Over the past year, there has been an outpouring of support for those who have suffered from abuse, especially women. However, some of the most vulnerable members of society are those who reside in nursing facilities and are unable to speak out about abuse or neglect. Patients in long-term care facilities here in Kentucky and elsewhere are often victims of negligent or abusive staff.

A report recently became public regarding a comatose patient who recently gave birth. According to staff members, the woman’s pregnancy was undiscovered until she was in labor. This horrific story highlights the vulnerability of many patients who cannot report abusive or negligent treatment. In the aftermath of the patient’s pregnancy, there are calls for more regulation and protocols that could prevent similar situations.

Although there have been many studies done regarding domestic violence and abuse of children, there has been little effort made to protect the most vulnerable populations — the elderly and infirm. While society tends to view these members as being insulated from certain types of abuse, they may be targets because they are incapable of reporting abuse or offering resistance. In fact, when many elderly victims report abusive behaviors, they are often dismissed or are blamed for instigating poor treatment.

A recent survey revealed that reports of abuse in nursing facilities have increased over the past two decades. In addition, it is estimated that only one out of every five incidents are reported. Those who are patients in these facilities are often completely dependent on the care of others. Sadly, these can place a loved one in a situation that leaves them vulnerable to abuse and neglect that adversely affects their physical and emotional well-being. Kentucky residents who suspect that a loved one has suffered harm due to abusive or negligent treatment may seek the guidance of an experienced attorney who can guide them through the complaint process and seek recovery of any monetary damages.