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Illinois nursing home neglect injury attorneysMany nursing home residents have physical and/or mental disabilities which limit their mobility. Residents who are not able to move themselves or who spend long periods of time in a wheelchair or bed are especially prone to getting decubitus ulcers, more commonly called bed sores. These sores are also referred to as “pressure ulcers” because the painful wounds are caused by extensive pressure to one or more body parts.

Nursing home residents who have limited mobility must rely on nursing home staff to help them prevent bed sores. When a resident is frequently developing bed sores, it may be a sign that nursing home staff are not providing the care the resident needs and deserves.

Pressure Ulcers Can Quickly Become a Serious Medical Condition

When a person with normal mobility is lying in their bed or sitting in a chair, they are able to relieve pressure on their body by getting up and moving around or changing positions. Sadly, many nursing home residents do not have this ability. They may not have the physical strength to move themselves or they may suffer from a cognitive condition which prevents them from understanding that they should occasionally reposition themselves. Pressure ulcers are not only extremely painful, they can also develop into a dangerous or even deadly medical condition. Untreated bed sores can quickly become infected and lead to cellulitis, sepsis, or even death.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneyNursing home residents are often weakened by physical and cognitive illness. This can make them especially vulnerable to abuse. While many nursing home staff members are dedicated, caring individuals, others exploit this vulnerability and take advantage of nursing home residents. When someone lives in a nursing home, they have contact with numerous individuals including nurses, nursing assistants, physicians, nutrition specialists, activity aids, facility administrators, other nursing home residents, and visiting guests. Any of these individuals may attempt to manipulate nursing home residents for their own financial gain.

Nursing Home Financial Abuse

There are many different strategies that unscrupulous people use to illegally obtain money and property from nursing home residents. Sometimes, nursing home staff, other residents, or even guests to the nursing home steal property or money outright. Cash, credit cards, debit cards, checkbooks, or valuable property may be stolen from nursing home resident’s room – especially if the resident has a condition which makes him or her less aware of his or her surroundings.

Another very common form of nursing home resident or elder financial abuse is fraud. Individuals can trick residents into giving them money and property through several means. They may tell a fabricated story to the resident about why they need money, trick the resident into paying nonexistent fees or medical costs, or even convince the resident to include the fraudster’s name in financial accounts or estate planning documents. Some people invent made-up charities or other nonprofit organizations to trick residents into giving them money.  

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Cook County nursing home injury attorneysThanks to advances in medical care and disease prevention, Americans live much longer lives on average than we did in decades past. As the “Baby Boomer” generation grows older, the demand for long-term care facilities like nursing homes grows too. Unfortunately, many nursing homes are struggling to keep up with the increase in nursing home residents. When nursing home residents are not properly supervised and cared for, they can fall and injure themselves. Some falls can even lead to a nursing home resident’s death or permanent disability. Read on to learn about the most common causes of falls and what you can do if you think your loved one is being mistreated in a nursing home or other long-term care facility.

Slip and Fall Injuries Can Be Deadly

Just recently, an elderly WWII veteran died at a nursing home after staff left him alone without supervision. The man tipped backwards in his wheelchair causing a massive brain bleed that eventually resulted in his death. Sadly, this is not an isolated event. In fact, more than 1,800 nursing home residents die because of falls every year. There are many issues which can increase a resident’s likelihood of falling. These include but are not limited to:

  • Environmental hazards such as obstacles on the ground, wet floors, and poor lighting;
  • Faulty, broken, or poorly maintained equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, bedrails, and furniture;
  • Physical ailments which cause difficulty walking;
  • Dizziness or disorientation caused by medication;
  • Confusion related to advanced age, dementia, or Alzheimer’s Disease;
  • Muscle deterioration or weakness; and
  • Injuries or medical problems with a resident’s legs or feet.

Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Can Lead to Falls

Sometimes a nursing home resident falls and there is no way to have prevented the fall. However, there are an astounding number of nursing home falls which could be prevented.

