Illinois has approximately 1,200 long-term care facilities serving more than 100,000 residents. More people require the types of services that a nursing home is supposed to provide than ever before. Although many people would prefer to stay at home, they often need more care as they age then is available in a private setting. Nursing homes are there to provide the level of care that a family would like to provide but is unable to provide at home. This may include basic nursing care or more skilled nursing care depending upon the needs of the nursing home resident.
Neglect and abuse in nursing homes is not uncommon. When a loved one is injured in a nursing home, an attorney should be involved to evaluate the potential liability of the nursing home for the injuries suffered. In Illinois, this typically involves the evaluation of the record associated with the treatment in the nursing home, whether the Nursing Home Care Act was violated and whether any additional claims are available.
What is the Nursing Home Care Act
The Nursing Home Care Act provides protection to residents who suffer injury due to inadequate care in a nursing home. The Act provides that an owner, licensee, administrator, employee or agent of a nursing home facility shall not abuse or neglect a resident.
“Neglect” means a failure to provide adequate medical or personal care or maintenance, which failure results in physical or mental injury to a resident or in the deterioration of a resident’s physical or mental condition. “Abuse” means any physical or mental injury or sexual assault inflicted on a resident other than by accidental means in a facility.
Under the Nursing Home Care Act, the owner and licensee of the facility are liable to a resident for any intentional or negligent act or omission of their agents or employees which injures the resident. Neglect can occur in a wide range of ways.
Pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores, pressure sores or decubitus ulcers are caused by unrelieved pressure on the skin. They often develop at the elbow, hip, heel, shoulder and back of the head. It is a serious medical condition that requires immediate care.
Pressure sores are staged from stage I to the most severe stage, stage IV. Stage I begins with redness of the skin whereas stage IV involves exposed muscle or bone.
There are guidelines for management of pressure ulcers and steps that should be taken by nursing staff to avoid and manage ulcers in patients who are likely to develop them. A patient is especially likely to develop a pressure sore when they are unable to ambulate and spend significant time in bed. When a resident develops the type of severe pressure sore which goes untreated or appears to be inadequately assessed, a claim may arise under the Nursing Care Act.
Falls in the Nursing Home
Residents of a nursing home often require assistance to walk. A care plan should be in place for all nursing home residents which addresses this issue. If the resident is likely to fall or has difficulty maintaining their balance, precautions should be put in place. Nursing staff may be required to assist the resident when walking, use a restraint to help transfer the patient from bed or use the side rails on the bed to make sure the resident is safe. A thorough review of the record including the details of the care plan for the patient, the nursing home records and the patient’s limitations must all be considered in evaluating whether the Nursing Home Care Act was violated.
Negligent Care in a Nursing Home
In addition to the claims for violations of the Nursing Home Care Act, the nursing home may be otherwise responsible for negligently provided care. The operators of a nursing home must exercise reasonable care to avoid injury to residents. These claims include a wide range of allegations including failure of nursing staff to appropriately communicate with the attending physician, the failure to take appropriate action on behalf of the resident or the failure to fully evaluate the condition of the resident.
A nursing home may also be negligent in the staff they hire, their failure to have enough staff members present or their failure to appropriately train and supervise the staff.
If a resident is injured due to the negligence of nursing home staff, that person may be entitled to compensation for their medical bills, their pain, suffering and loss of their normal life. If you have questions or concerns regarding the care you or a loved one received at a nursing home, contact Dwyer & McDevitt, P.C. for a free case evaluation at (312) 332-0072.