According to a Michigan Live news report, an 83-year-old man has died from injuries he suffered after being assaulted by a fellow nursing home patient in Berrien County. The Bridgman Police Department is investigating his wrongful death as a possible homicide. According to police, patient Floyd Perham suffered a serious head injury after being shoved to the ground by another patient. Perham was conscious during the initial investigation, and was taken to Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph for treatment. Unfortunately, he later succumbed to his injuries and passed away at the hospital.
Cornell Study: Violence Between Nursing Home Residents “Widespread and Common”
Incidents of violence between nursing home residents are not unheard of and in fact may be more common than people realize. Led by professors Dr. Karl Pillemer and Dr. Mark Lachs, a team of researchers at Cornell University recently conducted a study on the topic.
The study examined over 2,000 residents across 10 different nursing homes in New York, using a combination of interviews and medical reports to cull data on both caregiver abuse and the less commonly explored issue of inter-residential violence. The data showed that approximately one in five residents experienced an aggressive altercation at least once per month.
The study tracked incidence rates of different forms of conflict and violence among participating residents. Approximately 16% of study participants were involved in aggressive verbal arguments, while another 6% had physical fights, and about 1% experienced sexual abuse of some form.
“These altercations are widespread and common in everyday nursing home life,” summarized Dr. Pillemer, one of the study’s co-authors alongside Cornell professor medicine Dr. Mark Lachs. “Despite the acute urgency of the problem,” Dr. Pillemer added, “resident-to-resident mistreatment is under-reported. Increased awareness and the adoption of effective interventions are greatly needed.”
Dr. Pillemer added that most staff members “seem almost unaware” of the issue, despite its astounding prevalence.
Dr. Pillemer and Dr. Lachs presented their findings on November 8 at the 2014 Gerontological Society of America Annual Scientific Meeting in Washington, D.C, announcing their study was “the first… to directly observe and interview residents to determine the prevalence and predictors of elder mistreatment between residents in nursing homes.”
This data inevitably leads to two critical questions: what should be done about violence between nursing home residents? And when an assault or even homicide does occur — who is considered liable?
Who is Liable for Resulting Deaths and Injuries?
Generally speaking, a nursing home cannot be held liable for the intentional and violent acts of its residents. However, under certain circumstances, a nursing home bears some liability for the acts of a third person. For example, if a resident is known to be aggressive or belligerent towards others, a nursing home has a duty to protect its residents and staff from known dangers.
A facility should assess the danger that an aggressive or unstable resident presents to others and take appropriate precautions to keep other residents and staff safe. In extreme cases, this may require transferring the disorderly or unstable resident to another facility equipped to handle him better. If a nursing home knows, or with the exercise of due care should know, that a resident presents a danger to other residents or staff, and fails to take precautions to keep them safe, it may be responsible for damages caused to others as a result of its own negligence.
Attorney Brent Wieand represents seniors who have suffered serious injuries and the families of residents that were killed due to nursing home negligence or nursing home abuse. Brent handles personal injury and wrongful death claims involving bed sores, accidental falls, medication and dosage errors, dehydration and malnutrition, and other matters.
If you suspect that a family member is suffering due to a nursing home’s poor quality care, call Union County nursing home abuse attorney Brent Wieand at (888) 789-3161. The consultation is completely free and confidential, and you will never pay any attorney’s fees unless we are able to make a recovery. Don’t wait until it’s too late: call today to start discussing your family’s legal options.