legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Champaign Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Nursing homes and other residential facilities serving the aged have a legal obligation to provide residents with continuous, professional levels of care. Failure to maintain legally mandated standards of health care can result in serious injury, harm, or even death to elderly residents.
In recent years, the Champaign, Illinois, nursing home abuse lawyers at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC have seen a significant increase in cases involving abuse, neglect, and mistreatment in nursing homes in the Champaign area and throughout Illinois.
If your loved one was mistreated, injured, or died unexpectedly from neglect while living in a Champaign County nursing home, contact our affiliate Illinois personal injury attorneys to get help. Our lawyers have decades of experience holding negligent nursing homes accountable and getting families the justice and compensation they deserve.
Call our Champaign nursing home abuse lawyers at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone number) today and schedule a free consultation to discuss what compensation you may be entitled to under the law. All confidential or sensitive information you share with your central Illinois personal injury lawyer remains confidential through an attorney-client relationship.The Devastation of Nursing Home Abuse
Dealing with the aging process is difficult for both the elderly individual and their loved ones. When making the decision to place a senior family member in a nursing home facility, you trust that they will be treated with respect and dignity. Unfortunately, mistreatment is all too common, leaving abuse victims feeling frightened, alone, and vulnerable.
Nursing home abuse is a serious issue that can have devastating consequences for elderly victims. Unfortunately, it's all too common, and many cases go unreported.Nursing Home Abuse Statistics in the United States
Many families care for elderly loved ones in their own homes, but sometimes a nursing home is the best option. Nursing homes provide around-the-clock care for people who can no longer safely live on their own.
Unfortunately, many nursing home residents suffer abuse and neglect. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, 10% of nursing home residents experienced abuse, and 17% experienced neglect at some point during their stay.
In Illinois, 5,911 complaints of nursing home neglect and abuse were made in facilities in 2017. Of those complaints, 3,082 were substantiated, and 1,948 were found to be unsubstantiated.
This statistic reveals that nearly 1 in 5 complaints of abuse or neglect in Illinois nursing homes were substantiated.Types of Nursing Home Abuse
There are many different types of nursing home abuse. Here are some of the most common:
- Physical Abuse might involve any type of intentional physical force that causes harm to a nursing home resident. This abusive behavior might include hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, biting, burning, or otherwise causing physical harm.
- Emotional Abuse could involve verbal or nonverbal behavior that causes psychological harm to a nursing home resident, name-calling, including threats, intimidation, isolation, and other forms of mental cruelty.
- Sexual Abuse involves sexual contact or inappropriate sexual activity between a nursing home resident and a staff member, visitor, friend, family member, or another resident without the victim's consent. This abuse could include rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual touching, or other forced activity.
- Financial Abuse involves the illegal or unauthorized use of a nursing home resident's money or property. This can include stealing cash, checks, credit cards, jewelry, or other valuables; forging a signature; and coercing a resident to sign a financial document.
- Neglect involves a failure to provide the basic necessities of life to a nursing home resident. Nursing home neglect could include food, water, clothing, medical care, and other essential needs.
- Abandonment is defined as the desertion of a nursing home resident by a caregiver and not providing necessities including shelter, safety, medical care, daily hygiene assistance, meals, or social interaction.
- Dehydration is a life-threatening condition that can result when a nursing home resident does not receive enough fluids. Signs of dehydration include dry mouth, sunken eyes, increased thirst, reduced urine output, confusion, and lethargy.
- Malnutrition is a deadly condition that results when a nursing home resident does not receive enough nutrients. Signs of malnutrition include weight loss, fatigue, muscle weakness, hair loss, dry skin, and brittle nails.
- Pressure Sores are open wounds that occur when a nursing home resident is left in the same position for too long. These sores can become infected and lead to serious medical complications.
If you suspect that your loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, it's important to take action immediately. Contact the facility administrator to file a complaint and speak with a Champaign nursing home abuse lawyer for legal intervention.Common Causes of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
Nursing homes have long been a staple of the American healthcare system, providing a safe and comfortable place for seniors to live out their golden years. However, nursing homes have also been the site of some of the most heartbreaking abuse scandals in recent memory leading to injured residents.
Nursing home abuse is a tragic reality that continues to occur despite efforts to prevent it. Too often, abusive employees go undetected. Until these issues are addressed, nursing home abuse will continue to be a serious problem and legal issue.
- Lack of staffing - Health and hygiene issues arise when there are simply not enough workers to properly care for all the residents. As a result, employees can become overwhelmed and begin to cut corners. Understaffing also leads to tired employees who must often work long hours with little to no break, leading to making mistakes or acting out of frustration.
