My mom's in a nursing home with Alzheimer's. She was physically assaulted by another resident. Who is liable?

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She was punched several times in the chest and arms and shoulders by a gentleman residant. She is in a wheelchair and quite frail and unable to protect herself. She is not in a lockdown unit and is free to go to activities provided in the residance which she enjoys and avails herself of. I understand the gentleman in question has had episodes of violence before. I do not blame him as I would imagine his medication must be in need of adjustment or perhaps he is in need of transfer to a lock down unit if his behavior is becoming unpredictable. His family is extremely distraught but my Mother has been left bruised and frightened. It is difficult for all concerned. How do I best make it clear that I will not tolerate my mother being assaulted and who is ultimately liable for her safety. Is it the nursing home? Am I correct in asking for their policy and procedure in cases like this and what they intend to do about it. Their attitude seemed to be simply to file an incident report. Thank you for any help you can give me in how to best handle this in a civilized but firm manner.

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Revers... I admire you for being able to do it. It takes a special person, and so much patience. God bless you.
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My Mom has alzheimers and I take care of her and hired help. I have cameras and do background checks and she is spoiled with one on one care. I strongl believe we should take care of our parents because with this disease they want a hand to hold, someone close and are afraid but cant say it. I have interviewed many many cnas whom told me all about the nursing homes and how the have to walk away from then when they hold out their hand, the couldnt take it and do home care now. I sure wouldnt want to be alone if I was confused would you? I did use daycare when I worked fulltime, I know its ver hard, but it can be done if ou really want to. I guess I am old fashioned, yes stressed a lot man times, but its just how I feel, we are all different. Take care.
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Hi reverseroles. Sadly many people can't keep parents at home. Especially with Alzheimers, as they try to get out, stay up all night, can be a danger to themselves or others. Or, as in my own case, mother had mental problems which cause her to just be mean and critical. We could never live together. She is in assisted living, and when the time comes will be in a nursing home. It's such a case by case decision for every family. Another thing I'd like to share with all is that many people have the misconception that if they are private pay they will get better treatment than those on Medicaid. Not true. The caregivers don't know who is paying and who is government supported. Our society has changed. My grandparents were cared for at home until death, or in one case of dementia, until she needed to be watched 24 hrs a day. I cannot do it for my own mother, and do not expect it of my children. With couples both working these days, nobody is home to take care of the elderly, and even with big families, it is often an unfair situation with one child bearing the burden, while the others have excuses.
Most nursing homes try their best to provide good care for everyone, but the direct caregivers (nurses' aides) are not well educated, or well paid for the difficult job they do. I applaud those who do it with love and kindness.
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Thats just so sad is digsusting, Awful! I would go get her home right away and keep her there with help. Oh dear, poor thing!
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Also----if the situation continues, and you are unable to move your mother to another facility, and feel you have received no satisfaction or improvement in her safety, there is another avenue. When the facility has its annual survey, be sure to approach a surveyor and ask if you can speak with them privately. Let them know your concerns. I am assuming you checked out the public records on the facility before your mother was admitted, and results of previous state surveys are available online.
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I am so sorry that happened, but definitely the nursing home is responsible party. I am a retired nursing home administrator. They have a legal responsibility to keep your parent safe. Their investigation should include many things, and conclude with a plan of action, stating what they intend to do to prevent this from happening again. It may be that the aggressor's meds need to be changed; it may be that a room change is a good idea to keep them apart; or it may simply conclude that this was unavoidable and unpredictable, and they will provide better supervision. That said, it's a very difficult situation when you are dealing with dementia. Nobody can know what set him off, or why she was the target.

