legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Nursing Homes in Illinois
According to Medicare.gov, Illinois has 696 nursing homes. While 331 (38%) of these long-term care facilities rank average or above on the level of services they provide, the remaining 365 (52%) have below-average and much below-average ratings for service. This substandard level of care falls below the acceptable rating allowed by federal and state regulators at Medicaid and Medicare.
Nursing home abuse is a serious problem affecting millions of Americans annually. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), more than 1 million older adults are victims of elder abuse each year. The NCEA defines elder abuse as "the intentional infliction of harm, neglect, or exploitation by another person who has or had legal custody of the victim.
Elderly people are one of America's most vulnerable populations. They often live alone, are susceptible to exploitation, and lack the financial resources to seek help themselves. Unfortunately, many caregivers fail to provide adequate care to their families, resulting in serious injury and death.
Illinois Nursing Homes Abuse and Neglect
In 2017, the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) reported that nearly half of all nursing home residents were victims of physical abuse. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in four patients had experienced neglectful treatment during their stays at an assisted care facility.
While these long-term care facilities provide essential care services for seniors, they're also frequently plagued by staffing shortages, inadequate training, and poor supervision. Some Illinois nursing homes even hire unlicensed workers to care for facility patients. These issues compound the problem because many states don't require background checks for employees working in residential care facilities.
Below is a small sample of the abuse, mistreatment, and negligence documented in special focus facility centers and nursing homes in Illinois.
Failure to Protect Nursing Home Residents in Skilled Nursing Facilities From all Forms of Abuse and Neglect
Abusive behavior in nursing homes often leaves patients in fear, depressed, or dealing with untreated injuries or unexplained bruises and cuts. Sometimes, the signs of abuse are not apparent, where the nursing home resident suffers from malnourishment, dehydration, preventable pressure ulcers, poor personal hygiene, or unsanitary conditions.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has cited the following nursing homes in Illinois with serious deficiencies, violations, and penalties involving:
- Failure to ensure a patient was free from mental/verbal abuse when the patient expressed psychosocial harm as fearfulness when discussing how a nursing staff member yelled at her. (Abington Village Nursing and Rehab Center, Illinois)
- Failure to ensure the facility patient was not subjected to sexual abuse after another resident exhibited inappropriate sexual behavior toward others. (Accolade Healthcare of Paxton on Pells, Illinois)
- Failure to ensure a patient was free from physical abuse when a male entered the resident's room and began hitting them in the head before the staff separated them, leaving the injured victim with a laceration on the upper lip. (All American Village Nursing and Rehabilitation, Illinois)
- Failure to implement timely interventions and protect the nursing home care patient from physical abuse after one resident hit a patient with her phone before the staff separated the pair. (Allure of Galesburg, Illinois)
- Failure to prevent resident-to-resident physical abuse after one patient got into a physical altercation with another who hit them in the face and was detained by local law enforcement. (Allure of Galesburg, Illinois)
- Failure to protect and prevent the physical assault of a patient at the facility from another patient punching and kicking them requires care in an emergency room. (Ambassador Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Illinois)
- Failure to keep every community member free from physical abuse resulted from a nursing home care patient-to-patient altercation where one patient sustained scratches on the left side of her face. (Aperion Care Chicago Heights, Illinois)
- Failure to follow their Abuse Policy and Procedures to prevent residents from being subjected to verbal abuse, sexual abuse, and intimidation from faculty staff members where one witness was harassed by a CNA who stated, "Shut the f***up." (Aperion Care Hillside, Illinois)
- Failure to prevent employee-to-resident verbal abuse after a resident was told by the Certified Nursing Assistant that they are "always sh***y (soiled) and that the resident was going to stay up all day" is technically verbal abuse. (Aperion Care Peoria Heights, Illinois)
- Failure to follow their Abuse Policy and prevent resident-to-resident physical assault after one patient through a cup of water at the resident's face before hitting them. (Aperion Care West Chester, Illinois)
- Failure to provide one-to-one supervision for a resident involved in previous physical altercations led to a patient attacking others in the third-floor dining room. (Aperion Care West Chicago, Illinois)
- Failure to prevent resident-to-resident sexual abuse after an individual standing outside smoking was accosted by a patient who grabbed her leg and sniffed loudly up inside of the leg to her private parts. (El Paso Health Care Center, Illinois)
- Failure to ensure an individual was free from verbal and physical abuse after two other community patients reported that a former agency Certified Nursing Assistant was abusive toward the patient during patient care by swearing directly at them and physically pressing down on his back and hip. (Ridgeview Health Care Center, Illinois)
The Prevalence of Sexual Abuse at Nursing Homes in Illinois
According to the Illinois Department on Aging, sexual abuse is a reality in Illinois nursing homes. One study estimates that one in six elderly nursing care patients will experience some form of sexual abuse while living in a long-term care facility.
