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April 6, 2017

New Law Proposed to Protect Nursing Home Residents

After the death of a nursing home resident last year in Erie County, a new law has been proposed in hopes to insure the safety and health of nursing home residents and prevent injury and death across the country. “Ruthie’s Law,” is named in honor victim Ruth Murray, who was fatally beaten by another patient in 2016.

One of the stipulations of the proposal is that if a nursing home resident suffers an injury that requires hospital treatment, the nursing home staff and caretakers must notify a family member, loved one, or guardian within one hour of the incident. In Murray’s case, family members were not immediately contacted and when they were, were told that Ruth Murray had only suffered minor injuries.

Under Ruthie’s Law, the Senior Services Commissioner would have access to data such as the number of serious injuries that occur, especially those that result in death. The Senior Services Commissioner would also be made aware of altercations and their frequency between patients, and patients and staff.

This proposed law would also allow nursing home facilities to be subpoenaed for nursing home injury reports.

The tragic incident that lead to this proposal happened late summer 2016, when nursing home resident Ruth Murray, wondered in the room of an 84-year-old male dementia patient.  Incident reports state the male patient brutally attacked her because he thought someone was “breaking in.” She suffered a broken nose, neck, several ribs, facial fractures, and a collapsed lung. She succumbed to her injuries three days later.

After an investigation by the state Health Department, the nursing home was cited for not providing adequate supervision, which resulted in Ruth Murray wondering off.

It can be frustrating and challenging for family members to identify nursing home abuse or neglect in their loved ones, particularly when the patient is unable to speak for themselves. In order to receive federal funds, all nursing homes and long-term care facilities must comply with certain federal regulations and laws.

If you or a loved one is not receiving the care required by law, contact GPW for a free consultation.



Sandra Tan, “ ‘Ruthie’s Law’ Unveiled to Protect Nursing Home Residents,” The Buffalo News (March 24, 2017). [Link]

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