Schwartz Injury Law

312-535-4625

60 W. Randolph Street, Suite 300, Chicago, IL 60601

4 Convenient Locations - Available 24/7 - We can travel to you
Recent blog posts

Illinois nursing home neglect lawyersThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, in any given year, almost three-quarters of all nursing home residents suffer a fall. Furthermore, many of these patients fall more than once per year. While a slip and fall may not be injury-causing to a young, healthy person, seemingly minor falls can have serious consequences for someone whose body is weakened by illness, injury, or old age. Sadly, falls cause around 1,800 nursing home resident deaths each year.

What Causes Falls?

People staying in nursing homes generally are there because they are at least partially unable to care for themselves. For some residents, this is due to a mental incapacitation such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Other residents are recovering from major surgery or other invasive medical procedures. Many nursing home residents experience muscle weakness or gait problems. These factors can make a person much more likely to slip and fall. Sometimes, hazards such wet floors, incorrect bed height, poor lighting, and inadequate equipment further increase risks of falls.

CDC Says Many Falls Go Unreported

Approximately 36 percent of preventable emergency room visits by nursing home patients are caused by falls. An average-sized nursing home—one containing about 100 beds—generally reports about 100 to 200 falls a year. Unfortunately, the CDC says that this information may not accurately reflect the number of falls actually happening in nursing homes across the country. Realistically, many falls are never reported, so the real number is likely to be much higher.

...

Illinois nursing home abuse attorneyWhen you place a loved one under the care of a nursing home, you expect that they will be treated with the care and dignity they deserve. You probably understand that a nursing facility may be more institutional than “homey,” but such facilities are designed to give patients around the clock access to medical care and personalized attention. Unfortunately, nursing home residents face a variety of dangers—some related to their own health conditions and some that may be caused by negligence on the part of the staff. For residents who are bedridden or wheelchair bound, bed sores are among the most common nursing home injuries, and many are the result of substandard care.

What Are Bed Sores?

Bed sores are also known as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers. These injuries are areas of skin that become inflamed due to pressure on the skin that prevents normal blood flow. If not addressed, the inflammation can transform into blisters and eventually open sores. In the most serious cases, the ulcers can continue to worsen and expose underlying muscle and bone.

Pressure ulcers are especially common among patients who are confined to bed or a chair and unable to move themselves easily. Friction caused by contact with clothing or bedsheets and moisture from sweat or urine can accelerate the development of bed sores. Patients with more fragile skin and those with circulatory problems are at a particularly high risk. Bed sores can form on any part of the body, but they are most frequently found on the parts of the body that remain in contact with a bed, including heels, elbows, shoulders, hips, and tailbones.

...

Illinois nursing home neglect lawyerNursing home abuse and neglect can sometimes occur not because of what caretakers do, but because of what they fail to do. Whether it is due to being an understaffed facility, inadequate staff training, or lack of oversight, nursing home negligence is sadly common. There are certain standards of care which nursing home staff must meet to ensure the safety of their residents. Unfortunately, when these standards are not met, the result can be devastating to residents as well as their families.

Elderly Woman Denied Essential Medication

A Bartlett, IL  nursing home may be forced to pay millions to a family of a former resident. In February of 2011, the 89-year-old resident was admitted to the facility after suffering a hip fracture. She was meant to stay in the nursing home while undergoing physical therapy to help her recover from her injury. As part of her treatment, the elderly woman was prescribed a medication called Coumadin which thins the blood and can help prevent clotting and strokes. Unfortunately, the woman did not receive this medication on a timely and consistent schedule. Records show that the woman did not receive her stroke-preventing medication for a period of two weeks.

Stroke Causes Significant Decrease in Quality of Life

 In March of 2011, just a month after being admitted to the facility, the woman suffered a stroke with left her almost completely incapacitated. According to family, the woman lost the ability to speak and walk on her own after the stroke. The attorney for the family explains that the stroke left the woman unable to “enjoy life in any realistic manner.” The woman passed away four years after the stroke. Her family believes that her final years would have been much more pleasant had she been given her medication on a consistent schedule.

...

Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysThe people who call nursing homes their residence are generally unable to care for themselves. Caused by either physical disability or mental, nursing home residents often have trouble expressing when they are being mistreated. Sometimes, residents do not have the memory to report times they have been neglected by staff and other times they are afraid to report abuse or neglect because they fear retaliation. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, be on the lookout for the following signs of mistreatment.

Major Changes in Mood or Behavior

If your loved one has become much more withdrawn or unhappy, this can be a sign that something is not right at their nursing home. While these symptoms alone are not enough to accuse the staff of abuse, patterns of sadness or irritability which coincide with certain staff members or activities could be an indication that something is not right. If a nursing home resident is hesitant or outright afraid to go to certain areas or be around certain people, more investigation is needed as to the cause of the apprehension.

Unexplained Bruises or Injuries

It can be very difficult to find signs of physical abuse on a nursing home resident. Many medications and illnesses can cause individuals to easily bruise and sometimes residents have accidents where they simply bump into something. However, if you are noticing a pattern of unexplained injuries or staff cannot account for when the injury occurred, this may be a sign your loved one is being physically abused. If your loved one experiences unexplained weight loss, this could be a warning that he or she is not getting enough to eat and drink. Sadly, short-staffed nursing homes can sometimes skip basic duties like feeding and hydrating residents.

...

Chicago nursing home abuse lawyersNursing home staff have one of the most important responsibilities in our society: caring for our elders. Tragically, some nursing home staff do not take this responsibility seriously. Nursing home resident neglect and abuse are serious issues. More than two million cases of elder abuse are reported every year. It is estimated that one out of every ten elderly individuals in nursing home facilities will experience some type of abuse. While efforts are being made by regulatory agencies and advocacy groups to prevent nursing home abuse and neglect, the current state of many nursing homes is unacceptable.

Shocking Camera Footage from Inside Michigan Nursing Home

The family of an 89-year-old Lebanese man is suing a Michigan nursing home after footage surfaced of caretakers abusing the elderly man. The resident was admitted to the facility in 2015 after undergoing a bowel obstruction surgery. His son was the first to grow concerned about his father’s safety. The son noticed his father was often covered in cuts and bruises. The octogenarian was also rapidly losing weight.

Family Claims Man Was Physically and Psychologically Abused

The elderly resident’s cuts and bruises, according to nursing home staff, were a result of the man falling eleven times throughout five months. In order to get to the bottom of his father’s injuries, the man’s adult son hid a camera in an alarm clock next to his father’s bed. The family of the man claims that the hidden camera captured over 100 clips of the staff’s neglectful behavior. Additionally, the footage is claimed to include instances of physical abuse and even ethnic slurs directed at the 89-year-old.

...

Chicago nursing home abuse attorneyMany nursing home residents are prescribed opioid medication to manage severe pain. These opioid drugs have been controversial recently because of their extreme addictive properties. They are also dangerous in that an overdose of an opioid medication such as OxyContin, morphine, codeine, Fentanyl, or hydrocodone is often fatal. While these drugs offer relief for patients in severe pain, the presence of opioids in a nursing home often leads to trouble.

Illinois Nurse Caught Stealing Fentanyl Patches

A nurse from Bloomington has been accused of removing pain-relieving opioid patches from the bodies of nursing home residents. The man allegedly visited both the nursing home he worked at as well as a second nursing home in order to steal the patches off of terminally ill patients. He was recently charged with burglary and theft after co-workers noticed that he had come into work on his day off. He was found to also have stolen fentanyl patches from a resident with dementia. Assistant State’s Attorney Jeff Horve requested a $50,000 bond because of what he called “the egregious nature of the offenses.”

Overdose of Oxycodone Kills Minnesota Resident

Another dangerous element to opioids being prescribed in nursing homes is the risk of overdose. When medical staff are not properly trained or the nursing home facility is understaffed, deadly mistakes can be made with regard to opioid medication. For example, in January, a resident recovering from cancer was given over 20 times the prescribed dose of oxycodone. The resident was later found unresponsive on the floor of their room and eventually passed away. When asked about her gross mistake, the nurse who administered the deadly drug claimed she was "busy with multiple patients."

...

Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysImagine you are a resident in a nursing home. Perhaps you are recovering from an invasive surgery, have had limbs amputated, or are elderly and suffering from other ailments. Now imagine that the place you have called home during your recovery no longer welcomes you and you are forced to pack your things and leave. This is the reality for many nursing home residents who are evicted from nursing homes every year. Unfortunately, many nursing home residents and their families are unaware of the rights which residents have.

Changes in Insurance Leave Some Residents Unable to Pay Nursing Home Costs

About 14 million people are currently living in nursing homes across the country. Many of these residents are ill or injured and others have mental incapacities such as dementia with disallow them to care for themselves. These individuals require round-the-clock care and supervision. Unfortunately, nursing homes often evict residents for unjustified reasons. Sometimes, it is because a change in insurance, such as switching from Medicare to Medicaid, means that the resident can no longer afford to stay at the nursing home. Discharges and evictions have been the top-ranking category of grievances brought to state long-term care regulators programs in recent years. Unfortunately, many nursing home residents are unaware of their rights and leave without challenging an eviction or discharge.

Tony Chicotel, a lawyer at California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, explains “The nursing homes, they know the system and they really game it to where they maximize their advantage.” Federal regulators are now looking for ways to enforce federal laws which protect nursing home residents. Evictions or discharges can greatly damage a resident’s well-being. Because nursing home residents are already ill or elderly, moving them against their will can be dangerous to their physical health as well as their psychological health.

...

Chicago nursing home injury attorneyWhen a family decides to place a parent or other loved one in a nursing home, they expect a certain level of care. Residents of nursing homes require a significant amount of assistance doing everyday tasks such as eating and bathing. Furthermore, most nursing home residents have serious health issues which make them unable to care for themselves. Nursing home staff have a responsibility to keep individuals in their care safe and comfortable to the best of their ability. When staff are negligent and do not provide the expected level of care to their patients, they can be held liable.

Elderly Woman Dies After Fall

A $50,000 lawsuit filed recently in the Kane County Circuit Court claims that a North Aurora nursing home failed to properly monitor an elderly woman and that this negligence led to her death. The 86-year-old woman passed away in February of 2016. A year prior to her death, she was admitted to the North Aurora nursing home. The wrongful death lawsuit claims that the elderly woman was a high risk for falls, and that the nursing home staff should have taken certain precautions to prevent this.

The plaintiffs claim that the nursing home had a responsibility to evaluate the woman’s risk of falling and then provide adequate supervision and assistance in order to prevent her from hurting herself. Unfortunately, within the same month as her arrival, the woman did fall and suffered serious injuries. In addition to needing ten stitches, the 86 year-old suffered cervical, nasal and orbital fractures. The suit claims that this fall led to the woman’s physical and mental decline and, eventually, her death. The complaint also alleges that the Illinois nursing home failed to appropriately train staff and follow its own policies and procedures for supervising residents.

...

Chicago nursing home abuse lawyersStaff at a nursing home have a responsibility to keep the residents of a nursing home safe and as comfortable as possible. When families place a loved one in a nursing home, they are assuming that the medical staff there will treat the new resident with appropriate medical care. Tragically, this is not always the case. Some nursing homes are understaffed or their staff is not adequately trained, which can result in medicine being given superfluously or necessary medicine being withheld.

Alarming Study Results 

According to a recent study conducted by the Human Rights Watch, approximately 179,000 nursing home residents are being given medicine which is not intended to treat the illness they have. Antipsychotic drugs such as aripiprazole, olanzapine, and quetiapine are used to manage psychosis. Individuals suffering from delusions, hallucinations, paranoia or a disconnection from reality are generally given these medications as a treatment for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The problem is that about 179,000 nursing home residents being given this medicine do not have schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or other mental illnesses that those drugs are designed to treat.

Many of the residents being given these medications have Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia which antipsychotics are not approved to treat. Even more disturbing, antipsychotic drugs come with a "black box warning" from the FDA.  Black box warnings are the strictest labeling requirements that the FDA can mandate. These warnings are used to call attention to serious or life-threatening risks associated with the medication. The black box warning on antipsychotics states that they increase the risk of death in older people with dementia. The study also found that antipsychotic drugs were administered to residents without their informed consent. The purpose of using antipsychotic medications for residents who do not require them is often to make dementia patients “easier to handle” in understaffed facilities.

