Sexual and Physical Abuse

Written By: Kenneth LaBore | Published On: 7th February 2010
Resident Should Be Free From Sexual and Physical Abuse

Resident Should Be Free From Sexual and Physical Abuse

Nursing Home Residents Must Be Free From Sexual and Physical Abuse

Any type of sexual and physical abuse in a nursing home environment is wrong and a crime.  Under the Minnesota Nursing Homes Residents Bill of Rights, all residents have the right to be free from harm, including sexual and physical abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. Physical abuse is the most common type of abuse in nursing homes but sexual abuse also occurs behind closed doors. No one wants to think that this could be happening to a family member. Sexual abuse can be one of the hardest things to admit to and to overcome but it is incredibly important for the welfare of all residents that any act of sexual abuse be reported to a nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible.

Sexual and Physical  Abuse of Nursing Home Residents

Sexual  and physical abuse usually happens behind closed doors. The criminal will often attack at night and will leave the victim feeling disgusted and ashamed.  Furthermore, sexual abuse often comes with mental abuse as well.  Name calling, treating the residents in a demeaning or threatening manner and harassment all fall under the category of verbal abuse. In many instances, a resident will be intimated by verbal abuse and will not report the sexual or physical abuse due to fear and shame or a fear that they will not be believed.  Resident’s are also fearful that if they cause a problem they will be forced out of the facility and have nowhere to go.  Be on the lookout for the following signs and symptoms of sexual abuse in a resident:

  • Any physical cuts, scratches or bruising
  • Signs of depression or anxiety
  • Extreme fear or nervousness, especially when an employee is present
  • Isolation
  • Mood changes
  • Weight loss or weight gain

Sexual abuse can lead to severe emotional complications including low self esteem, suicidal thoughts and depression.  It is critical for the welfare of all residents that sexual abuse be stopped immediately.

What to Do if You Suspect Sexual and Physical Abuse

If you suspect that your loved one is being abused sexually, then you need to speak to them about it.  Often times the resident will feel so ashamed that they will deny anything is wrong. Look for the signs of nursing home sexual and mental abuse, as listed above, and report any suspicious behavior to the authorities.  By contacting an ensuring nursing home abuse lawyer, you are ensuring that all residents, both present and future, are protected against this criminal behavior.

In many cases, nursing home sexual abuse occurs because the nursing staff has not been givne a proper background check during the hiring process.  Most nursing homes are understaffed with high rates of turnoever thus the nursing home may often have a need to overlook hiring protocols designed to protect the safety of the residents.  It is the law that all nursing staff have a criminal background check but this is often waived due to the high demand for staff.  In many instances, a nurse with a history of abuse will still be able to find work in nursing homes or other form of elder care facility, despite having been placed on a watch list.   Often times sexual abuse of nursing home residents is a preventable form of neglect if the facility management would have the required background checks for new employees as well as enough staff to ensure the residents are well supervised, reducing the liklihood of sexual assaults.

Sexual and Physical Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes

Sometimes it is difficult to determine if there was an incident of abuse or neglect suffered by a nursing home resident.  Due to the complex nature of the care needs of many residents it is not always immediately evident if a person’s condition is the result of declining health or a disease process or due to either physical abuse or more subtly neglect.

Federal Regulations Prohibit  Sexual and Physical Abuse and Neglect of Nursing Home Residents
42 CFR § 483.10   Resident rights.

The resident has a right to a dignified existence, self-determination, and communication with and access to persons and services inside and outside the facility.  A facility must protect and promote the rights of each resident, including each of the following rights:

(a) Exercise of rights. (1) The resident has the right to exercise his or her rights as a resident of the facility and as a citizen or resident of the United States.

(2) The resident has the right to be free of interference, coercion, discrimination, and reprisal from the facility in exercising his or her rights.

(3) In the case of a resident adjudged incompetent under the laws of a State by a court of competent jurisdiction, the rights of the resident are exercised by the person appointed under State law to act on the resident’s behalf.

(4) In the case of a resident who has not been adjudged incompetent by the State court, any legal-surrogate designated in accordance with State law may exercise the resident’s rights to the extent provided by State law.

