According to a new exposé by ProPublica, an unknown number of senior citizens who die in nursing homes around the country may have died due to nursing home abuse.However, their families may never know because investigations into such a wrongful death are rare. Nursing home abuse attorneys are well aware of the serious nature of the problem. When investigating these matters, we often find that the nursing home has been active in trying to cover up the abuse, rather than conducting an honest investigation which uncovers the issue and provides useful information to improving the care they provide.
As part of the exposé, the team at ProPublicainvestigated coroner and medical examiner’s office records, and looked at the number of sudden and unusual fatalities at several nursing homes.They found in their investigations that in cases involving seniors who die suddenly, or under any kind of suspicious circumstances, there is no guarantee of any investigation into the death.ProPublicahas reached several conclusions that point to systemic flaws.
For instance, when a senior death is reported as natural, coroners and medical examiners very rarely investigate it.However, the fact is that very often, doctors make errors in judging whether a death is natural or not.In one study conducted in 2008, approximately 50% of doctors were not able to correctly identify the cause of death for an elderly patient who had died after a brain injury that occurred as a result of a fall accident.What this means is that an unknown number of deaths in nursing homes are probably being classified as natural deaths, when they are anything but.
Also, in many states, doctors are allowed to write out a death certificate without even seeing the body.In one case that the ProPublicateam came across during this investigation, a Pennsylvania doctor reported that a 83-year-old person had died of natural causes, when in fact, the death had been the result of beating by nursing home staff.The doctor never saw the patient, and never noticed the bruises on the man’s body, that would’ve alerted him to the fact that this was not a natural death.
Additionally, autopsies of senior citizens have become increasingly rare in the country.According to government statistics between 1972 and 2007, the share of autopsies being performed on senior citizens dropped from 37% to 17%.
All this means that too many suspicious, unnatural deaths in nursing homes are probably not being investigated and not being reported.The persons responsible for the negligence or neglect that resulted in these deaths are also not being held accountable for their actions.
ProPublica’sfindingsare even more concerning when you consider that the baby boomer population is aging rapidly, and is expected to soon enter its 70s.Nursing homes in Georgia and around the country are likely to operate at full capacity, as families and caregivers look for homes for aging loved ones.From this report, it seems that there are too many flaws in the current system to handle an increase in the population of senior citizens in nursing homes.
The nursing home abuse attorneys at the Katz Personal Injury Lawyers represent persons who have been injured, or family members of persons who have died as a result of nursing home abuse in the metro Atlanta region and across Georgia.