On Friday, June 28th, 2019, city officials in San Francisco announced that at least 23 incidents of patient abuse had been discovered at a local hospital, Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center. Now officials have indicated the actual number is much higher – at least 130 separate incidents of abuse.

Forensics Discover New Evidence Of Abuse On Former Employee’s Cell Phone

In the initial report released about the abuse scandal at Laguna Honda, the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH) stated that a several months-long investigation revealed that for a period of three-years, six former hospital employees abused at least 23 patients.

elderly patient and caregiverThe investigation began when officials involved in investigating a personnel complaint noted several issues that raised red flags. The DPH then immediately started their own internal investigation into the matter and was shocked by what was discovered.

The abuse was both verbal and physical, with employees going so far as to sedate patients with non-prescription medications, force sexualized conversations on patients, and video and photograph ongoing abuse. Those photos and videos were shared between the involved employees.

According to officials, the abuse took place in two hospital wards where patients are being treated for dementia.

Hospital officials have announced that the patients who were impacted have been treated for the abuse they suffered and their loved ones have been notified about the issue. They also stated that current employees have received additional training about abuse prevention and reporting. The hospital has also undergone changes to drug dispensing procedures and monitoring has been increased.

Now, officials have announced that additional cell phone evidence has been recovered by forensic analysts, showing that sexual abuse and privacy breaches also took place, showing that at least 130 incidents of abuse have occurred. Although the sexual abuse was not physical in nature, nude photos of patients with dementia were taken and shared.  There have been no formal announcements about any criminal charges that have been filed against those involved in the abuse because the criminal investigation is ongoing.

Dementia And Alzheimers Patients Frequently Become The Victims Of Abuse

Sadly, it’s not uncommon for predators to abuse nursing home and hospital patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s and for one very simple reason – these patients are some of the most vulnerable. Patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s that have progressed to a certain point are often able to communicate the fear and pain they are experiencing at the hands of their supposed caretakers and so are unable to report any ongoing abuse.

This is why it’s essential that hospitals take steps to protect patients. This can be done by:

  • performing background checks on all employees
  • providing employees with training on abuse and privacy regulations
  • providing employees with a safe space to report suspected abuse
  • performing random checks on employees and patients
  • keeping strict medical records

If abuse does occur, a report to the police should be made so that a criminal investigation can take place, protecting future victims from abuse.

What Steps Can Family Members Take If A Loved One Is Being Abused?

If your loved one has been abused, legal recourse could be an option. A lawsuit can be filed against both the abuser and those whose negligence allowed the abuse to occur. These lawsuits are intended to send a message to the defendants that this behavior is unacceptable. Additionally, compensation can be fought for that will help to provide proper care for the patient.

This lawsuit is entirely separate from any criminal investigation or criminal charges.

If you believe that abuse is impacting your loved one’s quality of life or have been informed that your loved one has been abused, contact an attorney as quickly as possible so that legal action can be taken as quickly as possible.