Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect

The abuse and neglect of older adults is an alarming and prevalent problem. According to the National Council on Aging, one of every ten Americans aged sixty or older have experienced some form of elder abuse. An abused older adult is three times more likely to die prematurely or be hospitalized. And yet as few as one in twenty-four cases of elder abuse is reported to authorities. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, more than fifty percent of nursing home staff admit to physical violence, mental abuse, or neglect of older patients.

At Pignatelli & Associates, P.C., our Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyers focus on trial practice using Federal Statutes and the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act to protect elderly residents of nursing and assisted living facilities.

Symptoms and Signs of Abuse and Neglect

While family members expect that their family and loved ones are properly cared for with the respect, dignity and attention that they have earned through their lives, bad things can happen in the least likely of places. Family members are well-advised to take note for symptoms or signs that may evidence abuse or neglect of their loved ones, such as the following.
  • Unusual or Rapid Weight Loss
  • Odd, inconsistent or unsatisfactory explanations by caretakers for a sudden or cumulative change in condition
  • Unanticipated or inconsistent changes in behavior or interest in typical activities
  • Inexplicable markings, bruises, or other injuries
  • Falls, especially a sequence of two or more falls
  • Development of pressure or bed sores
  • Long-term prevalence or recurrence of wounds or sores
  • Unexpected or unusual agitation or emotional instability

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Important Aspects of Nursing Home Care

This is an abbreviated list of questions to consider and aspects of the facility or its services to keep in mind while evaluating any available nursing facilities. Contact our office for a complete list of points to consider while evaluating these facilities and their services.

Licensing Information

Does the facility display proper licensed credentials from the state?

Mandatory Arbitration Agreement

Does the facility require mandatory waivers or a restrictive arbitration clause?

Unique Services

Does the facility provide any and all specific services for your loved one?

Defined Residents' Rights

Does the facility distribute or publish a clearly itemized list of resident rights?

Transfer Procedures

How does the facility transfer your loved ones in the event of an emergency?

Compliance with Federal Programs

Is the facility in compliance with the standards and requirements of care necessary to receive Medicare or Medicaid programs?

Compassionate Care

Is the administrative and medical staff genuinely interested in the outcomes of the residents whose care is their responsibility?

Atmosphere and Upkeep

Is the facility clean, comfortably illuminated and heated or cooled?

Pharmaceutical Concerns

Is there a properly credentialed pharmacist or pharmaceutical provider on staff?

Confidential and No-Charge, No-Obligation Nursing Home Contract or Document Review

Pignatelli & Associates, P.C., offers Illinois families the opportunity to consult with an attorney before coordinating nursing home care for their loved ones. Contact our office to make a no-obligation, confidential consult today.

Potentially Actionable Nursing Home Injuries

No family member expects or believes their loved one will suffer abuse or neglect in a nursing home or assisted living facility. The opposite is true: they do so expecting that their loved ones, who require exceptional and comprehensive care, will receive the highest level of care possible. This is especially true in instances when their loved ones’ medical or psychological condition is such that they are not well-equipped to address.

If you or your loved ones suffered serious injuries or worse as a result of negligence in an Illinois nursing home, the nursing home lawyers of Pignatelli & Associates, P.C. can help you obtain justice and compensation.


Bed Sores, Pressure Sores and Ulcers

As a result of advanced age and maladies older adults are afflicted by medical conditions that cause losses in mobility and the ability to support themselves as they have in earlier years. For this reason, medical professionals of nursing homes must be informed, communicate, and provide the necessary care required by each resident. When they fail to meet this standard of care — including monitoring, treating, moving, assisting in activities of daily life and other mobility and medical areas through the provision of sufficient staffing to meet the special needs of the residents for whom they care — they must be held to account for their failures so that others will not be injured, and those who have been injured are afforded the compensation to which they are entitled.

Sepsis Infection

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition with symptoms including fever, increased heart and breathing rates, and confusion. In addition, symptoms may be related to an individual infection. It causes poor and insufficient blood flow. It is caused by an immune response triggered by an infection whether bacterial or of fungi, virus, or parasite. Risk factors include early or advanced age as well as a weakened or stressed immune function arising of major trauma, diabetes or burns, for example.

Sepsis is typically found at several common points of infection, one of which is the skin. If not managed properly, even common medical interventions such as surgical sites, grafts and medication ports are prime places from which septic conditions may arise. Further, areas of breakdown of the skin such as decubitus ulcers, grafts of skin, and pressure ulcers can without appropriate management increase one’s risk of sepsis.

Residents may develop sepsis because of improperly or negligently provided care or monitoring in a nursing home.


