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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysResearch shows that nursing home abuse and is startlingly common across the United States. It is hard to believe that anyone would be intentionally cruel to an elderly or disabled person—let alone someone the individual has been assigned to care for—but it does happen. Sadly, many instances of abuse go unreported because residents are not physically or cognitively capable of reporting the mistreatment. If your loved one is living in a long-term care facility, you may worry about whether he or she is being treated with the care and respect he or she deserves. There are several warning signs that families should be on the lookout for that could indicate that their loved one is being harmed in a nursing home.

Red Flags of Physical Abuse and Sexual Abuse

Although many studies have been conducted to better understand nursing home abuse, the true extent of the problem is still unknown. In one survey, 44 percent of nursing home residents reported being abused at a facility, and 38 percent reported witnessing other residents being abused. Physical abuse includes kicking, hitting, punching, slapping, and other acts of physical violence. Sexual abuse includes unwanted sexual contact, sexual assault, and indecent exposure.

Some warning signs that a nursing home resident is being physically or sexually abused include:

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Chicago nursing home wrongful death lawyersThe around-the-clock care offered by nursing homes and other long-term care facilities can be a literal lifeline for an elderly or disabled individual. Many nursing homes also provide medical care and services for people who are recovering from surgery or were otherwise hospitalized.

In some situations, a resident may be unable to breathe on his or her own. A breathing tube may be used in order to allow oxygen to flow directly to the resident’s lungs. Breathing tubes are often life-saving devices, but if one is used incorrectly, it can lead to a resident’s death.

Breathing Tube Injuries

In many cases, a breathing tube injury is the result of the breathing tube becoming clogged. If the tube is filled with saliva, phlegm, food, or another substance, the resident will not be able to breathe. Brain damage and eventually death can result from the lack of oxygen.

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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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Illinois nursing home abuse lawyersMost of us do not enjoy thinking about a time when we will be unable to care for ourselves or live alone. However, aging is a part of life. Many people will need round-the-clock care as they get older and some of those people will find themselves in a nursing home. In fact, a recent study suggests that more than half of Americans will stay in a nursing home at some point in their lives.

A team of researchers at the RAND Center for the Study of Aging looked at data collected over 18 years in the Health and Retirement Study—a projected funded by the U.S. Social Security Administration and the National Institute on Aging. The team found that, for the first time, more than 50 percent of seniors will need care from a nursing home or assisted-living facility at least once during their lifetime. The study pointed out that most nursing home stays are likely to be short and financially manageable. Only about 5 percent of adults are expected to spend 1500 days or more in a nursing facility.

The findings suggest a much higher percentage of people needing nursing home care than previously estimated. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 35 percent of Americans will need nursing home care in their lives. Regardless of which number ultimately proves to be true, the reality is that millions of Americans will spend time in a nursing home, potentially putting them at risk for abuse and mistreatment.

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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 abuse attorneysAround the beginning of 2019, various news outlets reported on the horrific story out of Phoenix, Arizona, where a disabled nursing home patient had surprisingly given birth. The woman was allegedly raped by a licensed practical nurse who worked at the facility. The former nurse pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and abuse of a vulnerable adult, and he is currently awaiting trial.

Unfortunately, sexual abuse is not terribly uncommon in nursing homes around the United States. However, the perpetrators are not always employees or staff members. In some cases, residents have been sexually assaulted and abused by other residents of the home. When sexual assault is committed by another resident, criminal charges are possible, and the victim could seek compensation from the home itself for negligent supervision.

Florida Nursing Home Patient Arrested and Charged

According to a report by Florida Today, a female resident of a Palm Bay nursing facility was sexually assaulted by another resident in September. The woman was allegedly sleeping when she woke to find a 65-year-old male resident touching her inappropriately. She reportedly pulled the cord near her bed to let the home’s staff know that she needed help. When staff members entered the room, the man was still in the room and groping the female patient, arrest records indicate.

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Illinois nursing home attorneysThose who work in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are tasked with keeping residents safe and comfortable. When a family makes the difficult decision to place a loved one in such a facility, they do so under the assumption that the home’s staff will provide appropriate medical care while looking after their loved one’s needs. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

In many nursing homes, staffing levels are alarmingly low, and training is often inadequate. These issues lead to serious problems, including the improper use of medication as chemical restraints.

