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Schwartz Injury Law

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Recent blog posts

Cook County Nursing  Home Abuse LawyerDementia affects over 55 million people across the globe. The illness causes reduced cognitive function, confusion, changes in personality, and altered mood. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for about 70 percent of dementia cases.

Individuals suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease not only must deal with the physical, emotional, and psychological consequences of the illness, they are also at increased risk of abuse in a nursing home.

Abusers Target Nursing Home Residents Who Are Vulnerable

Taking care of sick and elderly residents in a nursing home takes a great deal of compassion and resiliency. It is not an easy job. Sadly, some people take these jobs for the wrong reasons. Individuals who hope to exploit or take advantage of vulnerable people may even seek out nursing home positions because it gives them access to individuals in poor mental and physical health. This is one reason that it is so essential for nursing homes to properly vet job applicants through background checks and references. Any nursing home resident can find himself or herself the victim of abuse or neglect. However, residents with cognitive decline caused by dementia may be less likely to report the mistreatment due to communication barriers and confusion.

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Chicago Nursing Home Abuse LawyerMany people are shocked to learn just how dangerous fall accidents can be for sick and elderly individuals. Something as simple as slipping in a pool of liquid can lead to catastrophic and even deadly fall injuries. The CDC reports that one out of every five falls causes serious injuries like hip fractures and head injuries. Falling is the leading cause of traumatic brain injury. Sadly, over 42,000 people died in fall accidents in 2020 alone.

Nursing home staff should be well aware of the deadly risk falling poses to residents and how to prevent fall accidents. Unfortunately, not all nursing homes take the precautions needed to prevent avoidable falls.

Reasons Nursing Home Patients Fall

Nursing home residents typically need extensive medical care and extra help with everyday tasks. However, many nursing homes are understaffed. This can mean that residents do not get the help they need. Nursing home neglect can lead to fall accidents in many different ways, including:

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Cook County Nursing Home Abuse LawyerWhen we think of nursing home dangers, wandering and elopement, severe fall accidents, or other dramatic incidents may come to mind. However, in many cases, the most dangerous thing that a nursing home resident does each day occurs during mealtimes. Elderly individuals and those with disabilities may have difficulty chewing and swallowing food. While it may seem insignificant, something as simple as choking on a piece of food can be deadly for vulnerable nursing home residents. This is why it is so important for nursing home staff to carefully monitor residents during mealtimes and make any accommodations necessary to avoid choking.

If your loved one was injured or killed by a choking incident at a nursing home, read on to learn about your legal options.

Choking Hazards in Illinois Nursing Homes

Many nursing home residents are elderly. Many older individuals suffer from dry mouth which makes it harder to swallow food. Food can get stuck in the throat and block the airway. The problem is so common that choking is statistically the third-leading cause of unintentional injury death for people over the age of 65.  Candy, food, medications, and even water can be choking hazards for elderly people.

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Cook County Personal Injury LawyerNursing home facilities and other long-term care facilities take care of our loved ones when they can no longer take care of themselves. Many nursing home residents have dementia, heart disease, and other age-related illnesses that will eventually take their life. However, some nursing home residents pass away prematurely because of substandard care in the nursing home. If your loved one died in a nursing home because of abuse or neglect, you may be able to hold the facility accountable through a wrongful death claim.  

Nursing Home Resident Deaths Caused By Neglect or Abuse

Staff in a nursing home facility have an obligation to provide skilled care to residents. Sadly, some nursing homes fail to meet the expectations anticipated by loved ones and required by Illinois law. Nursing home neglect or abuse can take many forms and may result in serious injury or death of a resident.

Wrongful death claims involving death of a nursing home resident may involve:

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Chicago Nursing Home Abuse LawyerNursing homes should be places of safety and refuge for elderly and disabled people. Sadly, many nursing homes do not live up to these standards. Many different issues can lead to nursing home neglect and abuse. Negligent hiring policies, insufficient vetting of applicants, and insufficient training are three serious issues that increase the chances of a nursing home employee harming a resident.