In the past decade, numerous reports of sexual abuse in nursing homes throughout the state have been reported.
Signs That Your Loved One May Be a Victim of Sexual Abuse
Unfortunately, sexual abuse often goes unreported in such facilities because victims are afraid to speak up or don't want to believe it is happening to them. It can be difficult to know if your loved one is a victim of sexual abuse. However, there are some signs that you can look for that may indicate your loved one's well-being and if they're being victimized, including:
- Unexplained injuries, bruises, or markings on the body
- Sudden changes in behavior, such as becoming withdrawn or agitated
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Sudden fearfulness or avoidance of certain people, places, or services
- Unexplained STDs or pregnancy
- Discomfort when discussing specific topics
Have you noticed any of these signs in your loved one? If so, it's important to immediately report it to nursing home administrators at the facility, the local health department, and law enforcement. Contact an experienced attorney from our law office who can help with legal services, investigate the situation, and protect your loved one's rights.
Taking Action Against Nursing Home Sexual Abuse in Illinois
Your loved one has rights. Depending on the circumstances of the case, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit against the Illinois nursing home facility and the abuser. These lawsuits typically seek compensation for damages such as medical bills, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
In some cases, it may also be possible to file a criminal complaint against the abuser. However, these cases can be complex, and it's important to work with an attorney with experience with other families' cases so that your loved one gets the justice they deserve.
Falling Is Caused By Neglect, Here Is Why
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association found that nursing home care patients are significantly more likely to experience falls when staff members are negligent in providing care.
The study found that people living in nursing homes are more than twice as likely to fall when they receive inadequate supervision from facility staff. Inadequate supervision can include failure to assist with walking or transferring, failure to monitor patients residing at a facility closely, and failure to respond promptly to changes in a resident's condition.
Falls are a leading cause of injury and death for Illinois nursing home patients. The leading contributing factors to most falls in senior living facilities include:
- Clutter in Hallways and Rooms can create tripping hazards for those at a facility. Illinois nursing homes should keep all hallways and common areas clear and free from any obstacles or hazards.
- Poor Lighting can also lead to falls, as those in facilities can easily trip over objects or stumble in the dark. Nursing homes should make sure all areas are well-lit at all times.
- Inadequate Handrails can also lead to falls, as patients' safety can be compromised, and they easily lose their balance if they try to use them. Nursing homes should ensure that all staircases and walking areas have adequate handrails.
- Wet Floors can be extremely dangerous, as any guest or community member can easily slip and fall. Nursing homes should ensure that all floors are dry and free from spills or leaks.
- Uneven Floors at facilities can also lead to falls, as disabled or elderly patients can easily lose their balance if they aren't paying attention. Nursing homes should ensure that all floors are without any bumps or irregularities.
- Poor Maintenance can lead to several hazardous situations, including slippery floors and faulty handrails. Nursing homes in Illinois should make sure that all areas are properly maintained at all times.
- Carpeting or Loose Rugs can also be a tripping hazard, as it can easily hide potential obstacles on the floor. Nursing homes should avoid using carpeting in high-traffic areas whenever possible.
- Heavily Trafficked Areas are also prone to falls, as residents can easily become overwhelmed or distracted by the hustle and bustle of the area. Nursing homes should try to limit the amount of traffic in high-risk areas whenever possible.
- Staff Contact can often lead to falls, as patients with memory or dementia may become confused or disoriented after being spoken to abruptly or touched unexpectedly. Nursing homes should ensure that staff always wake or make contact with residents calmly and politely.
- Medications: The side effects of certain medications can often cause dizziness or confusion, leading to falls. Nursing homes should monitor residents' medication schedules carefully and report any concerns to a doctor immediately.
