Although it may seem unthinkably cruel, nursing home abuse is not at all uncommon. The types of abuse can range from verbal intimidation to overdosing or under-dosing medications to physical violence. Although nursing homes should be places of comfort and convenience, they are often staffed with incompetent and vituperative individuals, who are undereducated and underpaid. In spite of the fact that nursing homes are required to perform background checks on those employees who have direct contact or access to residents, there have been many cases of abuse in the state’s nursing homes.
Requirements for Working in a Nursing Home
Many nursing home employees are certified nursing assistants (CNA’s). CNAs are required to pass a nursing arts course and a written examination. In addition, they must complete a manual skills test. A person may also become a CNA if they are working toward becoming a Registered Nurse (RN) or if they trained as a nurse in the U.S. military. They must also have worked as a nurse’s aide during their training.
A healthcare worker must be at least 16 years old and have no record of abuse in any previous position. A person may not become a CNA if they have any disqualifying conviction. However, they may be able to get those convictions waived in some cases. Disqualifying convictions include such crimes as abduction, aggravated and unlawful restraint, and endangering the life of a child. They also include cannabis distribution and credit card fraud. CNAs are not licensed by the state and their certification is provided by state and private educational organizations.
Typical Types of Nursing Home Abuse
There are many ways in which nursing home workers abuse residents. There are some forms of abuse that are more common than others.
The most common types of abuse in nursing homes are:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Financial exploitation
- Sexual abuse
It is critical for family members to recognize the signs of physical abuse and neglect when they are occurring in nursing home facilities. If you notice that a loved one is suffering from any of these injuries, or any of the other residents at the nursing home facility, then you need to file a report with the appropriate authorities to report elder abuse, and reach out to a lawyer for nursing home neglect:
- Bruises, cuts, welts, burns
- Broken or fractured bones
- Depression and constant anxiety
- Dehydration and malnutrition
- Open wounds
- Physical discomfort
- Poor hygiene
- Pressure sores
- Skin irritation
- Unexplained falls
- Weight loss
- Any other apparent signs of abuse and neglect
Elderly abuse may not start out physical. It may start out as emotional and financial abuse until it gets so bad that the abuser becomes physical. Oftentimes, elder abuse follows neglect. But sometimes the physical abuse is in the form of neglect and has been there all along. Other signs of physical abuse include no explanation for injuries and no accountability for what happened when an injury occurred.
Malnutrition and Dehydration
Older adults are at greater risk for malnutrition and dehydration in cases of nursing home abuse. These can lead to a number of critical health problems. It is one of the top concerns in working with elderly people in nursing home care. There are a number of reasons why the elderly are more prone to malnutrition and dehydration. The first is their physical state. By being older, they may have a lot more difficulty with fine motor skills. But some health and mental conditions that particularly affect this population may also be the culprit. Residents who have suffered from one or multiple strokes, or have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia may have a lot more difficulty with feeding themselves and communicating their needs. At some advanced stages of these illnesses, the elderly person may even lack the ability to swallow.
Other signs of abuse and neglect include damage to the home or property or lack of care, which includes financial
abuse. Staff members financially abusing residents could be:
- Using or misusing a resident’s money or property without their knowledge or permission
- Forcing a resident to sign financial papers, or forging their signature
- Getting the elderly person to sign a will, power of attorney, deed or other type of financial contract through coercion, manipulation or undue influence, or persuading them to change their will
The law applying to cases of financial abuse can be complicated. An attorney for nursing home abuse can help determine whether you have reason for concern and a viable case.
Emotional abuse is a little harder to notice than other signs of abuse and neglect because the signs are very subtle. One sign of abuse is silence and fear of speaking in front of nursing home care providers. Victims of elder abuse and nursing home negligence may feel that the abuse is their fault when it is not, and try to rationalize it.
Elderly abuse also includes verbally humiliating nursing home residents so they may be less likely to complain about health issues or other problems that may be embarrassing. Nursing home negligence is perpetuated when residents cannot be open about their very real needs. Nursing home residents may fear outside intervention can upset their abusers, or make things worse, which means that Chicago nursing home abuse may go on unnoticed for a while.
