Compassionate Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Offers Advice
Nursing homes are centers that offer care for the elderly, individuals suffering from dementia, and those who need a safe, comfortable living environment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Census, five percent of the 65 years and older population currently reside in nursing homes. As of 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that there were 15,600 registered nursing homes in the state, housing 1.4 million residents.
As the aging population continues to increase, nursing homes are starting to become overrun. Many have their resources stretched thin, and new facilities are opening their doors to take the overflow. Unfortunately, with so many new nursing homes opening each year, it is hard for state regulators to monitor them or inspect them – thus increasing the chances for injury, improper care, and even wrongful deaths.
Nursing home abuse around the country and in Chicago is becoming more prevalent than ever. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in a nursing home, you have rights. You can hold the nursing home responsible for the injury and help prevent the same acts from occurring to other residents.
What Is Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?
Nursing home abuse takes numerous forms:
- Outright Abuse – Outright abuse can be emotional, physical, or sexual. It involves a caretaker who purposely causes harm to the patient.
- Physical Neglect – Physical neglect occurs when caretakers deprive their residents of specific needs such as failing to ensure proper hygiene, lack of assistance while toileting, not repositioning the patient’s bodies, and allowing bed sores to form.
- Medical Neglect – Providing limited medical care or lack of medical care entirely. This includes failing to give prescription medications, providing poor access to care, or failing to treat an illness or infection.
- Lack of Assistance – Sometimes negligence focuses on the lack of assistance such as not providing an immobile patient with help eating, drinking, or moving. This also includes failing to answer patient requests for assistance even after a patient cries out for help.
Do You Know the Warning Signs?
Most cases of nursing home abuse go unnoticed. Statistics have shown that 44 percent of residents have been abused during their stay in a nursing home, and not all these cases are reported to law enforcement.
Some signs of abuse or neglect that family members need to be aware of include:
- poor personal hygiene identified by the resident being unbathed, dirty clothes, dental problems from poor oral health, or rashes from unchanged adult diapers.
- emotional outbursts or sudden changes in their mental health without explanation.
- signs of dehydration and malnutrition.
- unexplained bruises, lacerations, bed sores, rashes, and other injuries.
- changes in their psychological health, including becoming depressed or anxious for no reason.
- bedsores present on immobile patients, especially around the hips, ankles, and back.
How Are Nursing Homes Held Liable for Injuries?
Nursing homes must provide the standard of care that is expected of them. These standards are higher than the average person providing care to a loved one, because nursing homes take a fee in return for skilled providers to care for family members.
When injuries occur because of outright abuse or neglect, the nursing home is held negligent under one of the following legal theories:
- Negligent Supervision and Care – Nursing home caretakers have a duty to their patients. They must not only provide them with reasonable care, but also prevent potential injuries. That means ensuring the premises is safe, giving extra assistance to patients that need it, ensuring proper diet and hydration, and ensuring basic needs are met. When a staff member fails to provide this level of care, the nursing home can be held liable for failing to supervise or care for their patients properly.
- Negligent Hiring and Retention Practices – Nursing homes are required to hire properly trained staff. They also must monitor that staff, train them when new protocols or regulations arise, and prevent unnecessary amounts of turnover. When a nursing home has a high turnover rate, the chances of abuse or injury increase for the residents.
- Negligent Maintenance – Sometimes it is not the caretaker, but the facility. Leaving floors wet or slick, having cluttered hallways, not complying with the ADA rules, and other poor maintenance practices could lead to serious injuries. Nursing homes are responsible for ensuring their premises are safe, and that any potential hazards are corrected before they cause a serious injury.
- Assault and Battery – If a patient is physically assaulted by his or her caretaker, the nursing home and the caregiver could be liable in civil and criminal courts.
- Contract Violations – When you put a loved one in a nursing home, you sign a contract. The contract ensures that you will pay the nursing home and lists the services and level of care your loved one will receive. When injuries occur because of abuse or negligence, the nursing home almost always has violated these contracts – thus, making them liable.
Who Do You Report Nursing Home Abuse To?
If you suspect abuse or neglect, you need to report it quickly. You have three main avenues to take:
- Reporting to the IDPH – Report the suspected abuse by filing a complaint with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). IDPH is responsible for monitoring and enforcing all nursing home regulations in the state, and they have a hotline specifically for nursing home claims at 800-252-4343.
- File a Lawsuit – You can also speak with a nursing home abuse attorney and file a lawsuit in civil court. Lawsuits not only open an investigation into the nursing home, but they are the only way that you can recover damages for your injuries or the injuries to a loved one. These damages can include medical costs, returning the costs paid for nursing home care, pain, suffering, and more.
- Filing a Complaint with the Police – When abuse or a wrongful death occurs, contact law enforcement immediately. The prosecutor may seek criminal charges against the nursing home itself or the caretaker suspected of abuse.
Meet with a Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Today
If you or a loved one is injured by a negligent nursing home, it is imperative you speak with an attorney. Contact Malman Law today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We handle cases involving nursing home abuse, neglect, and wrongful deaths.
Schedule your consultation now at 888-675-9854 or request more information online.