Broken Hand

A Broken Hand in a Nursing Home? How Common Is It?

Imagine finding that your loved one who you believed to be safe in a nursing home has a broken hand. Unfortunately, the statistics regarding elder abuse in nursing homes are startling. While there is not a lot of research that has looked at elder abuse in nursing homes, the research that has been done indicates that it may be much more prevalent than anyone believed.

Elder abuse may be more prevalent than any other demographics abuse in certain at risk communities. A broken hand can be a sign that there are abusive practices occurring in a nursing home facility.

The Facts

According to recent studies, it is estimated that nearly 1.6 million seniors live in one of the roughly 17,000 licensed facilities that are geared toward the care of aging Americans. In addition to the estimated 1.6 million seniors that are living in licensed facilities there are approximately another 1 million seniors living in one of the 45,000 facilities that are known as “personal care homes” “adult living facilities” “residential care facilities”.

Adult abuse while in nursing homes or other care facilities has increased so dramatically in the last 20 years that the federal government has defined what “abuse or neglect” constitutes under the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA 1987. Pub L. No. 100-203).

Some important facts you should know about:

  • Roughly 52% of all residents in “adult care” facilities may experience some form of abuse or neglect.
  • Research has indicated that some CNA (certified nursing assistants –primary care givers in these settings) answered that they felt it was okay to “slap a resident back, if they were struck first”.
  • Many of these facilities are “shorthanded” which leaves residents at risk for neglect.
  • Broken hands, hips and ankles are all very common nursing home injuries.

What Can a Broken Hand Indicate?

1 in 20 broken bones reported in an elder care facility is a broken hand. This can mean something as innocent as a trip and fall accident to something as dramatic as a fight with another resident to forceful treatment by a caregiver at the facility.

In any case no resident should break a hand while in the care of a licensed facility. A resident that is a “fall risk” should be monitored and escorted to prevent these types of injuries; if they are not, then it is the facility’s fault that they were injured.

At no time should a resident be in a physical altercation with another resident. Of course any suspicion of inappropriate physical restraint or rough handling should be investigated immediately by the proper authorities.

In other words, there is just no good reason that a resident in a nursing facility/care facility/residential home should have a broken hand. It is an indicator of something being amiss. The odds unfortunately are stacked against a simple “accident”. Up to 33% of all nursing home (or residential living centers) residents are subjected to some type of physical abuse.

What Should You Do?

If you suspect abuse of an elderly relative/friend that is residing in a nursing home or other elder facility you can take steps to ensure that it does not continue:

  • Contact the administration of the facility
  • Contact the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) by the Administration on Aging (AoA)
  • Call the National Eldercare Locator, at 1-800-677-1116
  • If it is a severe case call 911
  • Hire an attorney that specializes in nursing home abuse cases

Start with the facility administration but don’t stop there. Follow through the list above. Get the advice of an attorney. A lawyer can help you to navigate the layers of red tape to get the help that an elderly friend or relative needs.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2393181

http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/Library/Data/#problem

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2393181

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