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Schwartz Injury Law

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Chicago nursing home neglect and abuse attorneysNursing homes should be places of refuge for elderly and disabled individuals. Sadly, some nursing home residents suffer from neglect or even intentional maltreatment. A nursing home injury claim may allow an injured victim or the victim’s family to hold the liable party accountable for the neglect or abuse. A nursing home injury claim may also allow for the recovery of damages. Compensation for medical treatment, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other damages may be available. However, in order to bring a nursing home injury claim, the liable party must be identified.

The Nursing Home Facility is Often the Liable Party

The party that is legally responsible for an injury or death is called the liable party. In many nursing home injury claims, the liable party is the nursing facility itself. Nursing homes have a legal obligation to provide competent care and assistance to residents. The following issues are examples of ways that nursing homes may be in violation of that obligation:

  • Failing to perform background checks on staff or other negligent hiring practices
  • Failing to properly supervise staff
  • Failing to maintain adequate staff numbers
  • Lack of medical care
  • Medical mistakes including medication errors
  • Failure to provide adequate assistance with daily living activities
  • Insufficient sanitation of the facility
  • Failing to maintain a safe facility
  • Failing to provide adequate security measures
  • Intentional abuse of residents

Even if an individual staff member is the cause of nursing home neglect and abuse, the claim is typically brought against the facility that the staff is employed by.

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Illinois nursing home injury attorneysAlzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia affect an estimated 50 million individuals across the globe. Nursing home residents suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia may struggle to form memories, solve problems, and accurately interpret the world around them. Some sufferers become confused or even combative with other residents or nursing home staff. If your loved one suffers from dementia and is living in a nursing home, it is important to know some of the unique issues he or she may face. Nursing home staff should take special care to ensure the safety of residents with dementia. Failure to do so may result in the resident’s injury or death.

Wandering and Elopement

Nursing home residents who suffer from cognitive impairment due to dementia or a related illness are at an especially high risk of wandering and elopement. A confused resident may wander into a dangerous part of the facility and be seriously hurt as a consequence. Some residents even attempt to flee the facility or mistake the exit for an interior door. Tragically, some residents have died after eloping from nursing home facilities and succumbing to the elements.

Physical Abuse and Sexual Abuse

Nursing homes should be places of refuge for elderly and disabled residents. Sadly, some residents are victims of physical, mental, emotional, and sexual abuse. Residents with cognitive impairment brought on by illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease are often especially vulnerable to this type of malicious treatment. Perpetrators may target these residents because they know that the residents will struggle to report the abuse. They may even assume that if the residents did report the abuse, that no one would believe them.

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Illinois nursing home neglect attorneysIndividuals with physical or cognitive limitations rely on nursing homes to provide the consistent care they need. Nursing home staff help with daily tasks like eating and bathing as well as medical concerns such as dispensing medication and treating injuries. Another essential responsibility of nursing home staff is maintaining a clean, sanitary environment. Failure to maintain a clean facility, sanitize equipment, and help residents with hygiene-related needs may all be signs of nursing home neglect.

Unsanitary Equipment in a Nursing Home Can Lead to Infection and Illness

Nursing home residents’ bodies are already weakened by age and/or disability. Exposure to viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens can be deadly. Nursing homes should be regularly cleaned and sanitized. Staff should ensure that equipment such as wheelchairs are kept clean and shared equipment is sanitized between residents. Kitchens and dining areas should also be kept clean and free of pests like insects or mice. Unsanitary conditions can lead to conditions such as:

  • Colds
  • Flu
  • Infections
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Scabies
  • Lice
  • Ringworm
  • Bedbugs

Proper Resident Hygiene is Essential for Physical and Mental Health

Nursing home staff also have a responsibility to help residents themselves remain clean and hygienic. Many residents cannot use the toilet, bathe, or dress without assistance. Some residents are incontinent and rely on adult diapers. When staff do not regularly change residents’ soiled diapers, clothing, or bed sheets, dangerous infections and other medical complications can develop.

