Viral Photo Shows Nursing Home Resident Covered in Vomit, Begging for Help

In October of 2018, a visitor at Legend Oaks Healthcare in San Antonio, Texas was witness to an older woman, left in a wheelchair and covered in vomit, begging for help for several hours in a nursing room hallway.

The man who took the photo was not connected to the woman who battles dementia but said he was so disturbed by the resident’s situation he wanted to share the documented encounter with local News4 in San Antonio. The observer told the reporters that instead of helping clean the woman he saw employees throw towels at her and around her as she begged for help, hours on end.

The disturbing image and news story quickly landed on social networks such as Facebook, and eventually, the photo made its way to the woman’s husband and has since been viewed thousands of times. In response, the woman is now being cared for at another nursing home, and her husband has filed a civil lawsuit against the nursing home and the two nurses responsible for his wife’s care. The lawsuit accuses the facility and staff of gross negligence for allegedly leaving the resident covered in vomit for more than three hours.

Legend Oaks has yet to comment on the lawsuit but when the photo first appeared administrators had disputed their actions stating, “The facility denies any allegation of improper conduct in connection with the care of the resident at issue.”

State inspection reports from 2018 show the facility in violation of failure to provide “care and services to get or keep the highest quality of life possible” to residents, and failure to properly care for residents’ special needs.

Residents with Dementia Are Too Often Neglected

When a resident complains of pain, becomes injured or is at the point of begging for help, the staff have likely already failed to care for them appropriately. And most nursing homes have fewer nurses and care staff than they report, leaving underqualified and stressed nursing assistants with the 24-hour tasks to keep far too many patients’ dietary, hygiene, medication, and daily living needs met. Those who require extra care, such as dementia patients, are often first neglected.

Although many nursing homes are understaffed, they are still required to provide the appropriate level of attention to all patients. The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law is a federal law requiring nursing homes to “promote and protect the rights of each resident” in support of individual dignity and self-determination. Allowing a resident to suffer and to sit for several hours covered in their own vomit is obviously a disruption of those rights. Unfortunately, rights are often violated without repercussion because most residents are not aware of the legal protections which support them or family members are unaware of any incidences of abuse and neglect.

Levin & Perconti: Illinois Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorneys

Since 1992, our attorneys have been dedicated to fighting for the rights of residents in any care setting. If someone you love has been subjected to poor treatment in a nursing home, let our attorneys help find the answers.

Consultations are both free and confidential. Please call us at (312) 332-2872 or complete our free online consultation request form.