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

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

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

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

Bringing a Wrongful Death Claim Against a Nursing Home

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

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Posted on in Neglect

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

Failure to Provide Necessary Care

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

Examples of Nursing Home Neglect

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

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

Issues That Increase the Risk of Choking

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

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

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

Nursing Home Abuse Comes in Many Forms

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

Are Nursing Home Cameras Legal?

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

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

Understaffing Can Lead to Inadequate Medical Care

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

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

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