Nursing Home Expert Witness Comments on Elderly Abuse Case

    This case involves alleged elderly abuse by a nurse in a nursing home. The plaintiff, in this case, was a seventy-nine-year-old female who frequently attempted to walk the halls at night, which had been determined to be due to her dementia. The normal night staff, and nurse responsible for the plaintiff’s wing, usually explained the situation and ushered the plaintiff back to her room. On the night in question, the normal nurse switched her shift with a nurse who only worked during the day, and was unaware of the plaintiff’s condition. During the night, the nurse found the plaintiff wandering the halls and aggressively inquired what the plaintiff was doing. The plaintiff responded, and the defendant/nurse grabbed her forcefully to pull her back to her room. The plaintiff became frightened and tried to get away, shouting and screaming. The defendant-nurse released her grip and the plaintiff fell to the ground, breaking her hip. Plaintiff retained an expert that specializes in the use of force for this case.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. What procedures should the nursing home have had in place to prevent an incident like this?

    Expert Witness Response

    In nursing homes, communication and attention to detail are essential. In this case, the individual healthcare needs and issues with all residents should have been clearly documented and explained to the substitute nurse. Additionally, the previous training and educational measures need to be analyzed to see how the substitute nurse had been instructed and prepared to handle a situation like the one in this case. Normally, when a resident appears disoriented or confused (especially given the circumstances in this case), the nurse should calmly explain the situation to the resident. If needed, the nurse should call for additional parties to assist with the resident. In no circumstances should the nurse, by herself or himself, use physical force to place the resident back in their room. Because of that, it appears that the nurse, and the nursing home, breached the standard of care for the resident in question.

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