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

Hiring Problems Can Lead to Mistreatment of Residents

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

Understaffing and Inadequate Training Put Nursing Home Residents at Risk

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

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

Nursing Home Residents are at Increased Risk of Frostbite and Hypothermia

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

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

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

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysA couple of weeks ago, a post on this blog discussed a case out of Arizona in which a female nursing home patient gave birth despite having been incapacitated for more than 25 years. The nature of the story led to national headlines as the investigation continued locally to determine how such a thing could have happened. This week, law enforcement officials in Phoenix announced that they have made an arrest in the case and that the suspect will be facing criminal charges.

A Quick Recap

According to various news outlets, a 29-year-old patient surprised the staff at a Phoenix-area nursing home when she went into labor on December 29, 2018, and gave birth to a baby boy. The labor was surprising because the woman had been incapacitated and living in the nursing home since a near-drowning incident when she was 3 years old. Staff members said that they had no idea that the woman was pregnant until she went into labor.

Early stories reported that the woman was in a vegetative state, but her family has since refuted those reports. An attorney for her family said, “She does not speak but has some ability to move her limbs, head, and neck. [She] responds to sound and is able to make facial gestures.”

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneyThere are a myriad of reasons an individual may come to live in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or rehabilitation facility. They may only need temporary care while recovering from surgery or a serious illness, or they may need to live in the facility permanently. Nursing home residents who suffer from severe mental and physical impairments need round-the-clock care and supervision. Residents with cognitive decline or aliments like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia may not even remember to eat and drink without being reminded. It is for this reason that many nursing home residents can so easily become dehydrated or malnourished. Problems like understaffing and inadequate staff training can result in staff members who are not aware of the resident’s physical and emotional needs. Sadly, nursing home neglect can and has resulted in the death of residents. If you have a loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, make sure to be vigilant for signs of neglect. 

Signs of Dehydration in Nursing Home Patients

A National Citizen's Coalition for Nursing Home Reform study found that nearly a third of nursing home residents in the U.S. suffer from dehydration or malnutrition. Symptoms of dehydration can vary depending on the age and health of a nursing home resident. The most common initial symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, dry or papery skin, dark colored urine, and a decrease in the urine production. If left untreated, dehydration can worsen and lead to sunken eyes and cheeks, low blood pressure, irregular breathing, delirium, and unconsciousness. Severe and persistent dehydration can lead to death.

Signs of Malnutrition in Nursing Home Residents

The average human body can go about three days without water and about three weeks without food. However, elderly individuals or those with a serious illness or disability are much more sensitive to dehydration and malnutrition than the average person is. Signs of malnutrition can include abdominal pain and bloating, weight loss, changes in how clothing fits, weakness, poor wound healing, and dental problems. Malnutrition in elderly nursing home residents can exacerbate existing health problems as well as cause a weakened immune system which increases the risk of infections. Decreased bone mass and muscle weakness due to malnutrition can make a nursing home resident more likely to fall and be seriously injured or killed.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysNews outlets across the country are reporting one of the most disturbing nursing home abuse stories in recent years. A woman who is in a vegetative state after an incident where she nearly drowned has given birth to a child. Individuals who are in vegetative states generally have severe brain damage and lack true awareness of their surroundings. Needless to say, there is no way that a woman in this condition could have consented to having sex and getting pregnant.

The Phoenix-area nursing home in which the incident occurred was completely unaware that the resident was even pregnant until she went into labor. This horrific example of nursing home sexual abuse is, tragically, not an isolated incident. Thousands of innocent nursing home residents suffer every year from nursing home abuse and neglect. If you or a loved one have suffered at the hands of nursing home or assisted living facility staff, you should know that there are steps you can take to recover compensation for damages and hold the perpetrators responsible.

Police Plan to Take DNA Samples from Nursing Home Staff

The Arizona nursing home in which the abuse occurred has been cooperating with authorities throughout the investigation. Police have taken DNA samples from the male employees at the nursing home which will then be compared to the DNA of the child in order to find his biological father. Detectives for the case also served the facility a search warrant to gather records and additional information. The 29-year-old victim who was impregnated is a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. The tribe's chairman expressed his feelings about the incident saying, "When you have a loved one committed to palliative care, when they are most vulnerable and dependent upon others, you trust their caretakers. Sadly, one of her caretakers was not to be trusted and took advantage of her."

