a 300 percent higher risk of death compared to those not abused according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. In addition, abused patients tend to have more physical and emotional health problems than non-abused patients.

Sexual abuse

In a report on elder abuse prepared for the DOJ, it was noted that sexual abuse is all too common in nursing home facilities. Sexual abuse incidents involve a range of inappropriate behaviors ranging from improper touching to rape. Perpetrators include staff as well as other residents. A study by Marquette University observes that sexual abuse is among the “most heinous abuses” suffered by residents of nursing homes. Unfortunately, it is the least identified, reported and acknowledged type of abuse.

Sexual abuse in nursing homes is underreported since nursing homes often fail to investigate or follow-up on complaints. Further, nursing homes are reluctant to involve law enforcement officials. It is suggested that nursing homes could be more proactive in reducing and eliminating elder sexual abuse by establishing rigorous policies governing the hiring of employees. One thing that would help is running comprehensive background checks on persons applying for jobs of any kind in a nursing home. Additionally, staff should be rigorously monitored and supervised.

Suing for injuries

If you have a loved one in a nursing home and you believe they have suffered physical injury due to abuse or neglect, you should contact an attorney. An attorney experienced in handling nursing home and personal injury cases can look into your individual situation and offer you advice on your options under Missouri law for holding to account those who injured your loved one.