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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysThe statistics regarding nursing home abuse and neglect are extremely disheartening. In one study, nearly 25 percent of nursing home residents reported that they had suffered one or more incidents of physical abuse at the hands of nursing home staff. In addition to physical abuse, residents may be mocked, internationally frightened, and otherwise emotionally abused. Financial abuse, also called elder financial exploitation, is also a problem in many nursing homes. Even if nursing home staff do not intentionally harm residents, understaffed facilities and lack of appropriate staff training can lead residents to be dangerously neglected.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you may be especially concerned about their safety during this tumultuous time. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to minimize your loved one’s changes of experiencing nursing home neglect or abuse.

Research Nursing Home Facilities Thoroughly

Oftentimes, a nursing home facility will look perfect on the outside but is actually quite inadequate on the inside. If you are considering placing a loved one in a nursing home, make sure to thoroughly research your options. Simply reading a brochure will not tell you everything you need to know about the facility. The Department of Veterans Affairs and Medicare issue ratings on the quality of nursing homes, but even these ratings may be skewed. The best way to find out about a nursing home facility is to visit the facility and talk to staff. If possible, it may also be a good idea to speak with other families with loved ones staying in the nursing home.

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Chicago nursing home injury attorneyThe majority of nursing home residents have physical and mental disabilities that affect their ability to live independently. Residents may be living in the facility primarily because they need help using the bathroom, showering, eating, and completing other daily living tasks. Nursing home staff members have a responsibility to evaluate the degree of assistance residents need to complete these tasks and to adequately provide the level of care needed. Because many residents have health conditions that affect their ability to eat, nursing home staff should be especially aware of choking risks. When nursing home staff do not take the steps necessary to prevent residents from choking, the facility could be held legally responsible for residents who are injured or killed in choking accidents.

Staff Have a Legal Duty to Monitor Residents

One of the biggest responsibilities nursing home staff have is to supervise residents so that they do not put themselves in dangerous situations. What constitutes a dangerous situation may vary depending on the resident’s individual needs. For example, a resident with advanced dementia may need to be more closely monitored than a resident who does not have significant cognitive impairment.

When a new resident is admitted to a nursing home, he or she undergoes assessments in order to determine the type and extent of care he or she needs. If a resident has health problems such as dysphagia that put him or her at a higher risk of choking, staff should take steps to mitigate this risk as much as possible. This may include monitoring the resident during meals, modifying the patient’s diet so that it only includes easy-to-swallow food, or other precautions. Nursing home staff should also periodically re-assess residents in order to determine if the residents need additional care and attention.

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Chicago nursing home injury attorneysMost nursing home residents live in a care facility because they have mental and physical health problems that significantly decrease their ability to care for themselves. Residents may need assistance with daily living tasks such as bathing, eating, and using the restroom, as well as help managing their medical conditions. Nursing home staff are expected to monitor residents’ health for signs of new or worsening medical conditions. Unfortunately, many nursing homes are dangerously understaffed and residents may not be as monitored as closely as they should be. One major concern for elderly and ill nursing home residents is a condition called sepsis.  

What Is Sepsis?

When a bacterium, virus, or other disease-causing pathogen enters an individual’s body, the body’s immune system immediately starts to attack the pathogen. The healthier a person’s immune system is, the more likely it is to fight off the pathogen before it can start spreading. However, when pathogens multiply faster than the immune system can fight them, an infection can develop. Some of the most common infections that nursing home residents suffer from include skin infections caused by wounds or bedsores, diabetic wound infections, vascular ulcers, respiratory infections, and urinary tract infections.

When the immune system targets these infections, it releases certain chemicals into the bloodstream. These chemicals can sometimes cause tissues and organs to become severely inflamed. This condition is called sepsis. If sepsis is not treated properly and promptly, it can lead to death.

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Illinois nursing home neglect attorneysWhen a person has been able to move about freely his or her whole adult life, it can be extremely difficult to lose that independence after being admitted into a nursing home. Nursing home residents may wander around the nursing home and get into very dangerous situations. A resident who wanders to an unsupervised area of the nursing home could slip and fall, wander into kitchens containing hot stoves, be exposed to hazardous cleaning chemicals, and more. When a resident actually leaves the nursing home facility, this is called elopement. Some nursing home residents have been seriously injured or passed away after being exposed to the elements outside of a nursing home facility.

Residents with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Are Especially at Risk

A great deal of nursing home residents suffer from cognitive diseases that affect their ability to understand what is going on around them. A person with advanced dementia may not understand that he or she is living in a nursing home for his or her own safety. The resident may attempt to “escape” the nursing home facility and go home. A fragile resident who goes outside may become lost or severely injured before nursing home staff even know they are gone.

There are many ways in which a wandering or eloping nursing home patient could be injured. He or she could slip and fall, or the resident could fall down unsecured stairs. If the resident leaves the facility, he or she could be hit by a car or become victim of a crime. Any of these injuries could leave the home itself liable for damages.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneyIt is not uncommon for workers in certain professions, unfortunately, to develop drug habits. Those who work long hours under immense stress—such as line cooks and truck drivers—may turn to illicit substances such as amphetamines and cocaine to give them the “boost” they need. Sadly, workers in the field of health care are not immune to such issues. In fact, according to the Journal of Clinical Nursing, nearly one in five nurses struggle with an addiction to alcohol or drugs.