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysWhile nursing homes are often seen as hospital-type facilities, a nursing home is not a hospital. Hospitals provide acute care for patients who require it, with doctors largely taking responsibility for overseeing each patient. A nursing home or skilled nursing facility provides 24-hour care at a comparatively lower level than that available in a hospital, with nurses generally providing patient oversight.

It is not uncommon for a patient in a nursing home to require hospitalization from time to time, but recent reports suggest that too many nursing home patients are being discharged from the hospital only to end up back in the hospital within 30 days. These readmissions are so concerning that the federal government has announced it would be altering Medicare payments to nearly 15,000 nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities across the country based on how often residents went back to the hospital within a month of leaving. As a result, some 4,000 facilities will get bonuses while almost 11,000 will have their payments lowered.

Preventable Admissions

According to several analyses, the hospitalization of nursing home patients has been decreasing over the last few years. Experts say that in 2016, however, 11 percent of nursing home-to-hospital admissions could have been avoided with better medical care in the nursing facilities—many of which included patients who went back to the hospital after a prior admission and discharge

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Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect lawyersLong-term care facilities like nursing homes are designed to assist elderly and disabled individuals with daily living tasks and enhance their quality of life. In addition to helping residents shower, eat, and take their medicine, nursing home staff have a legal duty to treat the residents with carefulness and compassion. When nursing home employees fail to carry out their work tasks accurately and timely, the results can be deadly. Many nursing home residents are not physically or mentally capable of looking after their own needs. They may forget to eat or drink, wander off of the facility into danger, or slip and fall when not being supervised. This is why it is so important for family members to be watchful for signs of nursing home abuse and neglect.

Common Red Flags That Your Loved One May Be Suffering in a Long-Term Care Facility

Nursing home neglect can take several forms. Neglected residents may be left without adequate food and water, appropriate clothing, or denied help showering and using the bathroom. Nursing home facilities that are cluttered, dirty, or contain unaddressed environmental hazards may be unsafe for residents.

Pressure sores, or bed sores, are another common sign of nursing home neglect. Residents who are not mobile rely on nursing home staff to occasionally reposition them in order to prevent bed sores. Untreated or frequent bedsores are often a sign that a nursing home resident is being neglected or abused. Unexplained injuries like lacerations, bruises, fractures, and welts may be signs that a nursing home resident is being physically abused.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysAnyone who has placed their parent, grandparent, or loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility can tell you that the transition is not always easy. The first holiday season away from home can be especially difficult for nursing home residents and their families. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, rehabilitation facility, or assisted living facility, and you plan to visit them this holiday season, the following tips may help your visit go more smoothly.

Let the Resident Dictate the Conversation

You may be unsure of how to approach visiting a loved one in a nursing home his holiday season. Should you acknowledge that it is Christmas soon or change the subject? Should you bring up memories from past holidays or focus on the here and now? The answer will depend both on the reason the resident is living in a long-term care facility as well as their personality.

Residents who struggle with cognitive decline due to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may not understand or remember that the holidays are near. Other residents will be capable of enjoying long conversations about your holiday plans. Some individuals living in nursing homes do not want to be reminded that they are missing out on holiday traditions. The best course of action may be to simply let the resident dictate the conversation topic. If you sense your loved one is become anxious or agitated by a certain conversation, try changing the subject or giving him or her a break from the stimulation.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneyIf you have a loved one who needs extra help with daily life tasks, you may find that moving him or her to a nursing home or assisted living facility gets them the round-the-clock care they need. Nursing homes are full of residents who have physical and cognitive disabilities. Many of these individuals may use a service animal to help them move about their daily lives safely. Even pets not officially trained as service animals can be a tremendous comfort to those struggling with illness or disability. If your loved one requires care from a nursing home, assisted living, or rehabilitation facility, will he or she be able to bring his or her pet into the long-term care facility? The answer is not always black and white.

