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IL nursing home lawyerFew would argue that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are some of the most tragic illnesses imaginable. These illnesses affect a sufferer’s memory, personality, and cognition. Nursing home residents with dementia are often at a higher risk of being neglected or abused for a variety of reasons. Many times, they are also unable to report this abuse. Because of this, it is crucial for loved ones to be vigilant for signs that could indicate nursing home neglect and abuse.

Wandering is a Life-Threatening Concern for Residents with Alzheimer’s Disease

Illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease can lead to severe confusion and agitation. Some sufferers do not realize that they are in a nursing home for their own benefit. They may believe that they need to “escape” the facility to avoid harm. They may also accidentally wander out of the facility or into dangerous areas within the facility. Just recently, a nursing home resident suffering from dementia was discovered in the facility’s walk-in freezer. Sadly, the elderly woman had passed away by the time authorities located her. Nursing home staff have a moral obligation as well as a legal duty to supervise residents at risk of wandering and elopement. If a nursing home’s negligence leads to a resident’s injury or death, the facility may be liable for damages.

Unreasonable Restraint and Intentional Abuse

Another major concern for nursing home residents with dementia is the risk of unreasonable restraint. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act states that no resident may be physically or chemically restrained as a “punishment” or for the staff’s convenience. Unfortunately, this does not stop many nursing homes from using physical restraints or chemical sedation for exactly these purposes.

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IL nursing home abuse lawyerThere are approximately 1.2 million people living in nursing homes across the United States. Residents may live in a nursing home facility because they need help with daily tasks such as eating and bathing or because they have long-term medical needs that cannot be met through other means. A significant percentage of nursing home residents suffer from physical or mental disabilities that significantly reduce their level of personal independence. They, therefore, must count on the nursing home staff to keep them as healthy as safe as possible.

Tragically, some nursing home residents are not treated with the compassionate assistance and competent medical care they deserve. If you or your loved one were the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, you may wish to bring a personal injury claim against the facility. In order for your claim to be successful, you will need to show evidence of the nursing home’s wrongdoing.

Elements in a Nursing Home Injury Claim

To hold a negligent nursing home accountable and recover financial compensation through a nursing home injury lawsuit, you and your attorney will need to prove that:

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IL nursing home abuse lawyerWhen people think about nursing home and neglect, images of overmedicated or malnourished residents may come to mind. However, nursing home neglect is not always this obvious. In fact, one of the least visible forms of nursing home negligence is also one of the most dangerous. The problem of inadequate sanitation may not be immediately obvious, but it can have deadly consequences for residents. When nursing home staff do not keep the facility clean, viruses and bacteria can spread rapidly endangering the lives of the residents who call the facility home.

Residents Are Vulnerable to Illness and Infection

Everyone knows that it is important to wash your hands frequently in order to prevent the spread of disease. Proper hygiene is especially crucial for workers in medical facilities such as nursing homes. When nursing home staff fail to wash their hands between assisting residents, they can transfer pathogens from one resident to the next. If the facility itself is not properly sanitized, germs have the opportunity to multiply and spread throughout the building. Residents who are elderly or have weakened immune systems are particularly prone to disease and infections. They can become sick rapidly. If staff do not recognize the signs of the illness and provide the necessary medical treatment right away, the illness could prove fatal.

Unsanitary conditions in nursing homes are often the result of overworked and undertrained employees. Many nursing homes are extremely understaffed. Staff may fail to practice good hygiene or maintain a sanitary facility because they forget this essential task or because they wrongly assume that sanitation is not a high priority.

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IL abuse attorneyWhen we think of nursing home abuse, we typically think of abuse at the hands of the nursing home staff. However, vulnerable nursing home residents are also at risk of being harmed by other residents. A nursing home resident may attack another resident due to malevolence, or, much more commonly, because he or she suffers from a cognitive illness that makes him or her confused, angry, and afraid. If your loved one was physically harmed or sexually assaulted by another resident while living in a nursing home, you may wonder what your legal options are. In some cases, a nursing home may be liable for resident injuries or deaths caused by the actions of another resident. A nursing home injury claim may enable you to hold the nursing home responsible for its negligence as well as recover compensation.

