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April 2, 2013

With an alarming rate of nursing home abuse and neglect instances in Arkansas, the Washington County Coroner was given permission earlier this month to do spot checks at various nursing homes.

According to reports, spot checks will not only allow the coroner’s office to check in on previous details of residents, such as bruises, accidents, and hospital, but will also give family members assurance that their loved ones are being watched. Per Roger Morris of the Washington County Coroner’s Office, the new grant allowing these checks occurred after he heard a story of a local nursing home resident being abused.

�We want them to know that there’s someone out there watching,� said Morris.

Before the coroner’s office was granted permission to check up on resident deaths, the nursing homes only had to report each death to the office without any follow-up. Now, however, each and every death can be inspected. However, Morris is quick to point out that this is not a way to put a negative light onto nursing homes, but a way to help.

“We may go through 20 before we have one do something bad that one person that goes to work there that causes neglect, we don’t want them to put a bad shine on all these other nursing homes. It’s not hounding nursing homes, it’s not making examples, it’s helping them,� Morris said.

The coroner’s office has only seen a total of four deaths stemming from nursing home abuse and neglect in the past few years. However, that was before the spot checks were allowed. If abuse and/or neglect is founded, family members of the victims have the right to retain a nursing home abuse attorney and file civil charges. Additionally, caregivers and employees tied to the abuse may face criminal charges.


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