Few Nursing Home Allow Animals to Cohabitate with Residents

There are roughly 500,000 service dogs currently at work assisting people in the United States. In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) gave service animals, most often dogs, access to nearly every location their handler may want to go. The law made service animals exempt from rules which disallow animals from places like schools, movie theatres, or retail stores. Service dogs can be used to help visually impaired people interpret the world around them, alert hearing-impaired people to noises like smoke detectors or alarm clocks, and aide individuals who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices. Some service animals can be trained to alert their handler to an oncoming seizure. Only a select number of long-term care facilities allow animals to live with their owners, but many allow animal visitation.

Bringing Pets to Visit Loved Ones in a Nursing Home May be Beneficial

Research from The Ohio State University in Columbus found that an impressive 99 percent of nursing homes surveyed allowed animal visitation. Healthy dogs, cats, fish, birds, reptiles, and hamsters are permitted in many nursing home facilities across the country. Most experts agree that elderly and disabled individuals can reap tremendous emotional benefits from safely interacting with animals.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysIf you have an elderly relative, chances are you often worry about their safety. Older individuals often have decreased muscle mass and bone density. A fall that might only result in minor bruising on a young person may cause several broken bones in an elderly individual. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 3 million elderly individuals are treated in emergency rooms for fall injuries every year. More than 95 percent of all hip fractures are caused by falling and falls are the most frequent cause of traumatic brain injuries. Falling injuries resulted in over $50 billion in medical bills in 2015 alone.

Remove Environmental Hazards to Help Prevent Falls

Understandably, all falls cannot be prevented. However, it is the obligation of every caregiver to take steps to prevent elder falls. If you have an elderly loved one, a few environmental changes may decrease the chance that he or she is injured or killed in a fall. Firstly, remove tripping hazards like clutter or loose electrical cords on the floor. Secure loose floor rugs with double-sided tape or remove them entirely. Repair or replace broken furniture or loose floorboards. Install nonslip mats and safety rails in the bathroom. Encourage your loved one to use his or her walker or cane if necessary. Lastly, make sure the lighting is adequate for your loved one to see his or her surroundings clearly.

Nursing Home Falls May Be a Sign of Neglect

Injuries from falling account for about 36 percent of theoretically preventable emergency room visits by nursing home residents. Not every nursing home resident who falls has been neglected. However, an unusual frequency of falls or falls that go unreported may be a sign of nursing home abuse and neglect. Conditions that can cause falls to happen more often include:

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysWhen you are looking at long-term care options for an aging loved one, it is important to review the reputation of each of the facilities that you are considering. You should try to learn how the families of current and past residents feel about the facility, as well as any available ratings published by reputable sources. According to a recent study, you should also consider whether the facility is a for-profit business or a nonprofit entity because residents of for-profit facilities tend to receive a much lower quality of care.

Illinois-Based Research

The study was conducted by a team led by Lee Friedman, an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The team looked at data regarding nearly 1,150 patients who received treatment at five Chicago-area hospitals between 2007 and 2011 for health concerns that might have been linked to previous substandard care. All of the patients were either residents of for-profit or nonprofit nursing homes or community-dwelling patients who lived in private homes with the assistance of family, friends, or home-based nurses.

Sad Results

According to the study’s findings, residents of for-profit nursing facilities were twice as likely to experience medical problems related to poor care than those in nonprofit centers. Community-dwelling patients experienced the fewest problems. Friedman said that his team linked a larger number of diagnoses and more serious conditions patients in for-profit homes “that were consistent with severe clinical signs of neglect.” These conditions included:

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Chicago nursing home abuse lawyersDecubitus ulcers, also known as bed sores, pressure ulcers, pressure sores, or pressure wounds are a painful, sometimes life-threatening medical condition which is sadly common in elderly or disabled individuals. Many residents living in long-term care facilities like nursing homes and assisted living facilities struggle with bed sores due to mobility problems. In fact, studies show that one in five nursing home residents have experienced pressure ulcer symptoms at some point in their stay.

