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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.”

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