Inappropriate Physical or Chemical Restraint

While they have necessary uses in medicine, they may be used inappropriately within nursing home settings. For example, when used for personal convenience rather than patient well-being, the use of physical or chemical restraints is unacceptable.

Physical restraints such as vests, belts and other restrictive devices decrease the mobility of the resident on whom they are affixed. Chemical restraints are medications such as sedatives or anti-anxiety drugs that are used to reduce a patient’s mobility.

Under federal law, the use of these restraints is regulated to cases in which their necessity is documented within the file, among other factors. Chemical restraints must be used with written physician’s orders. They may have serious or life threatening side-effects.

Some examples of chemical restraints are benzodiazepines (e.g., lorazepam, midazolam). Other examples of chemical restraints are antipsychotic medications (e.g., haloperidol, droperidol, olanzapine, risperidone).

If your loved ones may have been physically or chemically restrained improperly or to the extent an injury is caused, you may have a claim.


Fall Injuries

Nursing home falls are common occurrences due to the mobility problems of those of an advanced age. However, many falls are preventable when nursing homes provide proper care and supervision and communication in the provision of necessary care.

As in restraints, commonly fall injuries arise when nursing homes fail to properly staff patients, when they fail to properly assess residents for risks of falls and when they fail to implement interventions necessary to address these risks. Other common causes of nursing home falls are failure to monitor and supervise and to follow proper protocol or document proper protocol when assisting residents in activities of daily life or transferring residents from one position or location to another.

For their injured family member, one should take action. But another reason would be to prevent this sort of improper care from harming another resident.


Physical or Sexual Abuse

Physical abuse may be visible on the bodies of residents as undocumented or unexplained abrasions, burns, bone injuries or cuts to the residents. Sexual abuse, as physical abuse often occurs when residents are vulnerable and impaired. Many victims cannot communicate or report abuse. Other victims of sexual abuse and physical abuse may not be able to remember if afflicted with a disease of the mind.

Psychological Abuse

Psychological abuse may be verbal including cruel treatment or humiliating treatment. It may also arise or be linked to sexual abuse or financial exploitation.

Malnutrition and Dehydration

Older adults and those of advanced age have less water and a lessened thirst and, as a result, are more likely to suffer from dehydration. In a nursing care setting, they rely on the attention and care of the staff to monitor and ensure they receive the appropriate and desired amount of water each day. Inadequate hydration puts residents at risk of pressure ulcers, infection and increases the risk of falls.

Similarly, malnutrition is linked to undesirable outcomes for older adults, both physical and mental. Further, it can be a symptom of psychological illness, adverse response to medication, and other maladies. Nursing homes may fail to prevent malnutrition by failing to monitor or document resident behavior and diet information, or to provide and promote a healthy environment in which residents may eat.


Troubled Breathing

Patients with troubled breathing associated with stoppage or clog can find restricted airflow leading to choking, oxygen depletion to the body and brain and other ailments. These may lead to damage to these organs or death.

If the breathing problems were caused because of a failure to properly monitor the nursing home may be liable for their failure to provide care or equipment properly.


Medication Mistakes

Even medical professionals make mistakes. Some of these mistakes are medication mistakes. The misadministration of medicine is a grave problem in nursing homes.

Examples of such mistakes include errors of dosage — incorrect amounts of medication — as well as errors in the medication itself — residents receive the wrong medication entirely — or errors in the timing or frequency of the administration of medication.

These errors are often made by nursing homes when they fail to staff properly which results in improper administration of medication to residents for which they are responsible.


Elopement or Unsupervised Wandering

Proper supervision of the most vulnerable members of one’s community ensures their well-being. When this care is not properly provided by nursing homes, residents are at risk of injury or death as a result of elopement or wandering.

Elopement arises when a resident departs the facility without supervision and when the facility does not notice and is not aware the resident has left.

Wandering occurs when the resident remains at the facility but without supervision that is required to protect the resident.

Improperly provided supervision is most often the cause of elopement and wandering by residents of nursing homes. Nursing homes must provide every resident with appropriate care and supervision.


Burn Injuries

Residents of nursing homes are often injured at times when water, beverages or other liquids are improperly prepared for use by residents. These injuries occur when nursing homes are understaffed or fail to properly identify or communicate the necessary care a resident must receive.

Causes more specifically are burns arising from water spills, improperly heated water associated with bathing, while smoking without supervision, negligently heated food or water, or fires.


Abuse and Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is prevalent in many populations but none so much as residents of nursing facilities. These residents require substantial care and supervision to lead a full life in the care of a nursing facility. When this care is not provided as needed — due to understaffing, improper communication, failures of documentation or training, or simply a breach of protocol — family members may have a claim.