Substandard Hiring Practices Can Lead to Abuse of Nursing Home Residents

Nursing home employees have the important job of caring for our loved ones when they can no longer care for themselves. Residents in a nursing home are often frail and in ill health. Many suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other cognitive diseases. Residents may not always be able to advocate for themselves and this puts them in a very vulnerable position. Consequently, the need for responsible, competent, compassionate staff can hardly be overstated.

Some nursing homes cut corners when hiring and training staff. They fail to perform a criminal background check or overlook red flags that could make a staff member more likely to abuse a resident. Nursing homes may also fail to perform drug tests or follow through with personal and professional references. These types of mistakes can lead to unqualified or even malicious staff working around vulnerable nursing home residents.

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nursing home injury lawyerWith the consent and involvement of the person in question, a family must often make the difficult decision to move a parent, grandparent, or other loved one into an Illinois nursing home. People may move into nursing homes for many reasons, including complex health problems that require consistent monitoring and assistance. Families may not have the knowledge or availability to provide care for an elderly loved one and a residential care facility may be the best option. 

Because residents of nursing homes are generally elderly and often in poor health, additional conditions can be expected to appear during their stay. Nursing home staff should be alert and prepared to notice and diagnose further conditions, including physical injuries and mental deterioration. But when nursing home staff is undertrained, overworked, or negligent, serious conditions like Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders may go undiagnosed. Failure to diagnose serious neurological conditions can lead to patients getting abused, wandering away, getting seriously hurt, and even dying

Symptoms of Dementia in Illinois Nursing Home Residents 

Dementia can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms often come on slowly and may be confused with general memory loss due to aging. However, common symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia include: 

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chicago nursing home abuse lawyerElderly residents of nursing home facilities often struggle with conditions that make it difficult to communicate. Dementia, confusion, weakened muscles in the mouth and throat, and illness or exhaustion can all challenge a patient’s ability to speak clearly and articulate what they are feeling. One unfortunate consequence of this is that patients may be suffering from pain or fever and be unable to let their caregivers know. 

Nursing home staff must be acutely aware of their patients’ condition and be on the alert for signs that something may be amiss. But when staff are overworked, undertrained, or if the nursing home’s resident-to-staff ratio is too high, serious problems may be left unnoticed. One particularly dangerous risk is an infection that becomes septic. Even if an infection is known, it can worsen and spread, presenting a potentially lethal danger to a resident. Recognizing and treating sepsis early is essential for preventing serious health consequences, up to and including death. 

Sepsis and Common Nursing Home Conditions

Sepsis is a condition caused by an infection that triggers an inappropriate full-body immune response. It requires immediate treatment to prevent tissue damage, major organ failure, and death. Sepsis can often be prevented through proper healthcare, but senior nursing home residents are at particular risk of developing sepsis because they often have catheters, bedsores, ulcers, multiple minor skin injuries, and other issues that make the development and spread of bacteria common. Their immune systems are often weakened and can be easily overwhelmed by bacteria that would present little or no challenge to a healthy body. 

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shutterstock_570926716.jpgThe decision to place a parent in an Illinois nursing home or assisted living center can be a difficult and heartbreaking choice, especially if your parent is unhappy about it or suffers from dementia and does not fully understand the situation. Yet many aging adults are unable to care for themselves and certain health conditions can require the constant supervision and assistance of healthcare professionals, something that few adult children are equipped to provide on their own. 

Many families, therefore, decide to put their trust in nursing home staff and carefully select a facility where their parent or loved one will feel at home. Unfortunately, although it may be difficult to contemplate such a situation, nursing home staff do not always provide residents with the appropriate standard of care and even sometimes engage in elder abuse and neglect. One common form of elder abuse is financial abuse. If you think nursing home staff - or another resident - may be stealing from your parent, read on. 

