Rockford Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
When you need a lawyer to help with your injury case, the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are the place for legal advice. In addition, we offer free consultations where we can discuss how they'll work on your behalf and what compensation may be available if any of these injuries were caused by Rockford nursing home abuse at facilities.
Contact a Rockford personal injury lawyer at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation today. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Rockford, Illinois, is the third-largest city in the state. Its position near the Illinois-Wisconsin border and between Galena and Chicago has made it a strategically located city with deep roots in the manufacturing and transportation industries.
Its population of over 150,000 has dwindled in recent years, allowing Aurora to surpass the city in population.
This economically diverse city provides a home to the operations of numerous companies in the automobile manufacturing, aerospace, and healthcare industries. In addition, its airport supports the operations of UPS's second-largest air hub in the world.
A Brief History of Rockford, Illinois
When settlers from New England began to travel west, two settlements were founded on opposite sides of the Rock River, from which the city would eventually gain its name. Germanicus Kent and Thatcher Blake founded the settlement of Kentville on the west bank as Daniel Shaw Haight established Haightville on the east side of the river.
The two settlements soon gained distinction as one entity called Midway, but the name wouldn't last, as the settlements were located near a ford on the Rock River.
Rockford was the name given to the town by settlers, and by 1837, Midway was officially renamed. The legislature deemed the town the county seat and presided over Winnebago and Roscoe— two developments at odds. Nevertheless, much of the city's early growth could be accredited to the founding of the Rockford Female Seminary, of which Jane Addams would later become a graduate. The Seminary became Rockford College soon after and expanded its curriculum to serve more students.
As the railroad gained prominence, the city would receive a connection along the Galena and Chicago Railroad. This development would establish the city as an industrial center, and over time, the area would become renowned for its agricultural machinery and furniture production.
The Rockford Union Furniture Company became the second-largest furniture manufacturer in the United States. The home of its founder, John Erlander, is a modern-day museum in honor of his accomplishments.
Throughout history, the city served as a strategic asset to the military. For example, one of the first regiments mobilized in Illinois during the Civil War was from the area, and the city was home to Camp Fuller, which trained an additional four regiments.
President Theodore Roosevelt visited the city in 1903 for the dedication of the Winnebago County Veterans Memorial Hall. Later on, the area would be home to Camp Grant, training soldiers during World War I.
During the early 1900s, the city would welcome multitudes of immigrants, which would, in turn, strengthen its industrial roots. However, following World War II, Rockford began to experience a decline due to its reliance on manufacturing and the need to diversify its economy.
The construction of the Northwest Tollway aided this transition. By 1965 local leaders had created a new campus for the Rockford College, founded the Rock Valley College, and courted Chrysler, which set up an assembly plant in Belvidere.
Economic Diversification Efforts Lead to Division
Economic divisions have given the impression that Rockford is two separate cities— East and West Rockford. The east and west regions differ significantly; the affluent east side of the city is home to wealthy white-collar workers, while the west side suffers from economic hardship, lack of access to public services, and crime.
Rockford was home to a controversy in 2002 in which a judge ordered the government to pay $250 million for upgrades to schools following allegations of discrimination against the African-American population.
The Great Recession exacerbated the economic divide and has since fueled a decline in population fueled by the evictions of residents who could not keep their homes.
One out of three mortgages in the city was underwater by 2012, and the city suffered an unemployment rate of almost 13%. Forbes recently declared the city number three on its list of America's Most Miserable Cities.
Rockford's Largest Employers
Like other cities in the Rust Belt, Rockford is recovering from a manufacturing decline in the United States. However, its overreliance on the industry in the past precipitated many of its current economic problems.
The Chrysler Belvidere Assembly Plant employs over 4,700 Rockford residents. The Swedish American Hospital, Rockford Health System, and OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center provide most jobs in the medical sector. Additionally, UPS operations out of the Greater Rockford Airport have provided over 2,000 jobs.
Senior Demographics for Rockford, Illinois
The senior community represents a significant portion of Rockford's population, and the city is home to over 21,000 residents who are 65 years or older. An additional 5,000 residents are between the ages of 60-64 and nearing retirement.
Retirees or those nearing retirement comprise 17.6 % of the population. There are over twenty nursing facilities located throughout northeast Illinois to serve the needs of this significant segment of the public.