- Lack of adequate safety protocols and written procedures - Nursing homes are required to have specific policies and procedures in place to protect residents from abuse, but not all facilities follow these rules. In some nursing home abuse cases, employees may not even be aware of the protocols that are supposed to keep residents safe.
- Insufficiently trained staff - Employees who are not properly trained are more likely to make mistakes that can lead to nursing home neglect or abuse. In addition, untrained employees may not know how to properly handle difficult behaviors from residents.
- Lack of staff supervision - When employees are not properly supervised, they may be more likely to engage in abusive or neglectful behavior. In addition, unsupervised employees may be less likely to follow safety protocols and procedures.
- Miscommunication among staff members - When staff members do not communicate well with each other, important information can be missed, leading to errors in care, missed signs of abuse or neglect, and other problems.
- Limited resources and funding - Nursing homes that are short on resources and funding may have difficulty providing adequate care to residents. This can lead to staff members feeling overwhelmed and underpaid, which can increase the risk of abuse and neglect.
- Patient aggression - Some residents may become aggressive due to dementia, mental illness, or other factors. If staff members are not properly trained in how to handle these behaviors, they may resort to using unauthorized chemical or physical restraint or other forms of abuse.
- Residents with dementia or Alzheimer's disease - Patients with dementia or Alzheimer's disease may be more likely to wander off, leading to them being injured or becoming lost. They may also become confused and agitated, which can increase the risk of them being abused or neglected.
Victims of nursing home abuse and neglect often feel powerless to do anything about the situation. However, there are steps that can be taken to help prevent abuse and neglect from happening in the first place.
With help, victims feel more empowered to protect themselves or a loved one from potential abuse or neglect in a nursing home setting. By being proactive, they can help protect their loved ones from harm.
Learn the Signs of Abuse and Neglect
Learn about the signs of nursing home abuse and neglect so that you can be proactive in protecting your loved ones, including:
- Bruises, cuts, or welts that cannot be explained
- Unexplained falls or fractures
- Sudden weight loss or gain
- Dehydration or malnutrition
- Soiled clothing or bedding
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Anxiety, depression, or withdrawal from social activities
- Fearfulness or changes in behavior
- Unusual bruising around the breasts or genital area
If you see any of these signs, it is important to talk to the nursing home staff and administration right away. You should also contact your local law enforcement or Adult Protective Services if you believe that abuse or neglect is happening.
Compare Nursing Facilities to Find the Best One in the Community
Get tips on how to choose a nursing home that will provide the best care for your loved one. Look at Medicare.gov to read reviews of all nursing homes in your area.
Comparing Champaign nursing facilities will help you find one that meets your specific needs and preferences.
You should also consider the following when choosing a nursing home:
- The facility's licensing status
- The quality of care they provide
- The staffing levels
- The types of services they offer
- Their track record of complaints and violations
Visit the Facility Before Placing a Loved One in Their Care
Visit the nursing home before you make the decision to place your loved one in their care. This will give you a chance to see the facility and meet the staff.
You should also ask for a tour of the facility so that you can see the living conditions and how the staff interacts with residents.
Be sure to ask about the following during your visit:
- The admissions process
- The cost of care
- The types of services they offer
- Their policies on visitors, guests, and residents' rights
- How they handle medication administration and dispensing
- What the facility's discharge policy is
- The staffing levels and qualifications of the staff
- How they handle complaints and concerns
- The facility's policies on resident restraint
- What the facility's policy is on bed sores
After you have chosen a nursing home, be sure to visit often and stay in touch with your loved one. This will help you to ensure that they are receiving the best possible care.
Learn What to Do When Suspecting Mistreatment
Find out what to do if you suspect abuse or neglect is happening in a nursing home. You can contact the facility's administrator, the state long-term care ombudsman, or your local law enforcement agency.
You should also contact Adult Protective Services if you believe that abuse or neglect is happening.
Obtain Help From a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, you should contact a nursing home abuse attorney who is extremely law knowledgeable in civil torts.
A Champaign, Illinois lawyer can help you understand your legal options to hold all responsible parties legally accountable and will work to get the best possible outcome for your case.
Gain Access to Needed Resources and Services
Get access to resources and support services if you or a loved one has been affected by nursing home abuse or neglect. With help, you can get the care and assistance you need to heal and move on from this difficult experience.Medical Mistakes and Medication Errors Leading to Patient Harm
Every healthcare professional has a moral obligation to ensure their patient's safety and well-being by providing the best care while under their charge. While mistakes can and do happen, the doctor, nurse, or nurse aide could be held accountable when errors occur.