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Illinois nursing home medication mistakes attorneyModern medicine has allowed people to live decades longer than we used to. Diseases that would once quickly kill an individual may now be cured by simply taking a couple of pills. However, in order for medications to be effective, they must be properly dosed and administered. Medication mistakes in a nursing home can lead to needless resident suffering and may even contribute to a resident’s untimely death. If your loved one was the victim of a medication error in a nursing home, you may wonder if you have grounds for a lawsuit. A nursing home injury claim may help you hold the negligent nursing home accountable for your loved one’s harm, however, a successful claim is only possible in certain situations.

Types of Medication Errors in Illinois Nursing Homes

Most nursing home residents rely on at least one or more medications to keep symptoms of medical ailments under control. Medications may be used to ease a resident’s pain, fight infection, avoid blood clots, treat abnormal heart rhythms, and much more. When a resident does not receive the appropriate medication, he or she may suffer from new and worsening health complications. Sadly, some medication mistakes are fatal. Some of the most common medication errors in nursing homes include:

  • Administration of the wrong type of medication
  • Administration of “sound alike” medication
  • Improper administration technique
  • Skipped dose of medication
  • Giving too much or too little medication

When is a Successful Lawsuit Possible?

If your loved one was the victim of a medication error while living in a nursing home, you may be curious about your legal options. A nursing home injury claim may allow you to hold the nursing home accountable for the mistake and recover financial compensation for damages. To bring a successful nursing home injury lawsuit, you and your attorney will need to demonstrate that:

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Chicago nursing home injury attorneys Nursing home residents live in nursing home facilities because they have mental or physical disabilities that make independent living an impractical or unsafe option. Often, nursing home residents suffer from multiple illnesses and age-related health concerns at the same time which can make them especially vulnerable. It is for this reason that nurses, nurses’ aides, and other medical workers are on staff. When a nursing home resident develops a bed sore, falls, or is otherwise injured, nursing home staff must take appropriate steps to treat the wound. Improper wound care can lead to infection, sepsis, and even death.

Special Attention Must Be Paid to Sick and Elderly Residents

When a child scrapes his or her knee, he or she may put a bandage on the wound and forget about it soon after. The wound then heals on its own without complication. However, elderly and disabled individuals’ bodies do not heal as quickly from soft tissue injuries as those who are young and healthy. This is why it is crucial that nursing home staff properly treat resident injuries and carefully monitor the resident for signs of infection or other medical problems. This is especially true for residents who cannot advocate for themselves due to physical or mental impairments.

Some of the most common types of wounds suffered by nursing home residents include:

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Chicago nursing home fractures attorneyOne of the hardest parts of having a loved one in a nursing home is that you cannot always be present to monitor the quality of care your loved one is receiving. You may worry about the safety standards at your loved one’s nursing home or wonder how often they are understaffed. You may see horrific news stories depicting physical or sexual abuse of nursing home residents and fear the same thing happening to your loved one. When your loved one suffers a broken bone, you may wonder, “Are fractures a sign of nursing home neglect or abuse?”

Cause of Resident Broken Bones and Fractures

Falling becomes a greater and greater hazard the more we age. Disabilities that impair mobility or vision and injuries to the feet can further increase the risk of falling. The CDC reports that one out of every five fall accidents results in a serious injury. Broken bones are a common result of nursing home fall accidents. Not every fall is a product of nursing home negligence or wrongdoing of some kind. However, there are many ways in which nursing home negligence may lead to a fall accident, including:

  • Negligent supervision or failure to properly watch staff for signs that they need help
  • Environmental Hazards such as cluttered walkways or loose electrical cords that present a slip and fall or trip and fall risk
  • Inadequate safety measures including lack of handrails, grab bars, and sufficient lighting
  • Inadequate staff training including insufficient training on how to safely transfer a patient in and out of bed or a wheelchair
  • Improper use of sedatives or psychiatric medication
  • Medication mistakes including administering too much or too little medication

Falls are not the only causes of broken bones and fractures in nursing home residents, but they are, by far, the most common. Falling may also be caused by:

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysIf you or your loved one were harmed by substandard care at a nursing home, you may be able to bring a civil action against the facility. A nursing home lawsuit may enable you to pursue justice for the maltreatment and seek financial compensation for damages. Substandard medical care, neglect, and intentional abuse may lead to a nursing home lawsuit. A personal injury attorney experienced in nursing home negligence and abuse cases can file a claim on your behalf and represent you throughout your case.

