Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
When you trust a nursing home with the care of your family member, you don’t expect that there will be any type of abuse that takes place. Unfortunately, there are several types of nursing home abuse that occur across the country. While some types are physical, you could also see financial, emotional, and sexual abuse among many others that are committed by nursing assistants and other workers at the facility. There are a few warning signs that you can pay attention to if you suspect that abuse is taking place, giving these details to an attorney who can begin a proper investigation into the acts that you believe are being committed.
During your visits to see your family members in a nursing home, you should ask a few questions to determine if there could be any alterations in the person’s mindset. If it seems like the person doesn’t want to talk or is afraid to speak with you and is usually talking during each visit, then there’s a possibility that something could have occurred. Talk to the person about any kind of pain that they might have or if anyone has been doing something in the room that seems odd.
If you’re unable to ask questions because the person is unable to talk, there are some details that you can look for with a quick view of the person’s body and environment. Pay attention to the cleanliness of the facility. The building should be sanitary, especially in the rooms so that residents have a clean and safe place to live. If the staff doesn’t care for the cleanliness of the facility, then it could indicate neglect in other areas. It can also lead to the spread of infections and other diseases that travel through unsanitary conditions.
Look for any signs of weight loss. You also need to look to see if residents are receiving their meals during the day or if the facility offers snacks and other types of nutrition so that residents don’t get dehydrated or malnourished. A common sign of physical abuse would be broken bones that can’t be explained, bruises in odd areas of the body, and lacerations. If you see any of these physical signs, talk to a nurse to find out if the person could have fallen or if something else occurred. However, most facilities will contact the family if someone falls or is injured. If you haven’t received any type of contact and notice that there appear to be several bruises or other physical signs, some that appear older than others, then consider consulting with an attorney. Take pictures of the signs that you see so that you can show them to the attorney when you meet. Sometimes, physical injuries can result in an unexplained death. If you suspect that abuse could have taken place before the person’s death, then you need to give all of these details to the attorney to try to formulate a claim against the facility if possible.
Financial abuse is common in nursing homes as well. Some workers have access to the bank accounts of residents and will make charges on credit and debit cards or take money from accounts. Check the room for any signs that personal property is missing, especially jewelry or items that have value as they could be sold for money. Look or any medications that are missing or any medications that aren’t being given as they should. This would lead to a physical injury if the person doesn’t receive medications on a regular schedule. Pay attention to the emotional well-being of your family member. Sometimes, those who have been abused stopped leaving their room and stop associating with other people. You might notice the person being angry for no reason or crying all the time, especially when the person is touched.
If you have a family member in a nursing home, try to visit as much as you can so that you can note any significant changes. It can also deter abuse from taking place. If the workers know that you’re frequently there during the week, then they usually won’t be as likely to commit an abusive act. Sometimes, other family members or other residents who are in the facility can commit nursing home abuse, which is why you need to know the warning signs if you suspect anything before you seek the assistance of an attorney.
There are numerous residents in nursing homes who are protected under the Illinois Nursing Home Act, but some of those residents still find themselves on the end of abuse in a facility where they are supposed to receive proper care. While residents are in nursing homes, they could receive too much medication or not enough. They might not receive all of the nutrition that they need. Sometimes, residents are left in their beds and develop sores that can lead to an infection or death if not treated. There are also numerous other medication conditions and acts of abuse that occur in nursing homes where residents are supposed to be cared for each day.
There are signs of nursing home abuse that you can pay attention to if a family member is in a facility of this type. You can make a checklist of symptoms to take with you when you visit your family member or if you are checking on the well-being of other residents you know who are in the nursing home. While talking to the person you’re checking on, pay attention to the emotional state. If the person seems to be depressed or doesn’t want to talk, then it could be because there has been some kind of abuse that has taken place. You also need to pay attention to any irritation or anger that the person might have. Most people who are abused will withdraw from being around other people. They won’t take part in activities as they did before the abuse started. Although these can be signs of physical abuse that has occurred, they could also be signs of emotional abuse as this is a common issue in nursing homes. The nursing assistants and other workers could belittle the residents in the home, call them names, or make them feel as though they are worthless for being in their living situation.