Minnesota law also prohibits abuse and Neglect of Nursing Home Residents

Vulnerable Adult’s Act Minnesota Statute § 626.5572, Subd. 2.  Sexual and Physical Abuse.

“Abuse” means:

(a) An act against a vulnerable adult that constitutes a violation of, an attempt to violate, or aiding and abetting a violation of:

(1) assault in the first through fifth degrees as defined in sections 609.221 to 609.224;

(2) the use of drugs to injure or facilitate crime as defined in section 609.235;

(3) the solicitation, inducement, and promotion of prostitution as defined in section 609.322; and

(4) criminal sexual conduct in the first through fifth degrees as defined in sections 609.342 to 609.3451.
A violation includes any action that meets the elements of the crime, regardless of whether there is a criminal proceeding or conviction.

(b) Conduct which is not an accident or therapeutic conduct as defined in this section, which produces or could reasonably be expected to produce physical pain or injury or emotional distress including, but not limited to, the following:

(1) hitting, slapping, kicking, pinching, biting, or corporal punishment of a vulnerable adult;

(2) use of repeated or malicious oral, written, or gestured language toward a vulnerable adult or the treatment of a vulnerable adult which would be considered by a reasonable person to be disparaging, derogatory, humiliating, harassing, or threatening;

(3) use of any aversive or deprivation procedure, unreasonable confinement, or involuntary seclusion, including the forced separation of the vulnerable adult from other persons against the will of the vulnerable adult or the legal representative of the vulnerable adult; and

(4) use of any aversive or deprivation procedures for persons with developmental disabilities or related conditions not authorized under section 245.825.

(c) Any sexual contact or penetration as defined in section 609.341, between a facility staff person or a person providing services in the facility and a resident, patient, or client of that facility.

(d) The act of forcing, compelling, coercing, or enticing a vulnerable adult against the vulnerable adult’s will to perform services for the advantage of another.

(e) For purposes of this section, a vulnerable adult is not abused for the sole reason that the vulnerable adult or a person with authority to make health care decisions for the vulnerable adult under sections 144.651, 144A.44, chapter 145B, 145C or 252A, or section 253B.03 or 524.5-313, refuses consent or withdraws consent, consistent with that authority and within the boundary of reasonable medical practice, to any therapeutic conduct, including any care, service, or procedure to diagnose, maintain, or treat the physical or mental condition of the vulnerable adult or, where permitted under law, to provide nutrition and hydration parenterally or through intubation. This paragraph does not enlarge or diminish rights otherwise held under law by:

(1) a vulnerable adult or a person acting on behalf of a vulnerable adult, including an involved family member, to consent to or refuse consent for therapeutic conduct; or

(2) a caregiver to offer or provide or refuse to offer or provide therapeutic conduct.

(f) For purposes of this section, a vulnerable adult is not abused for the sole reason that the vulnerable adult, a person with authority to make health care decisions for the vulnerable adult, or a caregiver in good faith selects and depends upon spiritual means or prayer for treatment or care of disease or remedial care of the vulnerable adult in lieu of medical care, provided that this is consistent with the prior practice or belief of the vulnerable adult or with the expressed intentions of the vulnerable adult.

(g) For purposes of this section, a vulnerable adult is not abused for the sole reason that the vulnerable adult, who is not impaired in judgment or capacity by mental or emotional dysfunction or undue influence, engages in consensual sexual contact with:

(1) a person, including a facility staff person, when a consensual sexual personal relationship existed prior to the caregiving relationship; or

(2) a personal care attendant, regardless of whether the consensual sexual personal relationship existed prior to the caregiving relationship.

Minnesota Statute § 626.5572, Subd. 9.  Financial exploitation.

“Financial exploitation” means:

(a) In breach of a fiduciary obligation recognized elsewhere in law, including pertinent regulations, contractual obligations, documented consent by a competent person, or the obligations of a responsible party under section 144.6501, a person:

(1) engages in unauthorized expenditure of funds entrusted to the actor by the vulnerable adult which results or is likely to result in detriment to the vulnerable adult; or

(2) fails to use the financial resources of the vulnerable adult to provide food, clothing, shelter, health care, therapeutic conduct or supervision for the vulnerable adult, and the failure results or is likely to result in detriment to the vulnerable adult.

