Nursing Home Negligence Attorneys Hold Caretakers and Facilities Accountable
The decision to place an aging loved one in a nursing home is never easy. But once a family decides on a facility, they assume their loved one is in safe hands. Unfortunately, the National Center on Elder Abuse reports that one in ten nursing home residents is victimized by abuse or neglect. Rates are higher for those with dementia or other conditions that make it challenging to report deficiencies in care.
Of the approximately 15,600 nursing homes in the United States, roughly 90 percent are understaffed. Abuse and neglect in nursing facilities account for more than $5.3 billion in direct medical costs per year, and fall-related injuries are the leading cause. Given that roughly 1.4 million Americans are housed in nursing homes, these statistics indicate that a large percentage of our elderly population lives with serious risks of harm.
Our attorneys at Sommers Schwartz have counseled elderly victims and their families for decades. We understand the psychological and physical trauma involved in nursing home injuries, and we are dedicated to helping victims recover their financial and emotional costs. If you or a loved one has been injured, you do not need to navigate the recovery process alone.
Types of Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing home neglect takes many forms, leading to a number of adverse outcomes. The most common examples include:
- Medical Neglect: Nursing home staff members have a general duty to provide medical assistance to ailing seniors. Depending on the patient, these duties might involve administering medication, reporting signs of infection or illness, or regularly moving immobile residents to prevent bedsores. Medical malpractice occurs when the staff fails to meet the duty of care, which then causes harm to the patient.
- Social or Emotional Neglect: Research shows that seniors who remain social live longer and happier lives, often a key motivation to place them in homes. The expectation is that they will be surrounded by others, but many residents rely on nursing home staff to help them leave their rooms. When staff neglect to provide this assistance, residents can become isolated and depressed, complicating their existing health conditions.
- General Neglect: Nursing home staff members are expected to provide for residents’ hygiene needs and basic living necessities. These duties involve bathing, regularly changing clothes and bedding, cleaning the resident’s room, and feeding the resident fresh food. Failure to provide this type of care can expose the resident to serious infections and other health risks.
Neglect is not limited to the examples listed above. Nursing homes are held to a general duty of care that requires them to behave reasonably under the circumstances. If your loved one has been injured in any way, the facility’s failure to take preventative measures may give rise to a liability claim.
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing home neglect can be difficult to detect, especially when the injured victim is mentally compromised or in otherwise poor health. Many families attribute symptoms of distress to age or underlying health conditions, and it can take time to recognize a problem.
If you are dealing with a declining loved one in a nursing home, the following are signs and symptoms that their care may be compromised:
- Unexplained injuries, including bruising, cuts, or welts.
- The development of bedsores or pressure sores.
- Sudden weight loss.
- Dehydration and malnutrition.
- Unusual changes in behavior.
- Unexplained falls.
- Frequent infections.
- Frequent incidents of wandering.
- Hesitancy to speak to loved ones in front of staff members.
- Sudden withdrawal from close friends or family.
- Burns, which may be accidental and self-inflicted.
- Trouble sleeping or insomnia.
- Sudden onset of anxiety or depression.
Of course, the presence of these signs does not automatically point to mistreatment. Further investigation is required to determine accountability. If you suspect your loved one may be a victim of nursing home neglect, we recommend contacting an experienced attorney for a free consultation.
Causes of Negligence
It is hard to imagine why a nursing home staff member would neglect or abuse a resident. The truth is that while personal issues are sometimes involved, institutional problems are the most common cause.
Nursing homes are expensive to run, and few families have the resources to pay out-of-pocket expenses. Residents generally rely on government benefits, such as Medicaid, which means homes do not receive the full “retail” price. As a result, facilities are known to cut corners, and staffing shortages are a typical result.
While the primary cause of nursing home neglect stems from understaffing, other reasons include:
- Inadequate training
- Overworked staff
- Lack of supervision
- Underpaid staff
Regardless of the reason, there is no excuse for exposing a patient to harm. Holding facilities and staff members accountable for misconduct helps your family recover and helps protect other seniors from mistreatment.
Risk Factors for Michigan Nursing Home Neglect
Any nursing home resident can be a victim of abuse or neglect. However, the following factors can make certain residents more vulnerable than others:
- Lack of a support network.
- The presence of dementia or other cognitive disorders.
- Previous significant life trauma.
- Poor physical health.
- The presence of speech disorders.
- English as a second language.
- Lower-economic background.
If left unchecked, nursing home neglect can lead to a resident’s serious injury or premature death. In the event of a fatality, the deceased person’s estate, usually a family member, can pursue a wrongful death alongside a negligence claim.
Sommers Schwartz Can Help
If you are concerned about the health and safety of a nursing home resident, our attorneys are available for a free consultation. We have five decades of experience holding negligent nursing home staff members and management accountable. Our firm specializes in making the legal claims process as straightforward and stress-free as possible for victims and their families.