Who is at fault when someone is abused or neglected in a nursing home?

I was speaking with a bright, beautiful, and smart young woman this week who is a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in a local nursing home. As she explains it, it is her job to bathe, dress, feed, turn, toilet, and care for 40 nursing home patients.

Yes, you heard that right. She has 20 rooms she is responsible for.

2 patients per room.

40 patients so chronically or acutely ill that they need nursing home care.

40 patients that can’t stand, dress, eat, brush their teeth, walk, dress, turn or bathe without help.

Can you imagine taking care of 40 toddlers? 40 5 year olds? It would be impossible. It should be illegal.

So how is this well meaning, precious young girl able to do her job?

“I can’t,” she explains. “It’s impossible. There is no way I can even get these folks out of bed, dressed and changed in 4 hours much less make sure their skin is dry, they are turned, positioned correctly, etc. Some days I just leave crying. I am so sad for the people that live there, so sad I can’t do everything they need me to.”

By: Walt Stoneburner

So when one of her patients is not turned, and a pressure ulcer develops (bed sore) is she to blame?

I don’t always think so. I think the for profit company that owns the nursing home and refuses to hire more CNAs to do the work should be responsible.

I think the charge nurse that allows this continue day after day without demanding more staff should be held accountable.

I think the Virginia law makers that think requiring certain nurse to patient ratios is a burden on nursing homes should be held responsible.

I think we as a society should be responsible and stand up and DEMAND BETTER. DEMAND RESPECT and CARE for our loved ones.

So, who is at fault?

Legally speaking, it is most often the company that owns the facility. They have often: (a) failed to hire enough staff; (b) failed to train their staff; or (c) allowed a culture to develop where care is not being given and yet records reflect that it is.

So when you come to us and ask whether your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect —- I am not looking to blame the precious CNA that makes $10 an hour. I am looking to hold the corporation responsible that makes millions a year by not hiring enough trained people to care for your loved one.

Who is at fault?

That is for the jury to decide.




Lauren Ellerman
Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at lellerman@frithlawfirm.com.