Schwartz Injury Law

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b2ap3_thumbnail_choking-swallowing-danger-nursing-home.jpgFor those who live in nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities, swallowing food is often difficult. There are many different conditions that could affect a person’s ability to swallow, including neurological disorders, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Simply getting older can also wear down the muscles and nerves of the throat, making it hard for some elderly patients to swallow normally. Issues with swallowing dramatically increase the risk of choking, which means that nursing homes must take precautions to protect at-risk patients.

Not Just an Accident

For a healthy person, an incident of choking is usually just an accident. A piece of food may “go down the wrong way” or a person might be talking or doing something else while eating, which could lead to choking. For a resident of a nursing home, it is possible for a choking event to occur as an accident, but many cases are caused by a lack of proper monitoring. In short, the facility staff should have taken steps to prevent the resident from choking but failed to do so.

The Duty of the Nursing Home

Upon admission to a nursing facility, a new resident must undergo a series of assessments so that the staff understands the resident’s condition, along with his or her needs. The results of these assessments are used to create a care plan customized to address the resident’s specific risk factors.

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Illinois nursing home attorneysThose who work in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are tasked with keeping residents safe and comfortable. When a family makes the difficult decision to place a loved one in such a facility, they do so under the assumption that the home’s staff will provide appropriate medical care while looking after their loved one’s needs. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

In many nursing homes, staffing levels are alarmingly low, and training is often inadequate. These issues lead to serious problems, including the improper use of medication as chemical restraints.

A Scary Report

Last year, the watchdog group Human Rights Watch released a report that examined the prescribing of medications to nursing home residents. The report estimated that each week, approximately 179,000 residents of nursing homes are given antipsychotic medications despite not having conditions for which the drugs are approved. Antipsychotics, including olanzapine, aripiprazole, and quetiapine, are intended to manage psychosis in patients who suffer from hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, or severe disassociation from reality. In most cases, such patients have been diagnosed with conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysIf you have not seen the 1999 film Fight Club, you have probably at least heard about the rules of Fight Club. According to the movie, “The first rule of Fight Club is, ‘You do not talk about Fight Club.’ The second rule of Fight Club is, ‘YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB.’” In the film, the Fight Club in question was a brutal, underground association of men from all walks of life who voluntarily engaged in semi-organized physical fights with one another as a violent form of cathartic release.

 

Today, two decades later, people still reference the movie and the idea of a fight club, but it is rarely discussed as a real thing. For elderly residents of a North Carolina assisted-living facility, however, the idea of a type of fight club was all too real, according to horrifying reports. Three staff members are currently facing criminal charges for encouraging dementia patients at the home to fight one another and posting the videos of the fights on social media.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysIf you have a loved one who is living in a nursing home, you probably do not get to visit him or her as often as you would like. In your absence, of course, you have the right to expect the facility to provide quality care for your loved one and to treat him or her with dignity and respect. Unfortunately, nursing home residents do not always receive the care and ethical treatment that they deserve.

Horror stories from long-term care facilities across the country have left the family members of nursing home residents wondering what they can do to protect their loved ones. For some families in Illinois, the answer could be a monitoring device commonly referred to as a “granny cam.”

What Are Granny Cams?

In 2016, Illinois lawmakers passed a measure to explicitly permit nursing home residents or their family members to install surveillance devices, including audio and video recorders, in the residents’ rooms. Nursing homes are not obligated to provide the devices or any related services, such as wireless internet access, but facilities cannot prevent the installation or monitoring of such devices.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneyIt is not uncommon for workers in certain professions, unfortunately, to develop drug habits. Those who work long hours under immense stress—such as line cooks and truck drivers—may turn to illicit substances such as amphetamines and cocaine to give them the “boost” they need. Sadly, workers in the field of health care are not immune to such issues. In fact, according to the Journal of Clinical Nursing, nearly one in five nurses struggle with an addiction to alcohol or drugs.

In any nursing home, therefore, there is likely to be at least one or two staff members who use or abuse illegal drugs. Unfortunately, however, illicit drug use is not always limited to staff members, and nursing home in Connecticut was recently fined after several residents were found to cocaine in their systems.  

A Pattern of Problems

Earlier this week, news outlets reported that the Connecticut Department of Public Health had issued a fine to a skilled nursing facility in New Haven over several incidents between April 30 and May 18, 2018. According to the reports, at least four of the home’s residents tested positive for cocaine.

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