Nursing Home Staff Have a Duty to Prevent Resident-On-Resident Violence

Nurses, nurse’s aides, and other nursing home workers have a legal obligation to prevent foreseeable resident injuries. Although not every resident injury can be prevented, nursing home staff must make the facility as safe as possible. This includes adequately supervising residents. If a resident has a history of lashing out physically at staff, residents, or visitors, staff should carefully monitor his or her behavior. If a resident shows signs of aggression that may develop into violence toward other residents, he or she should be removed from the situation and given time to cool off. Many instances of resident-on-resident violence are the result of understaffing and inadequate staff training. Nursing home staff may fail to address violence or resident injuries caused by violence because they are too busy with other tasks. Examples of nursing home negligence such as these are in violation of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act and other legislation.

Damages in a Nursing Home Injury Claim Involving Injuries Caused by Another Resident

The term “damages” is used to refer to the financial compensation awarded to a plaintiff in a personal injury claim. Often, nursing home injury claims are brought on behalf of the resident by a child or other loved one. Through a nursing home injury claim, you may be entitled to compensation for your loved one’s medical bills, pain and suffering, and mental anguish caused by the attack. If your loved one died in an incident involving resident-on-resident violence, you may also be entitled to compensation for your own losses.

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IL abuse lawyerNursing home abuse and neglect are tragically commonplace in Illinois and across the United States. It is difficult to know for sure the exact number of nursing home residents who are victims of abuse because many residents are unable to report the mistreatment they suffer. However, in one study, 44 percent of nursing home residents surveyed reported being abused while living in the facility. If you have a loved one living in a rehabilitation facility, assisted living facility, or nursing home, it is important to be vigilant for signs of abuse and neglect.

Physical Abuse Can Leave Physical and Mental Scars

It is hard to imagine someone hitting, pinching, kicking, or otherwise intentionally harming an elderly or disabled person, but physical abuse does happen in some long-term care facilities. Some nursing home staff become frustrated or angry when residents do not comply with orders or are otherwise obstinate. They may intentionally hurt the resident as a form of “punishment.” Unexplained bruises, lacerations, or other signs of trauma, as well as psychological symptoms like fear and anxiety, may be signs that a resident is begin physically assaulted. In some cases, the perpetrators of physical abuse are other residents at the facility.

Mental or Psychological Abuse Can Be Just as Harmful as Physical Abuse

Psychological, emotional, or mental abuse can be just as damaging to a resident’s wellbeing as physical violence. Examples of emotional abuse include mocking a resident, intentionally scaring a resident, embarrassing a resident, disallowing reasonable privacy, and other actions intended to demoralize or upset a resident. Recognizing mental abuse can often be tricky. Residents who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other cognitive illnesses may become confused and accuse innocent staff of abusive or threatening behavior. However, it is essential to fully investigate any claim of mistreatment.

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IL nursing home abuse attorneyThe term restraints are used to refer to physical or chemical means of controlling a nursing home resident’s behavior or restricting his or her movement. While physical restraints involve things like bed rails and ties, chemical restraints are medications used to sedate a resident. Federal and state laws heavily regulate the use of restraints against nursing home residents. Restraints can only be used in specific situations and should never be used simply for nursing home staff convenience. Overuse and improper use of chemical restraints can lead to dangerous, often fatal, side effects as well as a diminished quality of life.

Sedatives and Other Chemical Restraints Can Only Be Used When Medically Necessary

Psychopharmacological drugs such as benzodiazepines and antipsychotic medication are intended to treat psychiatric conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders. These medications often have side effects including drowsiness and sluggishness. Sometimes, nursing home staff administer these medications to nursing home residents to make them more docile and less likely to wander around the facility or defy staff instructions. Not only is this practice unethical, it is also illegal. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act specifically states that chemical and physical restraints may not be used to punish a resident or for the nursing home staff’s convenience. According to the law, restraints may only be used when ordered by a doctor for a legitimate medical purpose.

