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Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect lawyersNursing home neglect and abuse are sad realities in the United States. Understaffing, inadequate staff training, negligent hiring practices, and other problems can lead to injurious or even fatally substandard care. News stories about nursing home neglect and intentional abuse are also not uncommon. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you may worry about what is going on behind closed doors. You may have considered leaving a hidden camera in your loved one’s room in order to monitor the care he or she is getting but have questions about the legality of this type of surveillance.

Nursing Home Abuse Comes in Many Forms

Unfortunately, there have been instances in which nursing home staff have deliberately hurt residents physically, emotionally, or sexually. Many nursing home residents suffer from illness that impair their memory or cognition. This can make it very difficult for the residents to report abuse or neglect. Sometimes, nursing home residents are aware that the treatment they are receiving is unacceptable, but they are too afraid to speak up about it to staff or their family. Issues such as these lead some people to install cameras in their loved one’s room at the nursing home.

Are Nursing Home Cameras Legal?

You may wonder if hiding a camera in your loved one’s room for the purposes of monitoring their care is even legal. Laws regulating recording others vary considerably from state to state. In Illinois, nursing home cameras are subject to the Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Facilities Act. This law makes it legal for families to install video cameras in their loved one’s room under certain circumstances. The camera must only be installed in the resident’s room and not in a common area of the nursing facility. The camera must also be in a conspicuous location. So, hidden cameras or “spy cameras” are not permitted. Furthermore, there must be a notice posted outside of the resident’s room that informs others of the electronic monitoring. The nursing home resident or his or her guardian and any roommates must give written consent before a camera can be placed in the room.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysNursing home neglect and abuse is a tragic reality. Everyone hopes that nursing home staff will treat their loved ones with the respect and compassion that they deserve. Sadly, not all nursing home staff meet this expectation. Physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse can happen to any nursing home resident. However, residents with cognitive decline caused by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia are often particularly at risk for abuse. Even worse, such residents are often not capable of telling anyone about the abuse.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse may take the form of hitting, slapping, pinching, or kicking. It may also take the form of rough handling residents when transferring them in and out of beds or wheelchairs. If your loved one has bruises, cuts, or other physical injuries that staff cannot explain, this may be a sign that the staff have abused him or her. Of course, not every physical injury is a sign of abuse. Sometimes, an injury is simply the result of the resident bumping against furniture. However, if staff members seem agitated by your concerns or refuse to discuss your loved one’s injuries with you, this may be a sign that they have something to hide.

Psychological or Emotional Abuse

Sadly, some nursing home staff intentionally scare, embarrass, or isolate residents. If your loved one exhibits signs of fear toward staff – especially if the fear is directed at a particular staff member- this may be a sign of abuse. Sudden changes in behavior or child-like behaviors like rocking and thumb sucking may also be signs of abuse. Suffers of Alzheimer’s and dementia often become confused and believe that someone is harming them even if they are not actually in danger. However, it is important to believe your loved one and investigate any reports of mistreatment or signs of abuse.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysNursing home abuse and neglect is disturbingly common. Sadly, nursing home residents across the country are subjected to cruel treatment and denied necessary care. Sometimes, nursing home neglect or abuse is so severe that it even results in the death of a resident.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you may spend hours and hours wondering about the quality of care he or she is receiving in the facility. You may worry that substandard care or intentional mistreatment will cause your loved one to needlessly suffer. These concerns may be exacerbated by your loved one’s inability to communicate with you about the type of care he or she is receiving. In response to these worries, some people choose to install a camera in their loved one’s room at the nursing home.   

Why Do People Install Cameras in Nursing Homes?

It is hard to know for sure how many innocent nursing home residents are subjected to mistreatment in the United States. Across the country, it is widely recognized that many nursing home facilities are exceedingly understaffed. Because of this, many residents do not receive the medical attention and personal help they need to be safe. Even worse, some nursing home staff intentionally subject residents to physical, psychological, or sexual abuse.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysResearch shows that nursing home abuse and is startlingly common across the United States. It is hard to believe that anyone would be intentionally cruel to an elderly or disabled person—let alone someone the individual has been assigned to care for—but it does happen. Sadly, many instances of abuse go unreported because residents are not physically or cognitively capable of reporting the mistreatment. If your loved one is living in a long-term care facility, you may worry about whether he or she is being treated with the care and respect he or she deserves. There are several warning signs that families should be on the lookout for that could indicate that their loved one is being harmed in a nursing home.

