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Illinois nursing home neglect attorneysNursing home residents rely on nursing facilities to provide the medical attention and daily care they need. Nursing home staff have a legal duty to provide reasonably skilled care. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act is one of several laws that protect nursing home residents from abuse and neglect. While abuse is often easy to define, neglect is sometimes harder to pin down. Knowing what constitutes nursing home neglect is an important part of keeping your loved one safe and protecting his or her rights.

Nursing Home Neglect Can Take Many Forms

Some of the most common examples of nursing home neglect include:

  • Medical neglect – When nursing home staff fail to provide sufficient medical care, residents may suffer from severe health implications. Medication mistakes such as skipped doses of medication or administration of the wrong medication, failure to recognize new or worsening medical concerns, and delaying medical care may all be examples of medical neglect.
  • Failure to provide adequate assistance with daily needs – Nursing home residents may need help with getting in and out of bed, going to the restroom, bathing, eating, and more. Failure to provide adequate assistance with daily living activities can lead to physical and emotional harm.
  • Failure to prevent bedsores – Bedsores or pressure ulcers form when the skin is under extended periods of pressure. If a patient cannot move himself or herself, nursing home staff must regularly reposition the resident to prevent bedsores from developing. Failure to do so can lead to painful wounds that can become dangerously infected.
  • Inadequate patient supervision – Residents suffering from physical and mental impairments should be closely monitored. When residents are not properly supervised, they may not get the medical care or assistance they need. Resident wandering and elopement are two major concerns in nursing homes. Residents with dementia and other cognitive deficiencies should be monitored so that they do not attempt to leave the facility, wander into dangerous areas, or injure themselves or others.

Causes of Nursing Home Neglect

Many different issues can lead to nursing home neglect. Understaffing is a serious concern in nursing homes in Illinois and across the country. Inadequate staff training and negligent hiring practices that result in under-qualified staff are also contributors to nursing home neglect. If your loved one has suffered from neglect, you may be able to hold the negligent nursing home accountable for the harm they have caused your loved one through a nursing home injury claim.

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Chicago nursing home neglect and abuse attorneysNursing homes should be places of refuge for elderly and disabled individuals. Sadly, some nursing home residents suffer from neglect or even intentional maltreatment. A nursing home injury claim may allow an injured victim or the victim’s family to hold the liable party accountable for the neglect or abuse. A nursing home injury claim may also allow for the recovery of damages. Compensation for medical treatment, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other damages may be available. However, in order to bring a nursing home injury claim, the liable party must be identified.

The Nursing Home Facility is Often the Liable Party

The party that is legally responsible for an injury or death is called the liable party. In many nursing home injury claims, the liable party is the nursing facility itself. Nursing homes have a legal obligation to provide competent care and assistance to residents. The following issues are examples of ways that nursing homes may be in violation of that obligation:

  • Failing to perform background checks on staff or other negligent hiring practices
  • Failing to properly supervise staff
  • Failing to maintain adequate staff numbers
  • Lack of medical care
  • Medical mistakes including medication errors
  • Failure to provide adequate assistance with daily living activities
  • Insufficient sanitation of the facility
  • Failing to maintain a safe facility
  • Failing to provide adequate security measures
  • Intentional abuse of residents

Even if an individual staff member is the cause of nursing home neglect and abuse, the claim is typically brought against the facility that the staff is employed by.

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Illinois nursing home neglect attorneysIndividuals with physical or cognitive limitations rely on nursing homes to provide the consistent care they need. Nursing home staff help with daily tasks like eating and bathing as well as medical concerns such as dispensing medication and treating injuries. Another essential responsibility of nursing home staff is maintaining a clean, sanitary environment. Failure to maintain a clean facility, sanitize equipment, and help residents with hygiene-related needs may all be signs of nursing home neglect.

