Allowing a nursing home to conduct its own investigation into crimes that may have happened in their facility seems to be poor judgment on the part of authorities. Most nursing homes are for-profit businesses that are unlikely to expose any wrongdoing on their part that may lead to fines, lawsuits or other penalties. However, that has been the case in some circumstances.
Tennessee Nursing Home Rape Investigation
A Maryville, TN nursing home owned by Kindred Healthcare, Inc. was found to be substandard in providing quality care as well as putting their patients in immediate jeopardy in August 2012. The Department of Health determined that the facility should also no longer be allowed to admit new patients until changes are made after a sexual assault rape investigation on one of the home’s residents went poorly.
In June 2012, an 89-year old resident in the Fairpark Health Care Center told family members that she had been raped. The family reported the incident to a nurse who examined the patient. The nursing home’s on-call doctor then ordered the patient to be brought to a hospital to have an examination and rape kit performed. When the police received the rape kit evidence back six-weeks later, there was in fact DNA evidence from semen.
Although an investigation was opened with the local police department when the rape was reported and they interviewed the staff at the nursing home, much of the investigation into the incident was left for the nursing home to uncover. In the six weeks time between the rape and the results of the rape kit, it was expected that the nursing home would investigate if there could be a danger to their patients. However, what the Department of Health found when they investigated how the nursing home handled the allegation was alarming.
- They did not have the resident tested for sexually transmitted diseases
- They did not properly interview male staff members
- The resident did not receive counseling as the licensed social worker did not believe that the woman was raped as she was “not reliable”
- They did not review surveillance video
- No increase of security measures
Needless to say, the family of the victim has removed her from the facility and has found care elsewhere.
External Investigation Needed
When there are allegations of a sex crime within a care facility, there should be external investigators involved to make sure that other patients are not harmed. The case of the nursing home in Tennessee is just one incident but it is indicative of what can happen when any business is allowed to do an internal investigation into allegations that the facility would be liable for. It would be no different than asking a financial firm suspected of stealing their client’s money to conduct its own audit. It just does not make sense. Hopefully, the fines and sanctions against the nursing home facility will change their perspective on the importance of protecting their residents in the future.