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IL nursing home abuse lawyerInfections are a constant concern in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Nursing Home residents are often elderly and in poor health. This means that their bodies are not able to fight infections the way that a healthy person’s body could. Infections may develop into a condition called sepsis, which is often fatal. If your loved one was injured or killed due to a sepsis infection while living in a nursing home, you may choose to bring a nursing home injury claim or wrongful death claim.

What Is Sepsis?

Infections caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or other pathogens may cause the body to release chemicals into the bloodstream that are extremely harmful. This bodily response is called sepsis. Infections of the skin caused by bedsores, urinary tract infections, or other infections can potentially cause sepsis. Without prompt and aggressive medical treatment, sepsis can lead to severe damage including organ failure and death. Individuals over age 65 and people with chronic medical conditions such as cancer or diabetes are at the highest risk of developing sepsis. A nursing home resident with sepsis may experience fever, high heart rate, weakness, disorientation, and terrible pain. Sepsis can also lead to septic shock which is often fatal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that sepsis kills over 250,000 people in the U.S. every year.

When Is a Nursing Home Liable for a Resident Developing Sepsis?

Not every nursing home resident infection can be prevented. However, hospitals have a legal obligation to prevent resident infections whenever possible. Nursing home staff should take precautions to eliminate the spread of germs in the facility. This includes regularly sanitizing the facility and practicing proper hygiene such as hand washing between patients. Bedsores should be avoided by regularly repositioning residents who are unable to do so themselves. If a resident does develop an infection, staff should quickly address the issue. Resident infections that are ignored can lead to horrific suffering and an increased risk of death. If your loved one developed sepsis due to the negligent actions of a nursing home, a personal injury claim may enable you to hold the negligent facility accountable for the wrongdoing while also recovering compensation for you or your loved one.

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IL nursing home abuseNursing home staff are expected to provide the medical care and day-to-day help that residents need to be safe and free from avoidable health concerns. When nursing home staff fail to provide adequate care to residents, the nursing home may be liable for the harm caused to the vulnerable residents. One telltale sign of nursing home neglect is reoccurring bed sores. If your loved one has been suffering from frequent bedsores or bedsores that are not properly treated, you may have a valid nursing home negligence claim.

What Are Bed Sores?

Decubitus ulcers, also called bed sores or pressure ulcers, are injuries to the skin caused by long periods of pressure. People who are bedridden, confined to a wheelchair, or cannot move about on their own are the most likely to develop bedsores. These painful wounds often develop on the buttocks, hips, and back but they may also develop in other areas of the body that are subject to prolonged pressure. When a bed sore is developing, the skin becomes discolored, painful, or itchy. If pressure to the developing bed sore is not relieved, it worsens into a blister-like wound. The bedsore may then become deeper and deeper as time goes on, exposing subcutaneous tissues or even muscle and bone. Bed sores are terribly painful and may also lead to complications such as cellulitis, infection of the bones, heart lining, or cerebrospinal fluid, and sepsis. Septic arthritis, abscesses, and heterotopic bone formations may also result from untreated bed sores.

Steps Nursing Home Staff Should Take to Prevent and Address Bed Sores

Nursing home staff should do everything in their power to prevent residents from developing these dangerous and painful injuries. Residents who cannot move themselves should be periodically repositioned so that body parts do not receive prolonged pressure. Residents with incontinence issues should never be left in a soiled diaper or on soiled sheets. If a resident uses a wheelchair, a foam or gel seat cushion can help prevent bed sores to the buttocks and thigh area. Staff should also help wheelchair-bound residents reposition themselves and switch from their wheelchair to the bed periodically. If a bed sore does develop, the resident should be closely monitored for signs of an infection or other complications. If the bedsore worsens, the resident should receive prompt medical attention.

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IL nursing home abuse attorneyIt is hard to believe that someone would ever intentionally harm a nursing home resident. Sadly, nursing home neglect and abuse happens in long-term care facilities across the country. Psychological abuse, mental abuse, and emotional abuse can be especially insidious forms of nursing home abuse. Because so many nursing home residents suffer from cognitive decline, they may be unable to report this mistreatment. Relatives of nursing home residents are often unaware of psychological abuse because it does not result in bruises or other noticeable injuries the way physical abuse typically does. However, there are several warning signs of nursing home mental abuse that you should be watchful for.

Be Vigilant for Changes in Personality and Behavior

If your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, he or she may be unable to express or even remember the type of treatment he or she receives from nursing home staff. Because you cannot simply ask the resident about the quality of care he or she is receiving, you will have to look for changes in your loved one’s mood and behavior that could indicate that something is wrong. If the resident cowers, fidgets, or acts nervous when a certain staff member walks into the room, this could be an indication that the resident has suffered abuse at the hands of that staff member. Other signs of mental abuse include:

  • Loss of interest or enthusiasm in things that the resident used to enjoy
  • Unusual behavior such as thumb sucking or rocking back and forth
  • Avoidance of eye contact
  • Increased agitation and irritability
  • Refusal of food and water

Speak to Staff About Your Concerns

If you have noticed changes in your loved one’s behavior or mood, speak to staff about your concerns. Staff should be fully willing to discuss these concerns with you. Staff who are offended or annoyed by questions about a resident’s health may have something to hide. Contradictory statements about a resident’s health or behavior may also be signs of neglect or abuse. If nursing home staff refuse to let you be alone with your loved one, this is a major red flag.

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