In a nursing home setting, medical malpractice is any action or inaction by a healthcare professional that deviates from the accepted standard of care and harms the patient.
Possible medical negligence or malpractice by a doctor, nurse, or aide might involve:
- Failing to prevent or treat bed sores
- Failing to properly assess and document the patient's condition
- Failing to follow up on test results
- Improperly medicated
- Not following the physician's orders
- Misreading or misunderstanding a physician's order
- Failing to properly monitor a patient's condition
- Lying about or falsifying a patient's medical records
Medicare data reveals that most residents in nursing facilities receive a lot of medications during their stay. This number has been steadily increasing over the years as the population of elderly patients has increased.
With more drugs administered orally and intravenously comes a greater chance for errors.
The most common types of medication errors in nursing homes are:
- Wrong drug errors - Giving the patient the wrong medication could cause an allergic reaction or other serious side effects.
- Wrong dose errors - Giving the patient too much or too little medication can be just as dangerous as giving the wrong drug.
- Incorrect route errors - Administering a medication through the wrong route (such as orally instead of intravenously) can cause serious health complications.
- Duplicate therapy errors - Prescribing the same medication for two different conditions can result in a dangerous interaction.
- Look-alike and sound-alike errors - Many drugs have names that are similar to other drugs. This can lead to confusion and cause the wrong drug to be given.
- Unsafe storage errors - Medications must be stored properly to maintain their effectiveness.
- Drug-interaction errors - Mixing certain drugs can cause a dangerous reaction.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), developing bed sores in a hospital or nursing home setting is a "never event." CMS regulators state that nearly all developing bed sores at any stage are preventable when the staff follows established skin care protocols.
- A lack of repositioning a mobility-challenged patient’s body: A nursing home patients body developing bed sores is often a sign that they are not being properly turned and reposition, leading to a number of serious health complications, including sepsis (blood infection) or osteomyelitis (bone infection).
- Malnutrition and dehydration: A lack of nutrition and hydration could lead to a nursing home patient developing bed sores. Both of these needs must be met in order for the body to properly heal wounds.
- Inadequate hygiene and skin care: Poor hygiene and skin care can lead to a number of problems that could result in a nursing home patient developing bed sores, including infection, increased swelling, and increased pain.
- Shear and friction: Shear and friction occur when two surfaces rub together, causing damage to the skin. This can happen when a nursing home patient is moved without being properly supported, resulting in the patient’s skin being dragged across the bed or sheets.
Bed sores are a serious concern for any nursing home patient, as they can lead to a number of health complications.Bed Sore Stages: How Skin Wounds Quickly Degrade
Wound care specialists use a grading system to evaluate the level of harm the patient is experiencing to apply the best methods for healing. Allowing the wound to degrade could create life-threatening conditions within hours to days.
The stages of pressure ulcers include:
- Stage I: The patient's reddened red skin feels warm to the touch, but there is no open wound.
- Stage II: The affected area is now a partial thickness open wound with a blister or abrasion.
- Stage III: The area is now a full-thickness open wound with tissue damage down to the subcutaneous layer.
- Stage IV: The wound has degraded to a life-threatening condition where there is extensive tissue damage and exposed bone, tendon, or muscle. Without immediate intervention, the wound could lead to sepsis or osteomyelitis.
- Unstageable - The wound is filled with too much debris and dead tissue to accurately assess the stage.
- Deep Tissue Injury (DTI) - The wound has reached the deepest layer of tissue and is at risk of necrosis (tissue death).
The nursing staff must ensure a competent wound care specialist who can prevent the wound from progressing to Stage III or beyond, as this is when the risk of serious health complications increases significantly.
The goal of any wound care specialist is to prevent the wound from progressing to Stage III or beyond, as this is when the risk of serious health complications increases significantly.The Different Types of Wounds That Can Lead to Bed Sores
There are four different types of wounds that can lead to bed sores:
- Abrasions: An abrasion is a superficial wound caused by the rubbing or scraping of the skin.
- Blisters: A blister is a raised area of skin that is filled with fluid.
- Lacerations: A laceration is a deep cut or tearing of the skin.
- Ulcers: An ulcer is an open sore that can be caused by a number of different things, including infection, inflammation, and ischemia (a lack of blood flow to the area).
Bed sores are often caused by a combination of factors, including friction, shear, pressure, and moisture.Preventing Bed Sores in Nursing Home Residents
There are a number of things that can be done to prevent bed sores, including:
- Providing adequate pressure relief: This can be done by using pillows, foam wedges, or special mattresses that help to distribute the patient’s weight more evenly.