Types of Elder Financial Abuse

While many of us may picture stealing from a nursing home resident as simply reaching into their wallet and taking out a few dollars that will not be missed, financial fraud can involve much more complex and sneaky behaviors. Some common types of financial abuse include: 

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shutterstock_1062952382.jpgAs our bodies age, the internal and external tissues become more fragile and can get damaged more easily. When compounded with mobility issues, bruising and other superficial injuries are often commonly seen on elderly Illinois nursing home patients, even when they receive the best care. However, persistent bruises that seem to be in odd places may be a sign that something more serious is going on. 

While it is hard to imagine someone deliberately abusing an elderly nursing home resident, such unfortunate incidents do happen. It is important for friends and family members who have a loved one in a residential care facility to be on the alert for strange or suspicious bruising, fractures, or other unexplained injuries. If you are worried that your loved one may be suffering from physical abuse, it is important to take action right away. 

Injuries of Unknown Source

Nursing homes and other residential care facilities are required by federal law to document injuries sustained by their patients. If an injury was allegedly not observed or cannot be explained by nursing home staff, it is considered an “injury of unknown source.” Nursing homes must also include details describing where the injury occurred, how severe the injury was, and whether there was more than one injury discovered at once or whether the injuries seem to occur in a pattern over an extended period of time. 

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shutterstock_701470849.jpgIllinois nursing home residents are often elderly, sick, and particularly susceptible to abuse or victimization from staff who claim to restrain residents who are a threat to their own safety. While there is no question that some nursing home residents may be unable to safely control their movements and could accidentally hurt themselves or others, there are safe and appropriate ways to use restraints. When restraints or restraining techniques are improperly used, they can be dangerous to patients. It is important to understand how and when nursing home facilities should use restraints so you can be on the alert for potential abuse of your loved one. 

Common Types of Physical Restraint in Nursing Homes

Physical restraints can vary and depend on the particular issue that a resident is having. They may be devices, materials, or equipment that is near or attached to a patient’s body that is not easily removed. Common types of restraints include: 

elmhurst nursing home injury lawyerMost of us take the ability to chew and swallow our food for granted. We eat three times a day or more without thinking twice about whether eating poses a risk to our safety. But as bodies age, reductions in muscle mass and strength in the mouth and throat, combined with dental problems such as tooth loss, make elderly populations at a much higher risk of choking on food. Even babies and very young children are at substantially less risk of choking on food than an adult over age 65. 

This has especially significant implications for elderly residents of Illinois nursing homes who often require the assistance of nursing home staff to eat. When staff are overworked, undertrained, or left to monitor too many patients, nursing home residents may be improperly supervised and could choke on their food as a result. Sometimes, choking incidents are serious enough to be fatal

Choking Incidents Require Immediate Attention

When someone chokes on food, the food may partially or fully block the airway. If the food only partially blocks a person’s airway, they can usually cough and make noise. Often coughing is enough to move the food and clear the airway. 

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chicago nursing home abuse lawyerWhen a family has to decide whether to put a beloved and respected elder in a nursing home, it is often a heartbreaking and difficult choice. A family must place enormous trust in a residential care facility’s ability to provide medical care, physical safety, financial security, and a healthy daily routine for a parent or grandparent. 

Unfortunately, nursing home staff do not always treat residents with dignity and respect. Understaffed and overstressed employees often do not have the time or the energy to monitor every patient sufficiently and it can be easy for an abused patient’s symptoms or complaints to go unnoticed. This is especially true when a patient suffers from dementia or another condition that makes it hard to speak or discuss a problem in detail. It is essential for the families of nursing home residents to be aware of signs of physical abuse so if it is present, it can be stopped and justice can be pursued with the help of a nursing home abuse attorney. 

Signs of Nursing Home Physical Abuse 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers elder abuse to be intentional or negligent behavior that causes harm to a vulnerable adult. Research suggests that victims of elder abuse are more than two times as likely to die prematurely compared to people who do not suffer from elder abuse. 

