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Resident-to-resident abuse in nursing homes

Residents of Ohio nursing homes may be at risk of suffering from resident-to-resident abuse, according to a new study conducted by a team of researchers from Cornell University. Researchers used a variety of methods to examine the lives of 2,011 patients at 10 different nursing homes in the U.S. and found that hostile encounters were pervasive among residents.

After interviewing nursing home patients and their family members and looking at reports from nursing home staff, researchers determined that one in five nursing home residents was involved in an incident of negative aggression within a period of four weeks. These incidents ranged from a resident looking through their roommate's belongings without permission all the way to physical and sexual assault by a fellow resident.

The lead author of the study commented that staff members at the nursing homes they studied seemed to be blind to the issue of resident-to-resident abuse. This largely hidden phenomenon has been found to be much more prevalent when nursing home residents are housed together. If a conflict between roommates is allowed to continue, this could put patients at a higher risk of abuse. The study also concluded that the rate of abuse is directly affected by the staff-to-patient ratio.

Although nursing home abuse may occur at the hands of a fellow resident, the nursing home staff may be found liable for negligently failing to prevent the situation. If a family believes that their elderly relative has been the victim of nursing home abuse, an attorney may be able to help them file a medical malpractice claim. Before filing a claim, an attorney may help the family to gather eyewitness testimony, medical records and photographic evidence to prove that the facility was negligent.

Source: New America Media, "Study: 1 in 5 Nursing Home Residents Abused", Barbara Peters Smith, December 05, 2014

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