Competition often breeds quality as competitors must provide the best service possible to attract patients into their nursing homes. Still, it also makes the process of finding the right nursing home for your loved ones more difficult and frustrating. Illinois has witnessed an epidemic in recent years of nursing home abuse cases, many resulting in lawsuits.
Many people who must place their loved ones in the care of a nursing home have warranted concerns about the reputations of the nursing homes they are considering.
Nursing home negligence exists in multiple forms and is not always the result of direct physical abuse. Instead, there are numerous factors to consider that may be symptoms of elder nursing home neglect.
When reviewing any case, a northeast Illinois nursing home abuse lawyer will consider the facility's history and whether any of the following factors may have resulted in harm to your loved one:
- Environmental safety: A poor environment can result from the clutter that poses a fall or tripping risk, poor maintenance of the grounds, or improper measures to sanitize living quarters.
- Improper administration of medicine: When a nursing home is understaffed, additional pressure is placed on caregivers who must divide their time between more patients each day. A lack of staff can result in medication errors that can result in severe interactions or complications.
- Poorly implemented personal care plans: Every nursing home care facility must create plans tailored to each patient's needs that are cared for, but these plans are not always implemented efficiently. As a result, especially when nursing homes are not adequately staffed, patients don't receive the attention they require.
- Evidence of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse: While many elder nursing home neglect cases are attributed more heavily to policy rather than direct acts by caregivers, some incidents of direct sexual abuse in which a staff member will assault the patient. Physical abuse is entirely unacceptable, and the offenders must be brought to justice.
- Unexplained injuries: All close family members must be notified when an elderly patient has a strange injury, such as a fractured hip, brain damage, spinal cord damage, or any other medical issue that needs treatment.
The overall star rating Medicare.gov will assist you in making a more informed decision on whether to place your loved one in a nursing home or have them relocated due to ongoing nursing home abuse or neglect.
Is the Rising Trend of Abuse and Nursing Home Neglect Unstoppable?
Ten percent of America's elderly population lives in nursing homes. While state and federal laws require that all such institutions provide adequate care, mistreatment continues to be a widespread problem. Many cases go unreported because victims are unable to report their abusers.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), more than 38,000 allegations of such incidents were reported in 2013 alone. Moreover, that number has been steadily increasing since 2008, when CMS began tracking such figures.
According to The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), one out of every ten elders experiences some form of elder abuse. Still, cases go largely unreported because most victims are unable or afraid to report their abusers. As a result, NCEA studies show that only about one-third of suspected abuse is ever reported to authorities.
A study by the National Research Council in 2000 reported that around four percent of elderly adults in nursing homes and other residential facilities were physically abused by staff, while another eight percent suffered from neglect.
Since then, multiple reports have been issued warning that the problem continues to get worse.
The Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Nursing home abuse and neglect happen across the country every day. Sadly, it is often too late before most people realize that something is wrong. The health of their loved ones has already been severely compromised by the time they are diagnosed with severe malnutrition or bedsores, for example.
Therefore, tackling nursing home abuse and neglect starts with recognizing the warning signs early on.
If you can spot these signs in your loved one's nursing home, take action immediately. Common warning signs that your loved one is being abused or neglected include:
- Unexplained bruising: Any unexplained burns, bruises, bumps, rashes, or other skin conditions, could be an indicator of nursing home abuse
- Overmedication: Some nursing home abuse involves when caregivers over sedate their residents to make them more manageable, fraying up the caregivers time not or lumps under the skin–these could be indicative of bedsores, which are often a sign of nursing home neglect
- Poor hygiene: If your loved one is repeatedly dirty and smelly, they may not be receiving proper care at the nursing home.
- Facility-acquired bedsores: A proper skincare, routine skin assessment, and needed treatment, nearly every facility-acquired pressure sore can be prevented
- Sudden weight loss: If your relative starts losing weight without explanation, this may indicate a problem with their diet that might involve malnutrition or dehydration
- Signs of sexual abuse: Sadly, nursing home abuse can be in the form of sexual abuse, and it is a common occurrence, especially when staff, employees, visitors inappropriately or sexually touch the patient or other elderly nursing home residents without their consent
- Unexplained withdrawal from social situations: If your loved one becomes less social and becomes distant from friends and family members, it could signal that something is wrong in their life away from the nursing home.
