One of the most shocking and revolting counts of medical malpractice is that of nursing home abuse and neglect. Considering that 1 in 5 of all Americans die while in a nursing home, the thought of a loved one spending their last days being abused or neglected at the hands of those who are paid to care for them should be abhorrent to all of us. Unfortunately, it happens all too often all across the country, even here in Chicago.
Prevalence Of Nursing Home Abuse
According to the Center for Disease Control, there are over 16,000 nursing homes in the U.S. with over 1.4 million people residing in these homes. The average stay in a nursing home is 865 days, well over two years. In this time, residents are at the mercy of their caregivers for many of their basic needs. When nursing homes hire complacent or uncaring staff or not enough staff to care for all the residents, abuse and neglect are certain to follow.
There are thousands of complaints filed every year of neglect, abuse and exploitation of nursing home residents. In 2003, there were over 20,000 complaints filed. Many of these allegations become civil lawsuits in the form of medical malpractice.
What Constitutes Nursing Home Abuse Or Neglect?
There are many types of abuse or neglect that occur in nursing homes, some blatant and others are less obvious or apparent to outsiders. However, to the person suffering the abuse, it is a living nightmare. Some common types of abuse that have been brought to light in the many complaints issued against nursing homes are:
- Sexual and physical abuse by staff members or other residents
- Misuse of physical restraints
- Emotional abuse
- Financial abuse, identity theft
- Neglect resulting in pressure sores
- Safety issues, allowing patients to wander or fall unnecessarily
- Cleanliness issue, both of personal hygiene and facility. Increased risk of infections and contagious diseases.
- Inferior medical care: medication errors, poor nutrition, insufficient staffing
- Wrongful death
Patients have been left outside, exposed to heat to the point of burns and heat exhaustion. Other patients have had fractured bones and not treated or sent to a hospital for their injuries. Many have died due to nursing home abuse and neglect. The list goes on and on.
Who Is Responsible For Nursing Home Abuse?
Many blame the large corporations that have made elder care a large profit making enterprise for the amount of poor conditions and abuse in nursing homes. There are many large chains that own dozen upon dozens of facilities all throughout the nation and many of these big companies have some of the worst records of abuse and neglect. The chase for profit in many cases leads to lower standards of employees, low staffing and poor quality of health care equipment.
The Role Of Lawsuits In Exposing Poor Care
Although the events that lead to a nursing home civil suit for negligent or abusive care are painful to hear, it is by bringing these atrocities to light that change can and will be made. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at the link between quality and litigation for medical malpractice in nursing homes. It is no surprise that the poorer performing nursing homes in terms of quality care had a 20% higher amount of civil suits filed against them.
Defending The Rights Of Elderly Against Nursing Home Abuse
Our team is proud to be leaders in nursing home abuse and neglect litigation. If you suspect or know that a loved one or family member has been subjected to nursing home abuse, neglect or has passed on due to a wrongful death, we want to talk to you about ensuring this abuse does not continue to happen to anyone else. We never charge for our services in nursing home abuse cases unless we are able to obtain a financial award for your case.