FBI, Snellville Police Investigating Nursing Home Abuse Claims

Written by NHAbuseGuide on June 4, 2015

Snellville police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are looking into the New London Health Center after claims of nursing home abuse were recently brought to light.

The investigation began when Carol Sheppard, a 77-year-old resident in the nursing home, was taken to the hospital in mid-April due to a three-inch cut in her head and a pressure sore that had gone to the bone. The patient died on April 29. The facility director claimed that Sheppard, who suffered from advanced dementia, had fallen and received the gash to her head. That same director has since been fired from the position, but the nursing home did not return any messages requesting an interview.

The Issue

While it is possible for a nursing home resident to fall, there are a few issues in this case that led to an investigation. These include:

  • According to her daughter, Sheppard, who had been a resident at the facility for four years, was unable to move. Due to this, she was not able to walk, roll herself over or turn in the bed on her own. As a result, her daughter and investigators believe there is no way the resident could have fallen on her own.
  • Employees of the nursing home have no explanation for how the elderly resident’s injury occurred.
  • The pressure sore had reached a Stage IV classification, meaning that the bone was exposed due to the level of infection. Pressure sores are often indicative of nursing home neglect, especially if they are untreated, or not cared for properly when in the initial stages.
  • When the resident was taken to the hospital, the facility failed to call 911 for transportation. Instead, a non-emergency third-party ambulance was called.

Another major factor in the investigation of this nursing home was the fact that once Sheppard’s case was reported, seven other families came forward alleging improper care of a loved one in the facility. These patients, many of whom have since either been moved to another facility or died, were also hospitalized due to malnutrition, dehydration and other conditions.

The Investigation

The investigation into Sheppard’s case and the others that were brought to light is still ongoing. At this time, investigators have reported that the cases are all consistent based on the evidence and facts available for each one. At this time, the investigators are trying to determine whether the nursing home is understaffed or if the caregivers have not been trained in the proper methods of administering care to the elderly patients.

Currently, both the police and the FBI are conducting interviews and accessing medical records of all patients. Additionally, they are awaiting the results of Ms. Sheppard’s autopsy to determine the actual cause of death. Due to the ongoing investigation, the Medical Examiner’s Office in Gwinnet County is unable to provide additional information on the case.

Elder Neglect in Nursing Homes

Unfortunately, the case involving New London Health Center is far more common than most people realize. A 2011 study conducted in New York showed that 14.9 out of 1,000 interviewed nursing home residents reported neglect during their stays in nursing home facilities. When you consider that these numbers are likely 24 times as high nationwide due to unreported incidents, the problem of elder neglect and abuse becomes a major issue.

Due to many residents fearing additional abuse or retaliation due to reporting abuse and neglect, many cases go unreported throughout the US. This is why it is important for family members to ensure they are visiting elderly loved ones frequently, and paying attention to their health and mental state to ensure they are being properly cared for and receiving adequate attention.

Sources:

http://www.npuap.org/resources/educational-and-clinical-resources/npuap-pressure-ulcer-stagescategories/

http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/news/2015/may/19/fbi-snellville-police-investigating-nursing-home/

http://www.ocfs.state.ny.us/main/reports/Under%20the%20Radar%2005%2012%2011%20final%20report.pdf

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