Nursing home abuse injuries happen more often than many assume. This troubling reality is widespread across the United States, but it’s relatively misunderstood. Nursing home abuse comes in many forms.
According to a study conducted by the National Center for Victims of Crime, physical abuse is the most common type of nursing home abuse – making up nearly 30 percent of the complaints. Psychological abuse made up 20 percent of complaints, while gross neglect made up around 15 percent.
Nursing home abuse commonly results in serious health problems. If you or your loved one has been injured in a nursing home, there are options available. In this post, we discuss the most common nursing home abuse injuries, forms of negligence, and how to seek justice.
Let’s dive in.
Common Nursing Home Abuse Injuries
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1. Broken Bones and Fractures
As humans age, our bones become weaker. Breaks and fractures are a big risk for seniors living in nursing homes. More than 300,000 seniors are hospitalized for broken hips every year, per the CDC. Broken bones and fractures are commonly the results of falls.
Not all falls are due to abuse. Residents making a mistake or taking a bad step can easily result in broken bones. However, there may be unsafe conditions within the nursing home that led to the fall. If this is the case, you may be able to file a personal injury claim.
Cuts happen to everyone. If treated properly, most lacerations shouldn’t lead to serious injuries. It’s the way the laceration is treated that may warrant nursing home abuse. If wounds are not properly treated – or not treated at all – this can quickly cause an infection. These infections can lead to a host of problems, especially if the victim has a compromised immune system.
If your loved one has an improperly treated laceration, get in touch with a nursing home abuse injury attorney.
The immune system usually degrades as a person ages. This leaves them vulnerable to a myriad of diseases. In nursing homes, infections tend to spread easily – due to the confined space. Some of the most common infections include (but are not limited to):
- Skin infections
- Urinary tract infections
These infections are especially dangerous to seniors with concomitant diseases, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, emphysema, etc.
Bedsores are one of the most common injuries sustained in nursing homes. Also known as a pressure sore, a bedsore is an injury involving damage to the skin/tissue due to extensive pressure while laying down. Prolonged pressure limits blood flow to the tissue, which causes skin cells to become damaged, and eventually die. These generally develop when a person doesn’t move for hours (or days) at a time. Bedsores commonly develop in the:
Bedsores occur in these areas because there isn’t much fat protecting the bone. Medical neglect – and failing to properly rotate a patient – is usually the cause of bedsores.
Burns are fairly common in nursing homes. These nursing home abuse injuries can be attributed to several different factors. Scalding bath/shower water, hot water spills, excessively hot food or drinks, and fires in the facility are some of the most common scenarios that lead to burns.
Burn injuries are usually the result of neglect or negligence from employees. If you or a loved one suffered a severe burn in a nursing home, you may be entitled to compensation.
Concussions and other brain injuries in nursing homes are usually a result of falls. While most concussions aren’t life-threatening, senior citizens may take longer to recover. Moreover, brain injuries may create issues for residents with longstanding health problems.
If the concussion was a result of neglect or negligence, your best move is to speak with a nursing home injury lawyer who specializes in brain injuries.
7. Anxiety & Depression
Not all nursing home abuse injuries are physical. Depression and anxiety are extremely common in nursing homes. These injuries can have many roots. Some may be an indication of emotional/psychological abuse from nursing home employees. Other instances could be tied to negligence with medication.
Any instances of anxiety or depression must be reported – no matter what the circumstances are.
Common Forms of Nursing Home Negligence
1. Negligence that Leads to Falls
While mistakes certainly happen from time to time, nursing homes know how dangerous falls can be for older residents. The facilities must provide attentive care and take precautions to prevent falls. Negligence may involve a staff member failing to take proper care, foul play, or downright physical abuse.
Negligence can also involve poor maintenance of the facility. For example, a loose handrail or slippery floor may result in a dangerous fall.
2. Use of Physical Force
According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization, about 14 percent of residents have experienced physical abuse. Examples of physical abuse in a nursing home may include:
- Harmful restraint – with straps/ties.
The telltale signs of physical abuse include bruising, cuts, and broken bones. Physical abuse in nursing homes can lead to serious injuries – especially if they are not treated properly. There can be absolutely ZERO tolerance for this. If you or a loved one is experiencing physical abuse, get in contact with a nursing home injury lawyer immediately.
3. Medical Neglect
Medical neglect happens when staff fails to provide adequate care. This may include:
- Failing to report injuries/illnesses
- Ignoring complaints
- Leaving residents unattended for extended periods
Neglect is the most common cause of nursing home abuse injuries. Unfortunately, attributing liability for this can be difficult without an attorney.
4. Food/Water Deprivation
Malnutrition and dehydration are usually attributed to staffing problems. In an adequately-staffed nursing home, CNAs (certified nursing assistants) are responsible for feeding residents on a normal basis. When nursing homes are understaffed, mealtimes are complicated.
These types of nursing home abuse injuries can occur when staff fails to notice when a resident is underweight or showing signs of dehydration. These professionals are trained to notice these problems – and they must be held accountable if they fail to take proper action.
5. Medication Errors
Medication errors are extremely common in nursing homes. This type of negligence refers to an employee administering an inappropriate amount of medicine to a resident. Most medication errors are not committed on purpose. However, the liable party must still be held accountable.
6. Unsanitary Conditions
Unsanitary conditions at a nursing home can easily spread infections and diseases. Nursing homes are obligated to maintain sanitary premises for the safety of their residents and employees. According to the CDC, between one and three million life-threatening infections occur in nursing homes every year due to poor sanitation.
Examples of an unclean premise include:
- Unsanitary restrooms
- Dirty/slippery floors
- Bug/rodent infestations
- Cluttered walkways
- Overflowing trashcans
- Soiled furniture
Isolation is a form of negligence that commonly leads to emotional injuries – like anxiety or depression. This usually involves isolating a resident from friends and family. During the COVID-19 pandemic, isolation in nursing homes was a huge problem.
Nursing home abuse injuries due to isolation aren’t always easy to pinpoint. You’ll need to consult with a specialized attorney to examine the situation.
What Are the Next Steps?
Legal help is available to victims of nursing home abuse injuries – and their families. Without a nursing home attorney, seeking justice will be very difficult (maybe impossible). These specialized attorneys are skilled in working with insurance companies and medical professionals to attribute liability and fight for maximum compensation.
Many victims believe justice for a nursing home abuse injury is impossible because they cannot afford an attorney. Nursing home injury lawyers work on a contingency fee agreement. This means they collect their fees as a percentage of the settlement paid out by the at-fault party. Victims and their families do not have to pay anything upfront to hire an attorney.
For any more questions about nursing home injury law – get in touch with Midwest Injury Lawyers. Our Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer is happy to answer any concerns you might have. Even if you don’t have a valid case, we’ll point you in the right direction.