What Is Considered Nursing Home Negligence?
Prospective clients will always ask us if nursing home neglect is considered negligence.
Most often, the answer to that question is yes. However, it all depends on the facts of your case. The nursing home can be legally responsible for neglect when it injures your loved one.
First, your family must be on the lookout for signs of nursing home abuse and neglect. Our Chicago law firm helps families when their loved one suffers serious injuries as a result of nursing home negligence.
When the nursing home fails in its job, we will help you hold them accountable.
The Duty Owed to Nursing Home Residents
When an Illinois nursing home takes in elderly residents, they assume a duty of care to them.
The nursing home has responsibility for every single aspect of the resident's health and well-being at every minute of the day.
In legal terms, they must act reasonably under the circumstances. They can be legally liable if they do not uphold this duty of care.
The Legal Test for Nursing Home Negligence
The nursing home is legally obligated to act as a reasonable nursing home would. The law recognizes that nursing home residents will get sick.
Sometimes, they may even be injured in things like falls. Not every single illness or injury is the fault of the nursing home.
However, when the nursing home fails to heed safety concerns or does not exercise the proper level of vigilance for their residents' well-being, it may cross the line to negligence.
There is a four-part test for nursing home negligence. The elements are:
- The nursing home owed your loved one the duty of care (which is automatic once they assume responsibility for their care)
- The nursing home acted unreasonably under the circumstances, thereby failing to uphold the duty of care
- Your loved one suffered an injury
- Your loved one would not have been injured had it not been for the actions of the nursing home.
The Lack of Proper Care Can Be Neglect
Nursing home patients are entirely dependent on staff members for all aspects of their daily life. The staff must keep residents healthy to the greatest extent possible under the circumstances.
Nursing homes must provide the appropriate level of care in the following areas:
- Safety and supervision
- Sanitation and hygiene
- Nutrition and hydration
The failure to provide proper care in any one of these areas may allow your family to take legal action against the nursing home.
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
The nursing home certainly will not report itself in most cases, even though neglect law requires them to report suspected abuse or allegations within 48 hours.
Therefore, it falls on your family to spot the abuse or neglect and report it to the proper authorities. If you are alleging abuse, you can even report it to local law enforcement.
Here are some signs of nursing home abuse:
- Unexplained injuries such as broken bones and bruising
- Your family member is visibly afraid around a certain staff member or other residents
- Your loved one has an onset of sudden mental health issues such as anxiety or depression
If you suspect that something is happening, you should get professional medical advice about the situation. Social workers are there to help your family. You can talk to the case manager, and they would have a legal obligation to report abuse.
Families should always be vigilant for possible warning signs of nursing home abuse. If your loved one is not getting the care that they need, you should complain to the nursing home.
If you are not getting a satisfactory response, you can file a complaint with the state.
An experienced attorney can advise you about the best way to act when you see warning signs of nursing home abuse or nursing home negligence.
Reporting Elder Abuse
If you see the warning signs of neglect or abuse, you should report them to protect your family members.
If you report suspected abuse to the nursing home, they must forward that report to the relevant state authorities within 48 hours, regardless of whether they believe you.
The Department of Health and Human Services or the state authorities may issue a citation and a fine. You can also contact law enforcement with immediate elder abuse complaints to take prompt action.
You can also call Adult Protective Services with concerns about elder abuse.
Other Types of Nursing Home Abuse
There are other types of nursing home abuse that could give your family grounds for a lawsuit.
- Sexual abuse
- Financial abuse
- Emotional abuse/emotional neglect
- Verbal abuse
Staff members may use their power to take advantage of vulnerable residents in a number of ways. In addition, other nursing home residents also can physically or sexually abuse your loved one.
When that happens, you can take legal action against the nursing home for failing to protect your loved one. In addition, your family should be vigilant about reporting neglect.
Pressure Sores Can Be Nursing Home Neglect
Not only is neglect a form of nursing home negligence, but it can also be considered elder abuse.
One of the common ways that nursing home negligence can endanger the life of a resident is when a nursing home staff member fails to move their position frequently, and residents are left to sit or lie down in the same position for too long.
Pressure ulcers form when the skin breaks down. When the same area of skin contacts a surface for too long, it will begin to become hard and irritated.
