With seniors making up a larger percentage of the population, we are seeing a significant increase in ailments that commonly affect seniors, most notably: mobility.
Adults are living longer than ever before. But longer life does not necessarily equate to fewer health problems.
Some adults may be strapped down to prevent them from hurting themselves or others. Other adults may be comatose or otherwise catatonic. However the immobility is caused, an important duty on behalf of the hospital or nursing home is to physically move the patient or resident, lest they incur one of the many injuries that accompany immobility.
Below are a few of the injuries caused by immobility. If you or a loved one has been affected by any of these, a Chicago personal injury attorney can advise on the best course of action.
When someone is immobilized, catatonic, or comatose, it is very important to move their joints regularly. Under utilization of the joints in the fingers, hands, arms, or legs can cause the connective tissue in the joints to lose its natural elasticity. If this elasticity is lost, the joint cannot move properly without pain for the patient. This loss of range of motion is called a contracture, and while it most often affects the elderly, it can happen to younger people as well. Nurses, doctors, hospitals, and nursing homes owe a duty of care to their patients/residents. If the joints of an immobile patient are not regularly exercised, the facility and its staff may have opened themselves up to liability for the resulting contracture.
If someone is bedridden or confined to a wheelchair, and is unable to move due to immobilization, sedation, or coma, their body makes contact at only a few points with the chair or bed. This contact creates pressure on those few points. If the body is not moved, relieving pressure on those points, a sore can occur.
Sores like this are called bedsores, pressure sores, or pressure ulcers. They can be as mild as a mere break in the skin and a bruise, or they can be so severe as to leave exposed bone. One of the duties of a facility administering to an immobile patient is to regularly shift the body to move pressure to other parts, preventing the development of bedsores. If a bedsore occurs, it is likely that someone has negligently failed to shift the patient, and this can result in liability for the facility and its staff.
Malnourishment and Dehydration
Those who are catatonic, comatose, or otherwise nonverbal may not be able to effectively communicate their needs to nurses or doctors. Because of this, hospital or nursing home staff may allow their patients to slip their minds, neglecting to bring them food or to change their IV bags. Some patients must be fed through a feeding tube; others get all of their nutrition through an IV. Regardless, if the staff neglects to regularly monitor the patient, the patient could get dehydrated or malnourished. Injury caused by such neglect would allow the patient to be compensated for extra costs needed to treat the injury.
Contact a Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
When a relative is confined to a bed or wheelchair, the possibility of negligence or malpractice is ever present. We rely upon doctors and nurses to take care of our loved ones who are incapable of taking care of themselves. When these people fail us, they should have to compensate for the injuries caused.
An experienced malpractice attorney knows the signs of neglect, and can fight for the verdict or settlement you deserve. If a loved one has suffered injury from malpractice, contact an Illinois personal injury lawyer at (312)957-4166 for a free personal injury consultation.