Red Flags of Physical Abuse and Sexual Abuse

Although many studies have been conducted to better understand nursing home abuse, the true extent of the problem is still unknown. In one survey, 44 percent of nursing home residents reported being abused at a facility, and 38 percent reported witnessing other residents being abused. Physical abuse includes kicking, hitting, punching, slapping, and other acts of physical violence. Sexual abuse includes unwanted sexual contact, sexual assault, and indecent exposure.

Some warning signs that a nursing home resident is being physically or sexually abused include:

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysWhen a family decides to place their loved one in the care of a nursing home, they assume that the staff will take every measure to protect and care for their loved one. Tragically, this is not always the cause. Sometimes, nursing homes are either negligent to their residents’ needs or they treat them cruelly.

Examples of Nursing Home Neglect

There have been countless instances of physical abuse, mental abuse, or sexual abuse against residents living in nursing homes. Nursing home residents have rights just like anyone else, and they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Because residents are often unable to fight for their own rights, they rely on concerned family members to do so on their behalf.

In addition to intentional mistreatment and abuse, nursing home neglect is also a serious problem which can lead to:

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysNursing home residents have a number of rights that are afforded to them by the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, as well as other state and federal legislation. Nursing home staff members have both an ethical and a legal responsibility to treat nursing home residents with respect and to provide satisfactory medical care. Another provision contained in the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act is that nursing home residents should be free from “unreasonable restraint.” This includes both physical restraints and chemical restraints. If your loved one has been restrained through the use of unnecessary medication, he or she may be a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect.

When Can Restraints Be Used on a Nursing Home Resident?

Individuals living in a nursing home deserve to have as high a quality of life as possible. Their movements should never be restricted unless it is absolutely necessary. Both physical restraints like limb ties and chemical restraints like sedating medication should only be used if needed to protect the immediate safety of the resident. According to the law, nursing home residents should only be given medication such as antipsychotics and benzodiazepines if a medical condition necessitates it and the medication is prescribed by a physician. Unfortunately, many nursing homes administer sedating medications to residents who do not even have the condition the medication treats. They often do this in order to keep the residents docile and less likely to wander around.

Dangers of Giving Residents Unneeded Medication

Not only is it cruel to give nursing home residents sedating medication they do not need but it also puts the residents’ lives at risk. Antipsychotic medications are designed to treat mental conditions like schizophrenia but they also have a strong sedative effect. Nursing home staff frequently administer antipsychotic medications to residents to keep them sedated. Alarmingly, antipsychotic medications carry a “black box warning” which is the most serious type of warning issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The warning specifically cautions against administering antipsychotic medicine to elderly patients or those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The drugs have been associated with an increased of risk among these groups.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysNursing home neglect and abuse are sadly common in many nursing homes across the United States. Nursing homes are often badly understaffed or employ staff members who have not been properly trained for their job duties. Even worse, some nursing home staff intentionally take their frustrations out on residents. Many of these residents have physical and mental health problems that leave them unable to stand up for themselves. Residents instead must depend on concerned loved ones to advocate on their behalf.

Threatening or Intentionally Scaring Residents

Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, and other illness that affect an individual’s ability to understand what is going on around them are prevalent in nursing homes. Unfortunately, these illnesses can turn a mild mannered, sweet grandmother or grandfather into someone who is hostile or downright mean. Properly trained staff members should know that when a resident with mental decline is rude or uncooperative, it is the illness speaking and such behavior is not reflective of the resident’s true nature. However, some nursing home workers instead respond combatively to residents who are simply afraid or confused. Threatening, intimidating, or yelling at a nursing home resident is just one example of unacceptable nursing home abuse.  

Ridiculing or Mocking a Resident

Nursing home residents are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Sadly, some nursing home staff use this as an opportunity to bully residents instead of offering the compassionate care they should. In December 2018, a Snapchat video surfaced that showed Illinois nursing home workers mocking a 91 year-old nursing home resident who suffers from dementia. The two staff members were arrested and a lawsuit was brought against the facility for violating both the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. Signs that a loved one is being emotionally abused can include significant changes in the resident’s demeanor, childlike behaviors such as thumb sucking or rocking back and forth, and staff members refusing to let you be alone with your loved one.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysHardly a week goes by without another headline about the poor conditions or substandard care in nursing homes in Illinois and around the country. Staffing issues and a lack of resources often contribute to the problems, as nursing facilities often to struggle to care for their patients. There is, however, a particularly heinous issue that plagues many nursing homes: the problem of sexual abuse. While it may seem hard to believe, it is not unusual for sexual predators to victimize the most vulnerable members of our society.