- Poor Mobility is often one of the leading causes of falls in nursing home patients. Nursing homes should provide services for long and short-term care patients by developing a personalized exercise program to help improve their mobility skills.
Why Skilled Nursing Facility Must Follow Federal Regulations When Using Physical or Chemical Restraints
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, injured residents in senior living facilities are some of the most vulnerable people that are often at the staff's mercy when receiving quality care.
One of the ways that skilled nursing care staff can provide high-quality care services is by following federal and state regulations when using physical or chemical restraints.
Established Regulations for the Use of Physical Restraints
Three main federal regulatory agencies oversee the use of physical restraints in SNFs: the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Joint Commission (TJC), and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Federal and State Regulations for the Use of Chemical Restraints
Like physical restraints, the use of chemical restraints is regulated by CMS, TJC, and HIPAA. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requires that SNFs only use chemical restraints when it is medically necessary and when less restrictive alternatives have been tried and failed.
TJC requires that SNFs develop and implement policies and procedures for the use of chemical restraints that are based on best practices. Lastly, HIPAA requires SNFs to obtain informed consent from patients or their families before using chemical restraints.
Abusing the use of restraints at an assisted living facility could involve:
- Convenience: Facility staff members may use restraints for convenience instead of providing appropriate care services and support according to their care plan.
- Causes Dangerous Risk: Restraints can be dangerous and cause physical injuries to residents, such as bedsores and joint problems.
- Addictive: Chemical restraints can be harmful and addictive and cause residents to become agitated or suicidal.
- Limits Social Environment: Restraints can interfere with a resident's ability to interact with other people at the facility and lead to isolation and loneliness.
- Mental Problems: Restricting a resident's movement can cause them to feel trapped and helpless, leading to depression or anxiety.
- Refrain from Activities: Restraints can prevent residents from participating in group activities offered at the facility that they enjoy and make them feel like they are living in prison.
- Punishment: Staff members may use restraints to punish residents, control their behavior, or avoid providing daily living services.
- Nursing Home Costs: Restraints can be very costly for nursing homes in Illinois, both in terms of the expense of the restraints themselves and the staff time needed to monitor restrained residents.
- Loss of Dignity: The use of restraints is often opposed by Illinois families of nursing home patients, who see it as a sign that their loved ones are not being treated with respect and dignity.
Common Infection Protocol Issues
Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are a leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for approximately 1.7 million infections and 99,000 deaths annually. The economic burden of HAIs is also significant, with estimates of excess healthcare costs ranging from $4.5 to $11.5 billion per year in long-term care homes.
Nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to HAIs, as residents are often elderly and have weakened immune systems. Long-term care residents are four times more likely to develop an HAI than those in other settings.
This increased risk is due, in part, to the fact that nursing homes often have limited resources for infection prevention and control (IPC).
- Preventing cross-contamination: Staff should take precautions to prevent infection from one assisted living community member to another. This includes using gloves and gowns when caring for patients with infectious diseases, washing hands thoroughly, and sterilizing equipment and surfaces.
- Disinfecting patient rooms: Rooms with patients diagnosed with or suspected of having an infectious disease should be disinfected immediately. This includes a thorough cleaning of all surfaces, equipment, and bedding.
- Isolating infected patients: In some cases, it may be necessary to isolate infected patients from other facility residents to prevent the spread of infection.
- Maintaining a clean environment: Nursing staff must maintain a clean and sanitary environment to reduce the risk of infection. This includes regularly cleaning all surfaces and equipment, disposing of trash properly, and ensuring that residents keep their personal belongings clean.
- Educating staff and residents: It is important for nursing staff to educate both residents and staff about the signs and symptoms of infectious diseases, how to prevent the spread of infection between quarantine facilities, and what steps to take if someone is suspected of having an infection.
- Reporting infections: Nursing staff must report any suspected or confirmed cases of infection to their supervisor immediately. This allows for quick identification and treatment of any potential outbreaks.
- Screening visitors: Visitors should be screened for signs of infection before being allowed into the nursing home facility. This includes checking for fever, cough, or other symptoms of illness.
- Regulating contact: In some cases, it may be necessary to regulate contact between residents to prevent the spread of infection. For example, residents with contagious diseases may not be allowed to come into contact with those who are not infected.