Antipsychotic Medication Doubles The Risk of Death in Residents with Dementia

Aripiprazole, haloperidol, clozapine, quetiapine, risperidone, olanzapine, and other antipsychotic medications are frequently used “off label” to sedate residents who do not have the medical conditions that the drugs are designed to treat. Research has shown that this is a very dangerous practice. Dr. David Graham, Associate Director of the FDA’s Office of Drug Safety, has stated that antipsychotic medication actually doubles the risk of mortality in elderly people with dementia. These medications carry side effects including an increased risk of falling, dyskinesia, blood clots, stroke, and irreversible cognitive decompensation. Antipsychotic drugs even have a “black box” warning cautioning against administering the medication to elderly people with dementia.

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IL nursing home attorneyThere are almost countless reasons that a person may stay in a rehabilitative facility, assisted living facility, or nursing home. Some people stay in a facility such as these while they recover from major surgery or illness and are eventually able to return home. Others permanently move into a long-term care facility because they can no longer live on their own due to dementia or physical disabilities. Whatever the reason, individuals staying in nursing homes and similar facilities deserve quality medical care and adequate assistance with daily living tasks. Malnutrition and dehydration are two health concerns that may indicate that a nursing home resident is not receiving adequate care and attention.

Red Flags of Dehydration in Elderly and Disabled Residents

Even for healthy adults, drinking enough water is sometimes a struggle. Many of us are simply too busy to notice that we have not consumed enough liquid throughout the day and only realize that we are dehydrated when symptoms such as a headache appear. For nursing home residents, the problem is even more serious. Residents may have cognitive illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease that distort their memory and ability to think clearly. They may also suffer from medical problems that make it difficult to sit up or swallow. Nursing home residents have a legal obligation to provide adequate water to residents. Signs of dehydration include fatigue, muscle cramps, dry mouth, dizziness, disorientation, urine that is dark in color, and decrease in urine production. Chronic dehydration can cause a resident to develop urinary tract infections, seizures, and even hypovolemic shock.

Malnutrition Warning Signs

Providing meals to nursing home residents is one of the most important daily tasks that nursing home staff are responsible for. However, studies show that approximately 20 percent of all nursing home residents suffer from some degree of malnutrition. Most nursing home residents are struggling with chronic disease or serious physical ailments and their bodies desperately need adequate nutrition to fight these diseases and function normally. Malnutrition can lead to weakness, fatigue, dental problems, yellowing of the skin, increased risk of bedsores, and weight loss. Inadequate nutrition can also have negative psychological effects.

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IL nursing home abuseNursing home staff are expected to provide the medical care and day-to-day help that residents need to be safe and free from avoidable health concerns. When nursing home staff fail to provide adequate care to residents, the nursing home may be liable for the harm caused to the vulnerable residents. One telltale sign of nursing home neglect is reoccurring bed sores. If your loved one has been suffering from frequent bedsores or bedsores that are not properly treated, you may have a valid nursing home negligence claim.

What Are Bed Sores?

Decubitus ulcers, also called bed sores or pressure ulcers, are injuries to the skin caused by long periods of pressure. People who are bedridden, confined to a wheelchair, or cannot move about on their own are the most likely to develop bedsores. These painful wounds often develop on the buttocks, hips, and back but they may also develop in other areas of the body that are subject to prolonged pressure. When a bed sore is developing, the skin becomes discolored, painful, or itchy. If pressure to the developing bed sore is not relieved, it worsens into a blister-like wound. The bedsore may then become deeper and deeper as time goes on, exposing subcutaneous tissues or even muscle and bone. Bed sores are terribly painful and may also lead to complications such as cellulitis, infection of the bones, heart lining, or cerebrospinal fluid, and sepsis. Septic arthritis, abscesses, and heterotopic bone formations may also result from untreated bed sores.

