Nursing Home Justice Blog

How Common is Nursing Home Abuse in Colorado?

Written By:

Attorney Mac Hester

Date Posted:

January 4, 2023

It might be hard to believe someone would take advantage of a nursing home resident; however, the Colorado Department of Human Services states that Adult Protective Services receives 25,000 reports of suspected mistreatment yearly.

With new data and publicly viewable reports, you can see exactly what happens behind the closed doors of a nursing home facility, and the details of these reports are appalling.

Nursing Home Abuse is a Global Issue

Nursing home abuse goes well beyond the borders of Colorado and has impacted residents on a global scale. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 6 people aged 60 years or older has suffered from some form of abuse within the past year. Additionally, 2 in 3 staff reported that they had committed abuse themselves in the past year.

The reported abuse ranges widely in type and prevalence. According to the same source, the most common forms of abuse reported were psychological (11.6%), financial (6.8%), neglect (4.2%), physical (2.6%), and sexual (0.9%).

The recent Covid-19 pandemic only increased the prevalence of nursing home abuse, and the Biden Administration has committed to change.

An Overview of Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect in Colorado

 According to propublica.org, there are 219 total nursing homes in Colorado. When any of these nursing homes fail to meet a federal participation requirement, which harms their residents, they are cited for a deficiency.

For example, a nursing home might receive a deficiency when they neglect to implement an infection control program, leading to an increased risk for disease, or when they fail to protect a resident from an abusive staff member. Deficiencies are given a letter rating from A through L—A being the least severe and L being the most.

Out of the total nursing homes in the state, 49 have been reported to have serious deficiencies, and 198 were infection-related deficiencies. Additionally, 41 nursing homes have received payment suspensions, which often occur when fraud is suspected. Altogether, nursing homes in Colorado have been issued $10.5 million in penalties.

Medicare 5-Star Rating System

The Medicare.gov 5-star rating system also provides valuable insight into the quality of care provided in Colorado nursing homes. Medicare.gov considers health inspections, staffing, and quality measures when determining a nursing home’s overall rating. Of the 219 nursing homes in Colorado, 45 have received a much below-average rating of one star.

Most Common Incidents of Abuse & Neglect

Reports of abuse and neglect in nursing homes are made public on propublica.org and include incidents of physical abuse, caretaker neglect, and more.

Lack of Infection Control Programs

Leading up to the Covid-19 pandemic, many nursing homes were cited for failing to implement an effective infection control program to prevent the spread of viruses and diseases.

The pandemic has made it more critical than ever to properly contain deadly viruses that put vulnerable residents’ lives at stake. Reports stated several incidents where staff members failed to take precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and isolate infected residents.

Failing to Care for Residents to Ensure Proper Hygiene

Given certain residents’ mobility issues, staff members must assist them with daily activities people take for granted, such as clipping toenails, bathing, changing clothes, and maintaining a clean living space. In one report, a resident went several hours without emptying their portable toilet, causing the room to smell of urine and feces.

Neglecting Patients

When nursing homes are short-staffed and overcrowded, staff members lack the capacity to care for each resident’s needs. As a result, residents are left to their own devices for hours on end, and when emergencies occur, no one comes to help. One resident in a recent report stated that their call light was out of reach when they needed it.

Even when residents hit their call light, they reported that nobody came to help them. Some residents resorted to verbally yelling for their caregivers to give them attention. However, their cries for help fell on deaf ears.

Medication Errors

Another all-too-common occurrence in nursing homes is medication errors. Staff members have either failed to follow a resident’s treatment plan or failed to monitor a resident’s medication intake.

A report from a Colorado nursing home stated that staff members and nurses failed to ensure a resident could take their own meds. Upon further investigation, it turned out that the patient never received a mental evaluation and was deemed to have a moderate cognitive impairment, which would require a nurse to ensure the patient takes their medication.

Let Nursing Home Justice Help You Recover

As you can see, nursing home abuse and neglect are common throughout Colorado. These incidents have left long-term damage to residents and their families. Nursing Home Justice knows how to find who’s liable and hold them accountable for the damages they caused.

Contact Nursing Home Justice today by calling (303) 775-8128 to schedule your free consultation.

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