Other abuses include overmedication, withholding meals and liquids, isolating residents with dementia from their families. Moreover, withholding medical treatment to control behavior such as insulin shock therapy (involuntary conduction of insulin coma) is considered unethical today.
If you notice any of these signs in your loved one's life, either when you visit them or review progress reports regularly, take action immediately by reporting a nursing home abuse or neglect to the proper authorities.
Know Your Loved One's Rights
According to the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, every patient, resident, or individual residing in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or rehab center has legal rights. The act is comprised of numerous legal rights that include the right to:
- Autonomy and soft dependents when making personal decisions
- Physical, mental, and emotional well-being
- Receive quality care in a safe and clean environment
- Be free from physical or chemical restraints used for discipline or convenience and not in the interest of safety.
Under laws like the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, abusers can face fines up to $100,000 per offense; this includes individuals, owners, management staff members, nurses, doctors, and all other employees working directly or indirectly at any healthcare facility.
The first step in making sure that your loved ones do not become victims of nursing home abuse is learning about their rights under federal and state laws and finding ways to exercise those rights.
All nursing home facilities must make a policy manual readily available. Read it; it will tell you what kind of care your loved ones can expect from their caregivers and how you can go about filing a complaint if necessary.
The Hazards of Nursing Home Understaffing
Over the last two decades, there has been a significant rise in the number of beds required in nursing homes to meet the aging population's demand. As a result, many for-profit corporations operating nursing homes throughout the state have found it challenging to find and hire the best staff to ensure that every resident's needs are met.
Unfortunately, some of these corporations and facilities have found a way to (in the words of one company) "save more money on the payroll" by using understaffing practices. As a result, over the last 18 months, there has been an increased national focus on the nursing home industry and its use of these understaffing practices.
You may be surprised at how many facilities throughout Illinois (and in your town) are guilty of this practice. A recent overview of 844 facility-level CMS complaints found that 65% had valid allegations related to quality care issues such as:
- Inadequate staffing
- Lack of adequate supervision or training or use of unauthorized assistants
- About 63% had staff issues such as failure to perform required evaluations for serious injuries/illnesses, including bedsores, falls, malnutrition
- Nearly 40% had issues such as failure to respond to immediate needs of residents or delayed response
The Impact on Elder Abuse?
A recent national webinar sponsored by the National Resource Center for Participant-Directed Services (supported by CMS) used information from Medicare claims records in several metropolitan areas that showed a strong correlation between understaffing. Also, and an increase in adverse events, falls, and unplanned patient readmissions at the facility level.
Why keep nursing homes properly staffed? Patient care! Studies show:
- 25% of hospitalized patients develop new pressure ulcers during their hospital stay
- The annual cost associated with pressure ulcer treatment is $9 billion, with costs incurred primarily through increased lengths of stay and frequency of readmissions
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), in their 2014 Report to Congress on Nursing Homes, stated that "low nurse staffing levels equate to low quality of care."
Do you suspect understaffing or nursing home neglect has caused your loved one harm? If so, call our personal injury attorneys at (888) 424-5757, so we can protect your family and our most vulnerable citizens from the devastation of Elder abuse.
How a Lack of Supervision Claims Nursing Home Lives
When you place your loved one in a nursing home, they are entrusting their care into the hands of the staff.
According to the National Institute of Health, a lack of supervision of nursing home patients can lead to catastrophic injuries and wrongful death. In addition, many residents become the victims of preventable injuries because of understaffing, a lack of supervision, or elder abuse.
Nursing home residents reside in the facility to receive assistance with daily activities like grooming, bathing, toileting, and eating. In addition, most are there to receive medical care at the highest level to ensure their well-being is optimized.
Unfortunately, a lack of supervision could lead to:
- Slip and falls resulting in broken hips, bones, bruises, and lacerations
- Elopement when a confused or disoriented patient wanders away from their room, area, or nursing home, trips and falls when a patient has a gait or walker issue
- Exposure to medication errors that lead to severe medical reactions due to their compromised health status like wandering, which can lead to falls or exhaustion if they become lost
- Physical abuse by staff or other residents
- Sexual abuse, including molestation and rape
- Emotional neglect due to the absence of needed care related to their mental status
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is an agency within the U.S Department of Health and Human Services that has developed a Minimum Data Set (MDS) tool. The MDS is an observational tool utilized in nursing homes across America to track everything from the care provided and lack of supervision.
