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IL nursing home abuse lawyerThere are approximately 1.2 million people living in nursing homes across the United States. Residents may live in a nursing home facility because they need help with daily tasks such as eating and bathing or because they have long-term medical needs that cannot be met through other means. A significant percentage of nursing home residents suffer from physical or mental disabilities that significantly reduce their level of personal independence. They, therefore, must count on the nursing home staff to keep them as healthy as safe as possible.

Tragically, some nursing home residents are not treated with the compassionate assistance and competent medical care they deserve. If you or your loved one were the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, you may wish to bring a personal injury claim against the facility. In order for your claim to be successful, you will need to show evidence of the nursing home’s wrongdoing.

Elements in a Nursing Home Injury Claim

To hold a negligent nursing home accountable and recover financial compensation through a nursing home injury lawsuit, you and your attorney will need to prove that:

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IL nursing home abuse lawyerWhen people think about nursing home and neglect, images of overmedicated or malnourished residents may come to mind. However, nursing home neglect is not always this obvious. In fact, one of the least visible forms of nursing home negligence is also one of the most dangerous. The problem of inadequate sanitation may not be immediately obvious, but it can have deadly consequences for residents. When nursing home staff do not keep the facility clean, viruses and bacteria can spread rapidly endangering the lives of the residents who call the facility home.

Residents Are Vulnerable to Illness and Infection

Everyone knows that it is important to wash your hands frequently in order to prevent the spread of disease. Proper hygiene is especially crucial for workers in medical facilities such as nursing homes. When nursing home staff fail to wash their hands between assisting residents, they can transfer pathogens from one resident to the next. If the facility itself is not properly sanitized, germs have the opportunity to multiply and spread throughout the building. Residents who are elderly or have weakened immune systems are particularly prone to disease and infections. They can become sick rapidly. If staff do not recognize the signs of the illness and provide the necessary medical treatment right away, the illness could prove fatal.

Unsanitary conditions in nursing homes are often the result of overworked and undertrained employees. Many nursing homes are extremely understaffed. Staff may fail to practice good hygiene or maintain a sanitary facility because they forget this essential task or because they wrongly assume that sanitation is not a high priority.

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IL abuse attorneyWhen we think of nursing home abuse, we typically think of abuse at the hands of the nursing home staff. However, vulnerable nursing home residents are also at risk of being harmed by other residents. A nursing home resident may attack another resident due to malevolence, or, much more commonly, because he or she suffers from a cognitive illness that makes him or her confused, angry, and afraid. If your loved one was physically harmed or sexually assaulted by another resident while living in a nursing home, you may wonder what your legal options are. In some cases, a nursing home may be liable for resident injuries or deaths caused by the actions of another resident. A nursing home injury claim may enable you to hold the nursing home responsible for its negligence as well as recover compensation.

Nursing Home Staff Have a Duty to Prevent Resident-On-Resident Violence

Nurses, nurse’s aides, and other nursing home workers have a legal obligation to prevent foreseeable resident injuries. Although not every resident injury can be prevented, nursing home staff must make the facility as safe as possible. This includes adequately supervising residents. If a resident has a history of lashing out physically at staff, residents, or visitors, staff should carefully monitor his or her behavior. If a resident shows signs of aggression that may develop into violence toward other residents, he or she should be removed from the situation and given time to cool off. Many instances of resident-on-resident violence are the result of understaffing and inadequate staff training. Nursing home staff may fail to address violence or resident injuries caused by violence because they are too busy with other tasks. Examples of nursing home negligence such as these are in violation of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act and other legislation.

Damages in a Nursing Home Injury Claim Involving Injuries Caused by Another Resident

The term “damages” is used to refer to the financial compensation awarded to a plaintiff in a personal injury claim. Often, nursing home injury claims are brought on behalf of the resident by a child or other loved one. Through a nursing home injury claim, you may be entitled to compensation for your loved one’s medical bills, pain and suffering, and mental anguish caused by the attack. If your loved one died in an incident involving resident-on-resident violence, you may also be entitled to compensation for your own losses.

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IL abuse lawyerNursing home abuse and neglect are tragically commonplace in Illinois and across the United States. It is difficult to know for sure the exact number of nursing home residents who are victims of abuse because many residents are unable to report the mistreatment they suffer. However, in one study, 44 percent of nursing home residents surveyed reported being abused while living in the facility. If you have a loved one living in a rehabilitation facility, assisted living facility, or nursing home, it is important to be vigilant for signs of abuse and neglect.