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Chicago nursing home neglect attorneyVeterans risked their lives to protect the freedoms that we enjoy every day. Sadly, many veterans are not receiving the compassionate and competent care they deserve. Nursing homes across the country are understaffed and staffed by employees who are not adequately trained. Tragically, thousands of nursing home residents, many of whom are veterans, die because of negligent or understaffed nursing homes.

Blind Nursing Home Resident with Dementia Passes Away After a Head Injury

Lawmakers in Iowa are now questioning the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) about a nursing home resident’s unexpected death in a Veterans Affairs nursing home. In December of last year, a 91-year-old World War II veteran passed away after a suffering massive head injury in a VA facility. The man, who is legally blind and suffers from dementia, had been removed from one-on-one supervision at the nursing home prior to his fatal fall.

According to medical records, the man frequently wandered around the facility and into other residents' rooms. While wandering unsupervised, he tipped his wheelchair over backwards and hit his head causing a brain bleed. Surveillance video and medical records show that the nursing home staff did not report the incident for 40 minutes after the elderly man hit his head. They then waited over two hours before taking him to the emergency room. The man suffered for five hours total before being transferred to a trauma hospital. He tragically passed away from the head injury two days later. Family members of the deceased as well as lawmakers are demanding an explanation as to why medical treatment was so delayed.

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Illinois nursing home neglect attorneysNursing homes and hospitals are the places designed to care for the frail, sick, and elderly. Unfortunately, these places are also often hotbeds of infection. Sepsis infection, a particularly dangerous and often deadly condition, plagues nursing homes across the United States. When a nursing home resident develops sepsis, it is critical that they receive prompt and competent medical treatment. Tragically, many nursing homes do not give residents the medical care and compassion they need and deserve. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, make sure to educate yourself about this deadly condition.

Causes and Symptoms of Sepsis

Sepsis, also called septicemia, is a life-threatening condition that arises from the body’s response to an infection. When a person experiences an infection, their body sometimes responds by releasing certain chemicals into their bloodstream to fight off the infection. These chemicals can cause inflammatory responses which do substantial damage to the infected person’s bodily tissues and vital organs. If sepsis is not treated in time, septic shock, a condition in which the infected person’s blood pressure drops to fatally low levels, can develop. Septic shock usually leads to death. Symptoms of sepsis include a change in mental status, extremely low blood pressure, high respiratory rate, and high levels of lactic acid in the blood.

Proposed Illinois Bill Would Punish Dangerously Understaffed Nursing Homes

An investigation conducted by Kaiser Health News and the Chicago Tribune found that approximately 6,000 nursing home residents hospitalized in Illinois each year have sepsis. On average, one out of every five residents hospitalized for a sepsis infection pass away. Sepsis often develops in individuals who are bedridden as well as those with urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and other infections.

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Cook County nursing home abuse attorneysMany nursing homes across the United States are extremely inadequate. Too often, nursing homes are understaffed and struggle to keep staff turnover low. A large number of nurses, nurse’s aids, and other staff members are overworked, overwhelmed, and underpaid. Tragically, this results in substandard care for the most fragile members of our society. Even worse, some nursing home staff have actually admitted to physically abusing nursing home residents. If you or a loved one were hurt by nursing home staff, speak with a qualified nursing home abuse lawyer right away.

Residents with Cognitive Impairment Can Be Especially Venerable to Abuse

Imagine a toddler who is too young to really understand what he or she is doing. If the toddler refused to eat or take medication, would you physically lash out at him or her? The answer is of course not. Sadly, cognitive problems like dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease can sometimes make adults act like children.

Nursing home residents who are afraid and confused may refuse to eat, take showers, take medication, or otherwise follow instructions from staff. This can cause staff to become frustrated and retaliate against the innocent resident by intentionally hurting them. If your loved one is in a nursing home, be vigilant for signs of neglect and abuse. Staff who are unwilling to talk to you or do not let you spend time with your loved one alone may be trying to hide something.

