Senior abuse and neglect lawyers at Pintas & Mullins recently reported on families who placed hidden cameras in the rooms of loved ones in nursing homes. In one of the cases, the family of a 96-year-old woman found that their mother was being abused at an Oklahoma City facility. The family reported their findings to the Oklahoma Department of Health, but their frustrations continue to mount as they fear other residents are being placed in harm’s way.
Their mother, Eryetha Mayberry, suffered from dementia, and could not clearly recount what was happening to her at the Quail Creek Nursing Home. Worried for her safety, her daughters placed a hidden camera in her bedroom. The videos revealed two nursing aides violently shoving rubber gloves into Mayberry’s mouth, taunting her, and pushing her head.
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The family immediately reported the abuse to the Oklahoma Department of Health in April 2012, but to this day they have not received any information regarding an internal investigation at Quail Creek. They are sick of waiting for answers, and are now demanding more be done to protect potential abuse and neglect victims at the facility.
Mayberry’s two daughters have been trying to follow up with both the facility and the Department of Health for almost one year now, to no avail. The Department of Health released a statement regarding the issue, saying that Quail Creek did report the abuse, and took quick and proper action to correct the incident and protect residents. They also stated that Quail Creek was going to conduct a thorough internal investigation.
Upon hearing this, the family requested to see the nursing home’s investigation reports. The only information they were able to receive was regarding the local law enforcement’s actions, which included two arrests and one conviction and incarceration.
Between July 2011 and June 2012, the Oklahoma Department of Heath received more than 1,200 complaints on nursing home facilities and cited more than 1,000 facilities based on those complaints. Overall, the state cited over 7,600 nursing homes for violations, and took more than 400 enforcement actions. To put this in perspective, Oklahoma has only about 315 licensed nursing homes in operation.
Mayberry’s family ardently believes that more incidents of abuse and neglect are happening than are being reported. They say families of loved ones in nursing homes need to stay on their toes, keep a watchful eye on staff, and consider placing a camera if they have any suspicions.
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Nursing home abuse can be physical, like what happened to Mayberry, or psychological. As seen in the Quail Creek video, staff sometimes physically abuse vulnerable residents by slapping, pushing, shaking, or by sedating them with dangerous medications. They know that these residents suffer from cognitive disorders that prevent them from telling their loved ones about what is happening to them.
Psychological abuse is much more subtle, but just as damaging to the victim. This can take form in belittlement, threats, isolation, and intentional negligence. Nursing home neglect is also much more common than we think, because it goes largely unreported, but can directly cause the death of a loved one. Negligence of this kind can occur when staff either consciously refuse or are too understaffed to give appropriate care to each resident. As a result, seniors can become dangerously malnourished, dehydrated, or develop bed sores that eventually become infected, leading to sepsis and, ultimately, death.
Vigilance, such as the Mayberry family demonstrated, is the only way to catch and prevent such acts of abuse and neglect. Elder abuse and neglect lawyers at Pintas & Mullins have extensive experience working with victims and their families. If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries from any acts of abuse or negligence, you have important legal rights, and may be entitled to compensation through a nursing home lawsuit.