Lastly, victims may be suffering a lot of anxiety from denial. Victims may not want to admit to themselves that the staff are doing the things to them that are hurtful or negligent. Or they may also know that their bodies can’t do the things they used to, and are afraid to rely on someone who has shown a disregard for their well-being. The anxiety nursing home abuse and neglect creates exacerbates the physical and emotional symptoms. But living in fear is no way to live, and our nursing home abuse attorneys fight to get your family justice and what you deserve to protect your loved one.
One of the most abhorrent crimes to occur in a Chicago nursing home is any type of sexual contact that occurs without the victim’s consent. In nursing homes this may include the staff forcing the resident to disrobe, or the staff member themselves exposing themselves to the victim. Like many other types of abuse, this one is very difficult to notice and residents may be scared to report it. However, these are some signs of sexual abuse in nursing homes:
- Emotional withdrawal
- Difficulty sitting or walking
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Recurring urinary tract infections
Anticoagulation therapy is provided to nursing home residents to prevent blood clotting after surgery or to people who suffer from an arrhythmia. If a patient’s vital statistics are not monitored when they are taking anticoagulants, the effects can be devastating. Some nursing homes are understaffed, and the staff does not have enough time to monitor residents the way they should. Some nursing home employees are lazy and neglect to do their job.
If you have a loved one who is over 70 years of age, suffers from gastrointestinal disease, or suffers from hypertension, they may be at risk for this type of abuse. Before you take an elderly person to a nursing home facility, you should ask questions about how many CNAs the home employs versus the number of residents in a facility. You should also ask how often they monitor their residents who are undergoing anticoagulant therapy.
Falls and other Injuries
An elderly person is treated for a fall every 11 seconds in nursing homes across the country. Falls occur at least twice as much in nursing homes as they do in other situations. Poor maintenance of the facilities or a neglectful staff can be the cause of such an accident.
If a patient is immobile and they are not moved for a long period of time, they may develop bedsores. Bedsores can also be caused by dehydration or malnutrition. This is often a result of the negligence of the staff. Untreated bedsores can lead to serious problems and can even result in amputation.
Nursing home abuse law says that the staff must make every effort to ensure the safety of residents in their facility and if they fail to do this, you can sue.
Connect with The Rooth Law Firm at (847) 869-9100 or through our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case.
What Is Considered Nursing Home Neglect?
There are two basic types of nursing home neglect: physical and emotional. Physical neglect takes place when a person’s basic needs for such things as hygiene, nourishment, sleep, and elimination are ignored. Physical neglect also includes ignoring a patient’s need for medical attention. Emotional abuse takes place when a patient is ignored or not monitored for a long period of time.
Causes of Nursing Home Neglect
Elderly abuse has existed, to some degree, for all time, but only the last few hundred years has it become a problem that society wants to correct. Along with other social movements that began in the 1960s, the recognition of the prevalence of elderly abuse and neglect became more widely known, and adult children of elderly residents in nursing homes demanded transparency about their loved ones’ nursing home care. Our attorneys for nursing home abuse have since helped hundreds of families who were devastated to learn of their Chicago nursing home abuse.
Most nursing home abuse can be traced back to the administrators, owners or managers who are looking out for themselves rather than their residents. These owners are trying to make money at the expense of the health and safety of residents. Rather than make repairs, provide essential care items or expand their nursing team, they line their pockets.
Poor Staff Pay
One of the key reasons for employee turnover is when employees feel dissatisfied with their jobs. If they are thinking about leaving their job for better opportunities, or if they are students in a healthcare program who are working part or full-time with intentions to leave after getting their degree, then you get a situation where the work is no longer patient-centered.
Like a lot of things, it often comes down to money. These facilities are reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid, but they have to abide by certain federal and state guidelines in order to receive this reimbursement. This is a set amount and nursing homes managers will intentionally reduce the staffing at their facilities in order to save money. Inadequate staffing can lead to nutritional and dietary problems.
In many of these types of nursing home abuse cases, the Illinois nursing home facility and members of the staff are jointly responsible. Our nursing home neglect lawyers can see that the appropriate justice is dispensed under the law.