See if there are any physical restraints on the person’s bed that shouldn’t be there, such as straps that are on the arms or legs. These could be in place in order to keep the person in bed because of safety concerns. However, if you know that there are no concerns of this nature, then you should consider approaching someone to find out why the restraints are in place. When you talk to your family member or the person you’re visiting, look for any bruises, lacerations, or other areas that indicate clear signs of physical abuse. Pay attention to whether the person flinches or withdraws in pain when touched as this could indicate that there is something severe going on with the person’s injuries. Sometimes, residents in nursing homes are hit or injured so severely that their bones are broken.
You also need to note on a checklist about any signs of an infection. A fever or redness on the skin are both common signs to look for if there is an infection present. Look at the resident’s mouth to determine if proper dental care has been given. You also need to look for any bedsores or signs that the bedding hasn’t been changed. If the person wears diapers, then check to see if there have been regular changes and cleanings. Look to see if the person has been receiving meals during the day and other types of nutrition. If the resident has not received any of this care or if there are signs that the person has been left alone, then neglect could be an issue.
After looking over every detail of the resident’s condition and discovering the possibility of abuse, then you need to get copies of the documents associated with the person’s care. Find out when care was supposed to be provided and what happened when each worker was in the room. If there are inconsistencies, then you need to alert the manager of the nursing home, an investigator, and an attorney so that the proper claims can be filed. Details that you should have ready to turn in to the attorney include hospital records, a list of medications, lab work, and the care plan that is kept by the nursing home. When you talk to an attorney, you should also have pictures of the signs that you see as a way to create a timeline of events if at all possible.
Unless you have the skills and the time to care for an elderly family member, there is a good possibility that someone you know will live in a nursing home during their later years of life. Although there are some nursing homes that ensure residents feel like they never left their comfortable surroundings, there are some that simply aren’t prepared to handle the influx of residents over the span of only a few years as many people who are older decide to move to this kind of setting. Unfortunately, that means that there will be some kind of nursing home abuse that takes place in some of the facilities across the country, even in Chicago.
About 90 percent of the nursing homes in the country have issues with the number of people working and providing care. This means that the workers who are in the facilities aren’t able to spend enough time with residents. Most facilities recommend that residents receive at least four hours of care at some point during the day. If there aren’t enough nurses or assistants, then this number could be cut in half or lower, resulting in abuse over time. Some facilities don’t abuse their residents with intent. They simply can’t address the needs that residents have, resulting in neglect. When neglect occurs and residents aren’t bathed correctly, aren’t fed, or are left in a position where they aren’t safe, then they can get injured over time.
One of the reasons why nursing homes are understaffed is because of the pay for nursing assistants. Most make less than $25,000 a year, which means that they often need to find another job in addition to working in a nursing home. Those who do maintain only one job in a nursing home might not feel as though they should provide the proper care that residents need for such a low income.
Sometimes, workers aren’t trained before they begin a job at a nursing home. While most facilities do require that employees have some type of certification, they often aren’t provided with the proper training to handle residents in a nursing home or in a specific medical career that they choose after obtaining their certification. The number of workers in nursing homes continues to decline even though there are more facilities that need the help of skilled workers who are compassionate about their job.
Most of the cuts that are made to the number of workers in nursing homes is a result of facilities trying to make more money. There are almost 1.5 million people who call a nursing home of some kind their place of residence. Families often pay for about $34 billion of care that residents receive while some type of government healthcare or aid provides the funding for almost $75 billion. Although nursing assistants are losing their jobs and getting their hours cut, which then results in a decrease in income, managers at nursing homes are making more money. Some managers of large facilities make over $1 million a year.
