Nursing Homes Neglect
Nursing home residents deserve to be treated with respect in their senior years, but sadly many of them are neglected or abused instead. Nursing home neglect is one common, but insidious form of elder abuse committed against residents in long-term care facilities. It occurs when nursing home staff fail to perform essential duties or provide inadequate care which results in harm to a resident. Negligent care is not insignificant as it can cause acute injury and even death. Sadly, negligent care is the most common form of elder abuse, accounting for about 15% of elder abuse complaints in nursing homes. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), almost 95% of nursing home residents have been neglected or have witnessed neglect.
This is simply not acceptable. Nursing homes have a duty to provide proper care and a safe living environment to residents. If they breach this duty of care, they can be held liable. If your loved one has suffered from nursing home neglect, our experienced nursing home attorneys can fight to make sure the facility accepts responsibility. And we can help you take legal action to protect your loved one.What Are the Causes of Negligent Care?
Negligent care is easily preventable; so why is it so common? The main cause of negligent care in nursing homes is understaffing. As many as 20% of nursing homes in the United States are understaffed, causing their employees to be overworked. When a nursing home is not adequately staffed, employees do not have enough time to provide thorough care to every resident. Moreover, when nurses and aides have an impossible workload, they become stressed and tired. These situations can result in mistakes being made, duties being ignored, patients being overlooked, and corners being cut. Worse still, it can cause employees to take out their frustration on the residents they are supposed to care for.
Other causes of negligent care include inadequate staff training and negligent hiring practices. Inadequately trained staff are more likely to mishandle frail, elderly residents, make medication errors, or provide substandard care. Failing to perform backgrounds checks on applicants can lead to hiring individuals with criminal backgrounds or drug or alcohol abuse issues which makes them more likely to mistreat or neglect vulnerable patients.Types of Nursing Home Neglect
- Neglect of Basic Living Needs includes failing to provide nursing home residents with adequate food, water, and a clean, safe living environment. This is basic neglect that should never be allowed to happen.
- Medical Neglect occurs when staff fail to provide adequate medical care for a resident’s health issues. It can include failing to administer medication when needed, improperly caring for patients with health issues like dementia or diabetes, not moving elderly patients with mobility issues, and not reporting illnesses, infections, or bedsores to doctors or nurses. This type of neglect can result in diabetic complications, worsening bedsores, serious infections, and more.
- Neglect of Personal Hygiene is the failure of nursing home staff to help with basic hygiene like bathing, toileting, dental care, haircare, and nail care. Neglect may also occur if the facility fails to wash residents’ laundry, change their clothes regularly, or change the bedding and clothing of patients who soil themselves.
- Social or Emotional Neglect involves ignoring nursing home residents, leaving them alone for long periods of time, and failing to give them opportunities for social interaction. This can occur in nursing homes where staff don’t provide canes, wheelchairs, or walkers to residents with mobility issues or in facilities where residents with severe mobility issues are forgotten, restrained, or isolated.
Negligent care can cause serious physical and psychological harm to elderly nursing home residents. It can result in many different types of health issues including incontinence, malnutrition, dehydration, anemia, fatigue, infections, and bedsores. Neglect can also lead to more serious, potentially life-threatening injuries. Malnutrition and dehydration can lead to bedsores. Inadequate supervision can lead to choking, falls, burns, and Alzheimer’s patients wandering away from the facility. Inadequate wound care can lead to serious infections and sepsis. Ignored and untreated dental and medical conditions can lead to a worsening of the condition and even death. In addition, many understaffed facilities that provide negligent care also overmedicate their residents to make them more compliant and ‘easier to handle’, which is another form of abuse.What Signs of Neglect Should You Look For?
If you suspect your loved one is receiving negligent care in their nursing home, it’s important that you be on the lookout for signs of the abuse and put a stop to it. Some of the key warning signs of negligent care are listed below.
Unexplained weight loss is a possible sign that your loved one is malnourished and/or dehydrated. Residents who are being neglected often miss meals and do not have enough to drink. Other signs of malnutrition include tiredness, irritability, papery skin, or hair loss.
Personality changes can be the result of missed medication, overlooked emotional issues, overmedicating, stress, or malnutrition. An unexplained change in personality is a major red flag for abuse.
Poor hygiene is another warning sign to look for. Many people in nursing homes need assistance with tooth brushing, nail care, bathing, and changing. If your loved one does not appear to have good hygiene, get involved. It may be the result of negligent care.
Unsanitary Living Conditions are another major warning sign of neglect. It is the staff’s responsibility to provide a clean, sanitary, safe place for the residents to live. If this is not being provided, it may be time to look for a new living situation.
Unnecessary falls are common among residents living in understaffed nursing homes and are often caused by negligent care. Patients with limited mobility or diminished strength may attempt to walk by themselves or get out of bed unassisted when there is no one to help them and can fall as a result. If your loved one has suffered a fall, ask him or her for the details. It’s possible the nursing home does not provide adequate supervision or help to residents.
Unexplained injuries such as bruises, broken bones and burns may signal neglect. Poorly staffed facilities are more likely to have residents who have fallen and injured themselves. Any injury should be investigated right away.
Bedsores may indicate that your loved one is not being moved often enough to prevent these pressure sores from forming. This is especially true if the bedsores have become serious and deep, involving muscle and/or bone. A doctor must be alerted to this situation immediately.
Loss of Mobility may signal neglect. Good nursing homes try to keep residents as active and mobile as possible to help them retain muscle. Loss of mobility may indicate that the facility is neglectful and leaves patients in bed or sitting for long periods of time.
If you have noticed any of these signs, contact us at today (630) 527-1595.What Can You Do to Prevent Neglect?
Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to prevent your loved one from being abused and neglected. When placing your loved one in a nursing home you should be extremely cautious. Be on the lookout for signs of understaffing when touring each nursing home and steer clear of any facility with unsanitary living conditions. Pay attention to the staff. Do you see a lot of staff working at the facility and interacting with residents or do they look harried and overwhelmed? Look at the residents. Do they appear clean, well-cared for, busy, and happy? Most importantly: ask questions about staffing levels, nutrition, cleanliness protocols, access to doctors and nurses, residents’ schedules, and anything else you want to know.
Once your loved one is in a nursing home, it’s important to stay in contact with them on a regular basis. Talk to them and, more importantly, listen to them. Do not dismiss claims from your loved one that they are suffering from abuse or neglect. Visit them on different days and at different times and watch for signs of abuse or neglect. If you start to notice anything suspicious, talk to your loved one about it, and report it to a trusted staff member and the nursing home administrator. If your concerns are brushed off or you do not get an acceptable response from them, call an attorney. They can help you report any abuse and discuss your legal options.What to Do If Your Loved One Is Being Abused or Neglected
Failing to meet the basic needs of elderly nursing home patients is neglect and is never acceptable. If someone you love has been injured due to this kind of neglect, you need to take legal action. Contact our experienced nursing home abuse attorneys immediately if your loved one has been neglected by nursing home staff, or if you suspect your loved one is being neglected. We understand the pain and betrayal you feel when you discover your loved one has suffered abuse in the very place you entrusted with their care, and we are here to help. Our dedicated team of attorneys will thoroughly investigate your loved one’s claim and fight to get him or her the maximum compensation available for their injuries. We will handle every facet of the case, allowing you to focus on finding a safe living situation for your loved one, while we get him or her the justice they deserve. Call us at (630) 527-1595 or fill out our contact form for a FREE evaluation of your nursing home abuse or neglect case today.