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Illinois nursing home wrongful death lawyerThe decision to place a loved one in a nursing home is never easy. Most people wish that they did not have to move their elderly or disabled loved one out of their home and into a long-term care facility, but they often do not have another choice. Nursing homes are filled with residents who need more extensive medical care and help with daily living tasks than a family member could handle on their own.

Many nursing home residents are quite frail, and when nursing home staff do not properly care for the residents or meet their medical needs, the results can be deadly. If your loved one passed away while staying in a nursing home and you believe the death was due to negligence or abuse, do not hesitate to contact a qualified nursing home abuse injury lawyer for help.

When is a Nursing Home Death a Wrongful Death?

Because many nursing home residents are elderly or in poor health when they arrive at the facility, it is not surprising that many residents pass away while staying in the facility. Consequently, it can sometimes be difficult to know if a loved one’s death was preventable or not. The term “wrongful death” refers to deaths that happen as a result of the negligent or intentionally harmful acts of another. The Wrongful Death Act in the Illinois Complied Statutes technically defines a wrongful death as a death resulting from “a wrongful act, neglect or default.” This means that a nursing home staff member’s action or inaction may be to blame for the death of a resident. Other times, it is the nursing home facility itself that is the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit.

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Chicago nursing home injury attorneysFor healthy individuals, taking a spontaneous walk outside is not a danger. However, when elderly or disabled individuals wander away from a long-term care facility like a nursing home, the results can be fatal. When 76-year-old Phyllis Campbell wandered out of the Ohio nursing home she lived in, she ended up outside in freezing temperatures. Campbell, like many nursing home residents, suffered from dementia and did not realize the danger she was in by going outside. Despite wearing a monitoring device that should have sounded alarms, Campbell was not found until the morning after leaving the facility. She had passed away due to hypothermia just 30 feet from the doors to the nursing home. If your loved one was injured or passed away due to the carelessness of a nursing home or other long term care facility, you may be able to pursue compensation.

Residents with Cognitive Impairment May Be Most At-Risk

The term “wandering” is used to describe nursing home residents who leave the safe areas they are supposed to stay in. Nursing homes have many areas such as kitchens and janitorial closets which contain potentially dangerous substances and environmental hazards. A resident suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or another cognitive impairment may not understand that a dangerous situation poses a threat. Confused residents may attempt to leave the facility entirely. This is referred to as “elopement.” Tragically, residents who elope may die before someone finds them. This is why it is so important for nursing home staff to closely supervise residents with cognitive decline. Some nursing homes use monitoring devices and alarms in order to help alert the staff to wandering residents. Unfortunately, as was the case with Phyllis Campbell, these safety measures do not always work.

Staff Should Monitor Residents Who Wander

Nursing home staff should do everything possible to prevent resident wandering and elopement. They must find a balance between allowing the residents to have autonomy and keeping them safe. Staff have an obligation to be aware of residents’ whereabouts and keep them out of harm’s way. Sadly, many nursing homes are understaffed or contain staff with inadequate training. Often, staffing issues like these lead to overlooked resident wandering and elopement.

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