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Study: Nursing home abuse prevalent in the U.S.

Nursing home abuse is a serious problem in Maryland and across the country. Nearly 1. 6 million people live in more than 17,000 nursing homes throughout the nation. Feeble and defenceless residents often depend on nursing home staff to take care of them and ensure they are getting everything they need. In a surprising number of instances, however, elderly residents are neglected, mistreated, malnourished and abused.

The study, conducted by the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee, discovered that approximately 30 percent of nursing homes in the country were cited for abuse during a two-year period. This equates to 5,283 facilities and nearly reported 9,000 cases of abuse. The abuse led to serious harm or near death in 1,601 of the reported cases. The term ‘reported cases’ is highlighted, as many nursing home abuse cases are thought to go unreported.

Residents are not only at risk of being emotionally, physically or sexually abused by nursing home workers, but by other residents as well. Some violations involve residents, as well as staff members kicking, choking, punching and slapping residents. In addition to cigarette burns, elderly residents have been diagnosed with untreated bedsores, dehydration and malnourishment. Some were left unbathed for an extended period of time and not been taken to the bathroom properly. Others were not given their routine mediation regiment.

Representatives for the nursing home industry say that keeping qualified staff is an issue, and is one factor leading to this serious issue. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is contracted with the state to investigate reports of abuse and inspect nursing homes each year.



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