Steps Nursing Home Staff Should Take to Prevent and Address Bed Sores

Nursing home staff should do everything in their power to prevent residents from developing these dangerous and painful injuries. Residents who cannot move themselves should be periodically repositioned so that body parts do not receive prolonged pressure. Residents with incontinence issues should never be left in a soiled diaper or on soiled sheets. If a resident uses a wheelchair, a foam or gel seat cushion can help prevent bed sores to the buttocks and thigh area. Staff should also help wheelchair-bound residents reposition themselves and switch from their wheelchair to the bed periodically. If a bed sore does develop, the resident should be closely monitored for signs of an infection or other complications. If the bedsore worsens, the resident should receive prompt medical attention.

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IL nursing home abuse lawyerThere are an estimated 1.5 million people living in nursing homes across the United States. Most nursing home residents have significant health concerns, including physical disabilities and mental disabilities, that require daily medication. Residents who do not receive their medications may suffer terrible pain and worsening health conditions. In some cases, a medication error can even cost a vulnerable resident his or her life. If your loved one has suffered in a nursing home due to a medication mistake, speak to a nursing home neglect attorney.

Common Medication Mistakes in Long-Term Care Facilities

Nursing home staff have an ethical duty as well as a legal obligation to provide reasonably competent care to residents. Unfortunately, understaffing, lack of organization, inadequate staff training, and other problems can lead to major medical mistakes. Some of the most common medication errors in nursing homes include:

  • Administering the wrong medication or an incorrect dose of the medication
  • Administering an expired medication
  • Skipping medication doses or administering a dose twice
  • Using a flawed medication administration technique
  • Giving the medication to the resident at the wrong time of day
  • Not following medication directions such as directions requiring the medication to be taken with food
  • Failing to properly mix, shake, roll, or otherwise prepare the medication
  • Inaccurately documenting when the medication was given and what dose was administered
  • Failing to monitor the resident for side effects or other health concerns after giving the medication
  • Failing to verify that a resident actually consumed the medication

Consequences of Medication Errors

When a resident does not receive the medication he or she needs, or even worse, receives a medication that he or she is not supposed to receive, the results can be dramatic. The resident may suffer in severe pain and experience adverse reactions to the medication or lack of medication. Residents with physical and mental incapacities may not be able to express that they are experiencing these symptoms. When a major medication error results in a resident’s injury or death, the resident or his or her loved ones may choose to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit against the nursing home. A successful medical malpractice claim can help victims recover compensation while also holding the negligent nursing home facility accountable for the harm caused.

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IL abuse lawyerWhen you hear the term “nursing home abuse,” you may assume that the term abuse is referring to physical violence aimed at elderly and disabled nursing home residents. Sadly, physical abuse, psychological abuse, and sexual abuse of vulnerable nursing home residents is a major problem in Illinois and throughout the United States. One type of abuse you may not have heard as much about is financial abuse. Financial exploitation of elderly and disabled individuals in a nursing home not only results in economic losses, it can also cause a great deal of personal suffering for the victim and his or her family.

Examples of Financial Exploitation

Most nursing home residents have physical disabilities or cognitive disabilities like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia that make them dependent on nursing home staff. Many need a substantial amount of assistance with daily living tasks like toileting and eating as well as help with medication and other healthcare needs. Tragically, sometimes the individuals that residents trust the most to care for them are the ones who take advantage of their vulnerability. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) states that financial abuse is one of the most widespread forms of elder abuse. It is estimated that one out of every five elderly people has been a victim of elder financial exploitation. Some of the most common forms of elder financial abuse include:

  • Stealing residents’ cash or property
  • Tricking residents into signing financial or estate planning documents
  • Coercing residents into turning over cash or personal checks
  • Stealing a resident’s identity for financial gain
  • Conning residents through the use of pyramid schemes and other scams
  • Using threats or intimidation to force residents into financial transactions

Holding Negligent Nursing Homes Accountable

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, as well as federal legislation, protects nursing home residents from mistreatment and abuse. One of the rights protected by the Nursing Home Care Act is the right of residents to manage their own financial affairs. Even if a nursing home has the authorization to manage a resident’s money on his or her behalf, they must do so ethically and within the boundaries of the law. The act also gives residents the right to have access to their own personal property. If you believe that your loved one has been the victim of financial exploitation, do not hesitate to take action. Contact an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer to learn about your legal options for holding the nursing home facility accountable for its wrongful and negligent actions.

