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IL nursing home abuse lawyerThere are an estimated 1.5 million people living in nursing homes across the United States. Most nursing home residents have significant health concerns, including physical disabilities and mental disabilities, that require daily medication. Residents who do not receive their medications may suffer terrible pain and worsening health conditions. In some cases, a medication error can even cost a vulnerable resident his or her life. If your loved one has suffered in a nursing home due to a medication mistake, speak to a nursing home neglect attorney.

Common Medication Mistakes in Long-Term Care Facilities

Nursing home staff have an ethical duty as well as a legal obligation to provide reasonably competent care to residents. Unfortunately, understaffing, lack of organization, inadequate staff training, and other problems can lead to major medical mistakes. Some of the most common medication errors in nursing homes include:

  • Administering the wrong medication or an incorrect dose of the medication
  • Administering an expired medication
  • Skipping medication doses or administering a dose twice
  • Using a flawed medication administration technique
  • Giving the medication to the resident at the wrong time of day
  • Not following medication directions such as directions requiring the medication to be taken with food
  • Failing to properly mix, shake, roll, or otherwise prepare the medication
  • Inaccurately documenting when the medication was given and what dose was administered
  • Failing to monitor the resident for side effects or other health concerns after giving the medication
  • Failing to verify that a resident actually consumed the medication

Consequences of Medication Errors

When a resident does not receive the medication he or she needs, or even worse, receives a medication that he or she is not supposed to receive, the results can be dramatic. The resident may suffer in severe pain and experience adverse reactions to the medication or lack of medication. Residents with physical and mental incapacities may not be able to express that they are experiencing these symptoms. When a major medication error results in a resident’s injury or death, the resident or his or her loved ones may choose to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit against the nursing home. A successful medical malpractice claim can help victims recover compensation while also holding the negligent nursing home facility accountable for the harm caused.

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IL nursing home lawyerWhen a loved one suffers from a disabling injury or illness, he or she may need to move into a nursing home to get the round-the-clock care he or she needs. If you have ever placed a parent, grandparent, or other relative into a long-term care facility, you know just how difficult it can be. You may often worry about whether your loved one is getting the care and compassionate attention he or she deserves. While many nursing homes are full of dedicated, competent staff, other nursing homes miss the mark when it comes to resident care. One sign that a nursing home resident may be suffering from nursing home neglect or abuse is frequent fall accidents.

Nursing Home Fall Injuries

Children and young adults who slip and fall may walk away from the accident with only bruising and small scrapes. However, elderly and disabled individuals can be severely injured from even a minor fall accident. Nursing home residents who fall may suffer from broken bones, internal organ damage, traumatic brain injuries, and more. Falling may also cause mental injuries. A resident who has experienced a painful fall may understandably be afraid of falling again. He or she may be unwilling to participate in physical therapy or group activities at the nursing home or even refuse to get out of bed. Falling can dramatically decrease a resident’s quality of life in a number of different ways.

Preventing Nursing Home Falls

Nursing home staff have a legal obligation to prevent resident fall accidents to the best of their ability. The facility itself should be equipped with safety features like hallway handrails, grab bars, raised toilet seats, and bed rails. Environmental hazards like clutter on the floor, spilled liquids, and poor lighting should be immediately remedied. Residents should not be subjected to unnecessary sedation through the use of chemical restraints such as antipsychotic medication or benzodiazepines. Not only do chemical restraints significantly increase the risk of falling, unwarranted chemical restraint of nursing home residents is in violation of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act and other laws. Residents should be closely monitored by staff at all times so that if a resident does fall, he or she will receive prompt medical attention. Frequent fall accidents and falls that are not reported by nursing home staff may be a sign that a resident is being neglected.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysNursing home abuse and neglect is disturbingly common. Sadly, nursing home residents across the country are subjected to cruel treatment and denied necessary care. Sometimes, nursing home neglect or abuse is so severe that it even results in the death of a resident.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you may spend hours and hours wondering about the quality of care he or she is receiving in the facility. You may worry that substandard care or intentional mistreatment will cause your loved one to needlessly suffer. These concerns may be exacerbated by your loved one’s inability to communicate with you about the type of care he or she is receiving. In response to these worries, some people choose to install a camera in their loved one’s room at the nursing home.   

Why Do People Install Cameras in Nursing Homes?

It is hard to know for sure how many innocent nursing home residents are subjected to mistreatment in the United States. Across the country, it is widely recognized that many nursing home facilities are exceedingly understaffed. Because of this, many residents do not receive the medical attention and personal help they need to be safe. Even worse, some nursing home staff intentionally subject residents to physical, psychological, or sexual abuse.

