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Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect lawyersNursing home abuse and neglect can happen anywhere. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities across the country struggle with staffing issues, budgetary restraints, and keeping up with America’s quickly growing elderly population. Even though these issues exist, nursing home staff still have a legal and ethical obligation to treat residents with dignity and provide the medical care and daily living assistance they need. When nursing home staff do not uphold this obligation, the staff or facility itself can be held liable for any deaths, injuries, and illnesses caused by the poor care.

Waukegan Woman Says Her Sister Was Not Properly Cared For

Unfortunately, another Chicago-area nursing home is in hot water after allegations of neglect. A Waukegan woman says that her sister has experienced nursing home neglect after a brain aneurysm and stroke caused her to need around-the-clock care. The woman says that when she went to check on her disabled sister at the Waukegan nursing home in which she was living, the woman was shocked. The disabled woman’s feet looked extremely discolored and the skin was very dry and rough.

The sister of the disabled woman says that it was obvious that her sister had not received a bath or even a change of socks in a long time. “They just put socks on her and they left her be,” she said. The nursing home is now saying that they are aware of the issue and are working on a medical plan to treat the disabled woman’s disfigured feet. Her sister believes that the issue should have never gotten so bad without staff noticing, saying, “She needs to be treated like she’s a human being.”

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysDegenerative brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can completely rob a person of their ability to think clearly and remember even basic information. Family members of those suffering cognitive decline often choose to place their loved one in a nursing home to ensure they are getting the care they need. Sadly, not every nursing home meets the standards of care that loved ones of residents expect. If you have a loved one with cognitive issues in a nursing home, be vigilant for signs of neglect and abuse. Because many residents with cognitive impairment cannot be their own advocate, it is up to loved ones to advocate on behalf of the resident.

Signs Your Loved One is Being Mistreated in a Nursing Home

Nursing home residents with dementia often cannot simply tell their loved ones that they are being mistreated. They may not be able to remember the abuse or understand what has actually happened to them. Loved ones should look for signs that the resident is not being cared for appropriately. Signs of physical abuse can include unexplained injuries like welts, bruises, burns, broken bones, sprains, dislocations, and more. Marks from being restrained such as marks on wrists and ankles may also be a sign of abuse.

Signs of neglect can include but are not limited to bed sores, infections, malnutrition, and dehydration. Another sign that something is not right in a nursing home is when nurses or other caregivers are hesitant for you to spend time with the resident alone.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysNursing home residents live in a nursing home because they are unable to live on their own. This could be due to physical disabilities, mental incapacitation, or most often, both. Sometimes these issues make it necessary to restrain a resident in order to limit his or her movement in some way. For example, side rails on a bed may be used to help a resident who is prone to rolling out of bed avoid injury. Restraints can be either physical or chemical, and should only be used when doing so is absolutely necessary to prevent harm to the resident. Restraints that are used as a punishment or for the convenience of nursing home staff are unacceptable and not in compliance with Illinois law.

The Nursing Home Care Act Outlines Residents’ Rights

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act is a law that protects the rights of nursing home residents and dictates the type of care that nursing home staff must provide for residents. According to the law, nursing home residents have the right to:

  • Be free from neglect and abuse at the hands of nursing home staff;
  • Practice their chosen religion;
  • Keep personal items and clothing in their room;
  • Receive medical treatment from a doctor of their choosing;
  • Receive visits, phone calls, and other correspondence from loved ones;
  • Refuse unwanted medical treatment; and
  • Be free from unreasonable restraint.

These are only a few of the rights protected by the Nursing Home Care Act. The full text of the act can be found in Section 210 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes.

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Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect attorneysMore and more individuals are admitted to nursing homes and assisted living facilities every day. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you may worry about the quality of care they are receiving. Because many elderly and disabled nursing home residents are not able to speak up for themselves when they are being mistreated, it is up to their loved ones to ensure they are being adequately cared for.

Nursing home neglect and abuse are tragically not uncommon occurrences. One sign that nursing home residents are being neglected is when they do not receive their medications on time and in the accurate doses. Medication errors are especially dangerous to those with pre-existing medical conditions and compromised immune systems.

Examples of Medication Errors

The administration of medication is not always as simple as giving a nursing home resident a pill and a glass of water. Individuals staying in a nursing home often have serious illnesses or incapacities which make them especially vulnerable. Examples of medication errors which occur in nursing homes include:

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysAs the “Baby Boomer” generation ages, more and more Americans are moving into long-term care facilities like nursing homes and assisted living centers. Tragically, many nursing homes in the U.S are plagued by staffing issues and funding limitations which leads to inadequate care. Studies conducted by the National Center on Elder Abuse found that 44 percent of elders surveyed had been abused and a staggering 95 percent had suffered neglect or had seen others neglected. Even more disturbing, over 50 percent of nursing home staff surveyed admitted to mistreating nursing home residents. Sadly, many instances of nursing home abuse and neglect go unreported. A study conducted by Cornell University and the New York City Department for the Aging found that elders experience abuse at a rate 24 times greater than the number of cases referred to law enforcement or social services.

Some Say Current Nursing Home Databases Are Ineffective

In order to address the prevalence of abuse and neglect in nursing homes, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing earlier this month. The committee discussed reports of elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes as well as ideas regarding how to protect these vulnerable residents from abuse. Just prior to the Senate hearing, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that they are updating online tools which people can use to research nursing home quality and ratings. The Nursing Home Compare database rates nursing homes based on staffing, inspections, and other quality measures. The CMS rating system has criticized for inaccuracies and incomplete reporting. During the Senate hearing, a woman whose mother passed away as a result of nursing home neglect testified that even after her mother died from inadequate care, the facility where she lived had “received the highest possible ranking from CMS for quality of resident care.”  This particular facility had even been fined the year previously for physical and verbal abuse of residents.

Those Seeking a Safe, Compassionate Nursing Home Must Research Thoroughly

If you are looking for a nursing home for your loved one to call home, make sure to research your options thoroughly. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect is becoming more and more common and the residents often cannot report the mistreatment themselves. Checking out a facility in-person may be the best way to look for signs of neglect or abuse. Speaking with nursing home staff may also give you an idea of how compassionate and attentive staff will behave toward your loved one.

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