(b) In the absence of legal authority a person:

(1) willfully uses, withholds, or disposes of funds or property of a vulnerable adult;

(2) obtains for the actor or another the performance of services by a third person for the wrongful profit or advantage of the actor or another to the detriment of the vulnerable adult;

(3) acquires possession or control of, or an interest in, funds or property of a vulnerable adult through the use of undue influence, harassment, duress, deception, or fraud; or

(4) forces, compels, coerces, or entices a vulnerable adult against the vulnerable adult’s will to perform services for the profit or advantage of another.

(c) Nothing in this definition requires a facility or caregiver to provide financial management or supervise financial management for a vulnerable adult except as otherwise required by law.

“Initial disposition” is the lead agency’s determination of whether the report will be assigned for further investigation.

Minnesota Statute § 626.5572, Subd. 15.  Maltreatment.

“Maltreatment” means abuse as defined in subdivision 2, neglect as defined in subdivision 17, or financial exploitation as defined in subdivision 9.

Minnesota Statute § 626.5572, Subd. 17.  Neglect.

“Neglect” means:

(a) The failure or omission by a caregiver to supply a vulnerable adult with care or services, including but not limited to, food, clothing, shelter, health care, or supervision which is:

(1) reasonable and necessary to obtain or maintain the vulnerable adult’s physical or mental health or safety, considering the physical and mental capacity or dysfunction of the vulnerable adult; and

(2) which is not the result of an accident or therapeutic conduct.

(b) The absence or likelihood of absence of care or services, including but not limited to, food, clothing, shelter, health care, or supervision necessary to maintain the physical and mental health of the vulnerable adult which a reasonable person would deem essential to obtain or maintain the vulnerable adult’s health, safety, or comfort considering the physical or mental capacity or dysfunction of the vulnerable adult.

(c) For purposes of this section, a vulnerable adult is not neglected for the sole reason that:

(1) the vulnerable adult or a person with authority to make health care decisions for the vulnerable adult under sections 144.651, 144A.44, chapter 145B, 145C, or 252A, or sections 253B.03 or 524.5-101 to 524.5-502, refuses consent or withdraws consent, consistent with that authority and within the boundary of reasonable medical practice, to any therapeutic conduct, including any care, service, or procedure to diagnose, maintain, or treat the physical or mental condition of the vulnerable adult, or, where permitted under law, to provide nutrition and hydration parenterally or through intubation; this paragraph does not enlarge or diminish rights otherwise held under law by:

(i) a vulnerable adult or a person acting on behalf of a vulnerable adult, including an involved family member, to consent to or refuse consent for therapeutic conduct; or

(ii) a caregiver to offer or provide or refuse to offer or provide therapeutic conduct; or

(2) the vulnerable adult, a person with authority to make health care decisions for the vulnerable adult, or a caregiver in good faith selects and depends upon spiritual means or prayer for treatment or care of disease or remedial care of the vulnerable adult in lieu of medical care, provided that this is consistent with the prior practice or belief of the vulnerable adult or with the expressed intentions of the vulnerable adult;

(3) the vulnerable adult, who is not impaired in judgment or capacity by mental or emotional dysfunction or undue influence, engages in consensual sexual contact with:

(i) a person including a facility staff person when a consensual sexual personal relationship existed prior to the caregiving relationship; or

(ii) a personal care attendant, regardless of whether the consensual sexual personal relationship existed prior to the caregiving relationship; or

(4) an individual makes an error in the provision of therapeutic conduct to a vulnerable adult which does not result in injury or harm which reasonably requires medical or mental health care; or

(5) an individual makes an error in the provision of therapeutic conduct to a vulnerable adult that results in injury or harm, which reasonably requires the care of a physician, and:

(i) the necessary care is provided in a timely fashion as dictated by the condition of the vulnerable adult;