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Chicago nursing home neglect and abuse lawyersCognitive ailments like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are extremely common in older adults. These diseases may start out with subtle symptoms and then progress into devastatingly severe symptoms. A person with advanced dementia may not even seem like the same person anymore. For families of elders with cognitive illnesses, watching their loved ones suffer can be almost unbearable. Many families eventually decide to place their loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility so that he or she can receive the medical care and attention he or she needs. Sadly, some nursing home residents with cognitive diseases become victims of nursing home neglect or abuse.

Red Flags of Nursing home Abuse and Neglect

A nursing home resident suffering from a brain disease may be unable to articulate his or her feelings, thoughts, and needs. This is why it is crucial for families to be vigilant for signs that their loved one is being mistreated. Look for physical signs of trauma such as scratches, bruises, bed sores, burns, dislocations, and other injuries. Also be watchful for signs that a resident is being physically or chemically restrained. Federal laws as well as the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act prohibit nursing home staff from unreasonably restraining a resident. Restraints that restrict a resident’s movement or medications that sedate a resident must only be used when absolutely necessary. Furthermore, the use of restraints must be ordered by a physician who documents the reasons for using the restraints.

Talk to Staff About Your Concerns

If you go to visit your loved one, and he or she has a new bruise or other injury, nursing home staff should be able to tell you what happened. If your loved one is being supervised as closely as he or she should, staff should be aware of any injuries or illnesses he or she is suffering from. In some cases, residents with dementia may become afraid and confused. They may think that nursing home staff are “out to get them” or otherwise have unfounded anger or fear toward nursing home staff. Residents may tell their loved ones that they are not receiving food or medication because they simply cannot remember the last time they took their medication or ate a meal. Even though dementia sufferers can often be mistaken, you should still take their fears and concerns seriously. If staff quickly dismiss your concerns or seem hesitant to discuss your loved one’s care, this could be a warning sign that your loved one is receiving substandard care.

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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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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysIf you have a family member or a loved one residing in a nursing home or skilled nursing facility, you may have concerns about how he or she is being treated by the facility’s staff. Is your loved one getting enough food and water? Are medications being given at the right times and in the right dosages? Are staff members kind and caring? To allay such concerns, many families have installed surveillance cameras—sometimes called “granny cams”—in the rooms of their loved ones in nursing homes. Unfortunately, not everyone likes what the cameras show, as was the case for a North Carolina woman late last summer.

Surprising Footage

According to local news outlets, the woman installed a hidden camera inside a picture frame and placed the frame on a countertop in her mother’s room at a Cherryville, NC, nursing facility this past August. The woman was concerned that her mother was not being fed properly or checked in on often enough. Her mother is reportedly blind and has Alzheimer’s disease.

The woman, however, said she got the surprise of her life less than 24 hours after installing the camera. She said that footage revealed a nursing assistant yelling at her mother while changing her mother’s clothes. The assistant also reportedly moved the resident “violently” across the bed while changing her. The next day, the camera captured a similar incident involving a different employee.  

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysNursing home neglect and abuse are sadly common in many nursing homes across the United States. Nursing homes are often badly understaffed or employ staff members who have not been properly trained for their job duties. Even worse, some nursing home staff intentionally take their frustrations out on residents. Many of these residents have physical and mental health problems that leave them unable to stand up for themselves. Residents instead must depend on concerned loved ones to advocate on their behalf.

Threatening or Intentionally Scaring Residents

Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, and other illness that affect an individual’s ability to understand what is going on around them are prevalent in nursing homes. Unfortunately, these illnesses can turn a mild mannered, sweet grandmother or grandfather into someone who is hostile or downright mean. Properly trained staff members should know that when a resident with mental decline is rude or uncooperative, it is the illness speaking and such behavior is not reflective of the resident’s true nature. However, some nursing home workers instead respond combatively to residents who are simply afraid or confused. Threatening, intimidating, or yelling at a nursing home resident is just one example of unacceptable nursing home abuse.  