Bed Sores Are Caused by Long Periods of Inertness

Pressure ulcers can be a sign of nursing home abuse and neglect because they are often caused by residents being left alone for long periods of time. Pressure ulcers are injuries caused by persistent pressure or friction on a person’s body. When a non-disabled person lays in bed, he or she is able to move around and find a comfortable position. When a person is immobilized by physical or cognitive disability, they cannot relieve pressure that builds up on certain body parts. Pressure ulcers commonly form on a person’s buttocks, back, backs of arms and legs, head, elbows, hips, ankles, and heels. Pressure ulcers do not form spontaneously but instead grow in severity over time. In addition to being tremendously painful, untreated pressure ulcers can lead to infection, sepsis, cellulitis, and even death.

Understaffing Can Cause Some Residents to Be Neglected

It is no secret that many long-term care facilities and nursing homes are distressingly understaffed. These institutions simply do not have the resources necessary to care for residents in the way they deserve to be cared for. Furthermore, nursing home staff are often under-educated regarding healthcare practices and lack proper training on how to prevent and treat bed sores. Immobile residents in a nursing home should be frequently monitored and repositioned in order to prevent pressure ulcers from forming.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysStudies suggest that over half of all Americans will need to stay in a long-term care facility like a nursing home at least once in their life. For some, a nursing home or assisted living facility becomes their new permanent home. Whether their stay is for one night or for the rest of their lives, residents in a nursing home deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. Their medical needs as well as personal needs should be met to the best of the nursing home’s ability. Various federal and local laws spell out the rights that elderly or disabled people staying in a nursing home have. Tragically, not every nursing home treats residents the way they deserve. Sometimes nursing home abuse and neglect can even lead to an innocent resident’s death.

Nurse Faces Gross Patient Neglect and Forgery Charges

There is much controversy about the role of nursing home staff in taking care of residents. When a resident dies under suspicious or unusual circumstances, it can often be difficult to pinpoint exactly who is to blame. The question of fault is now being considered in a nursing home neglect and abuse case in Ohio. In Putnam County, a trial has begun for a licensed practical nurse who has been blamed for the death of a 76-year-old nursing home resident. Phyllis Campbell passed away due to hypothermia at the Hilty Memorial Nursing Home after she wandered out the doors of the facility and into the courtyard.

Unmonitored Nursing Home Residents May Wander Off into Dangerous Environments

Many elderly nursing home residents have cognitive impairments which make them unable to care for themselves. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are common ailments among the nursing home resident population. Individuals like these often require special care and supervision so that they do not stumble into danger. Campbell was wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet when she wandered outside of the nursing home walls and tragically died, but it was improperly attached and it malfunctioned. Because the bracelet did not work as intended, no alarm sounded after the elderly woman eloped. Staff admitted they never checked in on the resident even though a check-in was documented as completed.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysAccording to the National Center on Elder Abuse, financial abuse is the most pervasive type of elder abuse. Older individuals or those with mental or physical disabilities are often easily taken advantage of when it comes to finances. Unscrupulous caretakers, nursing home staff, or family members may steal or misuse an elder’s funds because they know the elderly person will not be able to report the abuse. Elder financial abuse should be a serious concern for those with loved ones in a nursing home.

Cognitive Impairment Due to Dementia or Alzheimer’s Puts Residents at Higher Risk of Being Exploited

Nursing home residents suffering from cognitive impairment are especially vulnerable to elder financial abuse. The abuser is usually someone the elderly or disabled person trusts such as a spouse, child, grandchild, or caretaker. Even professionals like financial planners, fiduciaries, and nursing home staff member have been caught defrauding or stealing from vulnerable residents in the past. In the majority of these types of cases, the victim of financial abuse does not even know he or she is being exploited.

Examples of Financial Abuse That Can Occur in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

Institutional financial abuse occurs when an institution such as a nursing home, assisted living facility, rehabilitation facility, or other healthcare organization purposely steals funds from a resident. Some nursing homes have been found guilty of overcharging residents for services in order to bring in more profit. Other examples of nursing home financial abuse include:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_sad-old-lady-nursing-home.jpgWhen you place your loved one into a nursing home or a skilled nursing facility, you have every right to expect that they will be treated with dignity, respect, and above all, proper care. After all, nursing homes are staffed with trained professionals who are supposed to care about the people who are residents of their facility. Unfortunately, such is not always the case. Elderly abuse and nursing home negligence do occur in far too many facilities around the country, including here in Northern Illinois.