Most nursing homes that make a profit are known for more abuse than those that aren’t concerned with making a profit. Even though there are thousands of incidents of nursing home abuse that occur across the country each year, only about one in 14 incidents is reported by family members or by the person who is on the receiving end of the abuse.
Since nursing home and elder abuse can occur in many ways, it’s important for family members to pay attention to some of the signs that could be present. You might notice bruises or broken bones. Sometimes, residents are financially abused as workers take money from bank accounts. Rape occurs more often than people would like to admit in nursing homes. You’ll also see emotional abuse as workers make statements toward residents to belittle them. Since there is a lack of workers, many residents don’t receive the proper nutrition that they need or the medications that they need for medical conditions that they have. If you notice any signs of abuse, even if it’s something small, consult with an attorney to try to open an investigation. Your attorney can work with the proper officials to determine if abuse is taking place before filing a claim and putting together the details for a settlement.
Contrary to what it may sound like, nursing home elopement does not involve two residents running off to get married. Rather, it deals with issues related to nursing home residents who wander. According to a report in Across the States: Profiles of Long-Term Care and Independent Living,(which was published by AARP), around half of all nursing home residents suffer from some form of dementia. Studies also show that nearly 20% of all dementia patients have wandered away from a nursing home or their usual place during their lifetime.
With Alzheimer’s disease and dementia on the rise, nursing home elopement is happening all too frequently. This can lead to injuries or even death that could entitle you to a remedy under law.
Experienced Nursing Home Elopement Attorneys
Here at the Zayed Law Offices, we are knowledgeable, reputable nursing home elopement attorneys who know elder law inside and out. We have several years of experience, and are familiar with many of the common reasons for nursing home elopement such as:
• Improper (or a lack of) security measures
• Inadequate or poorly trained staff
• Failing to be aware of a resident’s whereabouts
Nursing home elopement cases do not always involve residents who wander off the property. Some individuals may roam throughout the facility itself and sustain injuries such broken bones, bruises, or traumatic brain injuries. These too could be prevented if the nursing home only had the right policies and procedures in place. For example, they could identify individuals who were a fall risk, and maintain facilities that make injury less likely.
Required Standard of Care
To prevail in court, you must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the facility failed to provide the proper standard of care. You must also prove that that breach was the direct cause of your loved one’s elopement and subsequent injury. This is the basis for any negligence lawsuit, including those related to nursing home elopement.
Many elopements are made worse by the fact that nursing home staff do not realize residents have wondered. Others fail to take appropriate action once they learn that a person has wandered. If you can show that the nursing home failed to respond in a timely fashion after an elopement, this will only work in your favor.
A nursing home lawyer can help you prove that the facility chose not to meet the standard of care required by law. In addition, it is important that it be shown that the facility failed to respond timely or appropriately after knowing that an elopement or wandering of one its residents had occurred.
Nursing Home Care Act
All Illinois nursing homes are governed by the provisions set forth in the Nursing Home Care Act. Federal agencies such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS) often partner with Illinois nursing homes to ensure they remain in compliance with laws such as the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1987. Part of remaining in compliance with OBRA involves dealing with accident prevention-something that definitely includes nursing home elopements.
How should nursing homes remain compliant? They should begin as soon as a new resident arrives by screening that person and evaluating their risks. Individuals should also be reevaluated regularly during their stay in order to identify new risks that may not have been present initially.
For those identified as an elopement risk, nursing homes should come up with an individualized care plan to address that issue. That care plan should identify specific strategies designed to keep that person from wandering and to mitigate any negative consequences should it happen anyway. If a care plan is not on file or contains inadequate information, the nursing home has not met its standard of care.
Experienced Nursing Home Elopement? Legal Help is Available
Do you have a loved one who was injured following a nursing home elopement? If so, help is available through the Zayed Law Offices. Contact us today at 815-318-0708 so that we can discuss your case as well as any further actions that might be necessary. As experienced nursing home abuse lawyers, we fight hard for families of victims and would be honored to do battle on your behalf.
