Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Placing a loved one in a nursing home is never an easy decision, but we often do it so mom or dad can get the care they need. One thing you should never have to fear is a nursing home and its employees treating your loved one poorly. It is devastating for a family to hear that their loved one has been injured or killed in a place that they trusted. If that happens, you need attorneys in your corner who know how to hold negligent nursing home operators accountable for their actions.
At The Collins Law Firm, our attorneys spend every day fighting for the most vulnerable among us, who have been injured or killed by someone else's carelessness. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing the victims of neglect and abuse. We fight for you, so that your family can take the time to heal. Contact us to arrange a free initial consultation today.Frequently Asked Questions:
- How Serious a Problem is Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes?
- What are the Causes of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?
- What are the Different Types of Elder Abuse and Neglect?
- What Signs of Elder Abuse/Neglect Should You Look for?
- What Kinds of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Cases Do We Handle?
- How Can You Prevent Your Loved One From Becoming a Victim of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?
- What Should You Do if You Suspect or See Your Loved One Being Abused?
- How Does the Law Protect Nursing Home Residents From Abuse?
- What are Your Rights under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act?
- What are the Standards of Care Required by Law of Nursing Homes?
- Why Don’t the Elderly Report Abuse, and What Can You Do About It?
- When is It Appropriate to Sue a Nursing Home?
- Who Can Bring a Lawsuit for Elder Abuse or Neglect?
- What Can the Attorneys at The Collins Law Firm Do for You?
- How to Report Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?
Elder abuse is a large and growing problem in the United States. According to recent research, about 10% of seniors experience elder abuse, with more than 2 million cases of elder abuse reported every year. The problem is even more prevalent among the elderly who live in nursing homes. Nursing home abuse occurs at every type of facility, and the statistics are shocking. Moreover, the problem continues to increase as more elderly citizens enter the system. In addition, when you consider that the elderly are the least likely demographic to report abuse, the prevalence of abuse is very likely even greater than we know. The following are some recent statistics on elder abuse at nursing homes:
- In one year alone, 25% of nursing homes were cited for causing serious injury or death.
- More than 30% of nursing homes experience some type of elder abuse.
- Only about 20% of abuse cases are reported.
- Abusers are known to the victim in 90% of cases.
- Abusers are usually staff members, fellow patients or even frequent visitors.
- It is estimated that 5,000 deaths may occur each year due to negligence or injuries suffered at nursing homes.
- Nursing home residents fall twice as much as the general senior population.
- 10% of nursing home patients suffer from bedsores.
- Almost a third of nursing homes were cited for violating federal regulations meant to protect the elderly.
- 44% of nursing home residents report some type of abuse.
- 95% of nursing home patients report neglect of themselves or other residents.
- A study reported that more than 50% of nursing home employees admitted mistreating residents within the past year.
- Almost half of all nursing home residents report being in pain over the course of a normal week, with 14% reporting moderate to severe pain.
- More than 50% of certified Nursing Assistants at nursing homes admitted yelling at, verbally abusing or using foul language with, elderly patients.
- Nearly 10% of nursing homes had violations that posed a serious risk of injury or death, or that actually did cause the death of residents.
In addition, statistics show that the size of the resident population in a long term care facility is a risk factor for elder abuse. The greater the number of residents, the greater the risk. Shockingly, nursing homes in Illinois with more than 100 patients are 39% more likely to jeopardize residents’ safety than facilities with 50-100 patients, and 127% more likely to do so than homes with less than 50 residents.
It is very important to be able to spot abuse in nursing homes in order to protect your loved one, but what should you be on the lookout for? Here are some common signs of elder abuse.