Physical Abuse Can Leave Physical and Mental Scars

It is hard to imagine someone hitting, pinching, kicking, or otherwise intentionally harming an elderly or disabled person, but physical abuse does happen in some long-term care facilities. Some nursing home staff become frustrated or angry when residents do not comply with orders or are otherwise obstinate. They may intentionally hurt the resident as a form of “punishment.” Unexplained bruises, lacerations, or other signs of trauma, as well as psychological symptoms like fear and anxiety, may be signs that a resident is begin physically assaulted. In some cases, the perpetrators of physical abuse are other residents at the facility.

Mental or Psychological Abuse Can Be Just as Harmful as Physical Abuse

Psychological, emotional, or mental abuse can be just as damaging to a resident’s wellbeing as physical violence. Examples of emotional abuse include mocking a resident, intentionally scaring a resident, embarrassing a resident, disallowing reasonable privacy, and other actions intended to demoralize or upset a resident. Recognizing mental abuse can often be tricky. Residents who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other cognitive illnesses may become confused and accuse innocent staff of abusive or threatening behavior. However, it is essential to fully investigate any claim of mistreatment.

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IL nursing home abuse attorneyThe term restraints are used to refer to physical or chemical means of controlling a nursing home resident’s behavior or restricting his or her movement. While physical restraints involve things like bed rails and ties, chemical restraints are medications used to sedate a resident. Federal and state laws heavily regulate the use of restraints against nursing home residents. Restraints can only be used in specific situations and should never be used simply for nursing home staff convenience. Overuse and improper use of chemical restraints can lead to dangerous, often fatal, side effects as well as a diminished quality of life.

Sedatives and Other Chemical Restraints Can Only Be Used When Medically Necessary

Psychopharmacological drugs such as benzodiazepines and antipsychotic medication are intended to treat psychiatric conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders. These medications often have side effects including drowsiness and sluggishness. Sometimes, nursing home staff administer these medications to nursing home residents to make them more docile and less likely to wander around the facility or defy staff instructions. Not only is this practice unethical, it is also illegal. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act specifically states that chemical and physical restraints may not be used to punish a resident or for the nursing home staff’s convenience. According to the law, restraints may only be used when ordered by a doctor for a legitimate medical purpose.

Antipsychotic Medication Doubles The Risk of Death in Residents with Dementia

Aripiprazole, haloperidol, clozapine, quetiapine, risperidone, olanzapine, and other antipsychotic medications are frequently used “off label” to sedate residents who do not have the medical conditions that the drugs are designed to treat. Research has shown that this is a very dangerous practice. Dr. David Graham, Associate Director of the FDA’s Office of Drug Safety, has stated that antipsychotic medication actually doubles the risk of mortality in elderly people with dementia. These medications carry side effects including an increased risk of falling, dyskinesia, blood clots, stroke, and irreversible cognitive decompensation. Antipsychotic drugs even have a “black box” warning cautioning against administering the medication to elderly people with dementia.

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IL nursing home attorneyThere are almost countless reasons that a person may stay in a rehabilitative facility, assisted living facility, or nursing home. Some people stay in a facility such as these while they recover from major surgery or illness and are eventually able to return home. Others permanently move into a long-term care facility because they can no longer live on their own due to dementia or physical disabilities. Whatever the reason, individuals staying in nursing homes and similar facilities deserve quality medical care and adequate assistance with daily living tasks. Malnutrition and dehydration are two health concerns that may indicate that a nursing home resident is not receiving adequate care and attention.

Red Flags of Dehydration in Elderly and Disabled Residents

Even for healthy adults, drinking enough water is sometimes a struggle. Many of us are simply too busy to notice that we have not consumed enough liquid throughout the day and only realize that we are dehydrated when symptoms such as a headache appear. For nursing home residents, the problem is even more serious. Residents may have cognitive illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease that distort their memory and ability to think clearly. They may also suffer from medical problems that make it difficult to sit up or swallow. Nursing home residents have a legal obligation to provide adequate water to residents. Signs of dehydration include fatigue, muscle cramps, dry mouth, dizziness, disorientation, urine that is dark in color, and decrease in urine production. Chronic dehydration can cause a resident to develop urinary tract infections, seizures, and even hypovolemic shock.