If nursing home staff do not notice this and take action, the bed sore will get far worse. Eventually, it could become a gaping hole in the skin that cuts through the fat and goes to the bone. Pressure ulcers can lead to sepsis and death.
Bed sores are avoidable, and they are a prime example of nursing home negligence. They should not happen under any circumstances.
Not only does the nursing home need a plan to prevent bedsores for high-risk residents, but they must follow it to the letter. Then, if a resident develops a bed sore, the nursing home must take immediate action.
Medical Neglect in Nursing Homes
Neglect occurs when the nursing home fails to get elderly residents the medical care that they need and provide it correctly. The nursing home has a legal duty to ensure that the resident receives medical care.
However, staff members may let problems linger or not even notice them at all. If the residents do receive care, doctors can make medical mistakes and fail to diagnose or properly treat a condition.
Another common example of negligence is prescription errors. Nursing home can make a number of errors with medications, including:
- Not giving your loved one the medications that they need
- Giving the wrong prescriptions
- Not checking for conflicts between medicines
- Giving incorrect dosages
- Administering the medication at the wrong time
Nursing Home Neglect Has Life Threatening Consequences
Neglecting nursing home residents puts their life in danger. For example, malnutrition and dehydration can make a resident far more vulnerable to infection.
Dehydration can take some of the moisture from the skin, making it more likely that the senior resident will develop pressure sores. Failure to change the resident or monitor their personal hygiene makes infection more likely.
If a mistake or neglect has caused your loved one's injury, contact us for a free case review.
Nursing Homes Are Often Understaffed
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are for-profit businesses. They are either privately held or have shareholders to satisfy. Oftentimes, the profit motive comes ahead of the residents and their essential medical care.
One was that nursing homes cut corners by cutting back on staffing at the care facility. Employees cost money, and the nursing facility tries to get the job done with as few people as possible.
They also hire lesser skilled nursing assistants instead of RNs who have the training to care for elders.
Personal Hygiene Failures Will Cause Life-Threatening Conditions
Nursing home neglect can jeopardize a resident's health and safety in many ways. Personal hygiene may seem mundane, but a failure to do things like changing and showering a resident can cause a number of risks.
The foremost risk is that the resident can develop an infection. Seniors are far more susceptible to infection in the nursing home setting.
When they are left sitting in their urine and feces for too long, the risk of infection increases.
Far too many residents die from sepsis after developing urinary tract infections that are entirely avoidable.
Caregiver Stress Among Nursing Home Workers
Many staff members try to do the right thing. However, working at a nursing home is a difficult job, especially when employees are undertrained and do not have the necessary support from management. This leaves the existing employees stressed and stretched.
Of course, this is not an excuse for emotional abuse or any sort of nursing home negligence.
However, stressed-out staff without resources at their disposal are far more likely to make errors.
Nursing Home Staff Members Often Lack Proper Training
Training is an expense for nursing homes. Many nursing homes try to keep bare bones budgets to maximize their own profits.
Employees who take training must be paid during that time. Nursing homes often try to throw employees in at the deep end before they fully know what they are doing.
Nursing home work requires precision. Even one mistake can seriously injure or kill a nursing home patient. Untrained staff are far more likely to make errors.
You Can Get Justice for a Neglectful Nursing Home
While there is little upside to nursing home abuse, the good news is that your family can do something about it. You can take legal action against the nursing home whose negligence injured your loved one.
If you are successfully able to prove that the nursing home was negligent, you can receive the following damages:
- Medical bills- the nursing home must pay for the full costs of medical treatment
- Pain and suffering- your loved one can receive compensation for what your loved one endured from the nursing home negligence
- Emotional distress- Nursing home negligence and elder abuse causes trauma and anxiety
- Wrongful death damages- if your loved one has died from nursing home negligence, your family can be paid for its own damages
Call Us for a Free Consultation
If your family member has been injured by nursing home neglect, the law firm of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can help.
We can offer a free legal case review to family members seeking financial compensation for the injuries that their loved one suffered from nursing home abuse and neglect.
Call us today at (888) 424-5757 or contact us online to schedule your free case review.
We will work to hold the nursing home legally liable for things like elder neglect and physical abuse.
Contact us today to begin our attorney client relationship. We pledge to protect your confidential or sensitive information.