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Time for a New Roommate

4-10-2013 6-17-37 PMSecond time in a week.

The first episode, the patient from the assisted living facility came in with sharp anterior chest pain. She said that she was sleeping and woke up with sudden onset of pain. When she opened her eyes, her roommate was standing over her with a crazed look in her eye. Sticking out of her right breast was a ball point pen. Fortunately, the injury was to adipose tissue only and didn’t require any surgical intervention.

On her most recent visit, the same patient returned after waking to her roommate’s friend beating her with a cane. She tried to fend off her attacker and fell to the floor where the friend repeatedly pounded her in the stomach with said cane. She had a lip laceration and multiple bruises to her abdomen.

I feel so bad for this patient because she’s doing nothing wrong and getting beaten in her sleep. It’s not like a loan shark is trying to collect on a debt or anything like that.

Definitely time to find a new roommate.

Or a new facility.


This and all posts about patients may be fictional, may be my experiences, may be submitted by readers for publication here, or may be any combination of the above. Factual statements may or may not be accurate. If you would like to have a patient story published on WhiteCoat’s Call Room, please e-mail me.


  1. I can’t fathom why the woman’s roommate wasn’t prosecuted for assault after the first incident. I find that very disturbing. What if it’s “third time lucky” and the roommate succeeds in killing her next time?


  2. Some intervention would have been nice after the first episode. I think an investigation is needed at this point. The family needs to move this poor patient before something more tragic happens. This may not be the most secure place for this patient.

  3. The police should have been called.

  4. I’m seconding that.
    A victim of assault is a mandatory report in my ED, and the first incident would have been the time for that as well.
    Letting it happen twice just graduated to a suspicion of elder abuse/neglect by the “care” facility.
    Which is also a mandatory report.

    WTF, over?

  5. How awful! It sounds like the roommate should not be in assisted living, but needs to be in a more supervised area and /or needs restraints, medication – something more.

    I hope the patient will not be traumatized from this and will be protected.

    Do ED doctors, social workers, anyone from the hospital get involved, i.e., make recommendations?

  6. This is all third hand information, but the roommate was reportedly removed from the assisted living facility and placed in a nursing home after first incident due to more advanced dementia than previously believed.
    Not sure how second visit was addressed.
    Just going by what was reported to me.
    Still kind of scary events, though, and I’d be on the warpath if it was my relative.

  7. The sad thing is that many older people in nursing homes have no active advocates — they are pretty much on their own.

    The fact that this woman’s roommate was given a second go, after the first stabbing incident, really disturbs me.

    Stabbing someone in their sleep is a criminal act, even if they’re “just an oldie”. If the assailant is subsequently found not guilty due to mental defect, then warehouse her someone where she will no longer be able to stab and beat innocent people in their sleep.

    If either the nursing home or the hospital personnel swept the first assault under the carpet, they are as much to blame for the second assault as the person who committed it.

    Whoever sent this poor women straight back to be victimized by the same assailant, after the first assault, should be ashamed of themselves.

    • “On her most recent visit, the same patient returned after waking to her roommate’s friend beating her with a cane.”

      Okay, I just realized it was her roommate’s friend who committed the second assault. Was this “roommate’s friend” also a resident of the facility? Were *they* reported to police? What were they doing in this woman’s room at night anyway?

      What a nightmare. It is stories like this that cause some older people to declare that they’ll commit suicide before they’ll let themselves be placed in residential care.

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