In the latest incident of elder abuse at nursing homes, state officials are not allowing new patients to be admitted to a large nursing homes in Knoxville, TN that has been operating since 1977. This move came after it was revealed that a woman with dementia had fallen and fractured both of her knees, but was denied medical attention for nine days.

The fractures occured when the patient fell from her bed in the presence of an aide who was in the room to change her bedding. Although the woman repeatedly complained of  “intense pain,” according to state records, the nursing home did not grant her an x-ray for five days. Even when bruising, swelling, increasing pain and apparent suffering was observed by staff the woman was only given pain medication. Although the x-ray showed fractures in both knees, it took another four days wait until the woman was seen by an orthopedic doctor. The doctor immediately referred the woman to a hospital for knee surgery but she never recovered, passing away a month later in the hospital.

After the galling mistreatment of this woman, the Tennessee Department of Health banned the nursing home from accepting new patients, ordered it pay $30,000 in penalties, and assigned a representative to inspect operations at the facility. According to the state’s news release the facility does not reach state standards for nursing home administration, performance improvement, nursing services, radiology services and resident rights. Tennessee Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner stated that the conditions there are likely to be “detrimental to the health, safety or welfare of the residents.”

This latest case in nursing home abuse and neglect highlights the sad state of affairs at many facilities across the country that are intended to care for the elderly. Results from a Congressional inquiry into the percentage rates of people on Medicare who have suffered from nursing home medical care showed that over twenty percent of residents experienced significant harm, while more than ten percent experienced temporary harm during the duration of their stays.

Additionally, the Law Office of Matthew L. Sharp explains that people with dementia of and Alzheimer’s experience even higher rates of abuse and neglect in nursing home facilities because they are unable to communicate their mistreatment. According to statistics, more than 25 percent of abuse and neglect cases in nursing homes and long-term care facilities go unreported to staff, administrative officials or government agencies, despite federal and state laws and regulations that require it.

As nursing homes are places where the elderly and disabled should be cared for and protected, no instance of abuse, neglect or mistreatment should go unreported or unpenalized.