Do All Nursing Home Injury Claims Go to Trial?

If you are like most people, you probably do not know much about what a civil claim against a medical facility entails. You may even assume that all nursing home injury claims result in a courtroom trial. In reality, only a small percentage of nursing home negligence claims end up going to trial. Most are settled during out-of-court negotiations. A nursing home injury attorney can negotiate with the nursing home’s legal team on your behalf and fight for a satisfactory settlement.

What Do I Need to Prove to Be Successful?

There are several types of nursing home claims. The most common is a claim that alleges negligence on the part of the nursing home facility or staff. To win a negligence-based claim, you will need to show that:

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"ChicagoPutting an elderly or disabled relative in a long-term care facility like a nursing home is never easy. Many people worry about the quality of care that their loved one receives in a nursing home and what may be going on behind closed doors. Unfortunately, issues like understaffing and inadequate staff training have led to nursing home neglect in facilities across the country. When nursing home staff act negligently or the facility is not outfitted with appropriate safety measures, serious fall accidents may be more likely to occur. Falls causing serious injury or death may be the direct result of negligent care.

Falling is Often Deadly for Elderly and Disabled Residents

When a person with compromised health falls, he or she may sustain severe or even fatal injuries. Studies show that the most common cause of injury in elderly people is falling. Some fall accidents result in only bruises and abrasions. Other falls result in broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spine injuries, or even death. Individuals who suffer from dementia, arthritis, diabetes, anemia, impaired sight or hearing, and neuropathy are at a greater risk of falling than those without these conditions.

How Can a Nursing Home Prevent Fall Injuries?

Staff should be aware of the physical and mental impairments suffered by the nursing home residents in their care. They should take these limitations into consideration when transferring the patient from one location to the next and helping the resident with daily tasks such as showering. Staff should also properly supervise residents – especially those with significant impairments. If a fall accident does occur and staff were not monitoring the resident’s whereabouts, the injured resident may be left suffering in pain for hours until staff discover him or her. Nursing homes should not contain hazards that make falls more likely to occur. Clutter in resident rooms, hallways, and common spaces, slippery floors, poor lighting, loose rugs, broken tiles, and other environmental hazards can lead to avoidable fall-related injuries. Wheelchair locks, walkers, canes, bed rails, grab bars, non-slip footwear and other safety measures can help prevent falls.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysNursing home residents deserve to be treated with compassion and respect. Sadly, some nursing home residents suffer abuse and neglect at the hands of the very people who are supposed to protect them. Nursing home abuse and neglect can take many different forms, and it is often difficult to recognize. Some residents stay silent about nursing home neglect and abuse because they fear retaliation. Others are uninformed of their rights and do not recognize that the poor treatment they are receiving is against the law. Residents with impaired cognition caused by dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease may be unable to report instances of neglect and abuse. For these reasons, it is important for everyone with a loved one in a nursing home facility to be watchful for signs of neglect and abuse.

Physical Abuse Symptoms in a Nursing Home

The most obvious signs of physical abuse in a nursing home are bruises, cuts, scrapes, and other injuries. However, many nursing home residents are frail or in poor health. They may bruise easily or receive minor injuries from everyday tasks. Not every injury is a sign of nursing home abuse, however, minor injuries like these are often the first sign of mistreatment in a nursing home. Residents may suffer from intentional abuse or they may be injured because staff were negligent when caring for the resident. If your loved one has an injury, staff should be willing to discuss the injury with you. If staff seem defensive or are uninterested in determining the cause of an injury, this may be a sign that they are hiding something.

