Chicago Bedsores Negligence Attorney
What if you discover bedsores on your loved one in a nursing home?
While bedsores – medically known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers – are quite common among individuals with very little activity, they can often indicate a serious case of neglect. As nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale famously wrote, “If a patient has a bedsore, it’s generally not the fault of the disease, but of the nursing.”
If bedsores are the case, it is worth looking closer into your senior loved one’s condition in the facility, especially since gross neglect constitutes 14 percent of nursing home complaints in the US. In Illinois alone, Adult Protective Services received a total of 6,679 reports of passive neglect just within 2017. The prevalence of elder neglect shows that families can’t be too cautious when entrusting their adult members to a senior living facility.
If you suspect that your family member has suffered from neglect in a nursing home, talk to us at Willens & Baez. We’ll help you find answers regarding the situation and take a strong legal approach to better protect and compensate your loved one.
When Bedsores Indicate Serious Neglect
Bedsores or pressure ulcers are portions of the skin that are damaged due to staying in one position for a long time. This condition is common among those who have to stay in bed, have to use a wheelchair, or have difficulty moving their body. The skin lesion can be painful, and if left untreated, it can lead to serious infections.
In nursing homes and assisted living facilities, it is the duty of caregivers to help residents avoid bedsores or to attend to any existing pressure sores right away. Sadly, too many elders develop pressure ulcers because the caregiving staff fall short in their duty, such as by:
These failures are classic examples of nursing home neglect. While caregivers or staff may not actively harm the residents, their inattention or willful disregard of their duties can be just as detrimental to an elder. This is why nursing facility neglect is also considered a form of elder abuse.
There are various types of neglect that occur in nursing facilities:
- Failing to provide residents with the appropriate food, water, and clothing
- Not providing the required assistance in activities such as bathing, brushing, and dressing
- Not providing the required assistance in hygiene mishaps such as a resident wetting themselves
- Allowing the residents’ clothes, beddings, rooms, and provisions to become unsanitary
- Failing to appropriately attend to the residents’ ongoing medical concerns such as regular medication and examinations
- Disregarding residents’ health complaints
- Disregarding residents’ medical history
- Unreasonably or repeatedly ignoring residents who approach them
- Overlooking a resident’s emotional complaints.
It’s distressing to know that many elders suffer health problems and even psychological effects from being neglected too long in a nursing facility. Illinois is especially familiar with these cases, with the state being found as one of the worst in the US in terms of nursing home care quality.
Signs Of Nursing Home Neglect
Bedsores are some of the most obvious indicators of elder neglect. Other symptoms to watch out for in your loved one include:
- Sudden weight loss or malnutrition
- Lack of proper hygiene (e.g. unwashed hair, decaying teeth, dirty clothes)
- Unhealthy bodily odors
- Health complaints (e.g. stomachaches, headaches)
- Frequent infections
- Injuries that may have resulted from lack of supervision (e.g. tripping, falling, bumping, scalding)
- Withdrawn behavior
- Living around environmental hazards (e.g. bad lighting, rickety beds, slippery floors)
- Using substandard or unsafe provisions (e.g. clogged breathing tubes, dirty sheets).
When you notice bedsores on your loved one, it is important not to dismiss it as a normal occurrence. Look for other signs of neglect. Don’t hesitate to seek medical attention or a professional’s help if your loved one’s wellbeing is at risk.
Nursing Home Infection, Cellulitis, And Sepsis: Did It Start From A Bedsore?
As unthinkable as it may be, numerous nursing homes neglect their residents to the point where the elders’ bedsores develop into more serious health conditions. In many cases, these conditions have proven fatal. Look out for these serious diseases that may start from a simple bedsore:
- This is infection of the skin and connected soft tissues, caused by bacteria that enter through a crack in the skin. Common symptoms are redness, swelling, and pain, sometimes with fever. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the bloodstream and quickly become life-threatening.
- Bone and joint infections. A pressure sore infection can spread further down and reach the joints or bones. This may result in septic arthritis (joint infection) or osteomyelitis (bone infection), either of which can be extremely painful and limit the movements of the patient.
- Bacteremia (blood poisoning). Bacteremia is the medical term for the presence of bacteria in the blood. An infected bedsore is one way that bacteria can enter the bloodstream. Normally, a person’s immune system can fight bacteremia, but the condition can be deadly for vulnerable persons such as the elderly. When there is too much bacteria in the blood, immediate hospitalization is needed to prevent it from affecting vital organs.
- This severe condition is the body-wide response to bacteremia or bacterial infection. The patient may have abnormally high or low temperature, rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, and abnormally high or low white blood cells. Organs start to malfunction and there is an urgent risk of septic shock (life-threatening drop in blood pressure).
Disturbingly, thousands of seniors in care facilities have this serious condition. A medical review found that each year, about 6,000 nursing home residents in Illinois have sepsis, and one in five of them don’t survive.