You can file a complaint with the state; if you have an ombudsman office in your state, call and file a complaint with their office. It's true the facility cannot control every resident at every moment and these things do happen unfortunately, but it needs to be thoroughly investigated. Did the other patient have a history of this behavior? in which case, they should have been watching him more carefully. If this is the first time he has acted out, there may be nothing to be done, as they couldn't have predicted it. Unless there was lack of supervision, and no facility can afford one-on-one care, it is unlikely anyone is going to pursue this legally. You don't want to be a thorn in the side of people who need to be your allies, but it pays to be a strong advocate for your parent, and very assertive. Staff very quickly learn which residents have children that will insist on the best care. All residents deserve the best care, but in nursing homes and in life, the squeaky wheel gets greased. Believe me, it makes a difference.

I loved my job, but dealing with situations such as this are very stressful on everyone. So happy to be retired. (Now I only deal with one elderly person, Mom, and that is challenging enough!)
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I am so sorry about your mom. You seem to be a very kind and loving daughter. I can tell by your post. Do you like the Nursing Home? Unfortunately, because the government will only reimburse them for so many people being on duty at one time, they often go understaffed. My mom was in one of the best nursing homes that I could ever find, however they were so understaffed that she feel one day and was taken to the hospital. Her roommate told me that she had been on the floor without her oxygen for a long time. She said she was pushing the call button but no one ever came so she said she started to yell as loud as she could. She was such a sweet sweet lady and was very concerned about my mom. I was so torn because I really liked the nursing home and it was just beautiful. She did return to the nursing home because my thoughts were that they all are so understaffed because of the way the government reimburses them. I remember I had asked the occupational therapist if she would see my mom a little longer and she said she couldn't because they were only allowed so many minutes with her because that was all that Medicare allowed. If I were you and you think that you are going to keep her there, I would tell them EXACTLY WHAT YOU WROTE. You won't tolerate it ever again, you want to know what they plan on doing to protect your mom from this happening again, and you did not appreciate the "non concerned" attitudes that you received already. If you have any red flags about the nursing home (other than this huge one) I would start to look for another one. There are some WONDERFUL ones out there (not perfect) but as perfect as the government will allow them to be. May I also suggest that you hire someone to look in on your mom or ask friends or other family members to drop by as often as you can. There are wonderful mommy's out there who need something to do while there children are in school and would love to earn a little money and peek in on your mom. Just a thought. I just lost my mom not too long ago and I miss her dearly. You are a wonderful daughter and a very caring one too! I can just tell in your post, you are angry but you aren't using hateful words. God Bless you for not putting blame on the man. Some nursing homes have to find new homes for people like him. It may be time that they did. Demand some answers. Maybe ask if your mom can be moved to a room that is located right in front of a nurses station? HUGS and LOVE to you!
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Definitely find out how the NH intends to deal with violent patients in the future. Report them to the relevant NH licensing authority AND the police. Assault is a criminal matter no matter where it occurs. I'm so sorry about your mother - that should never have happened.
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Every single word Veronica said...

I am so sorry that this happened to your mom. My heart goes out to you both. I understand that the elderly man really can't be blamed for his actions, but that facility damn sure should be, especially if the man has had violent episodes before. He should NEVER, ever been allowed to roam free after the FIRST time he got violent, period. All I can say, is I'd report them, and heads would roll.
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Unfortunately injuries, attacks, falls, accidents and abuse are not uncommon in N/H. It is due to minimally trained staff and too few of them. Such incidents as one patient attacking another at least in NYS are reported to the state and an investigation is begun, It can result in a temporary stop on admissions or the termination of the facilities license.
When you are requesting a patient's medical records be sure to include the nursing notes. This is in a separate section of the patients "chart" often just a folder and sometimes kept on computer. Every nurse on every shift must write a report on the patients assigned to him/her. They must document behavior eating, drinking activities sleeping refusal of care or medications. Anything unusual. A night nurse may simply write " Mrs X slept all night took her meds and walked to the B/R unaided and says she will get dressed when the day shift arrives." if any kind of incident occurred in her area the nurse would report her reaction . " She might note " Mrs X was very upset because her room mate fell this morning and was taken to the ER. She is very worried she will be assigned another room mate as she and Miss A have become good friends" The POA has the right to read those notes and they can be very illuminating. The N/H may be reluctant to comply.
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