Who regulates nursing homes?
Both nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities are given rules and regulations by the federal and state government of which they must adhere to. The United States Department of Health and Human Services and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services also issue guidelines these facilities must meet in order to receive payment for services. Many states have laws that allow victims to recover punitive damages and legal fees from a resident’s injury at a nursing home or skilled nursing facility.
Nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities must follow the regulations set forth in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1987, otherwise known as the “Nursing Home Reform Act”, which set the federal quality standards for nursing home that they are obligated to meet if they receive Medicare or Medicaid. In 1986, Congress asked the National Academy of Medicine, then the Institute of Medicine, to conduct an investigation and analysis on nursing homes in America. Unfortunately, what they reported revealed inadequate care, nursing home negligence and abuse. The Institute recommended reforms, which formed the basis of this law.
The report asserts that nursing homes are obligated to provide certain services to protect the health and safety of the seniors living in them. Among these services include:
- A full-time social worker
- Comprehensive care plans for each patient
- Dietary services
- Periodic assessments for each patient
- Pharmaceutical services
- Rehabilitation services
What rights do nursing home residents have?
The Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) also includes a Bill of Rights. Patient rights include:
- The right to privacy
- The right to participate in the review of their care plans
- The right to welcome or refuse visitors
- The right to medic necessary medical care, including psychological and social care
- The right to choose a physician
- The right to voice grievances without discrimination or retaliation
- The right to be fully informed about advance about any changes in care
- The right to communicate freely
Facts And Statistics on Nursing Home Abuse
According to the National Association of Nursing Home Attorneys, elderly abuse is extremely common.
- About one in 10 Americans over age 60 have experience some form of elderly abuse
- 36% of nursing home residents have witnessed at least one incident and physical abuse of an elderly patient within the previous 12 months
- A survey of nursing home staff showed that 10% of them committed at least one active physical abuse toward an elderly patient
- 40% of nursing home staff admitted to abusing residents
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, the five most common types of elderly abuse include:
- Psychological abuse: 11.6%
- Financial exploitation: 6.8%
- Neglect 4.2%
- Physical abuse 2.6%
- Sexual abuse 6.8%
Can You Sue a Nursing Home?
If a nursing home has been negligent in the state of Illinois, you may certainly sue them. Our attorney has years of experience in dealing with nursing home abuse and understands how to research each individual case. He will be able to tell you what evidence you will need to provide to clearly establish neglect to the courts.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Nursing Home Abuse?
A statute of limitations in civil cases is the amount of time a person has to file a lawsuit. Statutes of limitations are set to protect the defendant from unfair or frivolous lawsuits and to protect the plaintiff, so that critical evidence to their case does not get old or thrown away before they have their day in court. If a person has been abused in a nursing home, they will have two years from the time the abuse took place to sue the nursing home. If you are suing on behalf of a loved one, you will have two years after you become aware of the abuse to sue. If the abuse took place in a government-run facility that time may be shorter.
How Long Does it Take to Settle a Nursing Home Lawsuit?
Any lawsuit is a time-consuming process, and a nursing home abuse lawsuit normally takes around 18 to 24 months. There are several steps to any lawsuit. First, you will call for your consultation and an assistant will ask you a few questions about your case. You will then come into the office and meet with an attorney. The attorney will then evaluate the details of your case and determine whether they will accept it.
Once you are a client, we will sign an agreement with you and begin to investigate your claim. We will look at what happened in your particular case and collect evidence to establish the neglect or abuse of the nursing home. We will then contact the nursing home and let them know of our intent to file a suit.
If the nursing home in question had you sign an arbitration agreement, we may have to meet with you and an arbitrator before proceeding to court. If there is no arbitration agreement, we will then proceed with filing a lawsuit. We may be able to negotiate a settlement with the nursing home or we may have to go to court. Obviously, it will take considerably longer if we have to go to court. Our attorney does not let things just sit on his desk. Our dedicated Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers will work hard to make sure your suit is settled quickly.
Contact us at (847) 869-9100 to make arrangements to discuss your case with our attorney today.