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.
Falls Resulting In Broken Bones / Fractures
Too often patients in nursing homes and similar facilities are allowed to fall. nursing home staff are trained to assess a patient for increased risk of falling and institute appropriate "fall precautions." When they fail to assess a patient or do so in a negligent manner, patients or residents can suffer serious injuries including fractures / broken bones, head injuries, brain injuries and even paralysis.
Many factors can lead to an increased risk of falling. The most common risk factors are a history of falling and taking medications which can cause dizziness.
Some of the fall precautions which can be put in place include locking bed rails, alarms, padded floor mats and use of a "sitter," which is a nickname for a nurse's aid who sits in the patient's room watching them to make sure they do not get up and fall.
It is very important that nursing home staff properly evaluate and assess the risk of each patient for falling and then institute the appropriate fall precautions. The results of a failure in this area can be disastrous.
Addressing Nursing Home Negligence
Addressing nursing home negligence can be very difficult. You may fear that if you confront the staff directly, you could be increasing the risk of harm to your loved one. However, these problems cannot be ignored. At Hannon Legal Group, we know how to handle nursing home claims involving neglect or abuse. We understand the difficult situation you and your loved one are in and what you are going through and we are here to help.
The laws governing nursing homes, skilled nursing and rehab facilities and ALFs in Florida contain very specific requirements which must be fulfilled before a lawsuit can be filed. These requirements are similar to those of Florida's medical malpractice laws however, there are significant differences. If your family member or loved one has been the victim of nursing home negligence, neglect or abuse, you should talk to a trial lawyer with experience litigating nursing home cases.
Our experienced nursing home negligence lawyers work hard to hold negligent nursing homes, ALFs and rehab facilities accountable for the harm they cause and get your family the compensation you deserve.
If you believe that a loved one has suffered harm as a result of nursing home negligence or abuse, contact us today for a free and confidential evaluation of your case.