Ridiculing or Mocking a Resident

Nursing home residents are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Sadly, some nursing home staff use this as an opportunity to bully residents instead of offering the compassionate care they should. In December 2018, a Snapchat video surfaced that showed Illinois nursing home workers mocking a 91 year-old nursing home resident who suffers from dementia. The two staff members were arrested and a lawsuit was brought against the facility for violating both the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. Signs that a loved one is being emotionally abused can include significant changes in the resident’s demeanor, childlike behaviors such as thumb sucking or rocking back and forth, and staff members refusing to let you be alone with your loved one.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysA couple of weeks ago, a post on this blog discussed a case out of Arizona in which a female nursing home patient gave birth despite having been incapacitated for more than 25 years. The nature of the story led to national headlines as the investigation continued locally to determine how such a thing could have happened. This week, law enforcement officials in Phoenix announced that they have made an arrest in the case and that the suspect will be facing criminal charges.

A Quick Recap

According to various news outlets, a 29-year-old patient surprised the staff at a Phoenix-area nursing home when she went into labor on December 29, 2018, and gave birth to a baby boy. The labor was surprising because the woman had been incapacitated and living in the nursing home since a near-drowning incident when she was 3 years old. Staff members said that they had no idea that the woman was pregnant until she went into labor.

Early stories reported that the woman was in a vegetative state, but her family has since refuted those reports. An attorney for her family said, “She does not speak but has some ability to move her limbs, head, and neck. [She] responds to sound and is able to make facial gestures.”

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneyThere are a myriad of reasons an individual may come to live in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or rehabilitation facility. They may only need temporary care while recovering from surgery or a serious illness, or they may need to live in the facility permanently. Nursing home residents who suffer from severe mental and physical impairments need round-the-clock care and supervision. Residents with cognitive decline or aliments like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia may not even remember to eat and drink without being reminded. It is for this reason that many nursing home residents can so easily become dehydrated or malnourished. Problems like understaffing and inadequate staff training can result in staff members who are not aware of the resident’s physical and emotional needs. Sadly, nursing home neglect can and has resulted in the death of residents. If you have a loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, make sure to be vigilant for signs of neglect. 

Signs of Dehydration in Nursing Home Patients

A National Citizen's Coalition for Nursing Home Reform study found that nearly a third of nursing home residents in the U.S. suffer from dehydration or malnutrition. Symptoms of dehydration can vary depending on the age and health of a nursing home resident. The most common initial symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, dry or papery skin, dark colored urine, and a decrease in the urine production. If left untreated, dehydration can worsen and lead to sunken eyes and cheeks, low blood pressure, irregular breathing, delirium, and unconsciousness. Severe and persistent dehydration can lead to death.

Signs of Malnutrition in Nursing Home Residents

The average human body can go about three days without water and about three weeks without food. However, elderly individuals or those with a serious illness or disability are much more sensitive to dehydration and malnutrition than the average person is. Signs of malnutrition can include abdominal pain and bloating, weight loss, changes in how clothing fits, weakness, poor wound healing, and dental problems. Malnutrition in elderly nursing home residents can exacerbate existing health problems as well as cause a weakened immune system which increases the risk of infections. Decreased bone mass and muscle weakness due to malnutrition can make a nursing home resident more likely to fall and be seriously injured or killed.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_sad-old-lady-nursing-home.jpgWhen you place your loved one into a nursing home or a skilled nursing facility, you have every right to expect that they will be treated with dignity, respect, and above all, proper care. After all, nursing homes are staffed with trained professionals who are supposed to care about the people who are residents of their facility. Unfortunately, such is not always the case. Elderly abuse and nursing home negligence do occur in far too many facilities around the country, including here in Northern Illinois.

According to the Illinois State Police, more than 100,000 elderly persons are housed in long-term care facilities in Illinois. This number is only expected to grow in the coming years as Americans continue to live longer than they did in the past. Recent research conducted by a variety of academic organizations suggests that more than 12,000 of those patients will be neglected or abused each year. In order to best protect your loved ones, it is important for you to visit regularly and look for any indications that something may be wrong. Pay close attention to see if your loved one shows signs of:

  • Fear of the nursing home staff. Your loved one may also express concern about being left alone with caregivers;
  • Dehydration or malnutrition not related to terminal illness or end-stage disease;
  • Lack of personal cleanliness, especially if hygiene has been important to your loved one before;
  • Dirty or torn clothing or bedding;
  • Lack of dental care;
  • Fatigue, listlessness, and other indications of depression; or
  • Symptoms of missed medication or excessive use of medication.

In addition to the above signs, any sickness or injury that cannot be easily explained should also be reported. Approximately 30 percent of all nursing facilities nationwide have been cited for instances of abuse, but many more are believed to go unreported. In addition, financial abuse is often common. Check each bill carefully to be sure your loved one is not being billed for services that have not been rendered, or that he or she is not being billed for several services that should be combined into a single billing.

