When we entrust the care of our loved ones to a nursing home, rehab facility or assisted living facility, we hope that the staff will care for them the same way that we would. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. These facilities are often understaffed and the staff they do have is overworked. Sometimes they simply fail to adequately screen the people who apply for jobs there and negligently hire individuals who should not be allowed to work around vulnerable populations. When these problems occur, our loved ones may fall victim to neglect or even physical, emotional or sexual abuse. Sadly, the victims of nursing home abuse are usually the residents who are least likely or least able to speak out.
Warning Signs of Abuse or Neglect
Some signs of nursing home abuse and neglect include:
- Bed sores or Ulcers
- Broken bones
Bedsores / Decubitus Ulcers / Pressure Ulcers
Decubitus ulcers, commonly referred to as "bedsores," "pressure sores" or "pressure ulcers" are a classic sign of neglect. They are essentially injuries to the skin and the underlying tissue that form as a result of constant pressure on a particular part of the body. The most susceptible areas of the body to pressure ulcers include the more "bony" areas like the tailbone, heels, ankles and hips.
Patients or residents who are bedridden or are confined to a wheelchair are at a greatly elevated risk of developing decubitus ulcers. Nursing home staff must be vigilant to turn those patients who are not able to turn themselves in order to prevent the occurrence of bedsores. Once skin breakdown begins, it does not take long before a stage 1 decubitus ulcer develops. If further neglected or left untreated, bedsores can progress to stage 3 and stage 4 ulcers characterized by severe tissue damage that effects the muscle and even the bone. These advanced pressure sores are extremely painful and very difficult to treat.
Advanced bedsores can also result in sepsis or cellulitis. Sepsis is an infection which gets into the bloodstream and is a very serious and potentially life-threatening condition which requires emergency medical attention. Cellulitis is a skin infection which can also develop into a life-threatening situation. There is even an increased risk of a particular type of cancer when the ulcers become chronic and do not heal.