- Repositioning the patient regularly: The patient should be repositioned at least every two hours to avoid any one area of the body from being under constant pressure.
- Keeping the skin clean and dry: The skin should be kept clean and dry to prevent any further irritation.
- Using barrier creams: Barrier creams can help to protect the skin from friction and moisture.
Family members whose loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home assisted living facility or rehab center can take legal steps to ensure their safety. These steps might include:
Notify the Nursing Home Administrator
Tell the Administrator what you know or saw and submit a formal complaint explaining the situation. The Administrator is required by laws and federal regulations to investigate any allegations of abuse or neglect.
Contact Adult Protective Services
Adult Protective Services (APS) is a state agency that investigates elder abuse and can provide resources and services to help keep your loved one safe. Typically, APS will contact the nursing home to ensure that the situation is being addressed and that your loved one is safe.
File a Complaint With The Facility or The State Licensing Board
In Illinois, complaints about nursing homes can be filed with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) or the Illinois attorney general’s office. The agency will then investigate the complaint and take appropriate action.
File a Police Report
If you believe that your loved one is in immediate danger, you should call 911. The police will investigate the situation and determine if any criminal charges should be filed.
Get a Protective Order
If you believe that your loved one is in danger of being harmed, you can file for a protective order. This is a court order that will require the abuser to stay away from the victim.
Get Legal Help
You should consult with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer to discuss your legal options and to ensure that your rights are protected. A Champaign nursing home abuse attorney can help you to file a complaint, negotiate with the nursing home, and take legal action if necessary.
File a Civil Lawsuit
If your loved one has been injured or killed as a result of abuse or neglect, you can file a civil lawsuit against the abusers and the facility, seeking financial compensation for damages.Nursing Home Abuse Victims and Wrongful Death
Sadly, many cases of nursing home abuse and neglect have led to the resident's death.
The number of deaths each year in the United States caused by elderly abuse is difficult to determine because elder abuse is often not reported. However, a study conducted by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) found that approximately 1,600 elders died each year as a result of abuse or neglect.
Losing a loved one by the senseless act of abusive or negligent behavior is a tragedy. If your loved one has been killed as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the abusers and the facility.
Nursing home litigation involving wrongful death is a civil lawsuit that can be brought by the victim’s family members to recover damages for their losses. The damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses
- Lost future benefits
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Pain and suffering of the victim before their death
- Pain, suffering, grief and emotional stress the family experiences losing their loved one
Punitive damages may also be available in some cases. Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer and to deter others from committing similar acts.
If you have lost a loved one as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, you should consult with an experienced Champaign nursing home abuse lawyer to discuss your legal options and to ensure that your rights are protected.Successfully Resolving a Personal Injury Case
Civil tort law in Illinois requires the injured party (plaintiff) to prove how the responsible parties (defendant) must pay for all damages caused by their intent or negligence. Successfully resolving the claim through a negotiated settlement or jury award will be based on the four elements of civil law that state:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff
- The defendant breached that duty
- The breach injured or killed the plaintiff
- The plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the injury
An attorney will investigate and gather evidence to support these personal injury claims on your behalf. The at-fault party or their insurance company may try to deny liability or minimize the number of damages you are entitled to receive.
Possible defendants in a nursing home abuse or neglect case might include one or more of the following:
- The nursing home staff member(s) whose negligence or abusive behavior led to harm
- Another patient, visitor, family member, friend, employee, or others who acted aggressively, forcefully, or sexually toward the victim.
Potential defendants could include:
- Nursing facility
- Nursing home administrator
- Nursing home owners
- A company contracted to provide staffing for the facility
- A company that provided training for the staff
- The manufacturer of a defective product used in the facility
- Other people, vendors, businesses, and government agencies
For more information about successfully resolving your personal injury case, contact an experienced Champaign nursing home abuse lawyer who can help your family navigate the complex legal system.Talk to a Champaign Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
It is shocking and devastating for families to learn that their loved one has been harmed, injured, or abused by the nursing home staff you trusted to care for them. When that happens, you want to seek justice and hold those responsible legally accountable.
Our Champaign, Illinois, nursing home neglect attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center have years of experience successfully representing victims of negligence.
We encourage you to contact our affiliate Illinois elder abuse attorneys at (800) 926-7565 or use a contact form to schedule your free consultation. All information you share remains confidential.
Our central Illinois legal team accepts wrongful death lawsuits, personal injury cases, and nursing home abuse claims through contingency fee agreements. Our law offices provide all necessary legal assistance and representation without you needing to pay any upfront fee.