Preying on Patients

It is almost unbelievable that any person would engage in acts of sexual abuse of a patient in a nursing home. Of course, that is exactly why abusers feel “safe.” In most cases where sexual abuse has been alleged, nursing home staff members, administrators, and even the believe were reluctant to believe the victims or their advocates. In other cases, the victims were simply unable to remember that they were abused or could not communicate their experiences to anyone else due to conditions such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.  

Sexual abuse in the context of a nursing home can take many forms, including:

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysThe people who call nursing homes their residence are generally unable to care for themselves. Caused by either physical disability or mental, nursing home residents often have trouble expressing when they are being mistreated. Sometimes, residents do not have the memory to report times they have been neglected by staff and other times they are afraid to report abuse or neglect because they fear retaliation. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, be on the lookout for the following signs of mistreatment.

Major Changes in Mood or Behavior

If your loved one has become much more withdrawn or unhappy, this can be a sign that something is not right at their nursing home. While these symptoms alone are not enough to accuse the staff of abuse, patterns of sadness or irritability which coincide with certain staff members or activities could be an indication that something is not right. If a nursing home resident is hesitant or outright afraid to go to certain areas or be around certain people, more investigation is needed as to the cause of the apprehension.

Unexplained Bruises or Injuries

It can be very difficult to find signs of physical abuse on a nursing home resident. Many medications and illnesses can cause individuals to easily bruise and sometimes residents have accidents where they simply bump into something. However, if you are noticing a pattern of unexplained injuries or staff cannot account for when the injury occurred, this may be a sign your loved one is being physically abused. If your loved one experiences unexplained weight loss, this could be a warning that he or she is not getting enough to eat and drink. Sadly, short-staffed nursing homes can sometimes skip basic duties like feeding and hydrating residents.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneyMany nursing home residents are prescribed opioid medication to manage severe pain. These opioid drugs have been controversial recently because of their extreme addictive properties. They are also dangerous in that an overdose of an opioid medication such as OxyContin, morphine, codeine, Fentanyl, or hydrocodone is often fatal. While these drugs offer relief for patients in severe pain, the presence of opioids in a nursing home often leads to trouble.

Illinois Nurse Caught Stealing Fentanyl Patches

A nurse from Bloomington has been accused of removing pain-relieving opioid patches from the bodies of nursing home residents. The man allegedly visited both the nursing home he worked at as well as a second nursing home in order to steal the patches off of terminally ill patients. He was recently charged with burglary and theft after co-workers noticed that he had come into work on his day off. He was found to also have stolen fentanyl patches from a resident with dementia. Assistant State’s Attorney Jeff Horve requested a $50,000 bond because of what he called “the egregious nature of the offenses.”

Overdose of Oxycodone Kills Minnesota Resident

Another dangerous element to opioids being prescribed in nursing homes is the risk of overdose. When medical staff are not properly trained or the nursing home facility is understaffed, deadly mistakes can be made with regard to opioid medication. For example, in January, a resident recovering from cancer was given over 20 times the prescribed dose of oxycodone. The resident was later found unresponsive on the floor of their room and eventually passed away. When asked about her gross mistake, the nurse who administered the deadly drug claimed she was "busy with multiple patients."

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysThose who stay in a nursing home are usually there because they cannot physically or mentally care for themselves anymore. Families place their loved ones in nursing homes with the expectation that the staff will treat their family member with the same compassion and dignity that they do. When a resident at a nursing home is injured or killed due to the negligence of the nursing home staff, the injured person or the estate of the individual who passed away may be eligible for compensation. Such was the situation in a recent case involving a Georgia nursing home.

Lacking Medical Staff Can Result in Inadequate Care

The case in question was a lawsuit that stemmed from the 2012 death of a 71-year-old resident in a Lowndes County, GA, nursing home. According to court documents, the problems began the elderly man began complaining of vomiting and a distended abdomen. An alleged lack of appropriate medical staff at the facility meant that there was not a registered nurse (RN) or a doctor who could provide prompt medical attention. The only available medical staff member was a licensed practical nurse (LPN) who examined the man and called an off-site physician’s assistant (PA) for a second opinion, the lawsuit allged.

The suit claimed that the LPN contemplated sending the man to an emergency room based on his presenting symptoms, but the PA did not agree that emergency room treatment was necessary. The man’s condition reportedly worsened, and he was finally taken to a hospital. He only survived for another 12 hours, and he died from complications due to a bowel obstruction.

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