So, what does this mean for life in nursing homes? While we can’t say for sure, what we do know is that many Illinois nursing homes are already understaffed, and many nursing home residents already are not receiving safe and compassionate care. Hence, as more senior citizens transition into nursing homes, won’t the situation just get worse? Unfortunately, only time will tell.
In some respects, it is hard to imagine how things could get much worse. Studies already suggest that a third of all nursing homes are cited for federal safety violations every two years, with one in 10 homes being cited for violations that resulted in serious injury or jeopardy of death. Ten percent of all nursing home residents report being abused in the prior year (44 percent overall), and 95 percent report either experiencing or witnessing nursing home neglect.
All of this is to say that, if you or your loved one experiences wrongful or inappropriate care in a nursing home:
Victims of wrongful care in nursing homes often suffer from serious illnesses and injuries. While it can be difficult to know for certain whether a medical condition is the result of negligence or abuse, there are some tell-tale signs that residents and their families can watch for. However, if you even suspect wrongful care, we urge you to speak with one of our attorneys right away.
In the worst cases, wrongful care in nursing homes results in death. While reliable numbers are hard to come by, it is widely acknowledged that thousands of nursing home residents die every year from illnesses and injuries that could have been avoided with appropriate care.
Bedsores, malnutrition, sepsis, choking, and other treatable conditions can all be fatal without adequate attention. If you have suddenly or unexpectedly lost a loved one who was living in a nursing home, our attorneys can help you find out what happened and pursue just compensation on your behalf.
Residents of facilities that participate in the Medicare program enjoy the following federal rights:
Most of these rights also apply under state law, even for nursing homes that do not participate in the Medicare program.
Yes, you can, because human rights don’t need contractual support. If you were hit by a car, for example, you wouldn’t have to prove that you had a contract with the driver not to hit you in order to win a lawsuit against him or her – you could sue under general tort law principles, just as you can in cases of abuse and neglect in a nursing facility.
The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act defines the rights under state law that your loved one enjoys with or without a contractual arrangement with the nursing home. Federal regulations also apply if the institution participates in the Medicare program. Proving that the facility violated an applicable regulation will go a long way toward establishing their liability for compensatory damages. In cases of outrageous conduct, you might even be able to collect punitive damages against the nursing home. Of course, if there is a contract, a contract claim could be added to other claims arising from the abuse or neglect.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is the state agency responsible for enforcing the law in favor of the more than 100,000 nursing home residents residing in over 1,200 facilities in Illinois. The IDPH licenses these facilities, conducts inspections at least annually, and cooperates with the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for eligibility to participate in federal payment reimbursement programs.
The IDPH maintains a Nursing Home Hotline (800-252-4343) for complaints. Upon receiving a complaint of abuse or neglect, the IDPH’s Bureau of Long Term Care may launch an investigation. Although it does not participate in lawsuits, it can sanction or even close down homes that violate the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act or federal regulations. The results of its investigation can be used as evidence in a civil lawsuit against a home or an employee.