Several months ago, the public was shocked to hear of an appalling case of apparent nursing home abuse: a 29-year-old non-verbal and unresponsive resident of Hacienda HealthCare in the state of Arizona was discovered to be giving birth.
Further inquiries revealed that the woman, who has been in a vegetative state since a swimming pool accident at the age of three, had been repeatedly raped by a 32-year-old male nurse. Now attorneys for the victim have filed a $45 million lawsuit accusing the state-run facility of having “cultivated circumstances” that allowed the rapes to happen, as well as of neglect for not having diagnosed the woman’s pregnancy.
A police investigation of the events leading up to the birth painted a horrific picture of nursing home neglect: the hospital that the patient and her child were transferred to after the birth said that she had been pregnancy before. It was also noted that the patient had been examined, changed and bathed repeatedly in the months prior to the birth without a single medical staff member of the nursing home facility identifying her as having been pregnant.
Nursing Home Neglect Victim’s Non-Verbal Condition Made Her Vulnerable
The young woman who was the victim of nursing home neglect has required round-the-clock care since 1992. Her medical profile describes her as able to respond only via smiles and groans, and says that she does experience pain. Despite the fact that she requires daily bathing and constant examinations, the staff claims that they were unaware that she was pregnant until they saw the infant’s head when they were changing her. A former caregiver at the facility told a local news reporter, “I can’t believe that somebody would bathe her daily for nine months and never know that she wasn’t having a period, that she [was] growing in her midsection, that nurses weren’t keeping track [of her weight]. Those things are shocking to me.”
The nursing home neglect lawsuit references 83 different opportunities identified within the facility’s medical records on the patient where the pregnancy was not diagnosed, despite noting that her abdomen was extended and that her legs and feet were swollen. She was examined at least 10 times during the last twelve weeks of her pregnancy. The facility also overlooked repeated signs of sexual abuse and allowed it to continue. By the time that she delivered her child, she was malnourished, though the infant was healthy.