The Atlanta-Journal Constitution recently published an in-depth report on the inadequacies and issues with consumer information about nursing home abuse. The Georgia abuse study highlighted problems that existed not only in the individual nursing homes examined but in the Georgia Department of Community Health which seemed to be inadequately showcasing the information about abuse and neglect of nursing homes in a timely manner.
The Georgia abuse study uncovered over 600 allegations of neglect and at least 90 reports of outright abuse since 2015. From official counts at least 20 residents died as a result of these issues and over 100 were injured. A note is made in the article that while the Georgia abuse study based its numbers off of the official tally by the Department of Community Health, newspaper interviews and lawsuits filed by families have linked even more injuries and death to abuse or neglect.
The chief finding by the Georgia abuse study was that most of the breakdowns in care that led to the conditions of neglect or abuse were the results of several factors including inadequate levels of staffing, poor training of new employees and cutting corners to circumvent expenses.
These issues, the Georgia abuse study found, resulted in neglectful patient incidents. Some examples quoted by the study included:
- Residents trying to summon staff for help for hours without a response
- Residents wandering away from facilities unnoticed
- Living in abjectly unsanitary or hazardous conditions
- Being allowed to repeatedly fall and injure themselves
- Suffering in pain for days without treatment
In addition to the cases of neglect, the Georgia abuse study also found that caregivers would physically, verbally and sexually abused residents. These factors together led to several wrongful deaths. In 2016 a resident with high blood pressure and diabetes passed away after calling for help for almost 30 minutes without response, and the facility failed to call 911 for 20 more minutes.
The Georgia abuse study did not only study the accounts of neglect and abuse by facilities, however. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution also examined the state’s Department of Community Health for potentially inadequate scrutiny of facilities or execution of their authority. After monitoring the state’s official website across 2018 reporters discovered that there was no information provided at all for dozens of facilities.
The Georgia abuse study notes that when reports were finally posted in 2019, it was revealed that state inspectors had repeatedly cited the home for serious violations over several years including the falsification of medical records and failing to take a resident with three broken ribs to the emergency room.
Additionally, the Georgia abuse study found that although the Department of Community Health states that it inspects facilities in approximately 16-month intervals, reporters found that the latest reports for almost 100 nursing homes were at least two years out of date. Through further interviews with state regulators, it was discovered that there is no required timeline for investigating serious allegations at assisted living communities and personal care homes.
Though no official statement has been released by facilities or the Georgia Department of Community Health regarding the reports of inadequacy, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution has endeavored to increase public awareness of the importance of self-advocacy in protecting loved ones from nursing home neglect and abuse.
For more information about actions that can be taken against neglectful facilities, visit the National Association of Nursing Home Attorneys’ Neglect Page.