- Unexplained bruising, black eyes or other injuries
- Falls, especially if they are frequent
- The development of bedsores
- Rapid weight loss
- Lack of interest in activities the patient used to enjoy
- A change in demeanor such as aggression or unusual depression
- Emotional agitation or extreme withdrawal
- Unusual behavior changes such as sucking, biting, or rocking
- Fear of being touched
- Patients overmedicated or sedated
- Signs of overmedication like drowsiness, dry and cracked lips, slumping in wheelchairs, drooling, unresponsive behavior, vacant stares and slurred speech
- Caretakers unable to give a reasonable explanation of a patient’s condition or injury
- Signs of neglect, like poor personal hygiene, urine smell, unsanitary conditions
- Patients left in bed for long periods of time
- Residents unattended for long periods of time
- Missing personal items, especially items of value
- Scratches, welts, cuts or bite marks on the face or other parts of the body, especially if they are symmetrical on both sides of the body
- Marks on wrists or other areas of the body left by restraints
- Dehydration or malnutrition
- Fractures, sprains, dislocations or head injuries
- A dramatic decrease in physical or emotional health
- Lack or delay of medical treatment
- Increase in elder hospitalization or emergency treatment for injuries
- Fear or hesitation by the patient when he or she receives care or assistance from staff or around another resident
- Incomplete health reports
- Being unable to talk to seniors on the phone for extended periods of time
- Broken eye glasses or frames
- Hair pulls or sudden bald spots
- Instances of wandering or running away
- A residence's reluctance to speak in staff member’s presence
- Caregiver refusing to allow relatives to see the resident alone
- Frequent arguments or tension between the resident and a caregiver
- Patient wanting to be isolated from others
- Resident is frequently ill, and illness is not promptly reported to family and physician
- Reports of a drug overdose or failure to take medication regularly
- Unexplained or unexpected death of a resident
At The Collins Law Firm, we represent nursing home clients who have been the victims of all types of financial, physical or mental abuse as well as those who have suffered as a result of neglect. Some of the more common types of abuse cases we encounter are:
Wrongful Death Sadly, in the United States, it is estimated that 5,000 nursing home residents die each year as a result of abuse or neglect. Serious falls, physical abuse, improper medication, lack of timely and proper medical treatment, malnutrition and dehydration, infection and even bedsores can result in an untimely death. Oftentimes a minor or initially innocuous problem becomes a deadly condition due to failure to detect, manage and treat the problem. No patient at a nursing home and no family should ever have to go through this.
Pressure Sores These sores, also called decubitus ulcers or bedsores, result from inadequate care and are receiving growing attention because of their prevalence. In Illinois, almost 20% of nursing home residents have pressure sores of stage 2 or higher on a scale of 4. Bedsores occur when staff fail to move and reposition patients with limited mobility on a regular basis. As a result, the blood supply to tissue is interrupted and the flesh dies. This causes pain and disability and can even lead to an open wound. When this happens, even more serious complications such as sepsis, gangrene, amputation, and even death can result. It is critical that you insist that the nursing home begin treatment of your loved one’s pressure sores immediately.
Infections It is estimated that as many as one to three million nursing home residents in the United States suffer from infections each year and as many as 380,000 residents die due to infection. This is often due to nursing homes failing to follow proper infection control procedures or providing substandard care to vulnerable elderly residents. Common infections include pneumonia, influenza, urinary tract infections, skin and soft tissue infections, and gastrointestinal infections. There are many steps that nursing homes can take to prevent infection, but, sadly, the staff at many facilities do not consistently follow infection prevention practices, even simple ones such as handwashing or wearing gowns and masks around infectious patients.
Unnecessary Falls at nursing homes occur regularly and repeatedly. In fact, the rate of falls in nursing homes is double that for the same age group living outside of long-term care facilities. The issue is a very serious one according to the following statistics from the Centers for Disease Control:
- Each year a typical nursing home with 100 beds reports 100-200 falls.
- About 1800 nursing home residents die from fall-related injuries every year.
- Between half and three-quarters of nursing home residents fall each year.
- Residents who do fall, often do so more than once, on average 2.6 times a year.
- 10%-20% of nursing home falls cause serious injuries such as bone fractures.
Falls in nursing homes can result in death, injury, disability, functional decline, depression and reduced quality of life for your loved one. It is extremely important to be vigilant for conditions that might increase the chances of a serious fall.
