The decision to put a loved one in a nursing home can be one of the toughest things you ever have to do. When you place a loved one in someone else’s care, you are taking a leap of faith, trusting that the nurses, physicians, and other caregivers will do their job and treat your relative as one of their own. Sadly, many Illinois nursing homes repeatedly violate residents’ rights, leaving them to suffer horrible injuries due to neglect and abuse.
How Bad is the Illinois Nursing Home Neglect Problem?
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), there are roughly 1,200 long-term skilled nursing facilities throughout the state. The Department conducts approximately 10,000 facility inspections each year, including about 5,000 complaints of negligence and resident abuse. The challenge for everyday citizens, however, is catching the warning signs of abuse and neglect. After years of watching nursing homes cleverly fight to avoid liability, we’ve developed a few quick tips to help families spot neglect and abuse.
- #1: Visit Often and at Different Times - The best way to protect a loved one is to be a frequent visitor. You may have heard the expression, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Well, in a nursing home, residents who are surrounded by family members constantly visiting are less likely to suffer from abuse and neglect. Staff are likely to be more “on alert” and aware that their conduct will be scrutinized.
- #2: What Do You SEE? - Do not ignore your personal observations. When it comes to visible signs, do you see nurses and other staff actively tending to residents, or is it an empty building with residents sitting around unattended? Do you see staff members on their phones or taking long breaks? Are there so-called “wheelchair parking lots?” These occur when staff line residents in hallways so they can lazily sit at the nurse’s station and observe residents without having to go room-to-room. Do you see wounds or sores on your loved one or other residents?
- #4: What Do You SMELL? - Above all your senses, do not forget your sense of smell. Certain odors are hard to forget. It is normal in a healthcare setting to smell bodily functions, especially when many of the residents may be incontinent. However, lingering odors that go unresolved for hours are a big warning sign, as this may indicate there are not enough staff to clean patients who soil themselves. This can lead to infections, bedsores, and other problems.
More importantly, bedsores (also known as pressure ulcers, wounds, or decubitus ulcers) can develop very quickly if staff members are not careful to frequently reposition bed bound patients and provide good hygiene care. A severe pressure ulcer will have a rotting odor that is quite distinct. If you smell something like rotting tissue or a foul, unexplainable odor in your loved one’s room, you should ask staff to help you inspect your loved one and help clean them. If you observe bedsores, call the IDPH complaint line right away at 800-252-4343.
- #5: Talk to Other Families - When you are visiting a loved one in a nursing home, you may get to know other families who have relatives living there as well. Open up and ask them questions. Find out if they are happy with care. You may discover that other families are equally concerned or have observed abuse or neglect. If so, this should serve as a huge warning sign that your loved one is at risk.
How to Seek Compensation for Nursing Home Injuries in Illinois
Did you know, if your loved one is abused or neglected in an Illinois nursing home, he or she may be entitled to significant monetary compensation? Illinois gives you the right to pursue compensation for your loved one, even if the injuries resulted in death. There are certain types of injuries that occur very frequently in southern Illinois nursing homes, especially smaller, rural facilities. These typically include injuries like:
- Bed sores
- Fractures and broken bones
- Head injuries
- Sexual assault
- Physical assaults
- Emotional abuse
- Financial exploitation
- Injuries by other residents
- Medication errors
- Improperly performed medical procedures
- Failure to diagnose
- Delays in transfer to hospitals
- Serious infections
- Wrongful Death
If you have a loved one living in a southern Illinois nursing home and you suspect serious abuse or neglect, call Brown & Brown, LLP at 314-333-333 today. We consider it a true calling to help the most vulnerable and exploited members of our society. If your loved one has suffered an injury or died at the hands of a nursing home, you can contact us at 618-888-8888, or by visiting online to schedule a free case consultation in our local Fairview Heights office.