Unsanitary Equipment in a Nursing Home Can Lead to Infection and Illness

Nursing home residents’ bodies are already weakened by age and/or disability. Exposure to viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens can be deadly. Nursing homes should be regularly cleaned and sanitized. Staff should ensure that equipment such as wheelchairs are kept clean and shared equipment is sanitized between residents. Kitchens and dining areas should also be kept clean and free of pests like insects or mice. Unsanitary conditions can lead to conditions such as:

  • Colds
  • Flu
  • Infections
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Scabies
  • Lice
  • Ringworm
  • Bedbugs

Proper Resident Hygiene is Essential for Physical and Mental Health

Nursing home staff also have a responsibility to help residents themselves remain clean and hygienic. Many residents cannot use the toilet, bathe, or dress without assistance. Some residents are incontinent and rely on adult diapers. When staff do not regularly change residents’ soiled diapers, clothing, or bed sheets, dangerous infections and other medical complications can develop.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysIf you or your loved one were harmed by substandard care at a nursing home, you may be able to bring a civil action against the facility. A nursing home lawsuit may enable you to pursue justice for the maltreatment and seek financial compensation for damages. Substandard medical care, neglect, and intentional abuse may lead to a nursing home lawsuit. A personal injury attorney experienced in nursing home negligence and abuse cases can file a claim on your behalf and represent you throughout your case.

Do All Nursing Home Injury Claims Go to Trial?

If you are like most people, you probably do not know much about what a civil claim against a medical facility entails. You may even assume that all nursing home injury claims result in a courtroom trial. In reality, only a small percentage of nursing home negligence claims end up going to trial. Most are settled during out-of-court negotiations. A nursing home injury attorney can negotiate with the nursing home’s legal team on your behalf and fight for a satisfactory settlement.

What Do I Need to Prove to Be Successful?

There are several types of nursing home claims. The most common is a claim that alleges negligence on the part of the nursing home facility or staff. To win a negligence-based claim, you will need to show that:

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"ChicagoPutting an elderly or disabled relative in a long-term care facility like a nursing home is never easy. Many people worry about the quality of care that their loved one receives in a nursing home and what may be going on behind closed doors. Unfortunately, issues like understaffing and inadequate staff training have led to nursing home neglect in facilities across the country. When nursing home staff act negligently or the facility is not outfitted with appropriate safety measures, serious fall accidents may be more likely to occur. Falls causing serious injury or death may be the direct result of negligent care.

Falling is Often Deadly for Elderly and Disabled Residents

When a person with compromised health falls, he or she may sustain severe or even fatal injuries. Studies show that the most common cause of injury in elderly people is falling. Some fall accidents result in only bruises and abrasions. Other falls result in broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spine injuries, or even death. Individuals who suffer from dementia, arthritis, diabetes, anemia, impaired sight or hearing, and neuropathy are at a greater risk of falling than those without these conditions.

How Can a Nursing Home Prevent Fall Injuries?

Staff should be aware of the physical and mental impairments suffered by the nursing home residents in their care. They should take these limitations into consideration when transferring the patient from one location to the next and helping the resident with daily tasks such as showering. Staff should also properly supervise residents – especially those with significant impairments. If a fall accident does occur and staff were not monitoring the resident’s whereabouts, the injured resident may be left suffering in pain for hours until staff discover him or her. Nursing homes should not contain hazards that make falls more likely to occur. Clutter in resident rooms, hallways, and common spaces, slippery floors, poor lighting, loose rugs, broken tiles, and other environmental hazards can lead to avoidable fall-related injuries. Wheelchair locks, walkers, canes, bed rails, grab bars, non-slip footwear and other safety measures can help prevent falls.

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Posted on in Neglect

Illinois nursing home neglect attorneysEveryone agrees that nursing home residents deserve to be well cared for. However, understanding the exact standards nursing homes must meet when it comes to resident care is often difficult. For many, it is hard to know if the type of care a resident is receiving is substandard. When does poor care cross the line into nursing home neglect? What can be done to hold a nursing home responsible for neglecting vulnerable nursing home residents?  

Failure to Provide Necessary Care

State and federal laws govern nursing home expectations and regulations. In Illinois, the Nursing Home Care Act describes the actions required of nursing home staff, the rights residents must be afforded by law, and the type of actions nursing homes are prohibited from taking. The Nursing Home Care Act defines neglect as a nursing home’s failure to provide sufficient medical care, mental health care, personal care, and assistance with daily living activities needed to avoid mental or physical harm to a resident. Put another way, neglect occurs when a facility fails to provide adequate resident care and a resident suffers mental or physical injury because of this. Neglect can lead to new and worsening medical conditions, a decrease in the resident’s independence and functioning, emotional and psychological issues like anxiety and depression, and more.  