In any nursing home, therefore, there is likely to be at least one or two staff members who use or abuse illegal drugs. Unfortunately, however, illicit drug use is not always limited to staff members, and nursing home in Connecticut was recently fined after several residents were found to cocaine in their systems.  

A Pattern of Problems

Earlier this week, news outlets reported that the Connecticut Department of Public Health had issued a fine to a skilled nursing facility in New Haven over several incidents between April 30 and May 18, 2018. According to the reports, at least four of the home’s residents tested positive for cocaine.

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Illinois nursing home injury attorneysAs this post was being prepared for publication, Hurricane Dorian was making its way from the Florida coast up the eastern seaboard to the Carolinas. Current predictions expect the center of the storm to deflect away from land as it heads northeast, possibly bound for Nova Scotia by the weekend. While many people who live in the predicted path of the storm took or are taking action to keep themselves safe, those who reside in nursing homes are not able to do so. Instead, they must rely on the facility to continue providing care despite the fury of Mother Nature being displayed around them.

The Dangers of Natural Disasters

Hurricanes are not a problem for the residents of Northern Illinois, but our region is still susceptible to other types of natural disasters. For example, in an average year, more than 60 tornadoes are reported in Illinois, some of which cause significant damage and injuries. Illinois is also known for extreme winter weather, including blizzards and ice storms that can lead to long-lasting power outages and other problems. Regardless of the event in question, nursing homes still have the responsibility to continue providing care to their residents and keeping the residents as safe as possible under the circumstances.

Experts say that the most important thing that nursing home management can do regarding natural disasters is to have an established emergency plan in place. An emergency preparedness plan should, at the very least, include:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_broken-bones-nursing-home-elderly.jpgIf you have a loved one in a nursing home, you probably spend a lot of time worrying about him or her. You may worry about your loved ones medical conditions, the quality of care that they are receiving at the nursing home, how staff are treating your loved one, and the risk of injury. Nursing home residents almost always have physical issues which make them more likely to trip, fall, or otherwise injure themselves. Sometimes, a nursing home resident sustains a broken bone or fracture simply due to bad luck. However, frequent injuries, broken bones which are not promptly addressed by staff, or broken bones which do not heal properly can all be signs that your loved one may be experiencing nursing home abuse or neglect.

Causes of Broken Bones in Nursing Homes

Many residents have medical issues which make them more likely to become injured. The most common cause of nursing home injuries, including fractures and broken bones, is falling. Nursing home residents over age 65 are four times more likely to die after falling as compared to elderly individuals who live who do not live in a nursing home. A fall can be caused by environmental hazards like poor lighting, walkway obstacles, slippery floors, and loose rugs. When unchecked hazards such as these cause a resident to fall and be injured, the nursing home facility may be held legally responsible for the injuries the resident sustained. A resident can also suffer a broken bone when staff make mistakes while transferring the resident in and out of bed or their wheelchair. Sadly, another cause of nursing home broken bones and fractures is intentional physical abuse.

Seeking Compensation for Mistreatment

Nursing home staff have a legal obligation to provide a certain level of competent care to residents. Although staff cannot prevent every injury-causing accident from occurring, some injuries are avoidable. When nursing home staff fail to uphold their duty of care to their residents, they can be considered negligent. If nursing home negligence caused your loved one to suffer a broken bone or other injury, you may be able to hold the nursing home accountable for their wrongdoing through a personal injury lawsuit. You may be able to receive compensation for things like medical bills, physical therapy, prescription medication costs, pain and suffering, and more.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysAs with hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other healthcare facilities which treat a large number of patients per day, one of the biggest concerns for nursing home residents is the risk of infection. Many nursing home residents already have weakened immune systems due to other health issues, so a bacterial infection can quickly become an immediate medical emergency. Frequently occurring infections or infections which are not property treated can be a sign of nursing home neglect or abuse.

Frequent Infections Could Be a Sign Your Loved One is Not Receiving Proper Care

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, the most frequent type of infection occurring in nursing homes is skin infection. Pressure ulcers or bedsores are a major issue for many nursing home residents. When an able-bodied person lays in a bed or sits in a chair, they are able to frequently shift their weight and avoid putting extensive pressure on certain body parts. However, a person with limited mobility cannot make such adjustments. Nursing home staff have an obligation to help residents avoid bedsores by frequently repositioning them. When bedsores are not treated, several life-threatening conditions can occur including cellulitis, septic arthritis, osteomyelitis, and even sepsis. 

Untreated Urinary Tract Infections Can Be Extremely Dangerous for Sick and Elderly

Another common cause of infection in nursing homes is the use of urinary catheters. Nursing home residents frequently have medical conditions which make it nearly impossible for them to use the bathroom. In some situations, a catheter is required to help a resident relieve themselves. Unfortunately, the use of urinary catheters greatly increases the risk of bacteria entering the urinary tract and causing a bladder or kidney infection.

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