A Scary Report

Last year, the watchdog group Human Rights Watch released a report that examined the prescribing of medications to nursing home residents. The report estimated that each week, approximately 179,000 residents of nursing homes are given antipsychotic medications despite not having conditions for which the drugs are approved. Antipsychotics, including olanzapine, aripiprazole, and quetiapine, are intended to manage psychosis in patients who suffer from hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, or severe disassociation from reality. In most cases, such patients have been diagnosed with conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysIf you have not seen the 1999 film Fight Club, you have probably at least heard about the rules of Fight Club. According to the movie, “The first rule of Fight Club is, ‘You do not talk about Fight Club.’ The second rule of Fight Club is, ‘YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB.’” In the film, the Fight Club in question was a brutal, underground association of men from all walks of life who voluntarily engaged in semi-organized physical fights with one another as a violent form of cathartic release.

 

Today, two decades later, people still reference the movie and the idea of a fight club, but it is rarely discussed as a real thing. For elderly residents of a North Carolina assisted-living facility, however, the idea of a type of fight club was all too real, according to horrifying reports. Three staff members are currently facing criminal charges for encouraging dementia patients at the home to fight one another and posting the videos of the fights on social media.

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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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Chicago nursing home injury attorneysNews stories involving nursing home abuse and neglect are tragically frequent occurrences in the United States. In many such stories, residents and their families are suing nursing homes which provide poor care, or even worse, subject innocent nursing home residents to abuse and purposeful mistreatment. At the heart of many nursing home abuse and neglect cases are problems with nursing home staff. Many nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are understaffed or employ staff who are not adequately trained. When staffing issues plague a nursing home, it is often the residents who end up suffering.

Understaffed Nursing Homes Put Residents at Increased Risk of Medical Complications

You may have previously heard about staffing issues at nursing homes, but few recognize how serious the problem really is. According to one report prepared by the Department of Health and Human Services, an incredible 90 percent of U.S. nursing homes are understaffed. Residents in facilities which do not have enough nurses, nurses’ aides, or other staff members are more likely to suffer from many preventable maladies including bedsores, infections, dehydration, malnutrition, weight loss, and pneumonia.

Often, nursing home staff are simply too overworked to notice when the residents entrusted to their care need medical attention. In one survey, nearly half of the nurses who responded admitted to missing the signs of worsening patient condition due to their high workload. Lack of supervision caused by understaffing is also a major cause of resident wandering and elopement.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysIf you have a loved one who is currently living in a nursing home, you expect that the facility will provide a high level of care based on your loved one’s needs. Many nursing home residents, as you probably know, are already dealing with a wide range of physical, mental, or behavioral conditions that necessitate the around-the-clock care that nursing homes provide. For some residents, however, things are made even more difficult. Sadly, physical abuse is not unheard of in nursing homes, and such abuse can be extremely serious.

Physical Abuse by Staff Members

It is no secret that staffing is a problem in many nursing homes. Chronic understaffing has long been associated with significant drops in employee morale, as well as concerns regarding proper training and patient care protocols. In short, far too many nursing homes are left with staff members who are overworked, underpaid, and, often, ill-equipped to handle their patients. Unfortunately, some staff members take their frustrations out on their patients.

According to research compiled by the National Center on Elder Abuse, more than 50 percent of nursing home staff admitted to the mistreatment of their elderly patients. While two-thirds of these admissions reportedly involved neglect, this still means that about 17 percent admitted to physically mistreating patients under their care.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneyNursing home residents are often weakened by physical and cognitive illness. This can make them especially vulnerable to abuse. While many nursing home staff members are dedicated, caring individuals, others exploit this vulnerability and take advantage of nursing home residents. When someone lives in a nursing home, they have contact with numerous individuals including nurses, nursing assistants, physicians, nutrition specialists, activity aids, facility administrators, other nursing home residents, and visiting guests. Any of these individuals may attempt to manipulate nursing home residents for their own financial gain.

Nursing Home Financial Abuse

There are many different strategies that unscrupulous people use to illegally obtain money and property from nursing home residents. Sometimes, nursing home staff, other residents, or even guests to the nursing home steal property or money outright. Cash, credit cards, debit cards, checkbooks, or valuable property may be stolen from nursing home resident’s room – especially if the resident has a condition which makes him or her less aware of his or her surroundings.

