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Winnebago County personal injury attorneysDeciding to place a disabled or elderly loved one in a nursing home can be an extremely difficult decision to make. On one hand, you want your loved one to be able to maintain as much independence as possible, but on the other hand, you want to ensure that he or she is safe. When the loved one can no longer complete daily living tasks and look out or his or her own wellbeing, a nursing home may be your only option. While many nursing home staff are hard-working, compassionate caretakers, instances of nursing home neglect and abuse do happen. One indicator that a nursing home resident is not being adequately cared for is reoccurring bedsores.

Causes of Bed Sores

Bed sores, also called pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, are wounds caused by long periods of pressure on body parts. The symptoms of bed sores start out mild and then become increasingly noticeable. The skin will first appear discolored or take on a “waxy” appearance or firm texture. If the pressure to the body part is not relieved, the skin can become much more damaged and develop into a painful open wound. Bed sores that are not treated are prone to serious infection. Pressure ulcers are most likely to occur the buttocks, back, hips, and ankles. Bed sores are especially common in individuals who have decreased mobility. Spending long periods of time laying down in bed or sitting in a wheelchair can cause bed sores to develop. For this reason, nursing home staff are trained to help residents with limited mobility periodically move around or change positions.  

Negligence Can Lead to Worsening Bed Sores

Nursing home staff should be fully aware of the dangers that bed sores present to residents. They should help prevent bed sores by keeping the resident clean and dry and frequently repositioning him or her. If a bed sore starts to develop, nursing home staff should adequately treat the sore so that it does not worsen. This can include more frequent repositioning, medications, and wound care. When nursing home workers do not take these steps, the resident can be in danger of developing a potentially life-threatening infection. If you have a loved one in a nursing home and he or she is frequently developing bed sores, this could be a sign that he or she is not receiving adequate care from nursing home staff.

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Rockford nursing home injury attorneysIt is hard to believe that anyone could be so cruel as to abuse a sick or elderly person in a nursing home, but it does happen. Research shows that about one out of every ten U.S. adults over age 60 have experienced elder abuse. Nursing home abuse, as well as nursing home neglect, is tragically common in the United States. Many nursing home residents suffer from mental and physical illnesses that make it difficult to express when they are being mistreated or abused. Some residents may even keep abuse a secret because they are afraid that they will be retaliated against for reporting the abuse. If you have a loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, be vigilant for signs that they are being abused.

Physical Signs of Abuse

Sometimes, telling the difference between an injury caused by accident and an injury caused by a nursing home staff member can be difficult. Signs of physical abuse can include bruises, cuts, scrapes, pressure marks, broken bones, dislocations, burns, and more. When nursing home staff cannot explain why a resident has an injury such as these, this is a red flag that something is not right.

Tragically, nursing home residents can also suffer from sexual abuse. An individual who has been sexually abused by have problems walking or sitting, develop a sexually transmitted infection, have bruising on the genitals or thighs, urinary tract infections, and pain. Recently, a horrific incidence of nursing home sexual abuse made headlines after a woman in a vegetative state gave birth to a child.  A nurse working at the facility has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting the woman and causing her to become pregnant.

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Rockford wrongful death attorneysMore and more Americans are requiring the long-term intensive care that a nursing home, assisted living, or rehabilitation facility offers. Unfortunately, many of these facilities are struggling to keep up with the influx of residents. Thousands of nursing homes across the country are understaffed or are staffed by employees who are not adequately trained. Sometimes these inadequacies lead to nursing home resident neglect and abuse. In extreme cases, these instances of neglect and abuse can be deadly.

Nursing Homes Have a Duty of Care

In personal injury law, the phrase “duty of care” refers to a responsibility that a party has to another party. Nursing home facilities and staff have an obligation to provide residents with a reasonable level of care which includes protecting residents from harm and maintaining a safe environment in the facility. When a nursing home fails to uphold this duty of care, the facility and/or staff may be legally accountable for injuries or deaths that result from this negligence.

Determining When a Death is a Wrongful Death

Nursing home residents are often elderly and suffer from many different cognitive and physical ailments. Because of this, deaths within a nursing home are not rare. Sometimes a nursing home resident passes away because it was simply his or her time. However, poor care can also lead to residents’ deaths. Many wrongful death suits are a result of negligent care or major nursing home staff mistakes.

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Winnebago County nursing home injury attorneysPlacing a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility can be an incredibly difficult thing to do. Most people make this decision because they do not have the ability to provide the round-the-clock care that their loved one requires – especially if they have a career or family of their own to care for. We trust that nursing home staff will provide competent medical care and treat our loved ones with dignity and respect, but tragically, this does not always happen. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, make sure you are vigilant for signs of neglect and abuse.

Staffing Issues Can Lead to Neglect

Many nursing homes are understaffed. Others have high staff turnover which means that staff often do not have time to form personal relationships with residents. Inadequate training can also be a major problem which leads to poor care in a nursing home. When staff are not properly trained or are overworked, they can make serious mistakes which endanger residents. Nursing home residents with compromised immune systems, ongoing medical issues, and elderly residents are most at risk of dying from neglect.

Signs That Your Loved One is Not Being Properly Cared For

Often, nursing home residents suffer from cognitive decline in addition to physical conditions. Residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may not be able to understand or remember that they are being mistreated. In situations like this, it is up to the loved ones to look for red flags that something is not right. Signs that your loved one may be neglected in a nursing home include:

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Winnebago County nursing home abuse attorneysAs the Baby Boomer generation ages, more and more individuals are seeking the 24/7 care that nursing homes offer. One study suggests that over half of the current U.S population will need to stay in a nursing home, at least temporarily, at one point in their lives or another. Unfortunately, some nursing homes are not able to manage the increasing number of residents. Understaffed nursing homes or staff who are not properly trained can leave residents without the help and resources they need. When left unchecked, nursing home neglect and abuse can be deadly.

Nursing Home Abuse and Mistreatment Shockingly Common

The most vulnerable among us deserve to be cared for and respected by nursing home staff. Sadly, many nursing home residents find themselves in facilities that do not make residents’ needs the staff’s top priority. Some nursing home staff even purposely harm the residents. A congressional report found that almost a third of all U.S nursing homes were guilty of safety and regulatory violations which put residents at increased risk of harm. Surveys show that almost half of nursing home residents have reported being mistreated at some point in their stay. Even more concerning, an astounding 95 percent of nursing home residents claim to have personally witnessed staff neglecting other residents.

Warning Signs of Abuse and Neglect

One of the most tragic realities about nursing home abuse and neglect is that many residents are unable to communicate what is happening to them. Residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can be especially vulnerable to mistreatment. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, be on the lookout for signs of neglect or abuse such as:

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