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All Press Releases for February 21, 2013 »
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Head Nurse Charged in Nursing Home Neglect Case

In an unusual case, a nurse has been charged in criminal court for elder abuse at a nursing home. Allegations of nursing home abuse and neglect are typically handled in civil courts -- if they are handled in court at all.
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    February 21, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- A nurse is headed to trial on criminal charges of felony elder abuse after a woman in her care at a nursing home died what authorities are calling a painful and unnecessary death. The woman, who was the director of nursing at the facility, is accused of allowing a 77-year-old woman to be ignored while under her care. The woman developed a fecal impaction that led to her death and prompted her family to request charges.

The charges are unusual and being watched closely by advocates for the elderly, the nursing home industry and legal experts because employees are rarely charged with crimes for allegations of abuse and neglect at nursing homes. One other nurse was also charged; she pleaded no contest to resolve her case. Typically, allegations of nursing home abuse and neglect are handled in civil courts - if they are handled in court at all.

Elder Abuse Is Underreported

Often, allegations of nursing home abuse and neglect never make it to the courts in Arizona and other states. This is because elder abuse is a quiet epidemic. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, research shows that fewer than 1 in 5 cases of elder abuse are reported.

Elder abuse generally happens when a caregiver intentionally or neglectfully takes actions that lead a vulnerable elder to be harmed. It may include:
- Physical abuse,
- Neglect
- Emotional or psychological abuse
- Verbal abuse
- Threats
- Financial exploitation
- Abandonment

Elder abuse can occur anywhere. It affects older Americans regardless of income level, ethnicity or race. Women and the oldest seniors are most likely to be victims of such elder abuse. Abusers may include family, friends and professionals in positions of trust.

How Families Can Help

For many people, the potential for nursing home neglect is a serious concern when they make the difficult decision to place a loved one in the care of a nursing home. If you have made this difficult decision, you can watch for warning signs of abuse and neglect. Look for suspicious injuries or unexplained bruises on your loved one's skin, pressure ulcers or filth, withdrawal from normal activities and other signs that something isn't right.

If you suspect that your loved one has been abused, report it so that state agencies and police can properly investigate. You also have the ability to hold negligent and abusive caregivers accountable. An experienced lawyer can help a family pursue a case against a negligent facility or its staff and work to prevent such situations from arising again.

Article provided by Knapp & Roberts
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