Aurora Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Nursing home neglect and abuse involve many forms of inadequate care, nursing errors, and sometimes, even the intentional harm of a resident. It also involves a broken promise – the promise that the nursing home will keep your loved one safe and free from harm. In our view, that is simply unacceptable and justice must be pursued to right this most devastating wrong. At The Rooth Law Firm, we understand the depth of a family’s pain that occurs with each broken promise. That is why we fight for the rights of each and every one of our clients.
Contributing Factors to Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
People often ask us, “Why does this happen?” “How can it happen so frequently?” There is no excuse for nursing home abuse and neglect and here are some of the reasons the abuse and neglect occur.
Focusing On Profits
Nursing homes are either for-profit or nonprofit facilities, but in 2016 the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that nearly 70% of all nursing homes were for-profit facilities. When corporations focus on their bottom line rather than on the care provided, the drive to save money predictably leads to poor care.
According to the National Association of Nursing Home Attorneys, 90% of nursing homes in the United States are inadequately staffed, and one nurse’s aide may care for up to 30 residents. The U.S. Department Of Health And Human Services reports that there are approximately 15,600 nursing homes in the United States, with a total of 1.66 million beds. This means that nursing homes range in capacity between 500 and 1,300 beds.
How does that translate to neglect? Most often, the least-paid, least-trained members of the nursing staff are the aides, who provide the primary assistance with activities of daily living to the nursing home residents. In a wing of 25 residents, having only 2-3 aides on a shift does not give the employees enough time to provide appropriate assistance needed by each of the residents under his or her care. It also causes increased stress on the aides who become unhappy and unmotivated in their jobs.
With too few skilled nursing personnel in the nursing home, such as registered nurses or licensed practical nurses, there simply isn’t enough time for the nursing staff to review the full clinical picture of each resident under their care. This oftentimes results in avoidable and preventable conditions having disastrous consequences.
The appropriate care of an elderly nursing home resident involves a multidisciplinary care team, including nursing staff, aides, physical, occupational and speech therapists, rehabilitation staff, wound care staff, dietitians and other disciplines including physicians. The state and federal regulations require the nursing home to coordinate resident care amongst all of these members of the care team. A good working knowledge of the usual and customary issues faced by nursing home residents can translate to early recognition of potentially serious conditions and diseases and the prevention of injury and even death. Unfortunately, too often the nursing home management fails to allocate enough money and resources to provide adequate training of its staff. Poorly-trained nursing staff can lead to many different types of nursing home abuse and neglect and a failure to recognize preventable injuries.
Low pay is generally more attractive to students and people with less experience, or people who have been laid off and are taking a low-paying job in a nursing home before being hired at a hospital or clinic. Low pay is one of the contributing factors to hiring inexperienced or unqualified staff members to care for residents who have cognitive impairments, dementia, or otherwise poor health. These are serious needs, and residents are dependent on these staff members who are working in a stressful environment for unsustainable wages. This, of course, leads to high turnover among care, and even more instability in the facility.
Common Issues in Nursing Homes
There are many different types of issues that occur in nursing homes. Here are a few examples.
Whether due to chronic conditions such as muscle weakness or dementia, or new and acute conditions due to recent hospitalizations, many nursing home residents are at an increased risk for falls. Many times, falls can result in injuries that have devastating consequences such a broken hip, head trauma, and other types of fractures and injuries. A nursing home has a duty to assess whether its patients are at risk for falls and if so, to initiate preventative measures to reduce the risk of falling. Far too often, they neglect to provide proper fall prevention that results in predictable injury.
Dehydration and Malnutrition
Our bodies are similar to machines in that they need regular maintenance in order to function properly. Additionally, at different stages in our lives, we have different nutritional needs. Elderly nursing home residents require good nutrition and hydration in order to maintain their highest level of functioning and health. Therefore, the nursing homes need to be trained specifically on the dietary needs of older residents and have an appreciation for their risks for malnutrition and dehydration.
Unfortunately, poor care, inadequate staffing and improperly training staff members can all contribute to dehydration and malnutrition, which is a common source of nursing home neglect. In turn, dehydration and malnutrition can cause an older nursing home resident to suffer from altered mental status, skin breakdown, infection, and a host of other complications. The Rooth Law Firm has a great deal of experience in handling cases involving nursing home neglect due to malnutrition and dehydration and can spot where the nursing home failed to provide appropriate care.
Bed Sores and Pressure Sores
Bedsores are formed when residents or patients are not repositioned in order to prevent excess pressure on vulnerable points that lead to skin ulcers. Prolonged pressure is one of the most common causes of bedsores. Staff must be sure to assist the patient or resident is moving or being repositioned to alleviate pressure on their skin. Bedsores or pressure sores most often develop on skin that covers bony areas of the body, such as the heels, ankles, hips, tailbone, and back or sides of the head. Early symptoms include unusual changes in skin color or texture and tender areas. Then it will progress to swelling, pus-like drainage, and an area of skin that feels cooler or warmer to the touch than other areas.
Because the elderly suffer from poor mobility and have a harder time moving, they tend to be in wheelchairs or beds more often than they are moving. One of the most important jobs a nurse has in a nursing home is to assist residents in moving, or turning them to alleviate pressure on the sitting or laying side of the body.
So it is heartbreaking when nurses cannot or will not properly care for residents, thus leading to bedsores. But it’s not just a lack of movement that can cause decubitus ulcers. Not moving residents gently and slowly can cause the skin to shear. And not properly changing wet or soiled clothing can also lead to other skin sores and infections.
Emotional abuse is one of the lesser-known types of abuse in nursing homes. In some cases, staff members at nursing home facilities have been known to taunt residents who they believe are unable to feel or notice if they are being humiliated. Some nursing home staff members even went so far as to post a video of a 91-year-old woman with dementia on the popular social media app Snapchat. They did it to entertain themselves, and a family sued.
Nobody wants to think of their loved ones as being emotionally hurt, having their needs rejected, or being taunted by staff members. And certainly, when a family member finds out that this is happening to a loved one in a nursing home, they want to seek justice and to be compensated for damages. If your loved one has suffered from any type of emotional abuse, then give us a call to set up your free consultation so we can listen to you.