Negligent Care Inadequate care can result in all sorts of injuries to a resident. Neglect can cause incontinence, malnutrition and weight loss, choking, clogged breathing tubes, dehydration, and a decline in the patient’s quality of life. Neglect can also be responsible for bedsores, infection, illness and a deterioration in a patient’s condition due to lack of treatment or proper medication and a failure to coordinate care. Inadequate supervision can lead to burns, falls, and the patient wandering off. In addition, negligent care can also result in patients being over or under medicated, or being improperly treated with antipsychotics or sedatives to make them "easier to handle". Many of these conditions dramatically impact a patient’s everyday quality of life, and if left untreated, can lead to serious injury, disability or even death.
Overmedication Sadly, there are nursing homes who overmedicate their residents on a regular basis because it makes them easier to handle, or because of inadequate staffing. Sometimes the overmedication is an unintentional mistake made by an overstressed, overworked employee. Other times the patient is overmedicated intentionally because they are aggressive, emotional or uncooperative. Keeping a patient sedated for long periods of time for any reason is called "chemical restraint" and can be very dangerous. Here are some facts about overmedicating:
- Fewer than 20% of nursing home residents require antipsychotic medication.
- However, more than 300,000 nursing home residents are on antipsychotics.
- More than 50% of residents taking antipsychotics have no reason for taking them.
- 17% of patients receive greater than the recommended daily dosage of antipsychotics.
- 15,000 nursing home residents die every year because of un-prescribed antipsychotics.
If you observe that a large percentage of patients at a nursing home appear to be on antipsychotic drugs, this may be cause for alarm. It may be a sign that the facility does not take precautions against overmedicating or has a regular practice of overmedicating. If your loved one seems to be acting differently, ask to see a log of his/her medications. Ask about any medications you are not familiar with; ask if they are sedatives or antipsychotics; and if so, why they are being administered, for how long and when the treatment will be over.
If the facility can give no credible, medical reason for your loved one to be medicated, speak to a doctor and insist that he or she be taken off any unnecessary sedatives or antipsychotics.
At The Collins Law Firm we help you through a difficult situation by navigating the legal issues involved, providing your loved ones with the care and safety they deserve, and fighting for justice for your family.
Nursing homes are supposed to help our loved ones to live their lives in comfort and safety. All too often this is not the case and our loved ones suffer at the hands of people who are there to care for them. When this happens, the seasoned lawyers and legal team at The Collins Law Firm will work closely with you and your loved one to uncover the facts surrounding how an injury occurred and work toward a favorable settlement or lawsuit against the facility. More specifically, our lawyers can hold the nursing home accountable by:
- Putting together the strongest case possible to maximize your chance of winning your case in court or obtaining a fair settlement.
- Obtaining all medical records and bills from your physicians and hospital.
- Obtaining death certificates and coroner’s reports.
- Obtaining charts and records from the nursing home.
- Making a photographic record of conditions at the facility.
- Taking photos of any and all injuries.
- Taking a detailed statement from your loved one.
- Getting reports from nurses and physicians that indicate any failure to provide an adequate standard of care or that include any evidence to support your claim of abuse or neglect.
- Checking state inspection reports on the nursing home.
- Acting as a liaison between you, the nursing home and the appropriate agencies.
- Conducting a separate investigation into the suspected abuse or neglect.
- Giving your loved one forceful, experienced representation in court.
- Recovering damages for injuries, medical expenses and pain and suffering.
- Negotiating the maximum settlement possible for your loved one.
We invest the time and resources necessary to assemble every critical piece of your case so that we can secure the most favorable outcome for you. Our experienced lawyers take care of everything so that you and your loved one can concentrate on recovery while we fight to get you justice.
If your loved one is being mistreated at a nursing home, we invite you to call us today. With more than 20 years of experience in personal injury cases, including many nursing home neglect and abuse cases, our attorneys know how to prove the wrongful conduct that caused your loved one's injuries and recover full compensation for those injuries.
Contact The Collins Law Firm at (630) 527-1595 (dial extension 221 for Shawn Collins, 226 for Edward Manzke or 236 for John Risvold) for a free evaluation of your case, if you suspect that your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect. We will not only help you pursue the maximum compensation, but we will ensure your loved one gets the care he or she deserves.