According to the AHRQ, people who walk away from nursing homes are at risk of drowning, exposure, or injury - especially if they walk into traffic and are hit by a vehicle.
How Bedsores Are a Common but Preventable Problem in Nursing Homes
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), facility-acquired bedsores are "never events," meaning that if the staff followed established protocols, they could ensure that the patient never develops a pressure wound.
Unfortunately, due to understaffing, neglect, or lack of caring, nearly one in five nursing home residents will develop a facility-acquired pressure sore within months of their admittance to the facility.
When a facility-acquired "pressure sore" occurs in an elderly patient, it can drastically shorten their lifespan and lead to serious psychological problems from the resulting pain.
What Causes Bedsores?
Pressure wounds - also known as pressure ulcers, decubitus ulcers, and even "decompression sores" - form due to the patient's blood circulation slowly being cut off over time, usually due to prolonged periods of pressure.
The wound can develop because of underlying medical conditions such as diabetes and cancer, if the patient has osteoporosis, or even simply from lying down for too long (such as in bed). When this happens, the affected skin and tissues begin to die.
Depending on where the wound occurs, the patient's wounds could go unnoticed by many of the facility's staff for weeks due to understaffing or negligence.
How Can This Be Prevented?
Bedsores can be prevented with proper supervision and regular repositioning of the patient.
The nurse will stand by and ensure no pressure is being put on the affected area during repositioning, usually done with a bedside commode or lift chair. If an aide is performing the repositioning, the nurse should also come over to assess whether any additional help with positioning would be needed.
If the patient is confined to bed, then it's up to the nurse or aide to reposition them every two hours or more frequently as needed.
What Are the Dangers Associated With Bedsores?
Unfortunately, bedsores can progress into much more serious - and even life-threatening - conditions if left untreated. For example, if the wound becomes infected, other problems can arise, such as pneumonia or blood poisoning.
What Can Be Done to Prevent the Formation of Bedsores?
Another way to help prevent bedsores is by placing a pressure-reducing mattress overlay on the bed and then using a large pillow under the victim's heels to lift the patient's feet.
It prevents any pressure from being put on the skin, which can cause it to become necrotic and eventually die due to a lack of blood flow - an effect known as "ischemia." If you or someone close to you suspects that a loved one in a nursing home is developing bedsores, then you must speak to the facility's administration immediately.
More than likely, additional help is needed in repositioning the patient. The facility staff will assist with this process until they can safely handle performing it independently.
The best way to prevent bedsores is by staying vigilant about your loved one's condition and ensuring that they are receiving proper care.
Taking Legal Action After Learning About Acute or Chronic Problems at a Northeast Illinois Nursing Center
Even the most reputable nursing home must strive to make continuous improvements in an era where elder nursing home neglect and abuse are beginning to run rampant.
Do you suspect your loved one is the victim of elder abuse, mistreatment, or neglect? If so, discuss the matter with an Illinois personal injury lawyer and form a plan to remove your loved one from their current environment and obtain justice from those responsible for the abuse or neglect.
Our Rockford nursing home abuse lawyers represent elderly clients throughout the State of Illinois. Our nursing abuse team has defended the legal rights of hundreds of clients who have been neglected or abused by those meant to provide their care.
Our experienced attorney's primary concern is the well-being of your loved ones and removing them from a negative environment, and our team can assist you with this transition. In addition, seeking compensation through a personal injury claim can ensure that you cover the cost of treating injuries and out-of-pocket expenses you have incurred because of the physical abuse.
Contact us today to arrange a risk-free consultation so we may review your case and discuss your legal options.
If we cannot secure compensation on your behalf, our resources and services will come at no cost to you. Therefore, we encourage nursing home residents and family members to file a personal injury claim. Your personal injury lawyer will review your abuse and neglect cases that left you with medical issues, including emotional trauma, verbal abuse, elder abuse, and physical injury.
Hiring A Rockford Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer to Resolve Your Compensation Case
Were you injured from nursing home negligence or abuse, or did you lose a loved one through a wrongful death caused by abuse or mistreatment?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our nursing home abuse attorneys can ensure you receive maximum compensation for your damages.
Our legal team accepts all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee basis. This promise ensures you pay nothing until we resolve your case through a negotiated settlement or jury award.