...

Chicago nursing home neglect attorneysResidents in a nursing home are often those we should respect the most. Grandparents, great-grandparents, veterans, and other venerable elderly people live in homes like these. Unfortunately, sometimes the elders of our society are not treated justly. Because many residents of nursing homes lack the ability to communicate well, nursing home abuse and neglect often goes unreported. When evidence of abuse or neglect arises, it is critically important that it be investigated thoroughly and that guilty parties are held accountable.

Extreme Heat and Dehydration

A Florida nursing home is under severe scrutiny after a horrific series of events led to 12 residents dying. The residents who passed away did so in the days and weeks following Hurricane Irma in the fall of last year. The hurricane caused the air conditioning to go out at the facility, and residents were forced to endure dangerous heat and disgusting conditions. Many of them were simply not well enough to handle the extreme conditions and lost their lives as a result.

Although federal regulations state that temperatures should not be above 81 degrees, Florida regulators report that temperatures rose to 99 degrees in the sweltering nursing home. Some patients' body temperatures were up to 107.5 degrees. Residents were found in horrible conditions, covered in sweat and excrement. The heat was so unmanageable that four out of every five residents on particular floor suffered dehydration and other heat-related symptoms. Almost half of the residents living on another floor also suffered these heat-related symptoms.

...

Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysThose who stay in a nursing home are usually there because they cannot physically or mentally care for themselves anymore. Families place their loved ones in nursing homes with the expectation that the staff will treat their family member with the same compassion and dignity that they do. When a resident at a nursing home is injured or killed due to the negligence of the nursing home staff, the injured person or the estate of the individual who passed away may be eligible for compensation. Such was the situation in a recent case involving a Georgia nursing home.

Lacking Medical Staff Can Result in Inadequate Care

The case in question was a lawsuit that stemmed from the 2012 death of a 71-year-old resident in a Lowndes County, GA, nursing home. According to court documents, the problems began the elderly man began complaining of vomiting and a distended abdomen. An alleged lack of appropriate medical staff at the facility meant that there was not a registered nurse (RN) or a doctor who could provide prompt medical attention. The only available medical staff member was a licensed practical nurse (LPN) who examined the man and called an off-site physician’s assistant (PA) for a second opinion, the lawsuit allged.

The suit claimed that the LPN contemplated sending the man to an emergency room based on his presenting symptoms, but the PA did not agree that emergency room treatment was necessary. The man’s condition reportedly worsened, and he was finally taken to a hospital. He only survived for another 12 hours, and he died from complications due to a bowel obstruction.

...

Chicago nursing home neglect attorneysWhen a person thinks of a nursing home, they tend to imagine that most deaths or hospitalizations occur as a result of illnesses or injuries that resident already had. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, something as simple as a slip and fall can be enough to seriously injure or even kill a resident. In fact, an average nursing home facility reports between 100 and 200 falls each year. These falls represent the largest cause of preventable hospital emergency room visits among nursing home patients. Each year, over 1,800 nursing home residents die due to falls, and countless more suffer fall-related injuries.

Nursing Home Residents Are at Increased Risk of Serious Injury

Individuals in a nursing home are usually in such a facility because they are not able to live alone. They may have physical or mental disabilities that make it impossible for them to care for themselves. Because nursing home residents are often frail, elderly, or in poor health, it is crucial for the facility’s staff to take every possible measure to keep residents safe. Unfortunately, between 50 and 75 percent of nursing facility residents fall at least once each year. The most common causes of such falls include:

  • Muscle weakness and trouble walking;
  • Medications which can cause dizziness or disorientation;
  • Injuries or medical problems with a resident’s feet;
  • Environmental hazards such as wet floors or obstacles on the ground; and
  • Poorly designed or maintained equipment such as walkers, wheelchairs, bedrails, or furniture.