Sadly, some nursing home residents are victims of sexual abuse. When an elderly or disabled person experiences impaired cognition, they are not able to give consent to sexual activities. Victims of sexual abuse may become withdrawn, fearful, and anxious. They may avoid certain staff members and exhibit behavioral and mood changes. Bruises and other injuries near the breasts and genitals, blood in a resident’s underwear, and sexually transmitted infections may all be signs of sexual abuse.

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Chicago nursing home injury attorneyTransitioning from an independent or somewhat independent life to a life lived within the bounds of a nursing home can be a major adjustment for elderly and disabled people. Nursing home residents who are struggling with nursing home rules and restrictions may even attempt to “escape” the facility. The threat of wandering and elopement is especially concerning when a resident has Alzheimer’s disease or another illness that affects his or her ability to think clearly. Residents who wander into unsafe areas of the nursing home or who leave the facility unnoticed may be seriously injured or even killed.

Wandering Around the Facility Unsupervised Can Be Very Dangerous

The term “wandering” refers to a resident roaming a nursing home facility unsupervised. The level of independence nursing home residents can enjoy varies greatly from person to person. Some residents are fully capable of getting out of bed and going to a communal space such as a dining hall on their own. Others need help moving safely from place to place. Staff should be aware of residents’ limitations and should provide assistance and supervision accordingly. The biggest concern when it comes to wandering is that a resident will get into an unsafe situation. Residents who wander may go into a kitchen area and burn themselves or slip and fall in a hidden corner of the facility where they are not discovered for hours.

Elopement is Often Deadly

When residents do not realize the consequences of their actions, are confused, or simply want to go home, they may try to leave the facility. This is referred to as elopement. Nursing home residents who leave the facility – especially those with impaired cognition – may become lost and unsure of how to get back inside. They may trip, slip, or fall and seriously injure themselves. They may even wander into traffic and be hit by a car. Sadly, elopement can have deadly consequences. About 70 percent of the claims brought against negligent facilities for resident elopement involve a resident’s death.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysThe level of autonomy that a nursing home resident is capable of varies significantly from individual to individual. Most nursing home residents need help with at least one or more daily living tasks. Some residents are almost completely dependent on staff. They may be unable to get in and out of bed on their own or require help when moving from their bed to their wheelchair. Some residents cannot even sit up in bed on their own. Transferring a resident or moving a resident from one location to another must be done carefully. Serious injuries or death may be caused by improper transfers in a nursing home.

Procedures for Transferring Residents

Before moving a resident, staff should evaluate the resident’s current mobility, health concerns, weight, and other relevant factors and determine the best way to transfer the resident. There are tried and true methods nursing home staff should use when transferring a resident from one location to another. Staff should be trained on safe resident transfers and handling. Often, moving a resident requires cooperative teamwork of two or more people. Assistive devices such as bedrails, grab bars, transfer belts, and medical lifts may be used to aid in the transfer. Staff should move the resident slowly and carefully. They should take preventive measures to avoid injuring themselves or the resident when moving him or her. If a staff cannot safely transfer a resident on their own, they should ask for assistance from another staff member. When nursing home staff fail to take the appropriate steps during resident transfer, they may drop the resident or otherwise harm him or her.   

Injuries From Improper Resident Transfers

When a resident is moved improperly, they may be seriously injured. If the resident is dropped, they may sustain fractures, lacerations, traumatic brain injuries, spine injuries, and other painful injuries. Because many nursing home residents are frail due to age or illness, these injuries can be life-threatening. Injuries may also occur from staff handling the resident too roughly or misusing assistive devices. If your loved one was injured or passed away due to injuries sustained during an improper transfer, you may have a valid nursing home negligence claim. You may be able to hold the nursing home responsible for your loved one’s preventable injuries and recover compensation for your damages.