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Illinois nursing home wrongful death lawyerThe decision to place a loved one in a nursing home is never easy. Most people wish that they did not have to move their elderly or disabled loved one out of their home and into a long-term care facility, but they often do not have another choice. Nursing homes are filled with residents who need more extensive medical care and help with daily living tasks than a family member could handle on their own.

Many nursing home residents are quite frail, and when nursing home staff do not properly care for the residents or meet their medical needs, the results can be deadly. If your loved one passed away while staying in a nursing home and you believe the death was due to negligence or abuse, do not hesitate to contact a qualified nursing home abuse injury lawyer for help.

When is a Nursing Home Death a Wrongful Death?

Because many nursing home residents are elderly or in poor health when they arrive at the facility, it is not surprising that many residents pass away while staying in the facility. Consequently, it can sometimes be difficult to know if a loved one’s death was preventable or not. The term “wrongful death” refers to deaths that happen as a result of the negligent or intentionally harmful acts of another. The Wrongful Death Act in the Illinois Complied Statutes technically defines a wrongful death as a death resulting from “a wrongful act, neglect or default.” This means that a nursing home staff member’s action or inaction may be to blame for the death of a resident. Other times, it is the nursing home facility itself that is the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit.

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Cook County nursing home injury attorneysWhen a nursing home resident slips and falls, it is not the same as when a healthy person falls. Nursing home residents are usually elderly and/or disabled, so a fall which would only leave a small bruise on a healthy person could do much more damage. While some falls are inevitable, nursing home staff have a duty to prevent as many falls as possible. They have a responsibility to their residents as well as to the residents’ families to keep the facility as safe as possible. When nursing home staff do not take this responsibility seriously, residents can fall and be injured or even killed.

Falls Continue to be a Problem in Nursing Homes Across the Country

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 1,800 nursing home residents pass away every year from injuries related to falls. Many of these falls result in serious damage such as and broken bones traumatic brain injury. Even those residents who survive a fall can be left with terrible pain and bodily damage that further reduces their quality of life. It can be hard to know for sure how many nursing home falls are the result of poor care and how many are simply due to a weakened resident. However, the CDC reports that nursing home falls occur twice as often as falls among elderly people not living in a nursing home. On average, nursing homes with 100 beds will report between 100 to 200 falls every year, but, according to the CDC, this is only a fraction of the falls which actually occur.

How to Prevent Falls in Elderly or Disabled Residents

According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the best ways to help prevent falls is to remove as many environmental hazards as possible. Obstacles like boxes, electrical cords, and other items should not be left in walkways. Loose rugs should be taped down or otherwise secured so that no one will trip over them. Loose carpeting and floorboards should be quickly repaired. Any liquids which are spilled should be quickly cleaned up so that a resident does not slip and fall. Safety precautions like nonslip mats and bathroom handles can also help prevent falls. If your loved one is in a nursing home and staff do not care enough to take these types of precautions, this is a red flag. A nursing home which does not care to prevent avoidable falls is likely mistreating residents in other ways too.

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Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect lawyersNursing home abuse and neglect can happen anywhere. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities across the country struggle with staffing issues, budgetary restraints, and keeping up with America’s quickly growing elderly population. Even though these issues exist, nursing home staff still have a legal and ethical obligation to treat residents with dignity and provide the medical care and daily living assistance they need. When nursing home staff do not uphold this obligation, the staff or facility itself can be held liable for any deaths, injuries, and illnesses caused by the poor care.

Waukegan Woman Says Her Sister Was Not Properly Cared For

Unfortunately, another Chicago-area nursing home is in hot water after allegations of neglect. A Waukegan woman says that her sister has experienced nursing home neglect after a brain aneurysm and stroke caused her to need around-the-clock care. The woman says that when she went to check on her disabled sister at the Waukegan nursing home in which she was living, the woman was shocked. The disabled woman’s feet looked extremely discolored and the skin was very dry and rough.