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chicago nursing home injury lawyerSome Illinois nursing home residents have difficulty breathing by themselves. Many medical respiratory issues can cause breathing difficulties, such as pneumonia, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Traumatic brain injuries and degenerative brain disease can also make independent breathing difficult. When a patient in a nursing home struggles to breathe independently, intubation may be necessary.  

Putting a plastic tube into a patient’s airway, or intubation, is a fairly common procedure. But the sensitive tissue in human airways means medical staff must exercise caution when inserting, removing, or adjusting the tube. Sometimes improperly administered breathing tubes can cause serious enough damage that a patient can die. If someone you love has been hurt or killed by a breathing tube injury in their nursing home, you may want to speak with an attorney. 

What are Common Injuries Resulting From Breathing Tubes? 

Breathing tube injuries are most likely to happen in an emergency when medical staff have to act with urgency and complicating factors may already be present. But even during standard procedures, serious injuries may result. They include, but are not limited to: 

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Cook County Nursing Home Injury LawyerWhen nursing home residents cannot urinate on their own, often due to mobility or medical issues, catheters may be used. A urinary, or foley, catheter is a small, thin tube made of soft and flexible material that is inserted into the bladder via the urethra to collect a patient’s urine. While catheters can be very useful, they are not without risks. 

Unfortunately, nursing home staff will sometimes improperly administer catheters. Whether due to understaffing, undertrained staff, or unnoticed catheter-related complications, catheters can quickly place a patient at serious risk of infection and in need of further treatment. If you believe your loved one has been injured by a catheter due to nursing home abuse or neglect, an experienced Illinois nursing home injury attorney may be able to help. 

Safe Catheter Use is Essential

While the idea of a catheter might be uncomfortable to think about, it is essential for families of nursing home patients to understand how appropriate catheter use looks and functions. That way, if something is wrong, family and other loved ones may be able to identify symptoms of catheter complications. Nursing home staff are expected to use the following procedures: 

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Cook County Nursing Home Injury LawyerUnder Illinois law, nursing homes have a responsibility to provide their residents with an appropriate standard of care. This includes allowing residents to manage their own affairs unless otherwise specified, keep their personal property, retain their own doctor if desired, and provide any security and other protection necessary to keep the residents safe from harm. 

For some residents, particularly those with degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, this means providing extensive supervision and using other measures that keep residents from wandering around or off the premises. Wandering and elopement (leaving the nursing home altogether) pose serious dangers to residents who are unaware of their surroundings and of what they need to do to keep themselves safe. One area in particular–a nursing home’s kitchen–is a source of many serious injuries to wandering nursing home residents. 

Common Injuries Sustained by Wandering Nursing Home Residents in Kitchens

Kitchens are full of possible hazards when they are navigated by someone who does not know how to protect themselves from grills, fryers, ovens, knives, and walk-in freezers. Residents who wander into kitchens can suffer from the following injuries: 

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Cook County Nursing Home Slip and Fall LawyerWinter weather is notoriously bad in the midwest, and although Chicago is allegedly known as “The Windy City” for political reasons, the nickname suits the weather as well. Repeated days of snow, rain, and ice followed by weeks of sub-zero temperature and zero sunshine can make sidewalks hazardous to everyone. 

Residents of nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to slipping and falling, even on safe, stable surfaces. But when nursing home caretakers fail to manage nursing home outdoor premises, frail elderly residents can be put at risk of serious injuries when they fall on slippery surfaces. If you have a loved one in a nursing home who has recently suffered from a fall, an experienced Illinois nursing home attorney may be able to help you. 

Common Injuries from Nursing Home Slip and Fall Accidents 

Elderly residents often have lower bone density and are more prone to hurting themselves when they fall. They are also at greater risk of falling because of difficulty walking and maintaining proper balance. When nursing home residents wander outside or are allowed to walk outside with visitors, winter weather can increase the risk of slipping and falling. 