Malnutrition Warning Signs

Providing meals to nursing home residents is one of the most important daily tasks that nursing home staff are responsible for. However, studies show that approximately 20 percent of all nursing home residents suffer from some degree of malnutrition. Most nursing home residents are struggling with chronic disease or serious physical ailments and their bodies desperately need adequate nutrition to fight these diseases and function normally. Malnutrition can lead to weakness, fatigue, dental problems, yellowing of the skin, increased risk of bedsores, and weight loss. Inadequate nutrition can also have negative psychological effects.

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IL nursing home abuse lawyerChicago is known for its harsh winters, but the summer weather can be just as unbearable. Temperatures frequently rise to the 80s and 90s in the summer months which can present a major health hazard to elderly and disabled individuals. Nursing home residents are often particularly vulnerable to extreme temperatures because their bodies are weakened by age and illness. If a nursing home resident wanders into an area of the facility that is not air-conditioned or properly ventilated or leaves the facility, he or she may suffer deadly health conditions in a matter of minutes.

Residents Who are Not Properly Supervised May Suffer Heatstroke

The older we get, the less our bodies are able to regulate our internal temperature. Elderly nursing home residents and those with chronic health conditions are often unable to tolerate the heat. Residents with cognitive impairment are at an increased risk of heatstroke because they may not realize that it is unsafe for them to go outside. If residents are not properly supervised, they may elope from the nursing home facility and into the dangerous weather. Heatstroke or sunstroke is a condition caused by the body overheating. Without immediate medical treatment, heatstroke causes major damage to the heart, brain, kidneys, and often results in death.

Dehydration is a Critical Concern in Nursing Homes

Another grave concern for nursing home residents in the summer heat is dehydration. Residents with marked cognitive decline may actually forget to drink water if they are not frequently reminded to do so. Problems with swallowing or mobility concerns may also lead to inadequate water intake. Many nursing home residents are also on medications that increase the amount of water that is excreted from the body which can make them especially at risk of dehydration. Nursing home staff must ensure that residents are drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated. They should also carefully monitor residents for signs of dehydration such as infrequent urination, dry mouth, low blood pressure, and unusually pale skin. If a nursing home’s failure to prevent heat-related illnesses such as dehydration or heatstroke leads to a resident’s death or injury, the nursing home may be legally responsible for the harm caused.

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IL nursing home abuse lawyerInfections are a constant concern in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Nursing Home residents are often elderly and in poor health. This means that their bodies are not able to fight infections the way that a healthy person’s body could. Infections may develop into a condition called sepsis, which is often fatal. If your loved one was injured or killed due to a sepsis infection while living in a nursing home, you may choose to bring a nursing home injury claim or wrongful death claim.

What Is Sepsis?

Infections caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or other pathogens may cause the body to release chemicals into the bloodstream that are extremely harmful. This bodily response is called sepsis. Infections of the skin caused by bedsores, urinary tract infections, or other infections can potentially cause sepsis. Without prompt and aggressive medical treatment, sepsis can lead to severe damage including organ failure and death. Individuals over age 65 and people with chronic medical conditions such as cancer or diabetes are at the highest risk of developing sepsis. A nursing home resident with sepsis may experience fever, high heart rate, weakness, disorientation, and terrible pain. Sepsis can also lead to septic shock which is often fatal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that sepsis kills over 250,000 people in the U.S. every year.

When Is a Nursing Home Liable for a Resident Developing Sepsis?

Not every nursing home resident infection can be prevented. However, hospitals have a legal obligation to prevent resident infections whenever possible. Nursing home staff should take precautions to eliminate the spread of germs in the facility. This includes regularly sanitizing the facility and practicing proper hygiene such as hand washing between patients. Bedsores should be avoided by regularly repositioning residents who are unable to do so themselves. If a resident does develop an infection, staff should quickly address the issue. Resident infections that are ignored can lead to horrific suffering and an increased risk of death. If your loved one developed sepsis due to the negligent actions of a nursing home, a personal injury claim may enable you to hold the negligent facility accountable for the wrongdoing while also recovering compensation for you or your loved one.