The sister of the disabled woman says that it was obvious that her sister had not received a bath or even a change of socks in a long time. “They just put socks on her and they left her be,” she said. The nursing home is now saying that they are aware of the issue and are working on a medical plan to treat the disabled woman’s disfigured feet. Her sister believes that the issue should have never gotten so bad without staff noticing, saying, “She needs to be treated like she’s a human being.”

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysDegenerative brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can completely rob a person of their ability to think clearly and remember even basic information. Family members of those suffering cognitive decline often choose to place their loved one in a nursing home to ensure they are getting the care they need. Sadly, not every nursing home meets the standards of care that loved ones of residents expect. If you have a loved one with cognitive issues in a nursing home, be vigilant for signs of neglect and abuse. Because many residents with cognitive impairment cannot be their own advocate, it is up to loved ones to advocate on behalf of the resident.

Signs Your Loved One is Being Mistreated in a Nursing Home

Nursing home residents with dementia often cannot simply tell their loved ones that they are being mistreated. They may not be able to remember the abuse or understand what has actually happened to them. Loved ones should look for signs that the resident is not being cared for appropriately. Signs of physical abuse can include unexplained injuries like welts, bruises, burns, broken bones, sprains, dislocations, and more. Marks from being restrained such as marks on wrists and ankles may also be a sign of abuse.

Signs of neglect can include but are not limited to bed sores, infections, malnutrition, and dehydration. Another sign that something is not right in a nursing home is when nurses or other caregivers are hesitant for you to spend time with the resident alone.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysNursing home residents live in a nursing home because they are unable to live on their own. This could be due to physical disabilities, mental incapacitation, or most often, both. Sometimes these issues make it necessary to restrain a resident in order to limit his or her movement in some way. For example, side rails on a bed may be used to help a resident who is prone to rolling out of bed avoid injury. Restraints can be either physical or chemical, and should only be used when doing so is absolutely necessary to prevent harm to the resident. Restraints that are used as a punishment or for the convenience of nursing home staff are unacceptable and not in compliance with Illinois law.

The Nursing Home Care Act Outlines Residents’ Rights

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act is a law that protects the rights of nursing home residents and dictates the type of care that nursing home staff must provide for residents. According to the law, nursing home residents have the right to:

  • Be free from neglect and abuse at the hands of nursing home staff;
  • Practice their chosen religion;
  • Keep personal items and clothing in their room;
  • Receive medical treatment from a doctor of their choosing;
  • Receive visits, phone calls, and other correspondence from loved ones;
  • Refuse unwanted medical treatment; and
  • Be free from unreasonable restraint.

These are only a few of the rights protected by the Nursing Home Care Act. The full text of the act can be found in Section 210 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes.

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Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect attorneysMore and more individuals are admitted to nursing homes and assisted living facilities every day. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you may worry about the quality of care they are receiving. Because many elderly and disabled nursing home residents are not able to speak up for themselves when they are being mistreated, it is up to their loved ones to ensure they are being adequately cared for.

Nursing home neglect and abuse are tragically not uncommon occurrences. One sign that nursing home residents are being neglected is when they do not receive their medications on time and in the accurate doses. Medication errors are especially dangerous to those with pre-existing medical conditions and compromised immune systems.

Examples of Medication Errors

The administration of medication is not always as simple as giving a nursing home resident a pill and a glass of water. Individuals staying in a nursing home often have serious illnesses or incapacities which make them especially vulnerable. Examples of medication errors which occur in nursing homes include:

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysAs the “Baby Boomer” generation ages, more and more Americans are moving into long-term care facilities like nursing homes and assisted living centers. Tragically, many nursing homes in the U.S are plagued by staffing issues and funding limitations which leads to inadequate care. Studies conducted by the National Center on Elder Abuse found that 44 percent of elders surveyed had been abused and a staggering 95 percent had suffered neglect or had seen others neglected. Even more disturbing, over 50 percent of nursing home staff surveyed admitted to mistreating nursing home residents. Sadly, many instances of nursing home abuse and neglect go unreported. A study conducted by Cornell University and the New York City Department for the Aging found that elders experience abuse at a rate 24 times greater than the number of cases referred to law enforcement or social services.

