Nursing Home Abuse Case Illustration
Unfortunately, nursing home neglect and abuse is common. So common that the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act was passed by the legislature which recognized that elderly persons in nursing facilities were often unable to protect themselves from abuse and neglect. In fact, one study found that almost one-fourth of all nursing home residents experienced at least one instance of physical abuse. Abuse and neglect in nursing homes can lead to serious—or fatal—injuries.
At times, nursing home abuse and neglect can overlap. While nursing home abuse can happen in many ways, consider this case illustration.
Ruth, an elderly woman who resides in a nursing home experienced a serious fall when getting out of bed. The bed was much too tall for Ruth, who was barely 5 ft. tall, and, even though her doctor ordered two people to assist her getting in and out of bed, on this day due to understaffing there was no assistance. Ruth’s family wasn’t even notified for over three weeks. A staff member thought she was “faking” her pain and maybe suffering from depression. Once Ruth was finally admitted to the hospital, they found she had a fractured hip and shoulder.
Since Ruth did not receive timely treatment, the hip could not be surgically repaired. In fact, it had become much worse through continuance movement in the weeks following the fall. Moreover, Ruth was on blood thinners, and she had sustained internal bleeding from the fall. The cascading effect from all of Ruth’s injuries left her very sick and in pain. Ruth came down with an infection. She was rapidly developing pneumonia. Ruth’s family members were horrified that they had not been notified of Ruth’s fall and devastated when she later died from the infection. The family filed a complaint with the appropriate governmental agencies and then contacted the nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at the Noll Law Office. The case was investigated, and a lawsuit was filed for several violations of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. Experts were retained to testify to the standard of care that nursing home residents are supposed to be provided with and the case was victorious at trial. More importantly, a precedent was set to dissuade future acts of abuse and neglect in the nursing facility and to prevent other people from being injured in the future.
If you believe your loved one is being abused or neglected, the nursing home abuse lawyers at the Noll Law Office would be honored to speak to you to determine if the nursing home has deviated from the standard of care and help you report the nursing home to the appropriate licensing body. The Noll Law Office provides free initial consultations where they can discuss the claim and advise you whether the claim has merit. The Noll Law Office represents individuals all over the State of Illinois on nursing home abuse and neglect cases.
Legal Duties of Nursing Homes
Nursing homes are required by law to provide appropriate care to residents. Should the nursing home violate these duties, the resident or their family may have the right to file a lawsuit. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act and associated state and federal regulations provides many of the rules that the nursing facilities must follow. It can get very technical very quickly, requiring expert medical testimony, medical records review, and depositions of the nursing home staff for litigation to move forward. Having an experienced, local attorney to help you can be of huge help.
What Are the Most Common Injuries Resulting from Nursing Home Abuse?
While your loved one may have unique injuries related to the specific type of abuse, some of the most common injuries indicating nursing home abuse include:
- Bedsores often occur when a nursing home resident is left in one position for long periods of time, without being repositioned by nursing staff. This could be in a bed, or in a wheelchair. Many nursing home residents are not able to turn over, or shift position in their wheelchair. Without frequent movement, the skin breaks down under the constant pressure from other surfaces against the skin. Other risk factors for bedsores include:
- Poor nutrition
- Excess moisture (skin should be kept clean and dry)
- Decreased sensitivity from nervous system diseases or spinal cord injuries
- Other health conditions such as diabetes
Nursing home staff must regularly perform skin assessments, and take note of medical issues that might make bedsores more likely. If pressure sores develop, wound nurses and a wound physician should be consulted.
- Falls are common in nursing homes. In some cases, a fall is nothing more than an accident. In others, it could indicate abuse or neglect. Overt abuse, such as pushing, shoving, hitting, slapping, or kicking can cause a resident to be seriously injured by a fall. More subtle abuse can also be responsible for nursing home falls. The nursing home staff may not be administering doctor-prescribed medications or may be wrongfully using unprescribed sedatives. There may be spills or slick spots on the floor, as well as loose rugs, raised thresholds, or electrical cords. Any of these present a slip and fall hazard to elderly residents. Transferring a patient from bed to wheelchair, toilet, walker, or standing is also a high-risk fall situation. Many elderly patients never recover from a serious fall, with formerly mobile patients becoming bedridden or wheelchair bound.
