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Nursing Home Abuse Complaints Spike in Ohio

Nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at Pintas & Mullins report that the Ohio Attorney General recently announced that the state’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is seeing a spike in complaints regarding acts of abuse and neglect in Ohio nursing homes.

So far in 2013, the office of the Attorney General has opened more than 130 cases of alleged abuse and neglect – this is compared to the same time in 2012, when the office had less than 75 cases opened. Ohio recently reaffirmed its commitment to nursing home compliance and safety, and authorities in the Attorney General’s office are now aggressively investigating nursing homes they know to provide inadequate care.

The state is now hoping to go after the long-term care facilities that cause harm to their residents, even asserting that it will use in-room hidden surveillance cameras if necessary. One nursing home, Autumn Healthcare in Zanesville, Ohio, recently had its license revoked by the state’s Department of Aging. The revocation was due in part to an investigation by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, which revealed staff’s inability to provide proper medical, nutritional, and personal care to at least one resident.

The state has been tracking Autumn Healthcare recently, and in four years’ time the facility has failed to show any improvement. As the Attorney General warned it would, investigators worked with residents’ families and placed hidden cameras in some of the rooms. Unfortunately, the surveillance videos illuminated habitual patient neglect.

The Attorney General called the videos shocking and appalling, and said that some of the nurses were physically sickened by what they saw in reviewing the tapes. Criminal charges have not yet been filed, but are expected. Ohio sent a relocation team into Autumn Healthcare to help residents find other locations to stay after the facility’s license is officially revoked.

One video captured the abusive treatment of a stroke patient who had his food tray placed on the side of his body that had been paralyzed. He was completely unable to eat his meal, and nurses did absolutely nothing about it.

The mother of a recently deceased resident of Autumn Healthcare told a local news station that staff would throw the bedsheets off her mother at 5:30 a.m. and tell her she had to get up. She also once found her 94-year-old mother on the floor of her bathroom with no one around to help her.

Four other nursing homes have had their licenses revoked in Ohio since 2012, and officials are stating that Autumn will not be the last. Advocates commend Ohio’s use of hidden cameras in nursing homes with a pattern of abuse and neglect.

In 2010, one such advocate suspected her 95-year-old mother, who suffered from dementia, was being abused in a private, residential-care home in Columbus. She placed a hidden camera in her mother’s room, and within the first month, her fears were realized.

In the footage she saw her mother in bed, calling out for help for several hours before anyone came to help her. By that time, she had soiled the bed, and the nursing aide began berating her, yelling just a few inches from her face. The nurse threw a clean gown at her mother, which hit her in the face. Her daughter confronted the facility director about the abuse, and the nursing aide was immediately fired.

Nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at Pintas & Mullins are currently investigating allegations of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation at the hands of nursing home staff. If you or a loved one was seriously injured by negligent elder care, you have important legal rights, and may be entitled to significant compensation for any medical bills and emotional distress.