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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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Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect lawyersLong-term care facilities like nursing homes are designed to assist elderly and disabled individuals with daily living tasks and enhance their quality of life. In addition to helping residents shower, eat, and take their medicine, nursing home staff have a legal duty to treat the residents with carefulness and compassion. When nursing home employees fail to carry out their work tasks accurately and timely, the results can be deadly. Many nursing home residents are not physically or mentally capable of looking after their own needs. They may forget to eat or drink, wander off of the facility into danger, or slip and fall when not being supervised. This is why it is so important for family members to be watchful for signs of nursing home abuse and neglect.

Common Red Flags That Your Loved One May Be Suffering in a Long-Term Care Facility

Nursing home neglect can take several forms. Neglected residents may be left without adequate food and water, appropriate clothing, or denied help showering and using the bathroom. Nursing home facilities that are cluttered, dirty, or contain unaddressed environmental hazards may be unsafe for residents.

Pressure sores, or bed sores, are another common sign of nursing home neglect. Residents who are not mobile rely on nursing home staff to occasionally reposition them in order to prevent bed sores. Untreated or frequent bedsores are often a sign that a nursing home resident is being neglected or abused. Unexplained injuries like lacerations, bruises, fractures, and welts may be signs that a nursing home resident is being physically abused.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysWhen you are looking at long-term care options for an aging loved one, it is important to review the reputation of each of the facilities that you are considering. You should try to learn how the families of current and past residents feel about the facility, as well as any available ratings published by reputable sources. According to a recent study, you should also consider whether the facility is a for-profit business or a nonprofit entity because residents of for-profit facilities tend to receive a much lower quality of care.

Illinois-Based Research

The study was conducted by a team led by Lee Friedman, an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The team looked at data regarding nearly 1,150 patients who received treatment at five Chicago-area hospitals between 2007 and 2011 for health concerns that might have been linked to previous substandard care. All of the patients were either residents of for-profit or nonprofit nursing homes or community-dwelling patients who lived in private homes with the assistance of family, friends, or home-based nurses.

Sad Results

According to the study’s findings, residents of for-profit nursing facilities were twice as likely to experience medical problems related to poor care than those in nonprofit centers. Community-dwelling patients experienced the fewest problems. Friedman said that his team linked a larger number of diagnoses and more serious conditions patients in for-profit homes “that were consistent with severe clinical signs of neglect.” These conditions included:

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Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect lawyersStaff members at a Long Island, New York nursing home may be facing jail time due to the death of a resident. In December of 2015, 81-year old nursing home resident Carmela Contrera became disconnected from her ventilator. The machine, which was literally keeping the elderly woman alive, is fixed with an alarm for exactly this purpose. The alarm is rigged to sound a warning signal whenever vital machines such as a ventilator become disconnected from the patient. However, nursing home staff claim the alarm never sounded. Contrera sadly passed away because no one came to reattach her ventilator. Now, prosecutors are saying that the alarm did in fact sound, but that the nursing home staff simply ignored the warning. Two registered nurses and one nursing aide have been charged with several counts of felony criminal negligent homicide as well as willful violation of health and safety laws.

Prosecution Says Nursing Home Workers Ignored Ventilator Alarm for Over Nine Minutes

Understandably, nursing home staff can quickly become busy and overwhelmed. Helping residents bathe and eat, dispensing medication, and transporting residents between areas of the nursing home can be a taxing job. However, nursing home staff have a legal obligation to care for residents to the best of their ability. When nursing home staff do things like overlook a fallen resident, skip administering a dose of medication, or in this case, ignore a medical alarm, they are being negligent. Tragically, nursing home abuse and neglect cause thousands of deaths a year.

Understaffing and Inadequate Maintenance May Have Contributed to Resident’s Death

Like hundreds of nursing home facilities across the country, the Long Island nursing home where Contrera died was understaffed. Many nursing homes struggle to afford enough staff members and other facilities skimp on staff training. The state attorney general’s office claims that inadequate staffing of the nursing home set employees up to fail and that Contrera’s death was a “foreseeable tragedy" which could have been prevented. Furthermore, the prosecution has found evidence that a respiratory therapist on staff had failed to adequately check that ventilators and alarms were working properly and instead falsified reports that the required inspection had been accomplished. If convicted, the three former staff members accused of causing Contreras’s death face up to seven years in prison.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysWhile most of the “Greatest Generation” is gone, there are still thousands of military veterans who require the type of care that is only available in a nursing home. Our nation owes the brave men and women who have served a debt of gratitude, but it seems those who are in need of skilled nursing care are often not able to get it through the government agency that purports to protect veterans. Following a scathing report by USA Today and the Boston Globe, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee announced this week that it plans to investigate the care being provided at the 133 nursing homes run by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) nationwide.

Troubling Numbers

Last month, an investigative report by USA Today and the Boston Globe revealed that many of the VA’s nursing homes were providing substandard care to their residents. The report also pulled back the proverbial curtain on the VA’s secret ratings and quality measures. The reports’ findings suggest that Department was happy to keep its quality indicators a secret because the numbers were not good. In fact, nearly half (60) of all VA nursing homes received just one star out of five for overall quality—using the VA’s own ranking system.

Other documents obtained by the news outlets showed that patients in over two-thirds of VA nursing homes were more likely to suffer from bedsores and pain than patients in private-sector facilities. Overall, the VA’s nursing homes scored poorly against private facilities in most key quality indicators, including patients’ decline in daily living skills and the rate of use of anti-psychotic medications.

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Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect lawyersThe arm of the federal government tasked with providing health care coverage to seniors and the disabled is taking aim at “boomerang hospitalizations” of nursing home residents. Medicare officials have begun taking steps to address high hospital readmission rates, especially for patients who already require skilled nursing care and will reportedly increase those efforts on the nursing home side by this fall.

What Is a Boomerang Hospitalization?

Many nursing home patients require acute medical attention in a hospital at some point during the stay at a nursing home. This is understandable, considering those in nursing homes are there because they are already dealing with fairly serious injuries, illnesses, and other conditions. The problem, however, seems to be beginning when patients are released from the hospital and sent back to their nursing homes. According to reports, 20 percent of Medicare patients who are discharged from a hospital to a nursing home are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days. This number is 27 percent higher for Medicare nursing home patients than for Medicare patients who do not require nursing home care.

The phenomenon of a quick readmission is called a “boomerang hospitalization” as a reference to the thrown hunting tool that returns to the thrower in midair. Experts suggest that government payment policies have inadvertently led to a pattern of back-and-forth transfers between hospitals and nursing homes for far too many patients.

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