Some Say Current Nursing Home Databases Are Ineffective

In order to address the prevalence of abuse and neglect in nursing homes, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing earlier this month. The committee discussed reports of elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes as well as ideas regarding how to protect these vulnerable residents from abuse. Just prior to the Senate hearing, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that they are updating online tools which people can use to research nursing home quality and ratings. The Nursing Home Compare database rates nursing homes based on staffing, inspections, and other quality measures. The CMS rating system has criticized for inaccuracies and incomplete reporting. During the Senate hearing, a woman whose mother passed away as a result of nursing home neglect testified that even after her mother died from inadequate care, the facility where she lived had “received the highest possible ranking from CMS for quality of resident care.”  This particular facility had even been fined the year previously for physical and verbal abuse of residents.

Those Seeking a Safe, Compassionate Nursing Home Must Research Thoroughly

If you are looking for a nursing home for your loved one to call home, make sure to research your options thoroughly. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect is becoming more and more common and the residents often cannot report the mistreatment themselves. Checking out a facility in-person may be the best way to look for signs of neglect or abuse. Speaking with nursing home staff may also give you an idea of how compassionate and attentive staff will behave toward your loved one.

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Chicago nursing home injury attorneysFor healthy individuals, taking a spontaneous walk outside is not a danger. However, when elderly or disabled individuals wander away from a long-term care facility like a nursing home, the results can be fatal. When 76-year-old Phyllis Campbell wandered out of the Ohio nursing home she lived in, she ended up outside in freezing temperatures. Campbell, like many nursing home residents, suffered from dementia and did not realize the danger she was in by going outside. Despite wearing a monitoring device that should have sounded alarms, Campbell was not found until the morning after leaving the facility. She had passed away due to hypothermia just 30 feet from the doors to the nursing home. If your loved one was injured or passed away due to the carelessness of a nursing home or other long term care facility, you may be able to pursue compensation.

Residents with Cognitive Impairment May Be Most At-Risk

The term “wandering” is used to describe nursing home residents who leave the safe areas they are supposed to stay in. Nursing homes have many areas such as kitchens and janitorial closets which contain potentially dangerous substances and environmental hazards. A resident suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or another cognitive impairment may not understand that a dangerous situation poses a threat. Confused residents may attempt to leave the facility entirely. This is referred to as “elopement.” Tragically, residents who elope may die before someone finds them. This is why it is so important for nursing home staff to closely supervise residents with cognitive decline. Some nursing homes use monitoring devices and alarms in order to help alert the staff to wandering residents. Unfortunately, as was the case with Phyllis Campbell, these safety measures do not always work.

Staff Should Monitor Residents Who Wander

Nursing home staff should do everything possible to prevent resident wandering and elopement. They must find a balance between allowing the residents to have autonomy and keeping them safe. Staff have an obligation to be aware of residents’ whereabouts and keep them out of harm’s way. Sadly, many nursing homes are understaffed or contain staff with inadequate training. Often, staffing issues like these lead to overlooked resident wandering and elopement.

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Illinois nursing home neglect attorneysDecubitus ulcers, also known as bed sores or pressure ulcers, form when a person spends long periods of time in the same position. Bed sores most often occur in individuals who are immobile due to illness or disability. Nursing home staff should take precautions to prevent bed sores in residents by regularly repositioning them and immediately treating sores if they occur. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that as many as one out of ten residents in nursing homes suffer from bed sores at any given time. If your loved one has suffered from bed sores in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, it may be a sign of neglect.