What are the Laws Regarding Nursing Home Injury in Illinois?
If you have a loved one in a nursing home, his or her care is of the utmost importance. Nursing home residents in Illinois are protected under Illinois and federal laws. In 1987, the Nursing Home Reform Act was passed by Congress. According to this legislation, nursing homes that receive funds from Medicaid and Medicare must to adhere to quality of care laws.
The highlights of the Nursing Home Reform Act include:
42 CFR §483.3: Nursing homes must have a sufficient number of nursing staff.
42 CFR §483.20: Nursing homes are required to administer a complete and accurate assessment of a resident’s ability to function, which may include dressing and feeding oneself, mobility, and other issues.
42 CFR §483.20: Each patient must have an individualized care plan.
42 CFR §483.25: Nursing homes are required to provide services to residents who are not able to care for themselves. Nursing home facilities must help residents with grooming, hygiene, and maintaining proper nutrition.
42 CFR §483.25: Nursing homes must supervise and assist residents who are not able to move adequately to ensure they do not develop bed sores or pressure sores.
42 CFR §483.25: Every nursing home is required to enforce necessary precautions that will make certain residents have all the equipment that is needed to avoid falls and other accidents.
42 CFR §483.25: Nursing homes must make certain that each resident is provided with nutritious meals.
42 CFR §483.75: Nursing homes are required to keep and maintain complete clinical charts and medical records for each resident.
42 CFR §483.25: Each resident must have enough fluids to stay properly hydrated and to maintain their overall health.
In addition, nursing homes in Illinois must adhere to the Adult Protective Services Act, which was enacted in July of 2013. This is beneficial for residents in Illinois nursing homes because it means that nursing homes must comply with federal and state laws.
According to this law, abuse is any mental, sexual, or physical injury to an eligible adult. The law also protects eligible adults from having their financial resources exploited. Another law that is enforced in Illinois is the Nursing Home Care Act. The Nursing Home Care Act allows the Illinois Department of Public Health to ensure that nursing homes are in compliance with all the requirements of a licensed nursing home. For instance, this act requires that nursing homes are prepared for periodic inspections from the Department of Public Health.
The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act requires that each nursing home meets all safety, health, or care requirements. When a nursing home has violated one of these requirements, a penalty will be enforced. If the violation was severe, then the nursing home facility may lose its license. Furthermore, the Illinois Department of of Public Health has authority from the Nursing Home Care Act to establish its own rules, procedures, and regulations in regards to long-term care facilities, intermediate care facilities, and nursing homes.
The federal and state laws regarding nursing homes are in place to ensure that nursing home residents are kept safe. These laws even encompass abuse in the form of financial misconduct and neglect by nursing home facilities.
There are common situations that may indicate neglect or abuse is taking place within a nursing home. Some of these situations may include:
Recurring slip and falls: Nursing homes in Illinois are required to assist residents with movement. If frequent slip and falls are occurring, it may be a sign of neglect. In addition, there are times when staff members have dropped residents and claimed they fell.
Frequent bruises or fractures: When a nursing home resident has unexplained fractures or bruises, and the staff gives vague explanations, it could be abuse. Another sign of abuse is when there is no medical diagnosis to support the claim of how the injury occurred.
Mistakes with medication: Errors with medication is a common occurrence in nursing homes. It is the responsibility of the nursing home to report each case of missing or mismanaged medication, but many nursing homes fail to report these occurrences.
Bedsores: When nursing homes residents have limited mobility, turing and repositioning them helps prevent bedsores. If you notice that your loved one has a bedsore or ulcer, it could be a sign of neglect. Preventing bedsores and ulcers in nursing home residents is proper patient care.
If you are in need of legal guidance regarding a nursing home injury that occurred because of neglect or abuse, we invite you to contact our legal team at Zayed Law Offices. Our team of legal experts are prepared to help victims of nursing home injuries get the compensation that they deserve. We have offices in Chicago, Rockford, Wheaton, and Joliet.