To prevent the spread of disease, long-term care facilities must implement an effective IPC safety protocol. Such a protocol should include strategies for preventing the spread of respiratory viruses, such as influenza and coronavirus, as well as other common pathogens, such as Clostridium difficile (C. diff) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
A well-designed IPC protocol can help reduce the incidence of HAIs and improve the health of residents. By preventing the spread of disease in a long-term care facility, IPC can also help reduce the cost burden of HAIs on the healthcare system.
The Forgotten Victims of Nursing Home Abuse
It is estimated that between 1 and 2 million elderly Americans in an assisted service facility funded by Medicare are abused yearly; that's one out of every ten seniors. Unfortunately, the number of nursing home residents abused may be even higher, as many cases of abuse go unreported.
What accounts for this disturbing statistic? There are many possible explanations, but one of the main reasons is that abuse and neglect still occur in the nursing home care system, despite laws and regulations that protect residents.
These abuses can include:
- Lack of attention to medical needs: Health care staff, such as licensed practical nurses or a registered nurse, may not provide the necessary services to the patient's medical needs, which can lead to serious health complications.
- Failure to provide basic needs: Resident rights include having their basic needs met, such as adequate food, water, and clothing while residing in an assisted living facility.
- Lack of supervision: Patients receiving long-term care may not be supervised adequately, which can lead to accidents or injuries.
- Lack of social interaction: Long-term care patients may not receive enough social interaction while isolated in a private room, leading to loneliness and depression.
- Incorrect medication dosage: Nursing home patients may be given incorrect medication dosages, which can lead to serious health complications.
- Poor hygiene: Patients may be unable to maintain adequate hygiene due to a lack of resources, assistance, or additional home care.
- Untreated bed sores: Disabled or elderly patients at a long-term or special focus facility may not receive proper treatment for bed sores, which can lead to infection and other health complications.
- Falls: nursing home care patients may be at risk for falls due to a lack of supervision or unsafe conditions in the long-term care facility.
- Malnutrition: Patients may not receive enough nutrition due to a lack of food options or home care assistance with eating.
- Sexual abuse: Patients may be at risk for sexual abuse by staff or other residents while receiving health care service at a special focus facility or nursing home.
- Physical abuse: Patients may be subject to physical abuse by staff or other residents.
- Financial exploitation: Your loved one may be targeted for financial exploitation by staff or other health care patients at a facility where they are living.
- Emotional abuse: Many patients may be subjected to emotional abuse by nursing home care staff or other community patients.
- Wrongful death: Arlington heights nursing home patients are at risk for wrongful death due to neglect or abuse by health care staff, physicians, or other residents.
Accident Hazards In a Skilled Nursing Care Facility
Many nursing homes are negligent in keeping their residents safe from accidents. These accidents can be prevented if the nursing home takes the necessary precautions to avoid them. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, many nursing homes are not putting your family members' safety first, leading to severe injury and wrongful death.
Nursing home negligence can take many forms, but one of the most common is failing to prevent accidents. Accidents can happen anywhere, but they're especially common in nursing homes. This is because nursing homes are full of elderly residents more susceptible to accidents.
Some quality issues that lead to accident hazards that could put your family member in danger at skilled nursing facilities:
- Hazardous Floors: Slippery floors and uneven surfaces can lead to severe slips and falls, resulting in broken hips and fractured bones.
- Poor Lighting: Dimly lit areas are hazardous and can easily lead to residents tripping or stumbling.
- Lack of Security: Open windows and unlocked doors allow residents to wander off or be injured by outsiders.
- Inadequate Training: Staff members who are not properly trained to safely care for elderly residents can pose a serious hazard.
- Unsafe Equipment: Heavy equipment that is not adequately secured can easily fall on residents, causing serious injury and risking their safety.
- Wrong Medications: Incorrect medication dosages or errors through pharmaceutical services can have dangerous and deadly consequences.
- Poor Nutrition: Inadequate dietary services can leave patients malnourished, weakening immune systems and making residents more susceptible to infection and other health complications.
These are just some potential hazards that can lead to accidents in nursing homes. Unfortunately, many nursing homes fail to request the appropriate department to take the necessary precautions to prevent these accidents. As a result, their residents are getting injured needlessly.
You may be entitled to compensation if you or a loved one has been injured receiving home care or in a nursing home due to negligence. An experienced personal injury lawyer can evaluate your case and help you get the quality compensation you deserve.