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Illnois nursing home abuse attorneysLong-term care facilities like nursing homes are generally populated with older individuals and people with disabilities. Some residents have physical disabilities and decreased motor function while others are afflicted by mental disability or illness. Many residents suffer from both mental and physical limitations, making them especially vulnerable to illness or injury. Understandably, nursing home staff occasionally have to restrain nursing home residents in order to protect the resident from himself or herself. Things like bed rails or lap cushions can be used to ethically restrict a resident’s movement. Chemical restraints like sedatives may become necessary in extreme circumstances. Unfortunately, a new study shows that many nursing homes are dramatically over-using chemical restraints for nursing home residents with dementia.

Major Report Shows Extent of Chemical Restraint Abuse

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care recently presented its annual Public Service Award in recognition of the Human Rights Watch’s 2018 report “‘They Want Docile’: How Nursing Homes in the United States Overmedicate People with Dementia.” This report includes extensive data collected from over one hundred nursing homes regarding the misuse of antipsychotic medication like Risperdal, Seroquel, and Zyprexa in nursing homes. Medications such as these are designed to treat major mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. However, these medications are being prescribed to elderly residents who do not have one of these disorders as a means of sedating them. Even worse, these antipsychotic medications have been found to nearly double the risk of death in elderly patients.

The report estimates that a staggering 179,000 nursing home residents are chemically-restrained with unnecessary antipsychotic drugs each week in the United States. Residents who were given antipsychotic drugs described the effects as “powerful.” One woman explained that the pills made her sleep all day while another said they made her a “zombie” with “no personality.” Experts say that the overuse of antipsychotic drugs can have devastating consequences to elderly individuals’ health and quality of life.

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Illinois nursing home abuse lawyerIllinois law dictates that individuals receiving treatment at a nursing home be free from abuse and neglect. Tragically, because of issues like understaffing and inadequate staff training, nursing home neglect and abuse continue to occur. Often nursing home abuse does not look like other forms of abuse. One way nursing home and assisted living residents are cruelly mistreated is with unreasonable restraint.

Most long-term care facilities have patients with cognitive or medical problems who may occasionally need to be restrained from moving. Unfortunately, many nursing homes are dramatically overusing both physical and chemical restraints. Residents can suffer physical injuries as well as emotional scars from unreasonable restraint. Unwarranted restraint is a major violation of the rights of the nursing home patient. If you or a loved one has been unreasonably restrained, you may be entitled to compensation.

Physical Restraints Without Justification is Abuse

Residents in a nursing home should be treated with compassion and given as much autonomy as safely possible. Unscrupulous or ignorant nursing home staff may use chemical and physical restraints as a means of keeping “high maintenance” residents subdued. Physical means of restraining residents include items such as straps, ties, bed guardrails, tightly-tucked sheets, and arm and hand restraints. Any type of physical force that restricts a resident’s movement is considered restraint as well. Physically restraining a patient should be reserved only for times a resident presents a risk to himself or others. If physical restraints are used excessively or in a way which causes a resident injury, this may be considered abuse.

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Chicago nursing home abuse lawyersNursing home staff have one of the most important responsibilities in our society: caring for our elders. Tragically, some nursing home staff do not take this responsibility seriously. Nursing home resident neglect and abuse are serious issues. More than two million cases of elder abuse are reported every year. It is estimated that one out of every ten elderly individuals in nursing home facilities will experience some type of abuse. While efforts are being made by regulatory agencies and advocacy groups to prevent nursing home abuse and neglect, the current state of many nursing homes is unacceptable.

Shocking Camera Footage from Inside Michigan Nursing Home

The family of an 89-year-old Lebanese man is suing a Michigan nursing home after footage surfaced of caretakers abusing the elderly man. The resident was admitted to the facility in 2015 after undergoing a bowel obstruction surgery. His son was the first to grow concerned about his father’s safety. The son noticed his father was often covered in cuts and bruises. The octogenarian was also rapidly losing weight.

Family Claims Man Was Physically and Psychologically Abused

The elderly resident’s cuts and bruises, according to nursing home staff, were a result of the man falling eleven times throughout five months. In order to get to the bottom of his father’s injuries, the man’s adult son hid a camera in an alarm clock next to his father’s bed. The family of the man claims that the hidden camera captured over 100 clips of the staff’s neglectful behavior. Additionally, the footage is claimed to include instances of physical abuse and even ethnic slurs directed at the 89-year-old.

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