nursing home abuse, Minnesota nursing home abuse

Teenage Girls Charged for Abusing Nursing Home Patients

December 04, 2008 05:05 PM
by Denis Cummings
Two teenagers have been charged with abusing patients in a Minnesota nursing home, bringing renewed attention to nursing home abuse.

Girls Charged for Abuse of Elderly Patients

Two part-time nursing home aides, 19-year-old Brianna Broitzman and 18-year-old Ashton Larson, were charged Monday for abusing elderly patients at Good Samaritan Society nursing home in Albert Lea, Minn. Four other aides were charged as juveniles for refusing to report the abuse and two others were investigated but not charged.

Broitzman and Larson, according to the criminal complaints “spat in residents’ mouths, poked and groped their breasts and genitals and at times taunted them until they screamed,” writes the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The allegations were first made public in an August report by the Minnesota Department of Health, which had begun investigating claims of abuse at the home in May. One home employee said in the report, “The ones they were targeting were those that have Alzheimer’s so bad, that they wouldn’t be able to say it or remember.”

The girls were charged with assault, abuse of a vulnerable adult by a caregiver, abuse of a vulnerable adult with sexual contact, disorderly conduct and failing to report suspected maltreatment. All are gross misdemeanors and the penalty ranges up to a year in prison, though they “most likely will face suspended jail sentences and probation,” Freeborn County Attorney Craig Nelson told the Star Tribune.

Larson’s father appeared on NBC’s “Today Show” Thursday to defend his daughter. He claimed in the nationally televised interview that “not all of the charges are as they appear” and “my daughter was doing nothing more than performing the duties of her job.”

Background: Nursing home abuse

Though few cases receive as much media attention as the Good Samaritan case has, abuse of nursing home patients is a widespread problem in the United States. Abuse, according to the National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR), includes physical and psychological abuse, neglect and misappropriation of patients’ property or funds.
Researchers Diana K. Harris and Michael L. Benson studied 47 nursing homes across the U.S. for their 2005 book, “Maltreatment Of Patients In Nursing Homes: There Is No Safe Place.” They found that  “Abuse, although often not detected or reported, existed in every facility we surveyed. It is a serious problem.”

There is also a wider crisis of elder abuse, which affects an estimated 2.1 million elderly Americans every year, according to the American Psychological Association’s Public Interest Directorate Mission. It also says that, “Recent research suggests that elders who have been abused tend to die earlier than those who are not abused, even in the absence of chronic conditions or life threatening disease.”

Reference: Resources for nursing home patients and their families


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