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Illinois nursing home injury attorneysIf you are like most people with a loved one living in a nursing home, you think about your loved one often. You may worry about whether or not your loved one is safe and well cared for or whether he or she is comfortable living in the facility. One major concern for elderly individuals is the risk of serious injuries, including fractures and broken bones. A young, healthy person may sustain a broken bone and suffer no long-lasting negative health consequences as a result. However, because many residents’ bodies are weakened by age or illness, a broken bone can be life-altering or even life-threatening. If your loved one has suffered a broken bone while living in a nursing home, there are several things you should keep in mind.

Causes of Fractures and Broken Bones in a Nursing Home

Elderly individuals often suffer from conditions such as osteoporosis that make their bones more susceptible to breaking. This is one reason that it is so important for nursing home facilities to do everything in their power to prevent break injuries.

A fracture or broken bone could be caused by a number of unacceptable scenarios, including but not limited to:

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Illinois nursing home abuse lawyersMost of us do not enjoy thinking about a time when we will be unable to care for ourselves or live alone. However, aging is a part of life. Many people will need round-the-clock care as they get older and some of those people will find themselves in a nursing home. In fact, a recent study suggests that more than half of Americans will stay in a nursing home at some point in their lives.

A team of researchers at the RAND Center for the Study of Aging looked at data collected over 18 years in the Health and Retirement Study—a projected funded by the U.S. Social Security Administration and the National Institute on Aging. The team found that, for the first time, more than 50 percent of seniors will need care from a nursing home or assisted-living facility at least once during their lifetime. The study pointed out that most nursing home stays are likely to be short and financially manageable. Only about 5 percent of adults are expected to spend 1500 days or more in a nursing facility.

The findings suggest a much higher percentage of people needing nursing home care than previously estimated. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 35 percent of Americans will need nursing home care in their lives. Regardless of which number ultimately proves to be true, the reality is that millions of Americans will spend time in a nursing home, potentially putting them at risk for abuse and mistreatment.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysNursing home residents deserve to be treated with respect and dignity at all times. Sadly, some nursing home staff do not treat elderly or disabled residents as well as they should.

The warning signs of physical abuse are generally much more obvious than the signs of psychological or emotional abuse—especially for residents with cognitive issues like dementia. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, it is your responsibility to be vigilant for subtle signs of abuse or neglect.

What Does Emotional Abuse Look Like?

Many residents of nursing homes find that moving to the facility is a tremendously emotional event. For a person who has been autonomous their entire adult life to now need help using the bathroom or eating can be extremely disheartening. This is why it is so important for nursing home staff to do what they can to keep residents’ spirits up and treat them with respect. Nursing home staff who are overworked, under-trained, or have hateful attitudes toward residents may purposely do things to hurt residents. Examples of psychological or emotional abuse include, but are not limited to:

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Chicago nursing home neglect attorneysInadequate hygiene in nursing homes can be deadly to vulnerable residents. Poor hygiene is often the consequence of ineffectively trained staff members or facilities that have too high a resident to staff ratio. Other times, poor hygiene can be the result of staff who are not properly educated about safe health care practices.

Not Using Proper Hygiene Is Neglect

Elderly individuals or those with physical or mental disabilities in a nursing home deserve to be kept safe and clean. Some residents are not physically capable of doing hygiene tasks on their own while others have cognitive impairments which makes it hard for them to remember hygiene. Sadly, reports of nursing home residents left in soiled clothes, diapers, or beds are not uncommon. Nursing home residents deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and this includes cleanliness. Unsanitary conditions can increase the risk of infection, illness, and other medical conditions.

Staff May Take Unsafe Shortcuts When It Comes to Their Own Hygiene

When nursing home staff are not properly educated about caretaker hygiene, the results can be deadly. A staff member who does not wash his or her hands after helping a resident with bathroom-related tasks and then interacts with another resident can spread dangerous bacteria to the second resident. Most residents have compromised immune systems due to illness, injury, or old age and are especially susceptible to germs. When staff are not regularly cleaning common areas, kitchens, or bathrooms, the facility becomes a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria and viruses. This places residents in further unnecessary risk.

