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Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect lawyersNursing home abuse and neglect can happen anywhere. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities across the country struggle with staffing issues, budgetary restraints, and keeping up with America’s quickly growing elderly population. Even though these issues exist, nursing home staff still have a legal and ethical obligation to treat residents with dignity and provide the medical care and daily living assistance they need. When nursing home staff do not uphold this obligation, the staff or facility itself can be held liable for any deaths, injuries, and illnesses caused by the poor care.

Waukegan Woman Says Her Sister Was Not Properly Cared For

Unfortunately, another Chicago-area nursing home is in hot water after allegations of neglect. A Waukegan woman says that her sister has experienced nursing home neglect after a brain aneurysm and stroke caused her to need around-the-clock care. The woman says that when she went to check on her disabled sister at the Waukegan nursing home in which she was living, the woman was shocked. The disabled woman’s feet looked extremely discolored and the skin was very dry and rough.

The sister of the disabled woman says that it was obvious that her sister had not received a bath or even a change of socks in a long time. “They just put socks on her and they left her be,” she said. The nursing home is now saying that they are aware of the issue and are working on a medical plan to treat the disabled woman’s disfigured feet. Her sister believes that the issue should have never gotten so bad without staff noticing, saying, “She needs to be treated like she’s a human being.”

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Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect attorneysAs the “Baby Boomer" generation ages, more and more people need the around-the-clock care offered by nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Long-term care facilities can provide a safe home for elderly and disabled individuals, but sadly, not every nursing home is up to standards. Vulnerable nursing home residents can be experience neglect, physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, and financial exploitation at the hands of caregivers.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you should always be on the lookout for signs that something isn’t right. Often, the signs of elder neglect and abuse are subtle. Nursing home residents who struggle with cognition, memory, or speech may be unable to ask for help or communicate what has happened to them. Loved ones of nursing home residents should be vigilant for signs of neglect and abuse.

Withdrawn or Uncommunicative Staff May Be a Red Flag

Understandably, not everyone enjoys every second of their work day. Nursing home staff members have a job which can be physically, psychologically, and emotionally demanding. However, nursing home staff should still be personally committed to the well-being of the residents in their care. Nursing home or assisted living staff who avoid talking with residents’ family members or seem uncomfortable interacting with residents may be a red flag. Likewise, overworked, exhausted staff can be a warning sign that the facility is not staffed adequately. Staffing issues, including understaffing and undertraining, are some of the most common reasons residents suffer neglect and abuse.  

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysIf you have an elderly relative, chances are you often worry about their safety. Older individuals often have decreased muscle mass and bone density. A fall that might only result in minor bruising on a young person may cause several broken bones in an elderly individual. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 3 million elderly individuals are treated in emergency rooms for fall injuries every year. More than 95 percent of all hip fractures are caused by falling and falls are the most frequent cause of traumatic brain injuries. Falling injuries resulted in over $50 billion in medical bills in 2015 alone.

Remove Environmental Hazards to Help Prevent Falls

Understandably, all falls cannot be prevented. However, it is the obligation of every caregiver to take steps to prevent elder falls. If you have an elderly loved one, a few environmental changes may decrease the chance that he or she is injured or killed in a fall. Firstly, remove tripping hazards like clutter or loose electrical cords on the floor. Secure loose floor rugs with double-sided tape or remove them entirely. Repair or replace broken furniture or loose floorboards. Install nonslip mats and safety rails in the bathroom. Encourage your loved one to use his or her walker or cane if necessary. Lastly, make sure the lighting is adequate for your loved one to see his or her surroundings clearly.

Nursing Home Falls May Be a Sign of Neglect

Injuries from falling account for about 36 percent of theoretically preventable emergency room visits by nursing home residents. Not every nursing home resident who falls has been neglected. However, an unusual frequency of falls or falls that go unreported may be a sign of nursing home abuse and neglect. Conditions that can cause falls to happen more often include:

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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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Illinois nursing home neglect lawyerNursing home abuse and neglect can sometimes occur not because of what caretakers do, but because of what they fail to do. Whether it is due to being an understaffed facility, inadequate staff training, or lack of oversight, nursing home negligence is sadly common. There are certain standards of care which nursing home staff must meet to ensure the safety of their residents. Unfortunately, when these standards are not met, the result can be devastating to residents as well as their families.

Elderly Woman Denied Essential Medication

A Bartlett, IL  nursing home may be forced to pay millions to a family of a former resident. In February of 2011, the 89-year-old resident was admitted to the facility after suffering a hip fracture. She was meant to stay in the nursing home while undergoing physical therapy to help her recover from her injury. As part of her treatment, the elderly woman was prescribed a medication called Coumadin which thins the blood and can help prevent clotting and strokes. Unfortunately, the woman did not receive this medication on a timely and consistent schedule. Records show that the woman did not receive her stroke-preventing medication for a period of two weeks.

Stroke Causes Significant Decrease in Quality of Life

 In March of 2011, just a month after being admitted to the facility, the woman suffered a stroke with left her almost completely incapacitated. According to family, the woman lost the ability to speak and walk on her own after the stroke. The attorney for the family explains that the stroke left the woman unable to “enjoy life in any realistic manner.” The woman passed away four years after the stroke. Her family believes that her final years would have been much more pleasant had she been given her medication on a consistent schedule.

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Chicago nursing home neglect attorneysWhen a person thinks of a nursing home, they tend to imagine that most deaths or hospitalizations occur as a result of illnesses or injuries that resident already had. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, something as simple as a slip and fall can be enough to seriously injure or even kill a resident. In fact, an average nursing home facility reports between 100 and 200 falls each year. These falls represent the largest cause of preventable hospital emergency room visits among nursing home patients. Each year, over 1,800 nursing home residents die due to falls, and countless more suffer fall-related injuries.

Nursing Home Residents Are at Increased Risk of Serious Injury

Individuals in a nursing home are usually in such a facility because they are not able to live alone. They may have physical or mental disabilities that make it impossible for them to care for themselves. Because nursing home residents are often frail, elderly, or in poor health, it is crucial for the facility’s staff to take every possible measure to keep residents safe. Unfortunately, between 50 and 75 percent of nursing facility residents fall at least once each year. The most common causes of such falls include:

  • Muscle weakness and trouble walking;
  • Medications which can cause dizziness or disorientation;
  • Injuries or medical problems with a resident’s feet;
  • Environmental hazards such as wet floors or obstacles on the ground; and
  • Poorly designed or maintained equipment such as walkers, wheelchairs, bedrails, or furniture.

Of course, there is no way to prevent every possible injury to residents, but sometimes nursing homes are at fault when a resident falls. Understaffed facilities may not have enough employees present to supervise residents properly. Other times, staff members are negligent by leaving equipment in the middle of walkways, not cleaning spills, failing to check equipment for safety before use, or providing inadequate lighting which can cause an elderly person to fall. When a nursing home resident is injured or killed in a fall that could have been prevented, the resident and/or his family may be entitled to compensation.

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