Eradicating Elder Abuse in California Nursing Homes

By Linda K. Chen*

* J.D. Candidate, Santa Clara School of Law, 2012.

Excerpt from Eradicating Elder Abuse in California Nursing Homes, 52 Santa Clara L. Rev. 213 (2012)

Introduction

For weeks, three certified nursing assistants (CNAs) at a California nursing home physically assaulted and sexually battered a paralyzed seventy-eight-year-old man dependent on nursing staff for bathing and toileting. 1 They pinched his nipples and penis, twisted the skin on his arms, and forced him to eat *** from his adult briefs. 2 Another patient at the same facility, with mental retardation and cerebral palsy, was often given cold showers and hit on the head with soap bottles before being paraded back to his room naked and soaking wet. 3 The three CNAs took videos of this conduct, and even showed fellow nursing home staff; but no one reported it until after the damage was done. 4This conduct is atrocious, inhumane, and criminal, yet the abuse at this facility went on for months and affected five male nursing home residents. 5 None of the CNAs involved in the abuse were ever criminally prosecuted. 6 Egregious conduct like this captures headlines, seizes the nation's attention, and horrifies America. 7 However, most cases of elder abuse and neglect proceed undetected by society. 8 Victims often suffer in silence, perhaps dealing with painful bedsores from sitting in their own excrements for hours on end. 9

Nursing homes are "an indelible part of our health care landscape." 10 Over forty percent of Americans will use a nursing home in their lifetime 11 and - with seventy-seven million baby boomers retiring early in this century 12 - that figure is only ...

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