Nursing home neglect is essentially an unintentional injury of a resident. Frequently, understaffing leads to nursing home neglect injuries. Since about 95 percent of long-term care facilities are severely understaffed, these injuries are all too common in Illinois. In many cases, nursing homeowners are financially responsible for the harm their residents suffer. Nursing homes are employers that are typically liable for damages if their employees are negligent during the course and scope of their employment.
These damages can include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Victims may be entitled to this compensation to carry on with their lives. But the resolution an Illinois nursing home neglect lawyer obtains is not just about money. Legal actions may force nursing homes to change the way they treat residents and take residents’ health and safety seriously.
Visible signs of understaffing are commonplace if you know where to look. Start with the front desk. As a rule of thumb, there should usually be at least two people at the desk, regardless of the time of day or night. Patient wandering is a serious problem at many facilities. If left unattended, nursing home residents could literally wander out the door.
In many situations, redirecting wandering residents is a two-person operation. Even if that’s not the case, a staffer should not have to choose between helping a wandering resident and leaving the floor desk unattended.
Also, pay extra attention to construction zones and projects. Staffers should be stationed near work areas to keep residents away from them. Many residents have poor vision and cannot see common fall hazards, like uneven walkways. Others suffer from gait disorders. Instead of walking, they shuffle their feet. So, when they trip, they often fall.
Finally in this area, pay close attention to employee badges. Understaffed facilities often hire underqualified employees. For example, an unlicensed and untrained aide might take vital signs or perform other tasks that a nurse, or at least a licensed professional should perform.
“Granny cams,” or hidden surveillance cameras may be legal if properly deployed and maintained in Illinois, at least in most cases. These cameras may help family members spot neglect signs, such as infrequent staff rounds.
However, surveillance cameras are not legal in all cases. For example, some facilities legally forbid them. Additionally, even if they are legal, cameras often don’t provide the complete story. And staffing issues at many long-term care facilities will not be solved by the use of cameras. So, an attorney may be able to obtain and preserve camera footage for the benefit of the resident, but only if the attorney is consulted in a timely manner.
Other individual signs of nursing home abuse include:
- Dirty physical spaces, like dirty common areas or resident rooms.
- New and unexplained injuries.
- Weight loss.
- Weight gain.
- Fear of being alone.
- Physical bodily harm that does not heal.
Do not rely on residents to report or confirm neglect. It is not uncommon for nursing home residents to be medicated such that they have problems keeping track of such things. Furthermore, many older people don’t want to cause trouble. So, they don’t report such incidents.
Instead, if you suspect neglect, always share your concern with the nursing home administrator. If this person is evasive or not responsive to your concerns, your next action and contact should be with an Illinois nursing home neglect lawyer. If it turns out that your concerns are unfounded, an attorney may still be able to provide reassurance to the resident and family through the course of the proceedings. However, if you do not intervene early, the neglect may get worse and valuable evidence may be lost.
Count On a Savvy Winnebago County Nursing Home Neglect Attorney
Negligence victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced nursing home neglect lawyer in Illinois, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. by calling 815-315-0574. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.