Preventing Bed Sores in Elderly and Disabled Individuals

Caretakers should take steps to prevent bed sores before they start. If your loved one cannot move himself or herself, you will have to help regularly reposition them. It may be helpful to position the person at a 30-degree angle to reduce pressure on their hips. Caretakers who look after disabled or elderly individuals should also make sure to inspect their skin for signs that bed sores are forming. Malnutrition can be a cause of bed sores as well. Nursing home residents who do not receive enough calories, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals in their diets may suffer from bed sores in addition to other aliments caused by lack of nutrition.

Areas of the Body on Which Bed Sores Commonly Occur

Bed sores are a major concern for people confined to a wheelchair or bed. For nursing home residents who must use a wheelchair all or most of the day, the most common areas for bed sores to form include the:

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Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect attorneysAs the “Baby Boomer" generation ages, more and more people need the around-the-clock care offered by nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Long-term care facilities can provide a safe home for elderly and disabled individuals, but sadly, not every nursing home is up to standards. Vulnerable nursing home residents can be experience neglect, physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, and financial exploitation at the hands of caregivers.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you should always be on the lookout for signs that something isn’t right. Often, the signs of elder neglect and abuse are subtle. Nursing home residents who struggle with cognition, memory, or speech may be unable to ask for help or communicate what has happened to them. Loved ones of nursing home residents should be vigilant for signs of neglect and abuse.

Withdrawn or Uncommunicative Staff May Be a Red Flag

Understandably, not everyone enjoys every second of their work day. Nursing home staff members have a job which can be physically, psychologically, and emotionally demanding. However, nursing home staff should still be personally committed to the well-being of the residents in their care. Nursing home or assisted living staff who avoid talking with residents’ family members or seem uncomfortable interacting with residents may be a red flag. Likewise, overworked, exhausted staff can be a warning sign that the facility is not staffed adequately. Staffing issues, including understaffing and undertraining, are some of the most common reasons residents suffer neglect and abuse.  

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Illinois nursing home injury attorneyWinter is the time of year when everyone should be frequently washing their hands and being extra careful to avoid illness. Unfortunately, nursing home residents do not always have the ability or resources to keep their bodies healthy and free of disease. The National Institute of Health estimates that 2 million infections occur in nursing homes every year. Although some of these infections are not preventable, others are a direct cause of negligent nursing home staff. Infections can rapidly worsen if they are not properly treated by a medical professional. If you or someone you love one has developed an illness after experiencing an infection in a nursing home, it is important to understand your available options.

Infections Common in Illinois Nursing Homes Residents

Nursing home residents are often elderly or have compromised immune systems due to illness. This is why it is critical that nursing home staff treat infections as soon as possible to prevent them from worsening. The most common nursing home infections include:

  • Urinary tract infections;
  • Respiratory tract infections;
  • Pneumonia;
  • Clostridium difficile infections (CDI);
  • Influenza;
  • Sepsis;
  • Gastrointestinal infections; and
  • Soft tissue and skin infections.

When Is the Nursing Home Liable for Infections?

Elderly, disabled, and sick individuals are already at an increased risk of infection. Not every resident in a long-term care facility like a nursing home or assisted living facility who gets an infection does so because of negligence. However, nursing home negligence and abuse can certainly cause an increased risk of infection and illness. Some infections can even be fatal.

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Chicago nursing home injury attorneysLong-term care facilities like nursing homes care for the most vulnerable among us. These facilities are therefore held to a high degree of accountability. Staff in nursing homes or assisted living facilities should always be on the lookout for environmental hazards that could injure a resident. A leaky ceiling which creates a puddle on the ground, for example, could cause a resident to slip and fall.

A fall like this may not seem dangerous to a healthy person, but an elderly person with compromised health may suffer serious injury from such a fall. A resident who falls and hits his or her head may suffer a concussion, the mildest version of a traumatic brain injury. Concussions can cause significant pain and cognitive problems. More severe brain injuries can cause permanent impairment.

