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Chicago nursing home neglect lawyersHuman beings are naturally curious creatures and this curiosity does not end just because a person requires care in a nursing home. One of the most serious issues in U.S. nursing homes is resident wandering and elopement. Residents sometimes wander through the nursing home facility simply because they are curious or bored. They may also wander or attempt to leave the facility because they are suffering from dementia or another cognitive illness that makes them confused.

Sadly, some nursing home residents wander into dangerous areas and are injured or killed as a result. It is up to nursing home staff to closely monitor nursing home residents and prevent wandering and elopement.

Residents Suffering From Cognitive Disease May Attempt to “Escape” the Nursing Home

If a resident is suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or another cognitive problem, he or she may become disorientated and afraid. This confusion may cause the resident to believe that he or she needs to leave the nursing home facility. Nursing home staff should supervise residents with cognitive problems especially carefully so that they do not end up in an unsafe situation. Tragically, residents have died after walking out of nursing home facilities and being exposed to the elements. In one fairly recent case, a 76-year-old nursing home resident passed away after she managed to leave her nursing home unnoticed. Temperatures were below freezing and the woman sadly passed away from hypothermia before she was discovered. A resident who leaves the safety of a nursing home may be at risk of hypothermia, heat stroke, dehydration, slip and fall injuries, and more. This is why it is essential for nursing home staff to monitor the whereabouts of residents at all times.  

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Illinois nursing home injury attorneysFor a young, healthy person, falling down may only leave him or her with minor bruises. However, the older we get, the more serious falling is to our health. Nursing home residents are typically elderly or have disabilities that make them especially susceptible to injures during a fall. A fall that would only cause moderate pain in a 20-year-old could easily break the bones of an 80-year-old. When a nursing home resident experiences a preventable fall injury, it may be the nursing home staff who are to blame.

Falling Is a Major Concern in Nursing Homes

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1,800 residents lose their lives due to complications from nursing home falls each year. Falling can result in lacerations, broken bones, internal organ damage, traumatic brain injuries, and more. Even if a nursing home resident survives a bad fall, he or she can be left with terrible pain that significantly reduces his or her quality of life. Due to the frailty of nursing home residents, nursing home staff have an obligation to do everything possible to prevent fall injuries. Sadly, some nursing home workers do not take this obligation as seriously as they should.  

Determining Fault in a Nursing Home Fall Accident

Understandably, nursing homes cannot prevent every injury that occurs in a nursing home. However, the staff, owners, and managers of nursing home facilities do have a responsibility to reduce problems that can lead to residents falling. Objects that present a tripping hazard should not be left in hallways or residents’ rooms. Loose rugs should be taped down. Broken floorboards or other maintenance issues should be fixed swiftly and residents should not be allowed near the hazard until it is thoroughly resolved. If a liquid is spilled on the floor, it should be cleaned up immediately. Furthermore, safety aids like handrails, nonslip mats, and bathroom handles should be used throughout the facility.

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Illinois nursing home neglect attorneysThe Illinois State Police estimates that more 100,000 elderly individuals currently live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities throughout the state. This figure is expected to increase in the years ahead as Americans are generally living longer than they did in previous generations. In fact, a recent study found more than half of American adults will stay in a nursing home at least once during their lives.

A person who requires the type of care that is offered by a nursing home or skilled nursing facility should be able to receive that care without having to fear that will be forgotten about or mistreated by the facility’s staff. Unfortunately, instances of neglect are far too common in nursing homes around the country, including in the greater the Chicago area.

Patients Often Show Signs of Neglect

A recent post discussed some of the things associated with a nursing facility that might raise concerns that neglect is occurring within its walls. Indicators of understaffing or a lack of motivation on the part of staff members should encourage you to check in with your loved one to ensure that he or she is receiving the proper care and attention.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_wheelchair-broken-down-neglect.jpgIf you have a loved one in nursing home, deciding which facility to use was probably not an easy decision. While you might have struggled to find a place that was affordable that worked with your loved one’s insurance coverage, you were also likely concerned about the quality of the care offered by the home. After all, you have the right to expect that your loved one will receive proper care, as well to be treated with dignity and respect.

Sadly, such is not always the case for nursing home patients. On almost a weekly basis, it seems, there is another story making headlines about patients who were abused or mistreated by staff members or other patients. While nursing home abuse is certainly horrific, the issue of neglect in nursing homes is equally troubling and much more common. Abuse, in this context, refers to active mistreatment or intentional behaviors directed toward a patient, while neglect refers to patients not receiving proper care of attention.

What to Look For

Experts say that, in most cases of nursing home neglect, many warning signs exist, and anyone who pays close enough attention should be able to see them. Many such signs involve the patients, of course, but the facility itself may also have its share of red flags, including:

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Illinois nursing home injury attorneysDid you know that nearly two million people develop sepsis in the United States each year? While the condition can be treated successfully, more than 250,000 deaths are attributed to sepsis annually. That is more than the number of deaths caused by AIDS, prostate cancer, and breast cancer combined!

Unfortunately, nursing home patients are considered to be at increased risk for sepsis compared to the average person. To understand why this is true, you must first understand a little more about the condition.

