_ABUSE & NEGLECT IN ELDER CARE ELDER CARE FACILITIES
ABUSE BY EMPLOYEE PERPETRATORS
Unfortunately, even at the best care-facilities, people are hired "under the radar" from time to time, in this day of frequent employment turn-arounds.
I am a forensic nurse examiner, now independent, but at the time working for SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) in San Diego County, California.
I remember a case I did in the San Diego County area. The nursing home was a really nice one, reputable, and everyone was so proficient and nice.
Yet, this ONE orderly was hired, just a week before, and managed to sexually assault a 50-something year-old woman who was not able to speak well enough or move well enough to defend herself. The facility probably didn't even have time to run his background check yet.
Because the daughter demanded action (she happened to visit right after the assault and "knew" something was wrong because she knew her mother so well) the police were called and, consequently, I was called to collect the forensic medical evidence, take pictures and do a (SANE/SART/forensic) report.
Because the employee showed back up to work, an arrest was made. If he had disappeared, I doubt they would have ever caught him, although I'm sure I had his DNA on some of the evidence. Because the police were able to interview him and told him that a Forensic Nurse had collected all the evidence (and told him WHAT all I had collected from the crime scene), the orderly confessed. He was booked and he will NOT work again in a nursing home in California (or anywhere else if facilities do their background investigation checks properly).
So, how can these crimes be avoided or decreased? How can you protect yourself or your loved one, whether in a hospital, nursing home, assisted living facility OR being cared for at a personal home?
#1. Be vigilant when choosing a facility. Know their record and their method of hiring.
#2. Visit often and at unexpected times.
#3. Hire a professional Nurse Advocate (preferably a Forensic Nurse) to do Elder Well-Checks
on your loved ones.
#4. If something happens or you are suspicious, alert the facility management and make sure they call law enforcement. If they do not or refuse to call law enforcement, YOU need to do so. Consider hiring a private Forensic Nurse Examiner so that the proper exam, evidence collection and photographs can be taken/collected and proper documentation is accomplished for later action against the perpetrator or the negligent facility.
#5. Do not allow people to go in and out of the "crime scene" or touch/treat the "victim" (except for lifesaving & immediate-need medical reasons) until a forensic nurse examiner has arrived to take over.
Forensic Nurses are licensed Registered Nurses. They know how to "see between the lines" of nursing homes, hospitals and other care facilities. They are specially trained and alert to the "red flags" that the general public or even regular nursing staff might not notice. They are unbiased, objective observers, examiners and evidence collectors whose testimony in court is often valued and admitted as an "expert opinion".
It is unfortunate that the precedence of elder abuse, sexual assault and maltreatment is on the rise in care facilities and private homes in all areas of the United States. Be alert and, if something "doesn't feel right" , it's probably not right. Probe a little further or have a professional Forensic nurse do it for you.
Irma A. Groot, R.N., CNOR(e), DABFN, fellow ACFEI
F'NES ~ Forensic Nurse Educational & Examination Services
Licensed in California & Arizona
local - state - national - international consultations
Ms. Groot has been a forensic nurse since the late 90's and a forensic nurse examiner for over 5 years. She specializes in domestic violence, elder abuse, sexual assault and homicides related to these issues. She is an experienced operating room, intensive care and flight nurse and has worked with the elderly population for over 20 years. She is well-versed in nursing home care and procedures and Veteran Administration patient care. She has testified professionally as an expert witness in San Diego County and has also testified or consulted in other Southern California, Arizona and Federal Courts. She consults with prosecution (district attorneys) and defense attorneys, as well as private clients. She is a proponent and advocate of forensic awareness and lectures on this and other subjects here and abroad. She has been a forensic consultant to the Undersecretary of Health, Veteran's Affairs, in the area of suspicious deaths and near-miss events.
Ms. Groot believes that nursing home well-checks are a preventative, proactive action that will help protect residents and patients who can not or will not protect themselves or speak out.
Major Groot is retired from the US Air Force. Her last position was aeromedical flight nurse and her last deployment was Iraqi Freedom/Enduring Freedom. Her job was caring for and transporting the wounded and injured from Iraq, Kuwait, and other countries.
ABUSE & NEGLECT IN ELDER CARE ELDER CARE FACILITIES ABUSE BY EMPLOYEE PERPETRATORS by Irma A. Groot is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at forensicnurse.mobi/pearls/archive1.
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