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IL nursing home abuseNursing home staff are expected to provide the medical care and day-to-day help that residents need to be safe and free from avoidable health concerns. When nursing home staff fail to provide adequate care to residents, the nursing home may be liable for the harm caused to the vulnerable residents. One telltale sign of nursing home neglect is reoccurring bed sores. If your loved one has been suffering from frequent bedsores or bedsores that are not properly treated, you may have a valid nursing home negligence claim.

What Are Bed Sores?

Decubitus ulcers, also called bed sores or pressure ulcers, are injuries to the skin caused by long periods of pressure. People who are bedridden, confined to a wheelchair, or cannot move about on their own are the most likely to develop bedsores. These painful wounds often develop on the buttocks, hips, and back but they may also develop in other areas of the body that are subject to prolonged pressure. When a bed sore is developing, the skin becomes discolored, painful, or itchy. If pressure to the developing bed sore is not relieved, it worsens into a blister-like wound. The bedsore may then become deeper and deeper as time goes on, exposing subcutaneous tissues or even muscle and bone. Bed sores are terribly painful and may also lead to complications such as cellulitis, infection of the bones, heart lining, or cerebrospinal fluid, and sepsis. Septic arthritis, abscesses, and heterotopic bone formations may also result from untreated bed sores.

Steps Nursing Home Staff Should Take to Prevent and Address Bed Sores

Nursing home staff should do everything in their power to prevent residents from developing these dangerous and painful injuries. Residents who cannot move themselves should be periodically repositioned so that body parts do not receive prolonged pressure. Residents with incontinence issues should never be left in a soiled diaper or on soiled sheets. If a resident uses a wheelchair, a foam or gel seat cushion can help prevent bed sores to the buttocks and thigh area. Staff should also help wheelchair-bound residents reposition themselves and switch from their wheelchair to the bed periodically. If a bed sore does develop, the resident should be closely monitored for signs of an infection or other complications. If the bedsore worsens, the resident should receive prompt medical attention.

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IL nursing home abuse lawyerThere are an estimated 1.5 million people living in nursing homes across the United States. Most nursing home residents have significant health concerns, including physical disabilities and mental disabilities, that require daily medication. Residents who do not receive their medications may suffer terrible pain and worsening health conditions. In some cases, a medication error can even cost a vulnerable resident his or her life. If your loved one has suffered in a nursing home due to a medication mistake, speak to a nursing home neglect attorney.

Common Medication Mistakes in Long-Term Care Facilities

Nursing home staff have an ethical duty as well as a legal obligation to provide reasonably competent care to residents. Unfortunately, understaffing, lack of organization, inadequate staff training, and other problems can lead to major medical mistakes. Some of the most common medication errors in nursing homes include:

  • Administering the wrong medication or an incorrect dose of the medication
  • Administering an expired medication
  • Skipping medication doses or administering a dose twice
  • Using a flawed medication administration technique
  • Giving the medication to the resident at the wrong time of day
  • Not following medication directions such as directions requiring the medication to be taken with food
  • Failing to properly mix, shake, roll, or otherwise prepare the medication
  • Inaccurately documenting when the medication was given and what dose was administered
  • Failing to monitor the resident for side effects or other health concerns after giving the medication
  • Failing to verify that a resident actually consumed the medication

Consequences of Medication Errors

When a resident does not receive the medication he or she needs, or even worse, receives a medication that he or she is not supposed to receive, the results can be dramatic. The resident may suffer in severe pain and experience adverse reactions to the medication or lack of medication. Residents with physical and mental incapacities may not be able to express that they are experiencing these symptoms. When a major medication error results in a resident’s injury or death, the resident or his or her loved ones may choose to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit against the nursing home. A successful medical malpractice claim can help victims recover compensation while also holding the negligent nursing home facility accountable for the harm caused.

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IL abuse lawyerWhen you hear the term “nursing home abuse,” you may assume that the term abuse is referring to physical violence aimed at elderly and disabled nursing home residents. Sadly, physical abuse, psychological abuse, and sexual abuse of vulnerable nursing home residents is a major problem in Illinois and throughout the United States. One type of abuse you may not have heard as much about is financial abuse. Financial exploitation of elderly and disabled individuals in a nursing home not only results in economic losses, it can also cause a great deal of personal suffering for the victim and his or her family.