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Illinois nursing home neglect attorneysBecause many nursing home residents are elderly or in poor health, nursing home deaths are not uncommon. Often, a nursing home resident simply dies of old age or succumbs to his or her illness. However, there are some situations in which a nursing home resident’s death is preventable. If you have lost a loved one who was living in a nursing home, you may be unsure of whether your loved one’s death was caused by poor care or neglect. If a nursing home’s wrongful or negligent actions lead to a resident’s death, the surviving family members have the right to bring a wrongful death claim against the facility.

How Do I Know If My Loved One’s Death Was a Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death occurs when a party’s negligent, careless, or wrongful actions lead to a person’s death and, had that person survived, he or she would have been entitled to bring a wrongful death claim against the party. It can be very difficult to know whether a nursing home resident’s death was avoidable. A wrongful death lawyer may use a variety of strategies to investigate a nursing home resident’s death. Often, medical records, staff schedules, photos and videos of the nursing home facility, witness statements, incident reports, and the nursing home’s policies and procedures are used during a wrongful death investigation. Some signs that your loved one’s death may be a wrongful death include:

  • Nursing home staff failed to provide necessary medical care in a timely manner.
  • Your loved one was not consistently receiving his or her medications.
  • Your loved one suffered from malnutrition or dehydration.
  • Your loved one had bedsores or other signs of neglect.
  • Your loved one had injuries caused by physical abuse.
  • The nursing home did not report your loved one’s fall or other injury-causing accident.
  • The nursing home failed to transfer your loved one to an appropriate facility when he or she needed a higher level of care.
  • The nursing home failed to prevent wandering, elopement, or resident-on-resident violence.

Bringing a Wrongful Death Claim Against a Nursing Home

If your loved one passed away due to negligent care in a nursing home, there is no legal action that can truly make up for this tragic loss. However, a wrongful death claim against the nursing home can help hold the facility accountable for the wrongful death. It may also allow you to recover financial compensation for the losses resulting from the death. You could be entitled to compensation for funeral and burial costs, medical expenses, and your own mental anguish and grief.

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Posted on in Neglect

Illinois nursing home neglect attorneysEveryone agrees that nursing home residents deserve to be well cared for. However, understanding the exact standards nursing homes must meet when it comes to resident care is often difficult. For many, it is hard to know if the type of care a resident is receiving is substandard. When does poor care cross the line into nursing home neglect? What can be done to hold a nursing home responsible for neglecting vulnerable nursing home residents?  

Failure to Provide Necessary Care

State and federal laws govern nursing home expectations and regulations. In Illinois, the Nursing Home Care Act describes the actions required of nursing home staff, the rights residents must be afforded by law, and the type of actions nursing homes are prohibited from taking. The Nursing Home Care Act defines neglect as a nursing home’s failure to provide sufficient medical care, mental health care, personal care, and assistance with daily living activities needed to avoid mental or physical harm to a resident. Put another way, neglect occurs when a facility fails to provide adequate resident care and a resident suffers mental or physical injury because of this. Neglect can lead to new and worsening medical conditions, a decrease in the resident’s independence and functioning, emotional and psychological issues like anxiety and depression, and more.  

Examples of Nursing Home Neglect

Nursing home neglect may take many different forms. Sometimes, nursing home neglect is willful. A staff member may simply choose not to complete the tasks needed to perform satisfactory resident care. More often, nursing home neglect is the result of inadequate staffing, poor staff training, inefficient scheduling, or negligent hiring practices. It is important to note that nursing home neglect is still in violation of the Nursing Home Care Act and other legislation even if it is not deliberate. Some examples of neglect suffered by nursing home residents include:

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Chicago nursing home choking injury attorneysElderly and disabled nursing home residents need help to safely carry out many everyday activities, including eating. Even if a resident is able to eat on his or her own, staff should monitor residents for signs that they may be struggling. Choking is a deadly hazard in nursing homes. Within a matter of minutes, a resident can be killed or suffer brain damage from lack of oxygen caused by choking.