According to the Illinois State Police, more than 100,000 elderly persons are housed in long-term care facilities in Illinois. This number is only expected to grow in the coming years as Americans continue to live longer than they did in the past. Recent research conducted by a variety of academic organizations suggests that more than 12,000 of those patients will be neglected or abused each year. In order to best protect your loved ones, it is important for you to visit regularly and look for any indications that something may be wrong. Pay close attention to see if your loved one shows signs of:

  • Fear of the nursing home staff. Your loved one may also express concern about being left alone with caregivers;
  • Dehydration or malnutrition not related to terminal illness or end-stage disease;
  • Lack of personal cleanliness, especially if hygiene has been important to your loved one before;
  • Dirty or torn clothing or bedding;
  • Lack of dental care;
  • Fatigue, listlessness, and other indications of depression; or
  • Symptoms of missed medication or excessive use of medication.

In addition to the above signs, any sickness or injury that cannot be easily explained should also be reported. Approximately 30 percent of all nursing facilities nationwide have been cited for instances of abuse, but many more are believed to go unreported. In addition, financial abuse is often common. Check each bill carefully to be sure your loved one is not being billed for services that have not been rendered, or that he or she is not being billed for several services that should be combined into a single billing.

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Illnois nursing home abuse attorneysLong-term care facilities like nursing homes are generally populated with older individuals and people with disabilities. Some residents have physical disabilities and decreased motor function while others are afflicted by mental disability or illness. Many residents suffer from both mental and physical limitations, making them especially vulnerable to illness or injury. Understandably, nursing home staff occasionally have to restrain nursing home residents in order to protect the resident from himself or herself. Things like bed rails or lap cushions can be used to ethically restrict a resident’s movement. Chemical restraints like sedatives may become necessary in extreme circumstances. Unfortunately, a new study shows that many nursing homes are dramatically over-using chemical restraints for nursing home residents with dementia.

Major Report Shows Extent of Chemical Restraint Abuse

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care recently presented its annual Public Service Award in recognition of the Human Rights Watch’s 2018 report “‘They Want Docile’: How Nursing Homes in the United States Overmedicate People with Dementia.” This report includes extensive data collected from over one hundred nursing homes regarding the misuse of antipsychotic medication like Risperdal, Seroquel, and Zyprexa in nursing homes. Medications such as these are designed to treat major mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. However, these medications are being prescribed to elderly residents who do not have one of these disorders as a means of sedating them. Even worse, these antipsychotic medications have been found to nearly double the risk of death in elderly patients.

The report estimates that a staggering 179,000 nursing home residents are chemically-restrained with unnecessary antipsychotic drugs each week in the United States. Residents who were given antipsychotic drugs described the effects as “powerful.” One woman explained that the pills made her sleep all day while another said they made her a “zombie” with “no personality.” Experts say that the overuse of antipsychotic drugs can have devastating consequences to elderly individuals’ health and quality of life.

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Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect lawyersStaff members at a Long Island, New York nursing home may be facing jail time due to the death of a resident. In December of 2015, 81-year old nursing home resident Carmela Contrera became disconnected from her ventilator. The machine, which was literally keeping the elderly woman alive, is fixed with an alarm for exactly this purpose. The alarm is rigged to sound a warning signal whenever vital machines such as a ventilator become disconnected from the patient. However, nursing home staff claim the alarm never sounded. Contrera sadly passed away because no one came to reattach her ventilator. Now, prosecutors are saying that the alarm did in fact sound, but that the nursing home staff simply ignored the warning. Two registered nurses and one nursing aide have been charged with several counts of felony criminal negligent homicide as well as willful violation of health and safety laws.

Prosecution Says Nursing Home Workers Ignored Ventilator Alarm for Over Nine Minutes

Understandably, nursing home staff can quickly become busy and overwhelmed. Helping residents bathe and eat, dispensing medication, and transporting residents between areas of the nursing home can be a taxing job. However, nursing home staff have a legal obligation to care for residents to the best of their ability. When nursing home staff do things like overlook a fallen resident, skip administering a dose of medication, or in this case, ignore a medical alarm, they are being negligent. Tragically, nursing home abuse and neglect cause thousands of deaths a year.