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Illinois nursing home neglect lawyerThere are many different reasons a person may bring a lawsuit against a nursing home or medical staff member. Sometimes a nursing home harms a resident not by what they did but by what they failed to do. Residents in a nursing home are often elderly, suffering from age-related illnesses, or recovering from surgery. They therefore require a much higher level of care than a healthy person would. When nursing homes are understaffed or for other reasons cannot adequately care for their residents, the residents’ health may suffer as a result. One of the most common ailments caused by nursing home neglect is dehydration

The Sick and Elderly Are Especially Vulnerable

While a human can survive without food for an impressive three weeks or more, water is a different story. Our bodies crave water, and without it, they start to shut down. Most individuals would die without water within a mere three days. When nursing home residents do not get enough to drink, they can suffer from considerable health consequences and physical discomfort.

Dehydration is sadly quite common among elderly residents staying in nursing homes. There are a few reasons for this. Some residents have physical disabilities which make it difficult to sit up or swallow water. Other residents have trouble speaking and cannot tell staff when they are thirsty. Those residents with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or other cognitive impairments may not be able to recognize when they are dehydrated, let alone express this to nursing home staff. Because many residents cannot do so themselves, nursing home staff have a duty to monitor residents’ hydration and make sure they are getting enough to drink. When nursing home staff fail to uphold this serious responsibility, they and the organization they work for can be held legally liable for residents’ suffering and harm.

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Chicago nursing home abuse lawyersNursing home staff have one of the most important responsibilities in our society: caring for our elders. Tragically, some nursing home staff do not take this responsibility seriously. Nursing home resident neglect and abuse are serious issues. More than two million cases of elder abuse are reported every year. It is estimated that one out of every ten elderly individuals in nursing home facilities will experience some type of abuse. While efforts are being made by regulatory agencies and advocacy groups to prevent nursing home abuse and neglect, the current state of many nursing homes is unacceptable.

Shocking Camera Footage from Inside Michigan Nursing Home

The family of an 89-year-old Lebanese man is suing a Michigan nursing home after footage surfaced of caretakers abusing the elderly man. The resident was admitted to the facility in 2015 after undergoing a bowel obstruction surgery. His son was the first to grow concerned about his father’s safety. The son noticed his father was often covered in cuts and bruises. The octogenarian was also rapidly losing weight.

Family Claims Man Was Physically and Psychologically Abused

The elderly resident’s cuts and bruises, according to nursing home staff, were a result of the man falling eleven times throughout five months. In order to get to the bottom of his father’s injuries, the man’s adult son hid a camera in an alarm clock next to his father’s bed. The family of the man claims that the hidden camera captured over 100 clips of the staff’s neglectful behavior. Additionally, the footage is claimed to include instances of physical abuse and even ethnic slurs directed at the 89-year-old.

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Chicago Nursing Home Abuse AttorneyEach year, the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Nursing Home Hotline receives approximately 19,000 calls and more than 5,000 complaints alleging incidences of nursing home negligence or abuse. Considering the state is home to only 1,200 long-term care facilities, these numbers are staggering.

In August 2015, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed legislation that guarantees the right of nursing home patients and their families to install and maintain video cameras in patients’ rooms. Illinois is one of just six states with laws that explicitly permit “senior cams”—as they have come to be known—in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. These types of cameras are intended to reduce and eliminate nursing home abuse, but they are also being used to hold facilities responsible when abuse and neglect occur. Recently, a tragic situation in Florida—a state that currently has no law regarding senior cams—was caught on video and exposed to the public.

Disturbing Footage Captured on Hidden Camera

This fall, local news outlets obtained video footage taken from inside a Pompano Beach nursing home. The camera was hidden in a patient’s room by the patient’s daughter. She was concerned that her 94-year-old father was being mistreated. The man suffered from dementia and was unable to speak. According to news reports, the video showed nursing home staff members “forcefully trying to get the man off the bed,” hitting him in the head, and “dousing him with mouthwash.”

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