Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing Home Neglect Attorneys
Demographics across the country are changing and a nursing home abuse lawyer has become an integral part of society. A larger percentage of the American population than ever before is over 65 years old. Many of these individual can expect to live for many years to come, meaning that issues of elder care are growing increasingly important.
An increasing elderly population has led to a larger nursing home population. Unfortunately, a nursing home abuse attorney knows that this rising resident population has led to an increase in incidences of nursing home negligence and abuse.
Governmental agencies such as the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services help oversee the care and services provided by nursing homes. Both federal and state governments have established uniform standards for nursing homes to ensure the protection and safety of residents. Failure to abide by these standards may result in fines, citations, and other penalties for the negligent facility.
Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of these agencies, more than one million nursing home residents are abused in some manner every year.
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Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits
Nursing home abuse may include any of the following:
- Physical injury from falls
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Bed sores, pressure ulcers
- Aspiration pneumonia
- Poor medical care
- Medication mistakes
- Lack of supervision
- Property theft
- Ineffective equipment
- Sexual assault
- Physical or mental abuse
- Poor Hygiene
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Wrongful death
Most cases of mistreatment are not reported because seniors are often unable to understand the care to which they are entitled. In other cases they may be physically unable to share information about the abuse.
Whether the abuse consists of recurrent negligence or a single incident which causes injury, the victim has a right to damages. In addition, by filing a lawsuit and seeking accountability, residents and their families can help protect other residents from suffering the same fate. In most cases, the nursing home in question can lose its certification for failing to supply the expected care, leading to a loss of federal funding.
Bed Sores and Nursing Home Neglect
What is one of the most common and severe form Nursing Home Neglect? Bed Sores.
Elderly adults who are subject to nursing home neglect can sustain serious personal injuries, including dangerous bed sores, which are also known as pressure ulcers. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), nursing home neglect is often defined as the failure of a caregiver to properly provide for an elderly person, which can include the failure to provide food, supervision, medicine, medical care and treatment, clothing, and shelter. In general, elder neglect can involve many different circumstances that could result in an older adult’s health and safety being put in jeopardy.
Based on findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nursing home abuse and neglect frequently results in elderly adults suffering from bed sores. Depending on the severity of these pressure ulcers, older adults can experience severe repercussions.
What Are Bed Sores?
The CDC explains that pressure ulcers, which are also known as bed sores, pressure sores, and decubitus ulcers, “are wounds caused by unrelieved pressure on the skin.” How do they develop? They typically occur over a person’s “bony prominences,” including elbows, heels, hips, shoulders, back, and in some cases even the back of the head.
They are among the most serious medical conditions that occur at nursing homes, and the rate of pressure ulcers in nursing home patients is often a quality-care indicator. Indeed, many nursing homes residents across the country may suffer from elder neglect, as anywhere between 2 percent and 28 percent of nursing home residents currently suffer from bed sores.
Severity of Pressure Ulcers in Nursing Homes
Medical professionals use a staging system for rating the severity of pressure ulcers. Typically, these systems focus on the depth of the damage to soft tissue, which can range from “least severe” to “most severe.” According to the CDC, the stages typically look like this:
- Stage 1: a persistent redness in the skin;
- Stage 2: loss of partial thickness of the skin, which can look like an abrasion, a blister, or a shallow crater;
- Stage 3: loss of full thickness of the skin, which usually looks like a deep crater; and
- Stage 4: loss of full thickness of the skin such that muscles or bones are exposed.
The CDC suggests that “Stage 2” pressure ulcers are among the most common in nursing home residents who have been victims of neglect.
Complications Arising From Bed Sores
Bed sores are not only a problem in and of themselves, they can also result in a number of medical complications as well, such as:
- A variety of different types of infections, including cellulitis (skin), osteomyelitis (bone), endocarditis (heart lining), meningitis (cerebrospinal fluid), sepsis (blood), and even different forms of necrotizing fasciitis (commonly referred to as flesh eating bacteria);
- Septic arthritis, a form of joint disease caused by bacterial infection;
- Abscesses, a type of skin and soft tissue lesion; and/or
- Heterotopic bone formations, a medical condition where bone deposits form in the soft tissue, typically around the hip joints. This will result in pain and impaired mobility.
Facts and Figures About Nursing Home Bed Sores
How often are nursing home residents diagnosed with a bed sore? Based on data collected by the CDC, more than 10 percent of nursing home residents have suffered from a pressure ulcer. Of those patients, about half of those diagnosed had Stage 2 bed sores. Some other significant facts and figures include:
- Age is a factor: nursing home residents who were aged 64 years and younger actually were more likely than older residents to be diagnosed with bed sores.
- Time in nursing home matters: residents who were at a nursing home for one year or less were more likely than long-term residents to be diagnosed with a pressure ulcer.
- Weight loss may be a sign: about 20 percent of nursing home residents with recent weight loss also had a bed sore
- More than one-third of all nursing home residents with bed sores rated as “Stage 2” or higher required “special wound care services.”
Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
If you have an elderly loved one who was recently diagnosed with bed sores or has shown any of the signs or symptoms of other forms of neglect or abuse, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced lawyer.
It is important to act in a timely manner. Statutes of limitations limit the amount of time that an injured individual can file a lawsuit to seek justice and financial compensation for his or her damages.