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Schwartz Injury Law

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chicago nursing home abuse lawyerThe problems of nursing home abuse and neglect are ever-present in Chicago and throughout Illinois, and the state government has made efforts to provide a variety of resources for victims and their families. One such resource is the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, which provides many services to those living in nursing homes and similar facilities. Recently, Governor J.B. Pritzker has announced an increase in funding for the Chicago region of this program, with the goal of ensuring that it is adequately staffed to meet residents’ needs.

What Does the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Do?

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman program is responsible for providing a variety of services that benefit nursing home residents. Regional branches of the program have been established throughout Illinois to support residents of different counties, and the services they provide are offered at no cost.

Some of the services the program provides include:

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Chicago nursing home understaffing attorneysHeadline-making stories regarding nursing home neglect and understaffing are tragically common. Residents may have a serious fall, choke on food, or miss their medication because of critical understaffing issues. The staff who are available are chronically underpaid and overworked, leading to exhaustion and sometimes fatal mistakes. 

No-Strings Attached Funding

Recent Illinois news coverage has focused on requests for an increased amount of state funding for private nursing homes. But at the same time as the Health Care Council of Illinois (HCCI) has asked for $486 million dollars, they have made it clear they want it with no strings attached. The primary lobby group for for-profit nursing facilities opposes legislation from Governor Pritzker’s administration allocating at least some of that money on hiring more staff and eliminating ward-style rooming, where many patients can share the same room. 

Investigations Show Multiple Problems

Journalists covering the blight of poor care in nursing homes have expressed concern over the industry’s myriad failures: Failure in transparency and accountability in how public funds are put to use, failure to hire enough staff, failure to reduce hazardous overcrowding. In fact, in 2019, Illinois ranked last in nursing home staffing. These problems tend to be exacerbated for Black and Hispanic residents. 

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysIf you have reason to believe that your parent or loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, you need to act quickly to prevent further abuse from happening. Depending on the situation, this could mean helping them leave the nursing home, or even calling for emergency medical help. In many cases, it is also a good idea to call the Nursing Home Hotline operated by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to file a complaint. However, you may have questions regarding how to do so and what will happen next.

The Process of Filing a Complaint

The IDPH Nursing Home Complaint Hotline can be reached at 800-252-4343, and you can also file a complaint via mail or fax by completing and sending in a form available on the IDPH website. Before you file a complaint, you should be prepared with important information about the suspected abuse or neglect.

For example, you will need to share the name of your loved one, the facility where they reside, and the names of any employees who may have been involved. You will also need to provide information about the nature of the abuse or neglect, the harm your loved one suffered, and when the abuse occurred. If you have raised your concerns with the nursing home, you should also provide information about their response.

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Illinois nursing home injury attorneysResidents in a nursing home or other long-term care facility have a legal right to receive adequate care. The facility must be kept reasonably clean and safe. Staff must provide appropriate medical care and assistance with day-to-day activities like showering and eating. At no time may a resident be subject to neglect or abuse.

Sadly, not every nursing home meets these standards. When a resident is injured or killed as a result of substandard care or intentional abuse in a nursing home facility, the resident or his or her loved ones may file a nursing home injury lawsuit. Read on to learn about some of the most common types of evidence used to prove nursing home neglect or abuse in an injury or wrongful death claim.

Information About Nursing Home Staff

Staffing issues are some of the most common causes of nursing home neglect and abuse. Understaffing is rampant in U.S. nursing homes. When there are not enough staff to care for the residents, residents may suffer from skipped medication, missed meals, inadequate medical care, and insufficient assistance with daily living tasks. Staff work schedules, payroll documents, medical charts, and the nursing home staff log may all be evidence of understaffing. In addition, employment records and information about nursing home policies and procedures may demonstrate nursing home negligence in the form of substandard hiring practices.

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Illinois nursing home fall injury attorneysA baby learning to walk falls down dozens and dozens of times without injury. Unfortunately, as our bodies age, the risks associated with falling increase dramatically. Falling is the number one cause of traumatic brain injuries and hip fractures.  Among the elderly, fall accidents can result in severe and even fatal injuries. It is estimated that over 32,000 older people die in fall accidents each year in the U.S. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities must actively take steps to prevent residents from falling. When nursing home negligence leads to a preventable fall injury, the nursing home may be guilty of neglect.

Keeping Residents’ Living Spaces Clean and Free of Clutter

Cleanliness is a crucial concern in nursing homes. Not only does proper cleaning and sanitation prevent disease, keeping the facility clean can also prevent avoidable fall injuries. Resident rooms, dining halls, and hallways should be kept tidy and free of clutter. Electrical cords or wires from medical equipment should be secured in such a way that they do not present trip and fall hazards. If liquid or other slippery substances are spilled, they must be cleaned up immediately.

Helping Residents With Limited Mobility

Older people and those with disabilities often struggle to get around on their own. However, they may not always ask for help when they need it. An older person with dementia may not realize that he or she is at risk of falling. Other residents may simply overestimate how steady they are on their feet. Nursing home staff should be aware of residents’ physical limitations and accommodate them accordingly. For example, if a resident cannot easily get from his wheelchair to his bed, staff should help the resident so that he does not fall.

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