Of course, there is no way to prevent every possible injury to residents, but sometimes nursing homes are at fault when a resident falls. Understaffed facilities may not have enough employees present to supervise residents properly. Other times, staff members are negligent by leaving equipment in the middle of walkways, not cleaning spills, failing to check equipment for safety before use, or providing inadequate lighting which can cause an elderly person to fall. When a nursing home resident is injured or killed in a fall that could have been prevented, the resident and/or his family may be entitled to compensation.

...

Illinois nursing home abuse lawyersMost of us do not enjoy thinking about a time when we will be unable to care for ourselves or live alone. However, aging is a part of life. Many people will need round-the-clock care as they get older and some of those people will find themselves in a nursing home. In fact, a new study suggests that more than half of Americans will stay in a nursing home at some point in their lives.

A team of researchers at the RAND Center for the Study of Aging looked at data collected over 18 years in the Health and Retirement Study—a projected funded by the U.S. Social Security Administration and the National Institute on Aging. The team found that, for the first time, more than 50 percent of seniors will need care from a nursing home or assisted-living facility at least once during their lifetime. The study pointed out that most nursing home stays are likely to be short and financially manageable. Only about 5 percent of adults are expected to spend 1500 days or more in a nursing facility.

The findings suggest a much higher percentage of people needing nursing home care than previously estimated. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 35 percent of Americans will need nursing home care in their lives. Regardless of which number ultimately proves to be true, the reality is that millions of Americans will spend time in a nursing home, potentially putting them at risk for abuse and mistreatment.

...

Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysWhen a family decides to place their loved one in the care of a nursing home, they assume that the staff will take every measure to protect and care for their loved one. Tragically, this is not always the cause. Sometimes, nursing homes are either negligent to their residents’ needs or they treat them cruelly.

There have been countless instances of physical abuse, mental abuse, or sexual abuse against residents living in nursing homes. Nursing home residents have rights just like anyone else, and they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Because residents are often unable to fight for their own rights, they rely on concerned family members to do so on their behalf. In addition to intentional mistreatment and abuse, nursing home neglect is also a serious problem which can lead to:

  • Errors in administering medication that may cause death or serious injury;
  • Bedsores/pressure ulcers as a result of being left in a single position for too long;
  • Dehydration or malnutrition from a substandard diet;
  • Increased susceptibility to illness;
  • Infections that may lead to serious illness;
  • Bone fractures or tissue damage from falling;
  • Decline in the resident’s ability to function;
  • Depression or anxiety from excessive isolation; and
  • Illness or infection caused by staff members’ inadequate hand-washing or sanitation.

Staff Responsibilities and Residents’ Rights

Nursing home residents are put into danger when facilities fail to properly supervise their employees, are understaffed, or skip background checks before hiring new staff. Sometimes in extreme cases, nursing home staff actually hurt the residents on purpose. This can happen when a staff member gets frustrated or angry and takes it out on a vulnerable patient. Other times, a staff member takes advantage of residents because he or she knows that the residents are unable to report the abusive behavior. A nursing home should be held responsible if they fail to:

...

Chicago Nursing Home Abuse AttorneyEach year, the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Nursing Home Hotline receives approximately 19,000 calls and more than 5,000 complaints alleging incidences of nursing home negligence or abuse. Considering the state is home to only 1,200 long-term care facilities, these numbers are staggering.

In August 2015, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed legislation that guarantees the right of nursing home patients and their families to install and maintain video cameras in patients’ rooms. Illinois is one of just six states with laws that explicitly permit “senior cams”—as they have come to be known—in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. These types of cameras are intended to reduce and eliminate nursing home abuse, but they are also being used to hold facilities responsible when abuse and neglect occur. Recently, a tragic situation in Florida—a state that currently has no law regarding senior cams—was caught on video and exposed to the public.

Disturbing Footage Captured on Hidden Camera

This fall, local news outlets obtained video footage taken from inside a Pompano Beach nursing home. The camera was hidden in a patient’s room by the patient’s daughter. She was concerned that her 94-year-old father was being mistreated. The man suffered from dementia and was unable to speak. According to news reports, the video showed nursing home staff members “forcefully trying to get the man off the bed,” hitting him in the head, and “dousing him with mouthwash.”

...
Back to Top