Examples of Financial Exploitation

Most nursing home residents have physical disabilities or cognitive disabilities like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia that make them dependent on nursing home staff. Many need a substantial amount of assistance with daily living tasks like toileting and eating as well as help with medication and other healthcare needs. Tragically, sometimes the individuals that residents trust the most to care for them are the ones who take advantage of their vulnerability. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) states that financial abuse is one of the most widespread forms of elder abuse. It is estimated that one out of every five elderly people has been a victim of elder financial exploitation. Some of the most common forms of elder financial abuse include:

  • Stealing residents’ cash or property
  • Tricking residents into signing financial or estate planning documents
  • Coercing residents into turning over cash or personal checks
  • Stealing a resident’s identity for financial gain
  • Conning residents through the use of pyramid schemes and other scams
  • Using threats or intimidation to force residents into financial transactions

Holding Negligent Nursing Homes Accountable

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, as well as federal legislation, protects nursing home residents from mistreatment and abuse. One of the rights protected by the Nursing Home Care Act is the right of residents to manage their own financial affairs. Even if a nursing home has the authorization to manage a resident’s money on his or her behalf, they must do so ethically and within the boundaries of the law. The act also gives residents the right to have access to their own personal property. If you believe that your loved one has been the victim of financial exploitation, do not hesitate to take action. Contact an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer to learn about your legal options for holding the nursing home facility accountable for its wrongful and negligent actions.

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IL nursing home lawyerWhen a loved one suffers from a disabling injury or illness, he or she may need to move into a nursing home to get the round-the-clock care he or she needs. If you have ever placed a parent, grandparent, or other relative into a long-term care facility, you know just how difficult it can be. You may often worry about whether your loved one is getting the care and compassionate attention he or she deserves. While many nursing homes are full of dedicated, competent staff, other nursing homes miss the mark when it comes to resident care. One sign that a nursing home resident may be suffering from nursing home neglect or abuse is frequent fall accidents.

Nursing Home Fall Injuries

Children and young adults who slip and fall may walk away from the accident with only bruising and small scrapes. However, elderly and disabled individuals can be severely injured from even a minor fall accident. Nursing home residents who fall may suffer from broken bones, internal organ damage, traumatic brain injuries, and more. Falling may also cause mental injuries. A resident who has experienced a painful fall may understandably be afraid of falling again. He or she may be unwilling to participate in physical therapy or group activities at the nursing home or even refuse to get out of bed. Falling can dramatically decrease a resident’s quality of life in a number of different ways.

Preventing Nursing Home Falls

Nursing home staff have a legal obligation to prevent resident fall accidents to the best of their ability. The facility itself should be equipped with safety features like hallway handrails, grab bars, raised toilet seats, and bed rails. Environmental hazards like clutter on the floor, spilled liquids, and poor lighting should be immediately remedied. Residents should not be subjected to unnecessary sedation through the use of chemical restraints such as antipsychotic medication or benzodiazepines. Not only do chemical restraints significantly increase the risk of falling, unwarranted chemical restraint of nursing home residents is in violation of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act and other laws. Residents should be closely monitored by staff at all times so that if a resident does fall, he or she will receive prompt medical attention. Frequent fall accidents and falls that are not reported by nursing home staff may be a sign that a resident is being neglected.

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IL nursing home abuse attorneyIt is hard to believe that someone would ever intentionally harm a nursing home resident. Sadly, nursing home neglect and abuse happens in long-term care facilities across the country. Psychological abuse, mental abuse, and emotional abuse can be especially insidious forms of nursing home abuse. Because so many nursing home residents suffer from cognitive decline, they may be unable to report this mistreatment. Relatives of nursing home residents are often unaware of psychological abuse because it does not result in bruises or other noticeable injuries the way physical abuse typically does. However, there are several warning signs of nursing home mental abuse that you should be watchful for.

