I saw this article on another website discussing the recent Cornell University study on physical abuse between residents.  Resident on resident abuse is underreported and mismanaged in the nursing home setting and most likely caused

Physical abuse in a nursing home may include staff or other residents.  According to a Cornell University Study, resident-on-resident violence in long-term-care facilities is far more prevalent than previously thought.  The authors of the study admit nursing home abuse is  woefully understudied.

The new study, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is only the second published report to look at patient-to-patient violence. Cornell University examined the records of 747 nursing home patients over the course of the study. Of those, 42 where involved in 79 incidents at nursing homes that actually required police intervention. The finding surprised researchers, especially because the study was not even focused on nursing homes. Rather, it looked at overall community crime, and nursing homes where just one area that was examined. 

Many nursing home patients suffer from varying degrees of dementia, and this often plays a factor in the violence.  Common triggers can be unwanted touching or disputes over television.   It is often the byproduct of a neglectful staff. Conflicts are far more likely to escalate to physical violence when patients are unattended. However, attentive staff can take steps to separate feuding patients before the situation deteriorates.

The report also questions the wisdom of housing dementia patients together. This is standard practice in most nursing homes, which generally have a dementia ward. But, because dementia often triggers violence, the report suggests it might be better to incorporate these patients into the general population as much as possible. 

As many as one in 20 nursing home residents are victims of nursing home abuse. Because there is no uniform system for reporting nursing home violence, experts on elder abuse concede that current estimates are probably just the tip of the iceberg.   There is no requirement to report resident-on-resident violence. In fact, the Cornell researchers only looked at cases that involved police calls. There were simply no records available to them detailing physical confrontations between residents that did not escalate to this level of violence.

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