Issues That Increase the Risk of Choking

According to the National Safety Council, over 5,000 people lost their lives because of choking in 2015 alone. Just under 3,000 of these choking victims were over age 74. Elderly people are often especially at risk of choking. Their mouth and esophagus muscles may be weakened from illness or age or they may have other problems such as dry mouth that increase choking risks. 

Some medical conditions increase the chances of choking in individuals of all ages, including:

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Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect lawyersNursing home neglect and abuse are sad realities in the United States. Understaffing, inadequate staff training, negligent hiring practices, and other problems can lead to injurious or even fatally substandard care. News stories about nursing home neglect and intentional abuse are also not uncommon. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you may worry about what is going on behind closed doors. You may have considered leaving a hidden camera in your loved one’s room in order to monitor the care he or she is getting but have questions about the legality of this type of surveillance.

Nursing Home Abuse Comes in Many Forms

Unfortunately, there have been instances in which nursing home staff have deliberately hurt residents physically, emotionally, or sexually. Many nursing home residents suffer from illness that impair their memory or cognition. This can make it very difficult for the residents to report abuse or neglect. Sometimes, nursing home residents are aware that the treatment they are receiving is unacceptable, but they are too afraid to speak up about it to staff or their family. Issues such as these lead some people to install cameras in their loved one’s room at the nursing home.

Are Nursing Home Cameras Legal?

You may wonder if hiding a camera in your loved one’s room for the purposes of monitoring their care is even legal. Laws regulating recording others vary considerably from state to state. In Illinois, nursing home cameras are subject to the Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Facilities Act. This law makes it legal for families to install video cameras in their loved one’s room under certain circumstances. The camera must only be installed in the resident’s room and not in a common area of the nursing facility. The camera must also be in a conspicuous location. So, hidden cameras or “spy cameras” are not permitted. Furthermore, there must be a notice posted outside of the resident’s room that informs others of the electronic monitoring. The nursing home resident or his or her guardian and any roommates must give written consent before a camera can be placed in the room.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysNursing home neglect and abuse is a tragic reality. Everyone hopes that nursing home staff will treat their loved ones with the respect and compassion that they deserve. Sadly, not all nursing home staff meet this expectation. Physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse can happen to any nursing home resident. However, residents with cognitive decline caused by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia are often particularly at risk for abuse. Even worse, such residents are often not capable of telling anyone about the abuse.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse may take the form of hitting, slapping, pinching, or kicking. It may also take the form of rough handling residents when transferring them in and out of beds or wheelchairs. If your loved one has bruises, cuts, or other physical injuries that staff cannot explain, this may be a sign that the staff have abused him or her. Of course, not every physical injury is a sign of abuse. Sometimes, an injury is simply the result of the resident bumping against furniture. However, if staff members seem agitated by your concerns or refuse to discuss your loved one’s injuries with you, this may be a sign that they have something to hide.

Psychological or Emotional Abuse

Sadly, some nursing home staff intentionally scare, embarrass, or isolate residents. If your loved one exhibits signs of fear toward staff – especially if the fear is directed at a particular staff member- this may be a sign of abuse. Sudden changes in behavior or child-like behaviors like rocking and thumb sucking may also be signs of abuse. Suffers of Alzheimer’s and dementia often become confused and believe that someone is harming them even if they are not actually in danger. However, it is important to believe your loved one and investigate any reports of mistreatment or signs of abuse.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysNursing homes have a legal duty to provide reasonably skilled care to residents. They are expected to help the residents with personal hygiene, meal times, and everyday tasks. Nursing home staff are also expected to provide competent medical care. This may include administering medication, recognizing the signs and symptoms of illnesses, caring for injuries, and more. If a resident suffers a health concern that the nursing home staff are not equipped to deal with, staff should arrange for the resident to receive the medical care he or she needs through other means. Failure to provide medical care may lead to a nursing home neglect and abuse claim.  

