You wouldn’t think this would be a problem…but it is. Many nursing homes accept residents with severe psychiatric problems, histories of criminal conduct, or repeated aggressive and threatening behavior towards others.

Want a quick example? In the past two years, at least four residents of North Carolina rest homes have been killed by fellow patients who had histories of severe mental illness and violence.

The explosion of mental patients in rest homes is an unintended result of a 1999 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that mandated that people be cared for in their home communities whenever possible, rather than being institutionalized in big state hospitals. As part of a 2001 effort aimed at complying with the ruling, North Carolina downsized its state-run psychiatric hospitals and disbanded county-run mental health agencies in favor of a plan to treat patients through a network of private, for-profit companies.

My Take: Don’t, for a second, believe this problem is confined to North Carolina and doesn’t occur in Virginia. We have seen multiple (but preventable) resident upon resident attacks in Virginia nursing homes…some resulted in the death of the victim.

Dan Frith
Dan Frith

Dan Frith has over 25 years of experience representing individuals and families in cases of medical malpractice throughout Virginia. He has been named "Best Medical Malpractice Attorney" by Roanoker Magazine and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To speak with Dan, contact him by email at