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Chicago Nursing Home Food Poisoning LawyerUnsanitary conditions in nursing home kitchens can run the gamut from disgusting to downright dangerous. Undercooked meat, bugs in food storage areas, unsanitized cooking equipment, and food left unrefrigerated for too long all constitute food safety violations–but more importantly, they allow for dangerous pathogens to develop. 

Nursing home residents are often in frail health and are particularly vulnerable to the risks of improper food handling. Because food poisoning may sound more quotidian than bedsores and sepsis, it tends to get less attention–but it can be just as dangerous. If your loved one has experienced sickness, hospitalization, or death in their long-term care facility because of foodborne illness, an experienced nursing home injuries attorney may be able to help. 

Know the Dangers of Foodborne Illness to Elderly Residents 

People over the age of 65 are particularly susceptible to food poisoning because they often have weak immune systems, chronic disease, and decreased digestive capabilities. All of these make residents more vulnerable to foodborne illness and less capable of recovering from it safely. 

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Cook County Nursing Home Abuse AttorneyNursing home residents often depend on their caregivers for help with every aspect of their life. When nursing home staff are negligent, careless, or overworked, nursing home residents can suffer. Families who put their trust in a nursing home may be shocked to discover how poorly their loved one is treated, or, worse, find out about negligent treatment when the consequences have already been serious or even fatal. 

One of the most common types of injuries caused by nursing home negligence is severe burns. Even small activities like drinking from a too-hot cup of soup can cause an elderly body serious injury; this is all the more true with major daily activities like showering in water that is too hot. If you are concerned that nursing home negligence led to your loved one getting burned in their nursing home, read on. 

Common Causes of Nursing Home Burns

Elderly nursing home residents often have thinner skin, reduced mobility, and diminished senses, a dangerous combination that makes them at heightened risk for burns. Some common ways residents acquire serious burns include: 

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Chicago Nursing Home Abuse LawyerResidents of nursing home facilities live there because they are unable to properly care for themselves. Physical illness, Alzheimer’s disease, and other age-related health problems make residents particularly vulnerable and dependent on the nursing home for many things – food, personal cleanliness, emotional security, and physical safety.

Not all accidents or injuries are preventable, but when injuries occur, nursing homes are responsible for treating wounds and keeping them clean. Without an appropriate standard of care, wounds can fail to heal and even get worse. In the worst cases, nursing home neglect can cause improperly treated wounds that can lead to local infections, the onset of sepsis, and even fatalities

Common Wounds Seen in Nursing Home Residents

Due to their fragile nature and frequent inability to move independently, nursing home residents are at an increased risk of injuring themselves. When a young person gets hurt, their body can frequently heal itself without complications or substantial care. Elderly people’s wounds, however, require increased monitoring, treatment, and cleanliness so soft tissue can heal properly. 

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cook county nursing home abuse lawyerFew people want to think about themselves or anyone else suffering from a fractured or broken bone, but they are common injuries that result from daily living. For most people, communicating the pain of a bone injury is easy to do because such an injury is difficult to mistake for anything else. 

Some bone fractures, however, do not necessarily have outward indicators that would let an observer immediately know that something is wrong. This can be especially hazardous to an elderly nursing home resident who may struggle to communicate that they are in pain. Nursing home staff and managers have a responsibility to ensure that any bone fractures are quickly diagnosed and treated, but they may fail to do so for many reasons. If your loved one is in a nursing home and you fear they may have suffered from abuse or neglect due to a failure to diagnose a bone fracture, read on. 

Signs of a Bone Fracture

Bone fractures are classified into two basic categories: Open fractures, when a bone breaks and pokes through the skin, and closed fractures when a bone is broken but the skin is not. In the case of open fractures, these injuries are obvious and easy to diagnose. However, some fractures can be very small, leaving no discernable outward signs but leaving the person with the fracture in significant and sometimes even debilitating pain. 

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