Thanks to the advances that have been made in medicine, Americans are living longer than ever before but often, due to age and various medical conditions, the elderly need help caring for themselves.
For some, this might mean assistance with everyday tasks like grocery shopping and cleaning, but others need ongoing intensive care including help with feeding, bathing, and medical treatments. When the necessary care is not provided by facilities for elders, medical complications can develop or worsen.
What Is Considered Nursing Home Neglect?
The abuse and neglect that may take place in nursing homes can manifest in varied and numerous ways. Next, we discuss some of the most common ones in some detail:
Good hygiene isn’t just about looking and smelling good, it’s also about preventing infections and illness. Often, it’s not just the residents who aren’t being treated properly, when observed, around 88% of nursing home caregivers failed to properly wash their hands prior to touching patients.
Slips, Trips, & Falls
As we age the body sometimes isn’t able to balance as well as it did previously, which means that the elderly are more likely to trip and fall. Falls can easily break bones, cause brain damage, or even kill a patient which is why any patient who is unsteady should have the assistance they need.
A bed sore occurs when an area of the body is constantly under pressure or has constant friction. Essentially, this means that a bedridden patient isn’t being moved enough and their body has created a skin lesion. While this might not seem like a big deal, bed sores can actually be quite dangerous. There are four stages of bedsores:
- The skin is itchy, painful, and red. It may feel warmer than other parts of the body when touched and if pressure is removed, the sore may heal quickly.
- The sore is now open because skin loss has occurred. The tissue around the area is red or purple and may appear blister like.
- During this stage, the sore may look like a dark crater and the tissue around the area is heavily damaged.
- This stage involves tissue death and possible damage to tendons, muscles, and bone. The patient is at serious risk for infection which may claim their life.
The bottom line is that with proper care, bed sores shouldn’t happen.
Wandering & Elopement
Many nursing home residents require assistance because they suffer from medical conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia, which can affect their memory and cause disorientation and confusion. Patients frequently wander and without knowing it can put themselves in extreme danger. This is why nursing homes should use bed and chair alarms, maintain proper staffing, and use window and door locks so that patients can be monitored and kept safe.
Dehydration & Malnutrition
When a resident is unable to feed themselves they rely on staff to make sure they are eating and drinking enough. If they aren’t receiving the proper nutrition, a family member may notice:
- Weight Loss
- Slow Wound Healing
- Dry Mouth
- Dark Urine
- Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice occurs when a patient doesn’t receive the accepted standard of care. For nursing home residents, this often includes prescription errors such as over-medicating, failing to medicate, and the mixing of drug which results in a life-threatening drug reaction.
Physical and Sexual Abuse
Although shocking, nursing home staff frequently take advantage of the weakened state of patients and physically and sexually abuse them. Rape, sexual assault, and being beaten are just a few examples of the horrific crimes committed against the elderly. Victims of these crimes are often too embarrassed to speak up so it’s important for family members to pay close attention and take note of any signs that abuse may be occurring, such as unexplainable cuts and bruises, or the fear of being left alone with a certain staff member.
I Suspect Nursing Home Abuse…
If you suspect your loved one is in immediate physical danger, it’s best to remove them from that situation and if necessary, call the police.
Then, you should speak with an attorney. While you might feel the need to confront the nursing home staff, doing this might cause them to try and cover up any issues and may result in evidence, such as medical records, being “lost”.
Our experienced attorneys will review your case and determine how best to proceed. In many cases, it is possible to pursue a nursing home lawsuit which will provide you and your loved one with compensation which can help to get them the care that they so desperately need.
How Long Do I Have To File A Nursing Home Lawsuit?
Every state has laws which dictate how long a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit. In Pennsylvania, nursing home lawsuits must be filed within two years of the date that the abuse or negligence occurred. However, if the lawsuit is addressing medical malpractice, that two year ‘countdown’ begins from the date that the plaintiff became aware that a medical professional’s actions caused them harm.
These time limits are an excellent reason to call an attorney as quickly as possible. Once the allotted time has passed, a plaintiff will no longer have the option of recovering compensation.