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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneyAlthough they may also have other health issues, many residents require the constant supervision a nursing home offers because they have a mental deficit such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Those with cognitive disabilities often have trouble understanding what is going on around them. They may not be fully aware of their physical limitations and can take unnecessary risks when not supervised by nursing home staff. Sadly, many nursing home residents have been seriously hurt or killed because they ventured into unsafe territory while the staff’s backs are turned.

Wandering and Elopement Defined

Wandering refers to instances when a nursing home resident walks around a nursing home facility unsupervised. Nursing home staff should know the whereabouts of their residents at all times. Those residents with cognitive impairments should be closely monitored. Sometimes wandering residents slip and fall out of staff’s sight and are left suffering in pain for hours. Other times, residents wander into an unsafe area such as the kitchen or storage area and harm themselves on the equipment there.

Elopement occurs when a resident wanders off of the nursing home campus. While some nursing home residents may be able to take walks outside of the facility safely, nursing home staff have an obligation to monitor and supervise these trips. When a resident who does not understand where he or she is due to a disease like dementia leaves the facility, the results can often be fatal. Residents may wander into traffic, trip and fall, be exposed to the elements, or even be attacked by another person.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneyWhen you place a loved one under the care of a nursing home, you expect that they will be treated with the care and dignity they deserve. You probably understand that a nursing facility may be more institutional than “homey,” but such facilities are designed to give patients around the clock access to medical care and personalized attention. Unfortunately, nursing home residents face a variety of dangers—some related to their own health conditions and some that may be caused by negligence on the part of the staff. For residents who are bedridden or wheelchair bound, bed sores are among the most common nursing home injuries, and many are the result of substandard care.

What Are Bed Sores?

Bed sores are also known as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers. These injuries are areas of skin that become inflamed due to pressure on the skin that prevents normal blood flow. If not addressed, the inflammation can transform into blisters and eventually open sores. In the most serious cases, the ulcers can continue to worsen and expose underlying muscle and bone.

Pressure ulcers are especially common among patients who are confined to bed or a chair and unable to move themselves easily. Friction caused by contact with clothing or bedsheets and moisture from sweat or urine can accelerate the development of bed sores. Patients with more fragile skin and those with circulatory problems are at a particularly high risk. Bed sores can form on any part of the body, but they are most frequently found on the parts of the body that remain in contact with a bed, including heels, elbows, shoulders, hips, and tailbones.

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Chicago nursing home injury attorneyWhen a family decides to place a parent or other loved one in a nursing home, they expect a certain level of care. Residents of nursing homes require a significant amount of assistance doing everyday tasks such as eating and bathing. Furthermore, most nursing home residents have serious health issues which make them unable to care for themselves. Nursing home staff have a responsibility to keep individuals in their care safe and comfortable to the best of their ability. When staff are negligent and do not provide the expected level of care to their patients, they can be held liable.

Elderly Woman Dies After Fall

A $50,000 lawsuit filed recently in the Kane County Circuit Court claims that a North Aurora nursing home failed to properly monitor an elderly woman and that this negligence led to her death. The 86-year-old woman passed away in February of 2016. A year prior to her death, she was admitted to the North Aurora nursing home. The wrongful death lawsuit claims that the elderly woman was a high risk for falls, and that the nursing home staff should have taken certain precautions to prevent this.

The plaintiffs claim that the nursing home had a responsibility to evaluate the woman’s risk of falling and then provide adequate supervision and assistance in order to prevent her from hurting herself. Unfortunately, within the same month as her arrival, the woman did fall and suffered serious injuries. In addition to needing ten stitches, the 86 year-old suffered cervical, nasal and orbital fractures. The suit claims that this fall led to the woman’s physical and mental decline and, eventually, her death. The complaint also alleges that the Illinois nursing home failed to appropriately train staff and follow its own policies and procedures for supervising residents.

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Chicago nursing home abuse lawyersStaff at a nursing home have a responsibility to keep the residents of a nursing home safe and as comfortable as possible. When families place a loved one in a nursing home, they are assuming that the medical staff there will treat the new resident with appropriate medical care. Tragically, this is not always the case. Some nursing homes are understaffed or their staff is not adequately trained, which can result in medicine being given superfluously or necessary medicine being withheld.