Sepsis Is Not an Infection

The first thing you should know about sepsis is that it is not an infection, nor is it a bacterium, virus, parasite, or any other type of pathogen. Instead, it is a response to an infection. Put simply, a person can only develop sepsis if he or she has some type of infection.

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Chicago nursing home abuse lawyersDecubitus ulcers, also known as bed sores, pressure ulcers, pressure sores, or pressure wounds are a painful, sometimes life-threatening medical condition which is sadly common in elderly or disabled individuals. Many residents living in long-term care facilities like nursing homes and assisted living facilities struggle with bed sores due to mobility problems. In fact, studies show that one in five nursing home residents have experienced pressure ulcer symptoms at some point in their stay.

Bed Sores Are Caused by Long Periods of Inertness

Pressure ulcers can be a sign of nursing home abuse and neglect because they are often caused by residents being left alone for long periods of time. Pressure ulcers are injuries caused by persistent pressure or friction on a person’s body. When a non-disabled person lays in bed, he or she is able to move around and find a comfortable position. When a person is immobilized by physical or cognitive disability, they cannot relieve pressure that builds up on certain body parts. Pressure ulcers commonly form on a person’s buttocks, back, backs of arms and legs, head, elbows, hips, ankles, and heels. Pressure ulcers do not form spontaneously but instead grow in severity over time. In addition to being tremendously painful, untreated pressure ulcers can lead to infection, sepsis, cellulitis, and even death.

Understaffing Can Cause Some Residents to Be Neglected

It is no secret that many long-term care facilities and nursing homes are distressingly understaffed. These institutions simply do not have the resources necessary to care for residents in the way they deserve to be cared for. Furthermore, nursing home staff are often under-educated regarding healthcare practices and lack proper training on how to prevent and treat bed sores. Immobile residents in a nursing home should be frequently monitored and repositioned in order to prevent pressure ulcers from forming.

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Illinois nursing home falls lawyerThe average, healthy person probably does not give much thought to the dangers of falling. This is rather understandable because a fall is not a very common thing for most people—at least those who are still fairly young. For a senior citizen or the resident of a nursing home, a fall can be absolutely devastating. The injuries sustained in a fall can be quite serious and even fatal. In fact, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that falls represent the leading cause of accidental death and injury for Americans aged 65 and older.

A Growing Segment of the Population

According to the CDC, older Americans suffered some 29 million falls in 2014. About 10 percent (2.8 million) of these falls required emergency medical treatment, and about 800,000 were hospitalized as a result of their falls. More than 27,000 falls eventually led to death. In 2016, about 3 million older adults required emergency care for falls, and nearly 30,000 victims died.

Considering that approximately 10,000 Americans reach age 65 every day, these numbers are expected to continue growing for the foreseeable future. “Older falls are increasing and, sadly, often herald the end of independence,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the CDC.

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Chicago nursing home neglect attorneysYou have probably heard about the condition known as sepsis. Sepsis refers to a particular type of complication that can arise from an infection in a person’s body. Unfortunately, the kinds of infections that are at risk for sepsis are all too common among patients in hospitals and nursing homes. When sepsis is not treated properly, it can cause a host of problems for the patient, including death. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, it is important to know as much as you can about this dangerous condition.

What Is Sepsis?

Also called septicemia, sepsis occurs when certain chemicals are released into the bloodstream to fight an infection and those chemicals cause inflammatory responses throughout a person’s body. The inflammation can then lead to a chain reaction of events that could cause damage to vital organs, eventually shutting them down. If sepsis continues without treatment, the patient’s blood pressure could drop dramatically—a condition known as septic shock. Septic shock can be quickly fatal.

Failure to Diagnose or Treat Sepsis

When a person is inpatient at a hospital or is a resident of a nursing home, he or she should be under appropriate supervision. This means that they are to be monitored regularly for any signs of an infection or sepsis. Those who have recently had surgery or who have open wounds are generally at the highest risk for infection. It is up to the nursing staff to test often for infections, especially among residents who are at risk.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysA large majority of nursing home patients will spend the rest of their lives in such facilities. Patients like these often have physical or mental health conditions that make them unable to live at home or even in in assisted living facility. At the risk of being too blunt, this means that death is a part of everyday operations at the average nursing home in Illinois.

Most residents who die in nursing homes eventually succumb to their existing conditions. At a certain point, there is only so much that modern medicine can do as people age and become weaker. There are, however, far too many examples of nursing home residents who have died prematurely because of the actions or negligence of facility staff. Last month, the Illinois Department of Public Health (DPH) announced that it has fined two separate Illinois nursing homes over preventable patient deaths this year.

Lincoln Facility Fined $50,000

In January, a 64-year-old woman was involved in a car accident and was admitted to a nursing home in Lincoln, IL to receive treatment. An investigation by the DPH determined that the woman suffered from asthma and sleep apnea. She reportedly had been having trouble breathing for about three days, but the nursing staff did not notify her doctor until the third day—by which point her issue had become an emergency. The woman was given an inhaler, but she was found unresponsive the next day. State records show she died a few days later. The official cause of death was a Staph infection. The DPH fined the home $50,000 for failing to take timely action.

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