Understaffing and Inadequate Maintenance May Have Contributed to Resident’s Death

Like hundreds of nursing home facilities across the country, the Long Island nursing home where Contrera died was understaffed. Many nursing homes struggle to afford enough staff members and other facilities skimp on staff training. The state attorney general’s office claims that inadequate staffing of the nursing home set employees up to fail and that Contrera’s death was a “foreseeable tragedy" which could have been prevented. Furthermore, the prosecution has found evidence that a respiratory therapist on staff had failed to adequately check that ventilators and alarms were working properly and instead falsified reports that the required inspection had been accomplished. If convicted, the three former staff members accused of causing Contreras’s death face up to seven years in prison.

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Chicago nursing home neglect attorneyResidents staying in a long-term care facility like a nursing home or assisted living center often have physical and mental challenges which make them especially vulnerable to environmental risks. Nursing home staff have a duty to provide clean and safe living spaces for residents. Unfortunately, issues like understaffing and budget cuts have led to some nursing home’s cutting corners when it comes to the safety of their residents. Nursing home abuse and neglect are sadly not rare occurrences. If you or someone you love has been injured or fallen ill due to an unsafe nursing home facility, please read on to learn what you can do to receive compensation.

Nursing Homes Must Meet Certain Criteria

Both state and federal laws require that nursing homes meet certain standards when it comes to cleanliness and safety. For example, showers and toilets should be fitted with grab bars so that residents with physical disabilities can safely maneuver in the bathroom. Kitchen areas should be cleaned and sanitized regularly, and precautions should be taken to avoid contaminating food. Unfortunately, these protocols are not always followed.

Environmental Risks Can Increase the Chance of Falls, Injuries, and Illnesses

Because the majority of nursing home residents have serious physical and/or mental disabilities, it is critical for their living environment to be as risk-free as possible. Things like hazardous chemicals, poor indoor air quality, unsafe living conditions, and poor food preparation hygiene can be life-threatening to someone whose body is already weakened by age or illness.

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Illinois nursing home abuse lawyerIllinois law dictates that individuals receiving treatment at a nursing home be free from abuse and neglect. Tragically, because of issues like understaffing and inadequate staff training, nursing home neglect and abuse continue to occur. Often nursing home abuse does not look like other forms of abuse. One way nursing home and assisted living residents are cruelly mistreated is with unreasonable restraint.

Most long-term care facilities have patients with cognitive or medical problems who may occasionally need to be restrained from moving. Unfortunately, many nursing homes are dramatically overusing both physical and chemical restraints. Residents can suffer physical injuries as well as emotional scars from unreasonable restraint. Unwarranted restraint is a major violation of the rights of the nursing home patient. If you or a loved one has been unreasonably restrained, you may be entitled to compensation.

Physical Restraints Without Justification is Abuse

Residents in a nursing home should be treated with compassion and given as much autonomy as safely possible. Unscrupulous or ignorant nursing home staff may use chemical and physical restraints as a means of keeping “high maintenance” residents subdued. Physical means of restraining residents include items such as straps, ties, bed guardrails, tightly-tucked sheets, and arm and hand restraints. Any type of physical force that restricts a resident’s movement is considered restraint as well. Physically restraining a patient should be reserved only for times a resident presents a risk to himself or others. If physical restraints are used excessively or in a way which causes a resident injury, this may be considered abuse.

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Illinois nursing home falls lawyerThe average, healthy person probably does not give much thought to the dangers of falling. This is rather understandable because a fall is not a very common thing for most people—at least those who are still fairly young. For a senior citizen or the resident of a nursing home, a fall can be absolutely devastating. The injuries sustained in a fall can be quite serious and even fatal. In fact, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that falls represent the leading cause of accidental death and injury for Americans aged 65 and older.

A Growing Segment of the Population

According to the CDC, older Americans suffered some 29 million falls in 2014. About 10 percent (2.8 million) of these falls required emergency medical treatment, and about 800,000 were hospitalized as a result of their falls. More than 27,000 falls eventually led to death. In 2016, about 3 million older adults required emergency care for falls, and nearly 30,000 victims died.

Considering that approximately 10,000 Americans reach age 65 every day, these numbers are expected to continue growing for the foreseeable future. “Older falls are increasing and, sadly, often herald the end of independence,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the CDC.

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