Concussions in the Elderly Can Be Hard to Spot

Because many nursing home residents suffer from dementia or other cognitive impairments, they may not be able to report a head injury when it happens. If you have a loved one who suffered a blow to the head, make sure they receive the appropriate medical treatment. Symptoms of a concussion are often subtle and gradual, so do not rule out a concussion without a professional medical evaluation. Signs and symptoms of a concussion can vary from person to person but generally include

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Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect lawyersLong-term care facilities like assisted living homes and nursing homes care for the most vulnerable among us. Therefore, these facilities must be held to a high degree of accountability. When a nursing home or its employees act negligently, they should be held liable for the harm they caused. Nursing home abuse and neglect can incur steep medical bills, unnecessary pain and suffering, or even disfigurement and disability. If you or someone you love has suffered due to negligent nursing home staff, you may be able to recover compensation through a civil lawsuit.

Hiring Problems Can Lead to Mistreatment of Residents

Negligent hiring is unfortunately an issue for many nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Understandably, working at a nursing home with residents who need help showering and using the bathroom is a challenging job. Many nursing home residents also have cognitive issues which cause confusion or belligerence. Nursing homes should hire personnel who are appropriately qualified and have no history of abuse or violence. A care facility may be considered negligent if it hires staff without proper background checks or verification of qualifications.

Understaffing and Inadequate Training Put Nursing Home Residents at Risk

Another major issue with many nursing homes is understaffing. A nursing home must meet certain staff-to-resident requirements in order to properly supervise and care for residents. Unlike other medical facilities, nursing homes are filled with individuals who cannot be responsible for their own safety. A nursing home resident with severe dementia, for example, may not remember to drink and eat without being reminded. Residents with cognitive impairments can wander outside and quickly become lost or injured. Patients who cannot physically move by themselves may develop pressure ulcers or bed sores because staff do not attend to them regularly. Staff who are underqualified for their job or who were not adequately trained cannot provide the quality of care required by law. Nursing homes can be considered legally responsible when a resident is injured or killed due to inadequate staffing.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysExtremely cold winter weather has come to the Chicago area, and nobody is more vulnerable to the cold than elderly individuals and people with disabilities. It is critically important that caretakers take steps to reduce vulnerable individuals’ exposure to freezing temperatures and icy conditions. Nursing home staff should always keep a close eye on nursing home residents who tend to wander off – but this is especially imperative during adverse weather. Sadly, issues like understaffing and inadequate staff training can lead to nursing homes which do not adequately care for their residents. Nursing home abuse and neglect leads to the loss of thousands of innocent lives every year.

Nursing Home Residents are at Increased Risk of Frostbite and Hypothermia

In extremely cold temperatures, any exposed skin has the potential to develop frostbite in as few as five minutes. Because the body’s natural reaction to the cold is to divert blood flow from extremities to the major organs like the heart, areas like the face and fingertips are usually the first body parts to be affected by frostbite. The first warning signs of frostbite are pain, tingling, and skin discoloration, however, these warning signs are not always obvious. Nursing home residents with cognitive decline due to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may be unable to notice these warning signs until irreversible damage is done. Hypothermia occurs when the body’s internal temperature dips too low for the body to function correctly. It can cause confusion and eventually unconsciousness followed by death. Elderly people and those in poor health are being encouraged to stay inside as much as possible during extreme temperatures.

Long-Term Care Facility Staff Must Supervise Residents Who Wander or Attempt to Elope

Nursing home staff are responsible for supervising residents, helping them complete daily living tasks, like taking medicine and showering, and keeping them safe. Unfortunately, not every nursing home or assisted living facility fulfills their duties adequately. For example, a 76-year-old woman in Ohio tragically passed away from hypothermia after wandering from her nursing home during frigid temperatures last January. Nursing home residents with reduced mental capacity due to age or illness may not understand that they must stay inside during extreme weather. Icy conditions can also make slips and falls more likely, which can be especially dangerous to the vulnerable.

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