Another very common form of nursing home resident or elder financial abuse is fraud. Individuals can trick residents into giving them money and property through several means. They may tell a fabricated story to the resident about why they need money, trick the resident into paying nonexistent fees or medical costs, or even convince the resident to include the fraudster’s name in financial accounts or estate planning documents. Some people invent made-up charities or other nonprofit organizations to trick residents into giving them money.  

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Cook County nursing home injury attorneysThanks to advances in medical care and disease prevention, Americans live much longer lives on average than we did in decades past. As the “Baby Boomer” generation grows older, the demand for long-term care facilities like nursing homes grows too. Unfortunately, many nursing homes are struggling to keep up with the increase in nursing home residents. When nursing home residents are not properly supervised and cared for, they can fall and injure themselves. Some falls can even lead to a nursing home resident’s death or permanent disability. Read on to learn about the most common causes of falls and what you can do if you think your loved one is being mistreated in a nursing home or other long-term care facility.

Slip and Fall Injuries Can Be Deadly

Just recently, an elderly WWII veteran died at a nursing home after staff left him alone without supervision. The man tipped backwards in his wheelchair causing a massive brain bleed that eventually resulted in his death. Sadly, this is not an isolated event. In fact, more than 1,800 nursing home residents die because of falls every year. There are many issues which can increase a resident’s likelihood of falling. These include but are not limited to:

  • Environmental hazards such as obstacles on the ground, wet floors, and poor lighting;
  • Faulty, broken, or poorly maintained equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, bedrails, and furniture;
  • Physical ailments which cause difficulty walking;
  • Dizziness or disorientation caused by medication;
  • Confusion related to advanced age, dementia, or Alzheimer’s Disease;
  • Muscle deterioration or weakness; and
  • Injuries or medical problems with a resident’s legs or feet.

Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Can Lead to Falls

Sometimes a nursing home resident falls and there is no way to have prevented the fall. However, there are an astounding number of nursing home falls which could be prevented.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysDegenerative brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can completely rob a person of their ability to think clearly and remember even basic information. Family members of those suffering cognitive decline often choose to place their loved one in a nursing home to ensure they are getting the care they need. Sadly, not every nursing home meets the standards of care that loved ones of residents expect. If you have a loved one with cognitive issues in a nursing home, be vigilant for signs of neglect and abuse. Because many residents with cognitive impairment cannot be their own advocate, it is up to loved ones to advocate on behalf of the resident.

Signs Your Loved One is Being Mistreated in a Nursing Home

Nursing home residents with dementia often cannot simply tell their loved ones that they are being mistreated. They may not be able to remember the abuse or understand what has actually happened to them. Loved ones should look for signs that the resident is not being cared for appropriately. Signs of physical abuse can include unexplained injuries like welts, bruises, burns, broken bones, sprains, dislocations, and more. Marks from being restrained such as marks on wrists and ankles may also be a sign of abuse.

Signs of neglect can include but are not limited to bed sores, infections, malnutrition, and dehydration. Another sign that something is not right in a nursing home is when nurses or other caregivers are hesitant for you to spend time with the resident alone.

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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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Illinois nursing home neglect attorneysDecubitus ulcers, also known as bed sores or pressure ulcers, form when a person spends long periods of time in the same position. Bed sores most often occur in individuals who are immobile due to illness or disability. Nursing home staff should take precautions to prevent bed sores in residents by regularly repositioning them and immediately treating sores if they occur. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that as many as one out of ten residents in nursing homes suffer from bed sores at any given time. If your loved one has suffered from bed sores in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, it may be a sign of neglect.

Preventing Bed Sores in Elderly and Disabled Individuals

Caretakers should take steps to prevent bed sores before they start. If your loved one cannot move himself or herself, you will have to help regularly reposition them. It may be helpful to position the person at a 30-degree angle to reduce pressure on their hips. Caretakers who look after disabled or elderly individuals should also make sure to inspect their skin for signs that bed sores are forming. Malnutrition can be a cause of bed sores as well. Nursing home residents who do not receive enough calories, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals in their diets may suffer from bed sores in addition to other aliments caused by lack of nutrition.

