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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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