A surveillance camera captured footage of an upstate New York nursing home worker physically abusing an elderly resident.
55-year-old Susan Sanborn, of Cheektowaga, allegedly pushed a 68-year-old resident to the ground near a door, and then kicked the person’s legs out of the way so she could leave the room. Prosecutors also claim she immediately left without waiting for the patient to receive medical attention. The resident, whose name was not released, suffers from seizures and a brain injury and is at a high risk for falls. “My office will not tolerate anyone being abused by those responsible for their care, and we will continue working to ensure that those most in need of help are safely cared for and treated with respect and dignity,” insisted New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Ms. Sanborn faces four years in prison if convicted.
“Granny Cams” and Physical Abuse
Hidden surveillance cameras are definitely an emerging area of the law; while New York has not enacted a regulatory statute, over the past several years, prosecutors have often used surveillance video footage in physical abuse cases. In general, nursing homes oppose their use, based on an adverse effect on staff morale and legal privacy questions. These concerns share a common denominator: they both assume that the nursing home has something to hide.
Nursing home abuse is so prevalent because of a combination of factors. Rather low Medicare reimbursement rates mean that facilities must have as many residents as possible to remain profitable. These facilities must also keep costs as low as possible, which means low staffing rates and almost nonexistent training. Surveillance cameras help gather evidence of abuse like:
- Patient Isolation: Low staff rates often mean that patients remain alone in their rooms for extended periods of time.
- Physical Force: Many residents are so frail that it only takes a slight shove to cause a serious fall or other injury.
- Resident-on-Resident Abuse: Once again due to low staffing levels, petty rivalries go unnoticed and are allowed to escalate into violence.
Damages in a nursing home abuse case include compensation for both economic and noneconomic losses. More importantly, since negligence cases are easier to prove than criminal cases, a civil lawsuit has a good chance of stopping the activity, or at least greatly diminishing it.
The most vulnerable members of society deserve special protection. For a free consultation with attorneys who protect victims, contact our office.