- Infections can be extremely dangerous to the elderly. While UTIs are probably the most-reported infection in nursing homes, pneumonia is the leading cause of hospitalization and death. Patients with feeding tubes also have a higher risk of a serious infection. According to nursinghomeabuseguide.org, there are between one and three million infections in nursing homes across the U.S. annually. In addition to UTIs and pneumonia, other common infections include MRSA, staph infections, and influenza.
- Death can occur from nursing home abuse such as:
- Physical abuse, such as hitting, shoving, punching, kicking, tripping, or slapping can all lead to a serious fall or death.
- A failure to diagnose or obtain evaluation for serious medical conditions.
- Medication errors.
How Do I Choose the Best Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyers for Me?
Choosing from nursing home abuse lawyers can be daunting. You will probably want to find an attorney who is experienced in medical litigation and is willing to personally meet with you to discuss the case. Pay attention to the geographic area that the lawyers are in because there will be traveling involved that affects your litigation costs. Find out how many years your attorney has been litigating nursing home cases and whether they will personally work on your case or will send the file to a newly graduated associate attorney to handle. Ask whether your attorney is willing to explain the medical records to you, and help you find an agency to file an abuse and neglect complaint with. Ask how many depositions or trials the attorney has done. Ask what percentage of the attorney’s practice is dedicated to medical litigation.
The Noll Law Office is a central Illinois, experienced law firm that practices in medical litigation every single day of the work week, and if necessary, more often than that. Its attorneys will clearly communicate the medical litigation process to you. They will work tirelessly for a positive outcome for you and your loved one and are not afraid to break down the case to provide you with the good, bad, and neutral facts of your claim so that you can make informed decisions moving forward. With attorneys, honesty is always preferable to grand promises of results. And of course, at the Noll Law Office, no charge is rendered unless a verdict, arbitration award, or settlement is obtained. The law firm is from the community, for the community.
What is the Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Case Process?
To begin the process of a nursing home abuse claim, you should file a claim with the appropriate governmental agency for investigation and ensure that your loved one has received medical attention. You should also contact a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney. Obtain a copy of your loved one’s medical records for review. You will want a full copy of the medical records, nursing home contracts, medical bills, and other relevant information. Your attorney will begin evaluating the file, and if meritorious, then file a nursing home negligence or abuse claim on your loved one’s behalf. If settlement cannot be reached, litigation usually follows. The nursing home must respond to the lawsuit or risk automatically losing the case.
During the discovery part of the process, each party will obtain information from the other, which is evidence that will be usually used at trial. This can include depositions, which is recorded testimony from witnesses. It can also include investigative reports, photographs, videotapes, medical records, and other evidence. Nursing home lawsuits are commonly resolved through a settlement, sometimes after mediation. If the case cannot be settled out of court, it will move to the trial phase. In a trial, both sides will present their evidence and a judge or jury will decide the outcome.
How Can Noll Law Office Help?
The Noll Law Office have helped many victims of nursing home abuse, as well as their families, over the years. Larger law firms will add up the sum of every attorneys’ settlements to advertise success. The Noll Law Office will honestly tell you that most great settlements have confidentiality clauses so the best attorneys will not be allowed to tell you about those cases. The Noll Law Office will also be up front and confirm that while jury verdicts on individual cases really vary from low numbers, up to several millions of dollars, the verdicts depend on the facts of each case. Some cases are extremely strong, others have extenuating circumstances.
You deserve to have an informed legal opinion that is created with an eye towards the facts of your case – not blanket advertising. You deserve an experienced, local medical litigation attorney who will investigate your claim, give you an informed opinion of your different options, and then aggressively advocate on your behalf. You deserve an attorney that will go to trial. The Noll Law Office will fight aggressively for you and your loved one. You and your family will work directly with an attorney throughout the claims and litigation process. The initial comprehensive consultation is always free. If the firm can’t negotiate a fair settlement, there is no cost to you. There is absolutely no risk for you to speak with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer from the Noll Law Office, so contact them today.