Areas of the Body on Which Bed Sores Commonly Occur

Bed sores are a major concern for people confined to a wheelchair or bed. For nursing home residents who must use a wheelchair all or most of the day, the most common areas for bed sores to form include the:

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysNews outlets across the country are reporting one of the most disturbing nursing home abuse stories in recent years. A woman who is in a vegetative state after an incident where she nearly drowned has given birth to a child. Individuals who are in vegetative states generally have severe brain damage and lack true awareness of their surroundings. Needless to say, there is no way that a woman in this condition could have consented to having sex and getting pregnant.

The Phoenix-area nursing home in which the incident occurred was completely unaware that the resident was even pregnant until she went into labor. This horrific example of nursing home sexual abuse is, tragically, not an isolated incident. Thousands of innocent nursing home residents suffer every year from nursing home abuse and neglect. If you or a loved one have suffered at the hands of nursing home or assisted living facility staff, you should know that there are steps you can take to recover compensation for damages and hold the perpetrators responsible.

Police Plan to Take DNA Samples from Nursing Home Staff

The Arizona nursing home in which the abuse occurred has been cooperating with authorities throughout the investigation. Police have taken DNA samples from the male employees at the nursing home which will then be compared to the DNA of the child in order to find his biological father. Detectives for the case also served the facility a search warrant to gather records and additional information. The 29-year-old victim who was impregnated is a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. The tribe's chairman expressed his feelings about the incident saying, "When you have a loved one committed to palliative care, when they are most vulnerable and dependent upon others, you trust their caretakers. Sadly, one of her caretakers was not to be trusted and took advantage of her."

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Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect lawyersLong-term care facilities like nursing homes are designed to assist elderly and disabled individuals with daily living tasks and enhance their quality of life. In addition to helping residents shower, eat, and take their medicine, nursing home staff have a legal duty to treat the residents with carefulness and compassion. When nursing home employees fail to carry out their work tasks accurately and timely, the results can be deadly. Many nursing home residents are not physically or mentally capable of looking after their own needs. They may forget to eat or drink, wander off of the facility into danger, or slip and fall when not being supervised. This is why it is so important for family members to be watchful for signs of nursing home abuse and neglect.

Common Red Flags That Your Loved One May Be Suffering in a Long-Term Care Facility

Nursing home neglect can take several forms. Neglected residents may be left without adequate food and water, appropriate clothing, or denied help showering and using the bathroom. Nursing home facilities that are cluttered, dirty, or contain unaddressed environmental hazards may be unsafe for residents.

Pressure sores, or bed sores, are another common sign of nursing home neglect. Residents who are not mobile rely on nursing home staff to occasionally reposition them in order to prevent bed sores. Untreated or frequent bedsores are often a sign that a nursing home resident is being neglected or abused. Unexplained injuries like lacerations, bruises, fractures, and welts may be signs that a nursing home resident is being physically abused.

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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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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneyWhen you decide to place your loved one in a long-term care facility such as a nursing home, you trust that the staff employed in that facility have the residents’ best interest at heart. Unfortunately, just like in any other profession, some nursing home staff simply do not have their hearts in the job. Even worse, some nursing home staff actually openly ridicule or mock nursing home residents. Cruel treatment can tragically go undetected when patients suffer from debilitating illnesses and cannot report inappropriate staff behavior.

Hospice Workers Share Sick Video of Dying Woman

Three employees at an assisted living center in Georgia have been arrested after their cruel Snapchat video was discovered by authorities. The employees—three women aged 19-21—were watching over a resident who had recently suffered a stroke until the hospice nurse could arrive. During that time, they decided to create and share a video of themselves smoking a vape pen, making obscene gestures, and cursing–all while the elderly resident lay dying in the background. The shockingly callous and invasive video was titled “The End.” Local authorities charged the three young women with exploiting an elderly and disabled person, and all three have been fired from their positions at the assisted living facility.

The New York State Department of Health is also currently investigating a possible violation of residents’ rights by nursing home staff members’ use of Snapchat. The state received reports of staff members taking photos of residents in a Western New York nursing home and posting them on social media. The nursing home in question said that individuals involved were fired and that it will implement further staff training to prevent future violations.

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