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Former nursing home employee on trial for alleged patient abuse

A couple weeks ago, we wrote about the fact that dental hygiene is often overlooked or neglected in nursing homes. As the population of elderly Americans increases, nursing homes in Pennsylvania and across the nation find themselves with inadequately sized staffs. As such, important care gets neglected. 

Unfortunately, neglect is not the only problem facing the nation's nursing homes. It seems like the news is filled each week with stories of nursing home abuse perpetrated by staff members against vulnerable patients. No matter where they occur, such incidents horrify nearly anyone who has had to place a family member or loved on in a nursing home. 

The Associated Press reported late last month about a former nursing home employee in South Dakota who is on trial for criminal charges related to the alleged abuse of a patient. According to news sources, the 36-year-old woman is accused of physically abusing a 76-year-old female patient last November.

Prosecutors say that the employee pulled the patient's hair, pinned down the woman's legs with her own knee and squeezed her chest, all in an apparent attempt to get the woman to take her medication. She also allegedly threw water in the patient's face from a cup or pitcher that was kept near the bed.

If convicted, the former nursing home employee could face up to two years in prison.

Self defense and the restraint of violent patients are frequently used justifications in these kinds of cases. But there is simply no justification appropriate for the kind of inhumane and violent actions like the ones described here. The patient's family or other loved ones may wish to pursue a civil lawsuit in addition to criminal charges.

Source: Rapid City Journal, "Former nursing home worker on trial for abuse," Aug. 28, 2013

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