Understaffing Can Lead to Inadequate Medical Care

Nursing home staff typically consists of nurses, certified nursing assistants, physical therapists, dieticians, administrative employees, and support employees such as custodians. Federal law mandates that a registered nurse be on duty at least eight hours each day, seven days a week. At least one licensed nurse must be on duty 24 hours a day. There should also be enough additional staff such as nurse aides to ensure that residents are properly cared for. 

Unfortunately, understaffing is a major problem in Illinois nursing homes and facilities across the country. When there are not enough staff, residents may suffer from insufficient medical care including:

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Illinois nursing home injury attorneysNursing home residents deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. Whether they need help with managing medical conditions or daily living tasks, nursing home staff have a moral responsibility and a legal obligation to provide the assistance they need. Federal and state laws set the standards nursing homes must meet as well as the rights nursing home residents must be afforded. 

In Illinois, the Nursing Home Care Act governs the rights that nursing home residents have by law. If a nursing home violates these important resident rights, the facility may face civil claims and other legal consequences.

Nursing Home Resident Rights in Illinois

Illinois adopted the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act (NHCA) after serious concerns about residents’ safety and wellbeing were voiced. The legislation contains a resident “bill of rights” that gives residents the right to:

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Illinois nursing home negligence attorneysA small child learning to walk may get up and fall down dozens of times throughout the day without suffering any serious injuries. However, as a person’s body weakens with illness or age, falling down becomes much more dangerous. Falling is the leading cause of trauma-related hospital admissions and fatal injury among elderly individuals. If your loved one suffered a fall while living in a nursing home, you may wonder if anything could have been done to prevent your loved one’s painful injuries. In some cases, a nursing home resident’s fall injuries are directly caused by the negligent actions or inaction of the nursing home.

Nursing Homes Should Be Free of Environmental Hazards

Clutter in a nursing home is not simply unsightly, it is a major safety hazard. When boxes, medical equipment, clothing or other objects are left in on the floor, residents may trip over the objects and fall. Other environmental hazards that may lead to falls include spilled liquids, unsecured rugs, loose carpet, and electrical cords. Poor lighting and a lack of safety equipment may also contribute to resident falls.

Insufficient Assistance Increases the Risk of Residents Falling

Most nursing home residents need help performing everyday tasks, and some residents have more independence than others. One individual may be able to get in and out of bed, use the bathroom, and walk to common areas of the nursing home on his or her own while another resident may be nearly immobile. Nursing home staff should be aware of residents’ individual needs and provide appropriate care. When a resident does not receive the assistance he or she needs to safely move about, he or she may suffer a preventable fall.

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IL nursing home lawyerFew would argue that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are some of the most tragic illnesses imaginable. These illnesses affect a sufferer’s memory, personality, and cognition. Nursing home residents with dementia are often at a higher risk of being neglected or abused for a variety of reasons. Many times, they are also unable to report this abuse. Because of this, it is crucial for loved ones to be vigilant for signs that could indicate nursing home neglect and abuse.

Wandering is a Life-Threatening Concern for Residents with Alzheimer’s Disease

Illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease can lead to severe confusion and agitation. Some sufferers do not realize that they are in a nursing home for their own benefit. They may believe that they need to “escape” the facility to avoid harm. They may also accidentally wander out of the facility or into dangerous areas within the facility. Just recently, a nursing home resident suffering from dementia was discovered in the facility’s walk-in freezer. Sadly, the elderly woman had passed away by the time authorities located her. Nursing home staff have a moral obligation as well as a legal duty to supervise residents at risk of wandering and elopement. If a nursing home’s negligence leads to a resident’s injury or death, the facility may be liable for damages.

Unreasonable Restraint and Intentional Abuse

Another major concern for nursing home residents with dementia is the risk of unreasonable restraint. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act states that no resident may be physically or chemically restrained as a “punishment” or for the staff’s convenience. Unfortunately, this does not stop many nursing homes from using physical restraints or chemical sedation for exactly these purposes.

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