Collar Bone

The Truth about a Collar Bone Break In the Elderly

A collar bone break is one of the most common childhood bone breaks. It is not a common injury for older adults and should be interpreted as a warning sign that something unsavory is happening in the nursing home. Older adults are far more likely to break one of the “long” bones, a hip, wrist, hand or ankle then they are to break their collar bone.

Elder abuse in nursing homes can occur in all forms. There are well-documented cases of elder abuse that ranges from physical abuse to emotional abuse and neglect. A collar bone break, because it is relatively rare in an older adult, should be scrutinized very closely.

According to Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee, roughly 30% of elderly care facilities (nursing homes, assisted living, residential care facilities) in the US were cited with over 8,900 charges of abuse in just a two-year period from 1999-2001.

These numbers point to an epidemic of abuse of the elderly in nursing homes. While citations are often issued according to the statistics, many family members never come forward to file formal charges. It is estimated that only 20% of the abuse that occurs in nursing homes is ever reported to the authorities.

Other Reasons to Be Concerned

A collar bone break can lead to serious infection in seniors. There is actually a very high morbidity rate where these type of breaks and seniors are concerned. The body’s ability to heal after this type of break in patients 65 years and older is greatly compromised.

The standard of care in even the most expensive of nursing homes/residential homes can be at best “bad” largely in part because there is so few checks and balances in place when it comes to qualified staff members. As a matter of fact, many of the staff members are not only “not highly qualified” but have been convicted of a crime.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services:

  • 92% of all nursing homes in the US employ at least one person with a criminal record.
  • 5% of all nursing home employees have some type of conviction.
  • There are no federal guidelines in place for a “standard operating procedure” for hiring staff members to work with the elderly in nursing homes.

There is no national standard for background checks on nursing home employees in the US. Some states have adopted their own mandates. There are still eight states that do not have a set of rules in place for background checks for nursing home employees. Seniors may be in danger of being “cared” for by inexperienced staff members that have a history of criminal activity.

Falls are most often blamed for a collar bone break in an elderly resident. While it may be true that there was a fall, it is still the facility’s responsibility to ensure safe movement of the residents. A highly trained staff would understand the importance of being aware and protecting those patients that are classified as “fall risk” residents. It is the facility’s responsibility to ensure that all of its residents are safe, cared for and engaged.

You Have To Act

If a loved one experiences a collar bone break, it is not an incident that can be ignored. There are a few things that you should demand:

  • Ask for the incident report AND ask to speak to any staff members that were present.
  • File a formal complaint with the local Department of Health and Human Services-Adult Services Division.
  • Contact an attorney that specializes in nursing home abuse cases.

Seniors deserve to be cared for, if you suspect that there is something inappropriate going on at a nursing home or other type of senior home, make sure you report it. Change will only come when enough people step forward.

 

Sources:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=92689

http://www.aquestionofjustice.com/2011/03/11/study-on-nursing-home-workers-with-criminal-records-not-shocking/

http://bmb.oxfordjournals.org/content/55/4/895.full.pdf

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