- Cancer (Marjolin’s Ulcer). “Marjolin’s ulcer” is the term for a non-healing wound that turns malignant. This malignancy is rare but can quickly metastasize (spread) and become an aggressive type of cancer.
- It may be hard to grasp that a simple bedsore can ultimately result in death, but this is not so rare. A medical study found that 60,000 people die of complications from pressure ulcers every year. Elders may be more vulnerable if they have compromised immune systems or are living in unhealthy environments.
Has your loved one suffered from such a disease while living in a nursing home? The emotional and financial impact of these conditions can be extremely difficult to bear. Apart from the pain and suffering of your loved one, your family also has to face medical bills, lifestyle changes, and emotional distress.
This is why many families decide to pursue lawsuits against neglectful nursing homes. The compensation from a successful nursing home claim can help a family them deal with the aftermath of the illness, allowing them to provide better care for their elderly loved one.
Do you believe that your loved one’s illness developed due to neglect? Get the help of an attorney who can thoroughly investigate the case, determine all responsible parties, and competently represent you if you decide to make a claim.
Reporting Nursing Home Abuse
If you suspect that your loved one or someone you know is a victim of neglect, then your actions can help prevent further harm. File a complaint to investigate the matter. Filing a claim against a nursing home is very straightforward. It usually leads to an investigation, and if the nursing home is found guilty, then penalties should result. If that nursing home neglect leads to further health complications, injuries, additional medical treatment, or even death, then you may claim compensation.
So how do you file a case?
Government agencies monitor and regulate nursing homes according to the Nursing Home Care Act. Nursing care facilities are evaluated on how they uphold patient rights, control infection, and implement employee procedures to ensure that no harm comes to patients.
If you want authorities to consider your complaint as much as possible, make sure you include the following information:
- Who: which patient is affected then which employees were involved?
- What: provide details of the allegations as accurately as possible
- When: give the timeline of events that led to the incident
- Where: indicate the room number and the address of the facility where the incident supposedly happened
- How: describe how the harm was done and how the nursing home responded
Some victims of nursing home abuse don’t report the incident for fear of reprisal. However, your identity won’t be disclosed if you file a complaint. It’s possible to file the complaint anonymously, but it would be challenging to monitor the progress of your case and find out the result.
What happens after you filed the complaint?
Once you finish filing, the facility will be subjected to inspection or survey. This review allows public health officials to check the details of your complaint. They will visit the facility, interview staff, and talk to other residents. Should the survey team find that the nursing home violated regulations, then they will be issued a notice of deficiency. Once they receive the notice of deficiency, the nursing home can do the following:
Submit their plan of correction detailing the steps the facility would take to address the incident and possibly prevent similar events from happening again. Usually, plans of correction would entail terminating or training staff.
Dispute the findings of the survey. If the nursing home can prove that the allegations were wrong or did not occur, then their notice of deficiency will be withdrawn. However, if the nursing home fails to disprove the allegations, then it will be penalized and even be at risk of closure.
The complaint process doesn’t result in immediately compensating the victim. Compensation is only possible if you issue a demand letter or start a lawsuit. Nonetheless, filing a complaint is key to substantiating your accusations against the facility. Your lawyer will play an essential role in obtaining interview notes and other documentation needed to strengthen your case. He or she can also you advise you on filing the paperwork necessary to have your case proceed smoothly.
Why You Should Consult A Lawyer
Taking legal action may sound like additional stress for your senior loved one and your family. However, it is best to at least talk to a compassionate attorney to learn how the law can work for you. Your loved one deserves protection from further harm, and may be entitled to compensation for the suffering they have experienced.
A negligent nursing home must also be held accountable so other residents no longer have to endure their unacceptable quality of care.
You do not have to worry about unnecessary legal stress when you work with us at Willens & Baez. Illinois families trust our firm for our legal excellence, and beyond that, they feel comfortable working with us because of our considerate and professional treatment of clients.
Willens & Baez serves Chicago and surrounding communities. Nursing homes here include:
- Aperion Care
- Arbour Health Care Center
- Balmoral Home
- Bethesda Rehab & Senior Care
- Center Home Hispanic Elderly
- Central Nursing Home
- Chalet Living & Rehab
- Citadel of Waterford
- Mayfield Care Center
- Mercy Circle Retirement Community
- Norwood Crossing
- Peterson Park Health Care Center
- Princeton Rehab & HCC
- Ridgeview Rehab & Nursing Center
- St. Paul’s House
- Sunrise of Lincoln Park
- The Point at Kilpatrick
- Warren Barr Gold Coast
- Windmill Nursing Pavilion
Start by just talking to us about your senior loved one’s nursing home conditions. Your initial consultation with Willens & Baez is absolutely free and confidential. Call us at (888) 445-1446 today.