Be Vigilant for Changes in Personality and Behavior

If your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, he or she may be unable to express or even remember the type of treatment he or she receives from nursing home staff. Because you cannot simply ask the resident about the quality of care he or she is receiving, you will have to look for changes in your loved one’s mood and behavior that could indicate that something is wrong. If the resident cowers, fidgets, or acts nervous when a certain staff member walks into the room, this could be an indication that the resident has suffered abuse at the hands of that staff member. Other signs of mental abuse include:

  • Loss of interest or enthusiasm in things that the resident used to enjoy
  • Unusual behavior such as thumb sucking or rocking back and forth
  • Avoidance of eye contact
  • Increased agitation and irritability
  • Refusal of food and water

Speak to Staff About Your Concerns

If you have noticed changes in your loved one’s behavior or mood, speak to staff about your concerns. Staff should be fully willing to discuss these concerns with you. Staff who are offended or annoyed by questions about a resident’s health may have something to hide. Contradictory statements about a resident’s health or behavior may also be signs of neglect or abuse. If nursing home staff refuse to let you be alone with your loved one, this is a major red flag.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysNursing home abuse and neglect is disturbingly common. Sadly, nursing home residents across the country are subjected to cruel treatment and denied necessary care. Sometimes, nursing home neglect or abuse is so severe that it even results in the death of a resident.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you may spend hours and hours wondering about the quality of care he or she is receiving in the facility. You may worry that substandard care or intentional mistreatment will cause your loved one to needlessly suffer. These concerns may be exacerbated by your loved one’s inability to communicate with you about the type of care he or she is receiving. In response to these worries, some people choose to install a camera in their loved one’s room at the nursing home.   

Why Do People Install Cameras in Nursing Homes?

It is hard to know for sure how many innocent nursing home residents are subjected to mistreatment in the United States. Across the country, it is widely recognized that many nursing home facilities are exceedingly understaffed. Because of this, many residents do not receive the medical attention and personal help they need to be safe. Even worse, some nursing home staff intentionally subject residents to physical, psychological, or sexual abuse.

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Chicago nursing home injury attorneysAn endotracheal tube or breathing tube is a medical device used when a resident cannot breathe on his or her own. A breathing tube may be necessary when a resident is suffering from respiratory failure caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, or another condition. An endotracheal tube may also be used when a resident has suffered a major brain injury.

Intubation can be a life-saving procedure. Unfortunately, breathing tube mistakes can result in unnecessary suffering or even death. If your loved one was injured or killed by a breathing tube mistake while living in a nursing home, you may have a valid nursing home injury claim.

Common Breathing Tube Errors

A breathing tube is a plastic tube used during artificial respiration to allow the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. It is connected to a ventilator or a breathing bag and inserted into the resident’s trachea. The three main types of tracheal tubes used the help nursing home residents breath include endotracheal tubes, tracheostomy tubes, and tracheal buttons. Several different breathing tube complications may occur including:

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Chicago assisted living center abuse and neglect lawyersWhen an elderly or disabled person cannot safely live on his or her own, but his or her medical concerns are not substantial enough to necessitate nursing home care, an assisted living facility is often the right choice. Assisted living homes may have a health clinic and nursing staff, but helping residents with daily living tasks such as cleaning and cooking is typically the main focus. Residents in an assisted living facility often have a greater level of independence than those in a nursing home, but people in assisted living facilities may still suffer from mistreatment.

Types of Abuse Experienced by Residents in Assisted Living Homes

Although assisted living residents have some degree of self-sufficiency, they can still be victims of neglect and abuse. Neglect may involve negligent medication errors and skipped medication doses, inadequate assistance with daily living tasks, failure to provide residents with basic necessities, allowing unsanitary or unsafe conditions to exist in the facility, and more.

Assisted living abuse may involve several different types of abuse including:

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Chicago nursing home neglect and abuse lawyersCognitive ailments like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are extremely common in older adults. These diseases may start out with subtle symptoms and then progress into devastatingly severe symptoms. A person with advanced dementia may not even seem like the same person anymore. For families of elders with cognitive illnesses, watching their loved ones suffer can be almost unbearable. Many families eventually decide to place their loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility so that he or she can receive the medical care and attention he or she needs. Sadly, some nursing home residents with cognitive diseases become victims of nursing home neglect or abuse.

Red Flags of Nursing home Abuse and Neglect

A nursing home resident suffering from a brain disease may be unable to articulate his or her feelings, thoughts, and needs. This is why it is crucial for families to be vigilant for signs that their loved one is being mistreated. Look for physical signs of trauma such as scratches, bruises, bed sores, burns, dislocations, and other injuries. Also be watchful for signs that a resident is being physically or chemically restrained. Federal laws as well as the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act prohibit nursing home staff from unreasonably restraining a resident. Restraints that restrict a resident’s movement or medications that sedate a resident must only be used when absolutely necessary. Furthermore, the use of restraints must be ordered by a physician who documents the reasons for using the restraints.