Examples of Nursing Home Neglect

Nursing home neglect may take many different forms. Sometimes, nursing home neglect is willful. A staff member may simply choose not to complete the tasks needed to perform satisfactory resident care. More often, nursing home neglect is the result of inadequate staffing, poor staff training, inefficient scheduling, or negligent hiring practices. It is important to note that nursing home neglect is still in violation of the Nursing Home Care Act and other legislation even if it is not deliberate. Some examples of neglect suffered by nursing home residents 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 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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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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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysA person may come to reside in a nursing home, rehabilitation hospital, or assisted living facility for a wide variety of reasons. He or she might need care on a temporary basis while recovering from a serious injury, illness, or surgical procedure. Alternatively, the person might need to live in a nursing home for the rest of his or her life.

Many residents in nursing homes are afflicted with conditions that require care and supervision 24 hours a day. Unfortunately, patients suffering from cognitive deficiencies such as those caused by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease often struggle to remember to eat and drink on their own. Such residents can quickly become malnourished or dehydrated if the staff does not pay proper attention. If your loved one is currently living in a nursing home, it is important to look for signs that he or she is not getting appropriate food and water.

Dehydration Warning Signs

According to most medical experts, the majority of Americans are at least partially dehydrated, despite virtually unlimited access to clean water. For the average person, however, it is relatively easy to get a glass of water when he or she is thirsty. This is not always the case for the resident of a nursing home. In many cases, nursing home patients might barely even register feelings of thirst. For those that do, getting a glass of water is difficult, if not impossible, due to physical limitations. Thus, they rely on staff members and orderlies to provide them opportunities to get a drink.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_nursing-home-woman-sad-neglect-abuse.jpgWhen a loved one requires the type of care that is only available in a nursing home or similar long-term care facilities, it is understandable for you to trust that he or she will be properly cared for. Nursing facilities, after all, employ trained medical professionals and other staff members whose primary responsibilities are to address the needs of the patients under their care. Sadly, many nursing home patients do not receive the care they need. Many others are subjected to treatment that might even qualify as neglect or abuse. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, there are some things you can look for that might be potential indicators of abuse or neglect.

Many Residents, Many Concerns

There are more than 100,000 Illinois residents currently living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Illinois. The figure is expected to continue to grow, as recent estimates suggest that nearly half of Americans will require a nursing home stay at least once during their lives. Unfortunately, the high number of residents translates to a high number of patients who are likely to be abused or neglected, some of whom might suffer severe injuries or death as a result.

In order to best protect your loved ones, it is important that you visit regularly and look for any of the following signs of neglect:

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysYou have probably heard many news stories of nursing home abuse and neglect. Individuals staying in nursing homes generally need a higher level of care than those at other types of facilities and are therefore more vulnerable to abuse and neglect. However, mistreatment does still happen at assisted living facilities, and it is just as unacceptable as mistreatment at nursing homes. If you or a loved one has suffered due to negligence or abuse while living in an assisted living facility, you may be able to sue for damages.

Residents May Be Afraid to Come Forward

Residents of an assisted living facility are usually slightly more independent than residents at a nursing home. They may only need limited assistance with daily living activities and are less likely to suffer from serious dementia or other memory or cognition issues. Even though they are more self-sufficient than nursing home residents, those living at an assisted living facility can still be taken advantage of and mistreated. Sometimes assisted living abuse and neglect goes unreported because the victim is afraid to speak up. Other times, residents fear that an abusive staff member will retaliate if they report the mistreatment. Other residents are simply unaware of what their rights are at an assisted living facility or put up with bad care because they do not realize they deserve better.

Examples of Assisted Living Abuse and Neglect

Assisted living abuse can occur not only between staff and residents, but also among residents themselves. In cases in which a resident is being abused by another resident, the assisted living staff have a responsibility to implement interventions to prevent future abuse incidents. Assisted living abuse can involve:

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