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Schwartz Injury Law

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Chicago nursing home wrongful death lawyerAccording to the Stanford School of Medicine, about 20 percent of Americans pass away in nursing homes. While death is not uncommon in nursing homes, there are some instances in which a resident’s death is directly caused by nursing home negligence. If substandard medical care, poor living conditions, medical mistakes, neglect, or abuse causes a nursing home resident to die prematurely, the nursing home may be liable in a wrongful death lawsuit. The surviving loved ones may be entitled to compensation for economic damages such as funeral and medical costs as well as non-economic damages including their grief and loss of companionship.  

What is a Wrongful Death in a Nursing Home?

The loss of a parent, grandparent, or other loved one can be devastating regardless of the circumstances. However, some deaths are classified by Illinois law as “wrongful.” A wrongful occurs when:

  • A person’s death is caused by wrongful act, negligence, or negligent failure to act and

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Illinois nursing home neglect attorneysVenous ulcers or stasis leg ulcers often occur on the legs on individuals with limited mobility or circulation issues. These wounds are not only painful and unsightly, they can also become infected and put the sufferer at serious risk of health complications. Nursing home staff should be watchful for the signs of venous ulcers when caring for residents. If a resident does develop a venous ulcer, the wound must be properly cared for. Failure to provide proper medical treatment to a resident suffering from venous ulcers can lead to dangerous infections and agonizing pain.  

Symptoms of Venous Ulcers

When circulation problems cause blood to pool in the legs, venous ulcers can form. Individuals who have varicose veins are at an increased risk of developing venous ulcers. Other risk factors include obesity, lack of physical exercise, and immobility. Keeping a nursing home resident’s legs elevated above his or her heart may help slow the development of venous ulcers. If the resident is able to do so safely, moving around and getting moderate exercise can also help prevent these painful wounds.

Symptoms of venous ulcers include:

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Illinois nursing home neglect attorneysNursing home residents rely on nursing facilities to provide the medical attention and daily care they need. Nursing home staff have a legal duty to provide reasonably skilled care. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act is one of several laws that protect nursing home residents from abuse and neglect. While abuse is often easy to define, neglect is sometimes harder to pin down. Knowing what constitutes nursing home neglect is an important part of keeping your loved one safe and protecting his or her rights.

Nursing Home Neglect Can Take Many Forms

Some of the most common examples of nursing home neglect include:

  • Medical neglect – When nursing home staff fail to provide sufficient medical care, residents may suffer from severe health implications. Medication mistakes such as skipped doses of medication or administration of the wrong medication, failure to recognize new or worsening medical concerns, and delaying medical care may all be examples of medical neglect.
  • Failure to provide adequate assistance with daily needs – Nursing home residents may need help with getting in and out of bed, going to the restroom, bathing, eating, and more. Failure to provide adequate assistance with daily living activities can lead to physical and emotional harm.
  • Failure to prevent bedsores – Bedsores or pressure ulcers form when the skin is under extended periods of pressure. If a patient cannot move himself or herself, nursing home staff must regularly reposition the resident to prevent bedsores from developing. Failure to do so can lead to painful wounds that can become dangerously infected.
  • Inadequate patient supervision – Residents suffering from physical and mental impairments should be closely monitored. When residents are not properly supervised, they may not get the medical care or assistance they need. Resident wandering and elopement are two major concerns in nursing homes. Residents with dementia and other cognitive deficiencies should be monitored so that they do not attempt to leave the facility, wander into dangerous areas, or injure themselves or others.

Causes of Nursing Home Neglect

Many different issues can lead to nursing home neglect. Understaffing is a serious concern in nursing homes in Illinois and across the country. Inadequate staff training and negligent hiring practices that result in under-qualified staff are also contributors to nursing home neglect. If your loved one has suffered from neglect, you may be able to hold the negligent nursing home accountable for the harm they have caused your loved one through a nursing home injury claim.

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Illinois nursing home neglect attorneysIndividuals with physical or cognitive limitations rely on nursing homes to provide the consistent care they need. Nursing home staff help with daily tasks like eating and bathing as well as medical concerns such as dispensing medication and treating injuries. Another essential responsibility of nursing home staff is maintaining a clean, sanitary environment. Failure to maintain a clean facility, sanitize equipment, and help residents with hygiene-related needs may all be signs of nursing home neglect.

Unsanitary Equipment in a Nursing Home Can Lead to Infection and Illness

Nursing home residents’ bodies are already weakened by age and/or disability. Exposure to viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens can be deadly. Nursing homes should be regularly cleaned and sanitized. Staff should ensure that equipment such as wheelchairs are kept clean and shared equipment is sanitized between residents. Kitchens and dining areas should also be kept clean and free of pests like insects or mice. Unsanitary conditions can lead to conditions such as:

  • Colds
  • Flu
  • Infections
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Scabies
  • Lice
  • Ringworm
  • Bedbugs

Proper Resident Hygiene is Essential for Physical and Mental Health

Nursing home staff also have a responsibility to help residents themselves remain clean and hygienic. Many residents cannot use the toilet, bathe, or dress without assistance. Some residents are incontinent and rely on adult diapers. When staff do not regularly change residents’ soiled diapers, clothing, or bed sheets, dangerous infections and other medical complications can develop.

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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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