Alarming Study Results 

According to a recent study conducted by the Human Rights Watch, approximately 179,000 nursing home residents are being given medicine which is not intended to treat the illness they have. Antipsychotic drugs such as aripiprazole, olanzapine, and quetiapine are used to manage psychosis. Individuals suffering from delusions, hallucinations, paranoia or a disconnection from reality are generally given these medications as a treatment for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The problem is that about 179,000 nursing home residents being given this medicine do not have schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or other mental illnesses that those drugs are designed to treat.

Many of the residents being given these medications have Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia which antipsychotics are not approved to treat. Even more disturbing, antipsychotic drugs come with a "black box warning" from the FDA.  Black box warnings are the strictest labeling requirements that the FDA can mandate. These warnings are used to call attention to serious or life-threatening risks associated with the medication. The black box warning on antipsychotics states that they increase the risk of death in older people with dementia. The study also found that antipsychotic drugs were administered to residents without their informed consent. The purpose of using antipsychotic medications for residents who do not require them is often to make dementia patients “easier to handle” in understaffed facilities.

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Chicago nursing home neglect attorneysResidents in a nursing home are often those we should respect the most. Grandparents, great-grandparents, veterans, and other venerable elderly people live in homes like these. Unfortunately, sometimes the elders of our society are not treated justly. Because many residents of nursing homes lack the ability to communicate well, nursing home abuse and neglect often goes unreported. When evidence of abuse or neglect arises, it is critically important that it be investigated thoroughly and that guilty parties are held accountable.

Extreme Heat and Dehydration

A Florida nursing home is under severe scrutiny after a horrific series of events led to 12 residents dying. The residents who passed away did so in the days and weeks following Hurricane Irma in the fall of last year. The hurricane caused the air conditioning to go out at the facility, and residents were forced to endure dangerous heat and disgusting conditions. Many of them were simply not well enough to handle the extreme conditions and lost their lives as a result.

Although federal regulations state that temperatures should not be above 81 degrees, Florida regulators report that temperatures rose to 99 degrees in the sweltering nursing home. Some patients' body temperatures were up to 107.5 degrees. Residents were found in horrible conditions, covered in sweat and excrement. The heat was so unmanageable that four out of every five residents on particular floor suffered dehydration and other heat-related symptoms. Almost half of the residents living on another floor also suffered these heat-related symptoms.

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Chicago nursing home neglect attorneysWhen a person thinks of a nursing home, they tend to imagine that most deaths or hospitalizations occur as a result of illnesses or injuries that resident already had. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, something as simple as a slip and fall can be enough to seriously injure or even kill a resident. In fact, an average nursing home facility reports between 100 and 200 falls each year. These falls represent the largest cause of preventable hospital emergency room visits among nursing home patients. Each year, over 1,800 nursing home residents die due to falls, and countless more suffer fall-related injuries.

Nursing Home Residents Are at Increased Risk of Serious Injury

Individuals in a nursing home are usually in such a facility because they are not able to live alone. They may have physical or mental disabilities that make it impossible for them to care for themselves. Because nursing home residents are often frail, elderly, or in poor health, it is crucial for the facility’s staff to take every possible measure to keep residents safe. Unfortunately, between 50 and 75 percent of nursing facility residents fall at least once each year. The most common causes of such falls include:

  • Muscle weakness and trouble walking;
  • Medications which can cause dizziness or disorientation;
  • Injuries or medical problems with a resident’s feet;
  • Environmental hazards such as wet floors or obstacles on the ground; and
  • Poorly designed or maintained equipment such as walkers, wheelchairs, bedrails, or furniture.

Of course, there is no way to prevent every possible injury to residents, but sometimes nursing homes are at fault when a resident falls. Understaffed facilities may not have enough employees present to supervise residents properly. Other times, staff members are negligent by leaving equipment in the middle of walkways, not cleaning spills, failing to check equipment for safety before use, or providing inadequate lighting which can cause an elderly person to fall. When a nursing home resident is injured or killed in a fall that could have been prevented, the resident and/or his family may be entitled to compensation.

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