Nursing home injuries can stem from many different causes. Some injuries may be the result of a simple accident or natural aging, while others may happen because of something much more serious, like abuse or neglect. If you suspect your loved one has been abused or neglected while in a nursing home, you may not know what you should do.
The Noll Law Office has helped many individuals in the same situation. Senior citizens should live their lives comfortably and with dignity. Simply stated, staff members and facilities who abuse or neglect seniors should be held accountable. While the first step in suspected nursing home abuse and neglect cases is always to seek medical attention for your loved one, there are follow-on steps you can take to report the suspected abuse and neglect, and, if substantiated, actions you can follow-up on to stop the abuse and neglect, and prevent it from happening again in the future.
Statistics on Nursing Home Injuries
According to nursinghomeabuseguide.org, more than 40 percent of nursing home residents have reported abuse. Even further, more than 90 percent of nursing home residents have reported neglect or have witnessed neglect of another resident. While nursing home abuse and neglect may be shockingly common, when it happens to someone you love, it is unthinkable.
What Are the Warning Signs of Nursing Home Injuries Caused by Abuse?
There are many reasons nursing home abuse and neglect can go undetected. Abusers are good at hiding their actions and often choose the most vulnerable persons to abuse. Seniors may not report abuse and neglect, through fear of retaliation, shame, embarrassment or because they are physically or mentally unable.
Many nursing home residents already suffer from one or more medical conditions. Alzheimer’s or dementia can further complicate matters. This can make it more difficult to accurately identify abuse or neglect. Nursing homes may be understaffed and have financial motives to under-report abuse and neglect.
One thing to be mindful of are conflicting accounts of a resident’s injury, lack of cleanliness, medication history, and other documents. Another thing to consider is the location of, and access to, the resident’s personal possessions. Finally, you may wish to consider dropping in on the resident to visit at various times and hours, to determine if they are being cared for with bathroom breaks, cleanliness conditions, meals, and other basic needs.
So, while it can be difficult to accurately detect signs of nursing home abuse and neglect, the following are warning signs:
- Frequent injuries such as bruises, cuts, and scrapes
- Sudden weight loss, perhaps due to malnourishment
- Increasing depression or anxiety without a known cause
- Poor hygiene and malodor
- Withdrawal from loved ones
- Sudden or unexplained confusion or disorientation
- Symptoms of anxiety or depression
- Frequently reported falls
- The development of bedsores
- Fearful or angry behavior around certain nursing home staff
- Sudden requests to leave the facility
- Disappearance of your loved one’s personal items, or unexplained monetary loss
- Irritation of the skin or genitals, and unexplained STDs
- Withdrawal from group activities previously enjoyed by the resident at the nursing facility
What Is the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act?
The safety and rights of Illinois nursing home residents are protected under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. All facilities that fall under the definition of a long-term care facility in Illinois must comply with this Act. Residents’ rights outlined in the Act include but are not limited to:
- Nursing home residents have the right to remain free from abuse and neglect.
- All residents have the right to be free from restraints unless specifically ordered by a doctor for the resident’s protection.
- Residents have the right to visitors, mail, and phones.
- Nursing home residents or their guardians have the right to access and look over records related to their care, including medical records.
- Residents have the right to manage their own financial affairs.
- The right to wear their own clothing and keep personal belonging in their rooms is afforded to nursing home residents.
- Residents or their guardians have the right to refuse treatment.
When these rights and others are violated, the safety and well-being of residents are endangered. The following nursing home injuries are all-too-common forms of abuse or neglect.
- Bedsores are also known as pressure ulcers or pressure sores. When excess weight or force is placed on the skin for a long period of time, bedsores often result. One of the primary causes of bedsores among seniors is nursing home neglect. When the elderly are unable to easily move on their own, others must reposition them. When there is no movement, the skin loses blood flow, eventually decaying. Complications of bedsores can include cellulitis, bone and joint infections, cancer, and sepsis.
- Falls are a primary cause of injury to residents in nursing homes. While falls can be purely accidental, in many cases, falls are preventable. Between 50 and 75 percent of nursing home residents fall each year. This is twice the rate of falls among the elderly living in the community. According to the CDC, as many as 1,800 residents of nursing homes die annually from fall-related injuries. Those that survive falls can sustain very serious injuries.
- Infections among nursing home patients can spread quickly and become quite serious without rapid intervention. Residents with feeding tubes are at risk for skin and soft tissue infections, as well as aspiration pneumonia. Antibiotic-resistant organisms are common in nursing homes due to a number of factors. Some common infections in nursing homes include:
- Respiratory infections
- Skin infections
- Soft-tissue infections
- Urinary tract infections
Pneumonia and lower respiratory tract infections are the leading cause of death among nursing home residents. Despite getting flu shots, outbreaks of the seasonal flu are frequently reported. Urinary tract infections are the most common infection in nursing homes. Indwelling catheters increase the risk of bladder infections and bacterial sepsis.
- Improper medication administration can be considered nursing home abuse. When staff gives medications without consent, or without telling loved ones, dangerous outcomes can result. Unprescribed medication may be “contraindicated” and caused severe side effects, while prescribed medication that is not properly administered, or not given in the proper dosage, may cause it to lose its intended effect or alternatively negative side effects.
- Death can occur from any of the various nursing home issues listed above. When nursing home abuse or neglect is responsible for the death of a loved one, it can be devastating. The Noll Law Office is here to help you.
What Should I Do If My Loved One Has Been a Victim?
Nursing home abuse or neglect may be glaringly clear or may be much more subtle. If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect, report it to the appropriate agency immediately. Begin documenting everything. Take photos, videos, and document any suspicious injuries in writing. Send emails of your concerns to the administrator of the nursing home. Talk to your loved one in private, and to the proper authorities. It is also very helpful to contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney to help walk you through each step. The personal injury lawyers at the Noll Law Office will evaluate your case, and, if necessary, help you report it to the proper authorities.
How Do I Choose the Best Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer for Me?
Once of the most important aspects of choosing an attorney is to ensure you work with an experienced lawyer who understands the complicated legal issues involved. But also, it’s important to find an attorney that will give your case the individualized attention it deserves, and will work with you directly in processing the claim. The Noll Law Office offers compassionate counsel when you need it most but are aggressive in the courtroom. The Noll Law Office attorneys have the experience and resources necessary to build a strong case on your behalf. Your case will not be handed off to a freshly graduated attorney or left with a paralegal until the eve of trial. Simply put, you will work directly with a local, experienced Central Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer.
How Can the Noll Law Office Help?
The Noll Law Office understand the grief and anger that nursing home injuries bring. The firm’s attorneys are fifth-generation Springfield lawyers, heavily invested in the community, with pride in the area’s deep historical roots. You will work with an attorney directly throughout the claim, ensuring that you are provided the individualized attention needed for your case. Contact Noll Law Office today to learn how they can fight for you.