(ii) if after receiving care, the health status of the vulnerable adult can be reasonably expected, as determined by the attending physician, to be restored to the vulnerable adult’s preexisting condition;

(iii) the error is not part of a pattern of errors by the individual;

(iv) if in a facility, the error is immediately reported as required under section 626.557, and recorded internally in the facility;

(v) if in a facility, the facility identifies and takes corrective action and implements measures designed to reduce the risk of further occurrence of this error and similar errors; and

(vi) if in a facility, the actions required under items (iv) and (v) are sufficiently documented for review and evaluation by the facility and any applicable licensing, certification, and ombudsman agency.

(d) Nothing in this definition requires a caregiver, if regulated, to provide services in excess of those required by the caregiver’s license, certification, registration, or other regulation.

(e) If the findings of an investigation by a lead agency result in a determination of substantiated maltreatment for the sole reason that the actions required of a facility under paragraph (c), clause (5), item (iv), (v), or (vi), were not taken, then the facility is subject to a correction order. An individual will not be found to have neglected or maltreated the vulnerable adult based solely on the facility’s not having taken the actions required under paragraph (c), clause (5), item (iv), (v), or (vi). This must not alter the lead agency’s determination of mitigating factors under section 626.557, subdivision 9c, paragraph (c).

Minnesota Statute § 626.5572, Subd. 21. Vulnerable adult.

(a) “Vulnerable adult” means any person 18 years of age or older who:

(1) is a resident or inpatient of a facility;

(2) receives services at or from a facility required to be licensed to serve adults under sections 245A.01 to 245A.15, except that a person receiving outpatient services for treatment of chemical dependency or mental illness, or one who is served in the Minnesota sex offender program on a court-hold order for commitment, or is committed as a sexual psychopathic personality or as a sexually dangerous person under chapter 253B, is not considered a vulnerable adult unless the person meets the requirements of clause (4);

(3) receives services from a home care provider required to be licensed under section 144A.46; or from a person or organization that exclusively offers, provides, or arranges for personal care assistant services under the medical assistance program as authorized under sections 256B.04, subdivision 16, 256B.0625, subdivision 19a, 256B.0651, 256B.0653 to 256B.0656, and 256B.0659; or

(4) regardless of residence or whether any type of service is received, possesses a physical or mental infirmity or other physical, mental, or emotional dysfunction:

(i) that impairs the individual’s ability to provide adequately for the individual’s own care without assistance, including the provision of food, shelter, clothing, health care, or supervision; and

(ii) because of the dysfunction or infirmity and the need for care or services, the individual has an impaired ability to protect the individual’s self from maltreatment.

(b) For purposes of this subdivision, “care or services” means care or services for the health, safety, welfare, or maintenance of an individual.

According to Nursing Home Patient Bill of Rights, Minnesota Statute § 144.651, Subd. 14. Freedom from sexual and physical abuse and maltreatment.

Patients and residents shall be free from maltreatment as defined in the Vulnerable Adults Protection Act. “Maltreatment” means conduct described in section 626.5572, subdivision 15, or the intentional and nontherapeutic infliction of physical pain or injury, or any persistent course of conduct intended to produce mental or emotional distress. Every patient and resident shall also be free from nontherapeutic chemical and physical restraints, except in fully documented emergencies, or as authorized in writing after examination by a patient’s or resident’s physician for a specified and limited period of time, and only when necessary to protect the resident from self-injury or injury to others.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury from neglect or physical abuse in a nursing home or other care facility that serves the elderly in Minnesota please contact our firm for a free consultation and information regarding the obligations of the facility and your rights as a resident or concerned family member.  To contact Attorney Kenneth L. LaBore, directly please send an email to KLabore@MNnursinghomeneglect.com, or call Ken at 612-743-9048 or toll free at 1-888-452-6589.

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Free Consultation on Issues of Elder Abuse and Neglect Serving all of Minnesota Toll Free 1-888-452-6589

Free Consultation on Issues of Elder Abuse and Neglect Serving all of Minnesota Toll Free 1-888-452-6589

 

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