Nursing home neglect falls under the umbrella of elder abuse. Abuse involves intentional acts against an elderly individual, such as physical, sexual or mental assault. Neglect, on the other hand, is the failure to provide proper care and it can be intentional or negligent. Whether it arises from overworked staff who overlook routines or an intentional lack of empathy, nursing home neglect can be actionable in civil court.
The National Council on Aging estimates that one in 10 Americans over 60 face elder abuse and neglect but only one in 14 cases are reported to authorities. If your loved one lives in a nursing home, you need to be aware of the types of abuse that may arise.
In 2015, an article published by the National Institute of Health estimated that 20% of nursing home residents suffered from some form of malnutrition. Dehydration is also a significant concern. When patients are unable to feed and hydrate themselves, they require the careful attention of caretakers to assist them. In crowded and understaffed nursing homes, patients may not receive the hydration and nutrition they need.
This issue can also arise from a patient feeling depressed, having difficulty swallowing or suffering another medical or mental health condition that keeps them from eating. However, in neglect situations, staff and doctors may fail to discover this and treat it properly.
Also known as pressure sores, bed sores are most likely to develop where there is little padding between the bone and skin. They are common with patients who are bedridden or confined in a wheelchair who cannot shift positions on their own.
However, bed sores are easy to prevent. That involves moving the patient periodically so the pressure eases from vulnerable spots. However, if caretakers skip this routine, bed sores can develop quickly.
Sores start with being red and sensitive. At this stage, shifting the patient will cease further development. In their last stage, bed sores become dead tissue that continues to damage healthy tissue. If they are not addressed quickly, patients suffer greatly and may even require surgery.
This is a mistake that can turn deadly. Sometimes, it involves missing medication for days and even weeks. Other times, it involves staff members mixing up medications and patients fail to receive the correct type for their health conditions.
If you notice your loved one’s condition is deteriorating, ask about medication routines–especially if they were feeling better before.
Patients may fall out of bed or take a tumble because they attempt to be mobile without assistance. A mere attempt at a bathroom trip can result in critical and even deadly injuries.
The primary cause of falls and injuries in nursing homes is lack of supervision. If a patient has to wait hours for assistance to get a meal or take a bathroom break, they may decide to try the task on their own. Patients may also fall despite staff being nearby and able to prevent the fall, which is another possibility for a negligence claim.
With many vulnerable people around, nursing homes should be clean and hygienic. There should also be a lack of hazards and an effort to prevent slip and fall accidents.
Staff may be aware of the hazard and fail to address it until it is too late. Or pure exhaustion or bitterness keeps staff from providing a safe environment for your loved one. If you notice a hazard, always report it.
Nursing home negligence is a serious issue among the aging population. If your loved one has suffered neglect at the hands of a long-term care facility, don’t hesitate to get help. Contact Mazow | McCullough, PC at 1-855-693-9084 and schedule a free case evaluation today.