Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
You may have a family member or a loved one who is currently in a nursing home or an assisted living facility. These formerly independent and self-sufficient men and women are now dependent for their daily needs on the nursing home staff and administration where they are living. Nursing home patients deserve the best care, but often this is not the case.
Elderly patients in nursing homes are among the most vulnerable members of our society. We feel that it is our job to protect them from instances of abuse and neglect that could lead to severe injuries.
If you are concerned about abuse or neglect by a nursing home or assisted living facility, you can contact our law firm for a free consultation. Our phones answer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We will answer your questions without charge and there is no obligation to use our services.
Possible injuries that occur in a nursing home setting:
Bedsores, also referred to as pressure sores and decubitus ulcers, are a serious medical problem. Unfortunately, elderly nursing home residents and hospital patients are typically the ones who develop these sores. Decubitus ulcers are painful and result from prolonged pressure on an area of the body that has a bony prominence and a thin covering of flesh. Examples of common pressure sore areas include the tailbone, heels, elbows, and shoulder blades. Bedsores can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Presence of moisture due to unchanged adult diapers and wet sheets
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Failure of providers to reposition bedridden patients regularly
People who have bedsores suffer pain and can die. In one alarming case, a Florida nursing home resident suffered a severe decubitus ulcer that was so deep, it penetrated her bone and her leg had to be amputated and she eventually died.
Most bedsores can be prevented. Additionally, when the sores do develop, most can be cured. Despite this, it is estimated that as many as 25% of nursing home residents fall victim to bedsores at some point during their stay.
Malnutrition and Dehydration
Malnutrition, or lack of proper nutrition, can be a serious, life-threatening medical problem for older adults. Malnutrition means more than not having enough to eat. It means not getting enough vitamins and minerals into your body. Malnutrition can lead to a variety of serious health problems, including:
- Confusion and memory loss
- Weakness, resulting in immobility, falls , bedsores, and pneumonia
- Inability to fight off sickness
- Loss of muscle mass
Dehydration, or inadequate hydration, occurs when a person’s loss of body fluids is more than his or her intake of fluids. Like malnutrition, dehydration can lead to a variety of serious health problems, like:
- Confusion and disorientation
- Urinary tract infections
Dehydration was ranked one of the ten most frequent admitting diagnoses in a study on Medicare hospitalizations. Increasing age is one of the major risk factors for dehydration. In fact, those persons between the ages of 85 and 99 years are five times more likely to be hospitalized for dehydration. It is very important that healthcare providers in nursing homes recognize that elderly are at risk for becoming dehydrated. When a person is recognized as being at risk for dehydration, preventative measures should be taken from the offset to avoid dehydration.
A person “at risk” for dehydration should have a hydration program in place at the nursing home. A hydration program would include assisting the person with drinking, offering fluids at mealtime and in between meals, looking for signs and symptoms of dehydration, notifying the physician if such signs and symptoms are present, recording the residents and intravenous fluid replacement when the physician deems it necessary.
Slip & Fall
Slip and Fall injuries are a major problem for nursing home residents. Older people who live in nursing homes tend to fall more frequently. In a typical nursing home, 100 to 200 falls are reported each year, and many go unreported. When older people fall, they can experience decreased physical functioning, a reduction in the quality of life, decreased confidence, and an increased fear of falling, which can lead to further functional decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness.
The law requires residents to receive adequate supervision and assistive devices to prevent accidents. When a resident enters a nursing home, a plan of care must be developed. Within this plan of care, the resident’s risk of falling must be assessed to determine what assistance the person may need to get around.
Examples include falls caused by:
- Wet floors
- Poor lighting
- Lack of necessary bedrails and improper bed height
- Improperly maintained or fitted wheelchairs
- Difficulty in moving patients, or assisting them to the restroom
- Failure to have sufficient staff to answer call buttons
- Failure to properly train staff in lifting and handling techniques
- Failure of the staff to adequately supervise residents