This week the Kentucky media was covering a story about an elderly resident of a nursing home in Georgia. The story concerned an 89-year-old WW2 veteran who died in an Atlanta area nursing home. The man was in distress and had waited over 8 minutes for the staff to arrive after he pressed the call light, calling for someone to help him.

When the staff arrived, they did nothing to help him and turned off his light and left him alone in his room. Hours later he was found unconscious in his room. To add insult to injury, the staff laughs (presumably at him) when they find him in his room and proceed to talk amongst themselves for several minutes before attempting CPR. They compressed his chest only six times before stopping. Then they called 911 almost an hour later. It was far too late and he died. A tragic, undignified death for a man who had fought and risked his life for our country.

As unbelievable as these events sound, it was all captured on video surveillance and used to cross-examine the staff who had lied about what happened. If it weren’t for the video, they may have gotten away with it.

This Level of Extreme Abuse and Neglect Is Far to Common in Nursing Homes and Care Facilities

This story of nursing home abuse and neglect has enraged many people in Kentucky and across the United States. People are often shocked and in disbelief when confronted with a story such as this. It is infuriating and frightening to think that people can be so cruel towards their fellow human. The unfortunate truth of this story, however, is that conduct like this is all too common long-term care and nursing care rehabilitation facilities.

As with the family of the man in the story, families and loved ones are often unaware or lied to when it comes to the care their loved one is receiving. In situations where the nursing home resident is unable to fully communicate, it is extremely important that extra care is taken to ensure that proper care is being delivered. When something about the nursing home care doesn’t feel quite right, it probably isn’t. Video surveillance can often help prove what happened when the memories of employees and their documentation don't add up.

The Ugly Truth About Abuse in Nursing Homes Can Be Difficult to Handle

In medicine, residents are taught that they shouldn’t order labs unless they are prepared to deal with the results. The same can be said with video surveillance and hidden cameras when it comes to nursing home care. Placing a nanny-cam or other recording device in a nursing home room can lead to horrifying discoveries.

Our firm recently handled a case for an elderly man whose wife and family made the difficult decision to move him into a nursing home. The did their research of Kentucky nursing homes and decided upon what they believed to be a good home. He was admitted and things went well the first few months. Then, subtle signs started to develop that would later be clear signs of trouble. Our client, unfortunately, was not able to speak and had limited cognitive function that made any form of communication difficult. After the first several months of being in the home, the family noticed he was unusually irritable when they visited. They brushed it off the first few times but then started to question the staff to see if they had any clue as to why this was happening. The staff had no answers. The family then turned to the nursing home administrator who explained that his condition of Alzheimer’s / dementia may be worsening and that this “just happens”. The family accepted what they were told as true and adjusted to their new dynamic.

A few more weeks went by and the family noticed their father looked thinner. They asked the staff about his weight loss who, again, had no answers. They met with the nursing home administrator and the director of nursing who assured them, after reviewing his chart, that he was eating just fine and that unfortunately, sometimes this type of weight loss just occurs. They promised the family that they would make certain he was being fed and eating as he should be. The family accepted this as true.

A Disgusting Display of Mankind at Its Worst

A few days after the meeting, however, our client’s daughter had an odd feeling that something wasn't right. After a discussion with her brother, they decided to hide a spy camera in their dad’s nursing home room. The next day they went back to retrieve the video. What they saw made them sick. Their father had been receiving his food every day, for every meal. The problem was, the staff was eating it. After leaving the camera for only one day, they witnessed the staff not only eating their father’s food but taunting him as they did it. It was a disgusting display of mankind at its worst. Staff members laughing in his face as they ate his meals. After ranting and raving about how inappropriate it was to place a camera in their father’s room without permission, the nursing home did the right thing and settled the case for their insurance policy limits and transferred our client to a better facility where he received proper care. Without the video, the tragedy may have remained unsolved. What this and the recent story from the news teach us is to trust your instincts when it comes to loved ones in nursing homes. If something doesn’t feel right, chances are, it's not right.

Matthew L. White
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Founder & Partner of Louisville Personal Injury Law Firm Gray & White Law

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