Talk to Staff About Your Concerns

If you go to visit your loved one, and he or she has a new bruise or other injury, nursing home staff should be able to tell you what happened. If your loved one is being supervised as closely as he or she should, staff should be aware of any injuries or illnesses he or she is suffering from. In some cases, residents with dementia may become afraid and confused. They may think that nursing home staff are “out to get them” or otherwise have unfounded anger or fear toward nursing home staff. Residents may tell their loved ones that they are not receiving food or medication because they simply cannot remember the last time they took their medication or ate a meal. Even though dementia sufferers can often be mistaken, you should still take their fears and concerns seriously. If staff quickly dismiss your concerns or seem hesitant to discuss your loved one’s care, this could be a warning sign that your loved one is receiving substandard care.

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Illinois nursing home injury attorneysIf you are like most people with a loved one living in a nursing home, you think about your loved one often. You may worry about whether or not your loved one is safe and well cared for or whether he or she is comfortable living in the facility. One major concern for elderly individuals is the risk of serious injuries, including fractures and broken bones. A young, healthy person may sustain a broken bone and suffer no long-lasting negative health consequences as a result. However, because many residents’ bodies are weakened by age or illness, a broken bone can be life-altering or even life-threatening. If your loved one has suffered a broken bone while living in a nursing home, there are several things you should keep in mind.

Causes of Fractures and Broken Bones in a Nursing Home

Elderly individuals often suffer from conditions such as osteoporosis that make their bones more susceptible to breaking. This is one reason that it is so important for nursing home facilities to do everything in their power to prevent break injuries.

A fracture or broken bone could be caused by a number of unacceptable scenarios, including but not limited to:

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysResearch shows that nursing home abuse and is startlingly common across the United States. It is hard to believe that anyone would be intentionally cruel to an elderly or disabled person—let alone someone the individual has been assigned to care for—but it does happen. Sadly, many instances of abuse go unreported because residents are not physically or cognitively capable of reporting the mistreatment. If your loved one is living in a long-term care facility, you may worry about whether he or she is being treated with the care and respect he or she deserves. There are several warning signs that families should be on the lookout for that could indicate that their loved one is being harmed in a nursing home.

Red Flags of Physical Abuse and Sexual Abuse

Although many studies have been conducted to better understand nursing home abuse, the true extent of the problem is still unknown. In one survey, 44 percent of nursing home residents reported being abused at a facility, and 38 percent reported witnessing other residents being abused. Physical abuse includes kicking, hitting, punching, slapping, and other acts of physical violence. Sexual abuse includes unwanted sexual contact, sexual assault, and indecent exposure.

Some warning signs that a nursing home resident is being physically or sexually abused include:

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Chicago nursing home neglect lawyersHuman beings are naturally curious creatures and this curiosity does not end just because a person requires care in a nursing home. One of the most serious issues in U.S. nursing homes is resident wandering and elopement. Residents sometimes wander through the nursing home facility simply because they are curious or bored. They may also wander or attempt to leave the facility because they are suffering from dementia or another cognitive illness that makes them confused.

Sadly, some nursing home residents wander into dangerous areas and are injured or killed as a result. It is up to nursing home staff to closely monitor nursing home residents and prevent wandering and elopement.

Residents Suffering From Cognitive Disease May Attempt to “Escape” the Nursing Home

If a resident is suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or another cognitive problem, he or she may become disorientated and afraid. This confusion may cause the resident to believe that he or she needs to leave the nursing home facility. Nursing home staff should supervise residents with cognitive problems especially carefully so that they do not end up in an unsafe situation. Tragically, residents have died after walking out of nursing home facilities and being exposed to the elements. In one fairly recent case, a 76-year-old nursing home resident passed away after she managed to leave her nursing home unnoticed. Temperatures were below freezing and the woman sadly passed away from hypothermia before she was discovered. A resident who leaves the safety of a nursing home may be at risk of hypothermia, heat stroke, dehydration, slip and fall injuries, and more. This is why it is essential for nursing home staff to monitor the whereabouts of residents at all times.  

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