legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Nursing Homes in Missouri
According to Medicare.gov, there are 505 nursing facilities in Missouri. Of these nursing homes, 255 (51%) rated at or above the national average on the services provided by their facility. The remaining 250 (49%) fell below average and far below.
These poor levels fall well below the Missouri regulations and Medicare and Medicaid acceptable standards. Unqualified hospice staff sometimes fail to provide adequate end-of-life services to dying people at home. They may not be trained well enough to give proper end-of-life service.
What are Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse?
Neglect is when caregivers fail to provide the residents with adequate health, nutrition, shelter, education, clothing, supervision, protection from harm, or any combination thereof.
Abuse is when someone intentionally causes harm to another person who cannot defend themselves. It may include physical or sexual assault, neglect, psychological or emotional abuse, financial abuse, abandonment or self-abandonment, or other types of mistreatments.
Abuse occurs in many Missouri nursing homes, adult care communities, long-term health care institutions, and rehabilitation centers. Here are some common forms of mistreatment.
Below are some examples of abuse and neglect at nursing homes in Missouri.
Failure to Report and Investigate Any Act or Reports of Abuse, Neglect, or Mistreatment
Anyone who sees or hears anything suspicious at the facility must immediately notify the administrator and state agency. Failure to do so may result in severe consequences for the nursing home. Common types of abuse and neglect at skilled nursing homes in Missouri include:
- Failing to ensure one resident remained free from verbal abuse by a staff member, the facility failed to notify the resident legal guardian of what happened. (Bellefontaine Gardens Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)
- Failing to prevent staff-to-resident abuse for nine residents who resided on a locked unit after a resident alleged that two hall monitors were providing them with illicit drugs. (Ridgewood Health Care Center)
- Failing to protect all residents from abuse when one staff member (a Certified Nursing Aide) used a walker to place and hold one resident in the corner in response to their behavior, resulting in the resident striking out while being held in the corner. (Colonial Springs Health Care Center)
- Failing to ensure one resident was free from physical abuse by another, who entered the resident's room and stabbed him repeatedly with a knife as they sat in their power chair. (Delmar Gardens of O'Fallon)
- Failing to keep one resident free from physical abuse after a certified medication technician and nurse held the resident's upper extremities and attempted to pry the resident's hand open to take back antibiotic medication, causing the resident to become upset, yelling out, and sustaining bruising. (Delmar Garden View Nursing Care Center)
- Failing to protect a resident's right to be free from neglect when an evening shift nurse reported they were leaving the facility without a replacement, or only a certified nursing assistant remaining, and without one resident receiving their ordered pain medication, experiencing respiratory distress. (Lenoir Health Care Center)
- Failing to timely assess a resident when they allege staff was rough with them, resulting in left arm pain, and failing to investigate the allegation and report the incident to proper authorities as required by law. (Edgewood Manor Health and Nursing Care Center)
Why Nursing Home Neglect is So Harmful to Residents Receiving Long-Term Care
The disabled and elderly in skilled nursing homes in Missouri often don't receive proper care or attention from their caregivers. Neglect can result in severe health issues such as dehydration, malnutrition, infections, and even death.
Missouri nursing homes are supposed to provide quality long-term care for older adults. Unfortunately, they aren't always equipped to meet residents' needs. In some cases, neglect has become a significant issue because of inadequate staffing, lack of training, and other problems.
Negligent care refers to situations where patients are left unattended for extended periods. These include.
All Facility-Acquired Bedsores Are Preventable
More than one in ten Missouri nursing home residents will acquire a pressure sore while living in the facility due to neglect, improper monitoring, or mistreatment. Bedsores occur when there is continuous pressure applied to a body part.
The sores often occur on a bony area like the back of the head, shoulders, shoulder blades, spine, sacrum, buttocks, hips, knees, ankles, and heels.
When the pressure is not relieved after a couple of hours, the lack of blood flow restricts oxygen from reaching tissue, causing permanent skin damage. The condition can become severe without immediate attention and cause the damaged area to ulcerate.
Residents most susceptible to developing a sore are immobile or unable to reposition their body independently, such as bedridden patients or those who use a wheelchair.
Devastating Falls Can Cause Severe Life-Altering Injuries
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), skilled nursing home residents account for more than half of fall-related fatalities yearly. Most falls result in severe injuries, such as fractures and head injuries.
Staff members are responsible for preventing falls by following established protocols but often fail to do so, leading to catastrophic injuries.
There are several reasons why nursing home staff members may fail to prevent falls. One reason is that staff members may be overworked and underpaid, leading them to cut corners in their work.
In addition, many Missouri nursing homes are understaffed, which can lead to a shortage of personnel monitoring residents carefully. Moreover, some nursing homes have poorly maintained facilities, leading to dangerous conditions that increase the risk of falls.
Ultimately, the responsibility for preventing falls lies with the staff. When they fail to do their jobs properly, residents can suffer catastrophic injuries that may leave them permanently disabled.
Contributing factors that lead to preventable falls at nursing homes in Missouri include:
- Unsanitary Conditions: Dirty facilities, lack of cleanliness, and rodent/insect infestations can all lead to unsanitary conditions in the nursing facility, which puts the resident at risk for infection and other health complications.
- Inadequate Lighting: Poor lighting can make it difficult for residents to see what they are doing, leading to falls.
- Clutter and Obstruction: Clutter and obstacles in walkways can easily cause a fall.
- Incorrect Bed Heights: Incorrect bed heights can lead to slips and falls when getting in or out of bed.
- Wet Floors: Wet floors can cause slips and falls.
- Uneven Floors: Uneven floors can easily cause a fall.
- Improper Patient Handling: Missouri long-term care staff not properly handling patients can lead to falls.
- Medication Errors: Wrong medication or incorrect dosage can lead to falls.
- Poor Staff Training: Lack of staff training can lead to dangerous situations, including falls.
- Limited Mobility: Residents with limited mobility are more likely to fall.
- Age-Related Falls: Elderly residents are more prone to falls due to their age and natural fragility.
- Mental Illness: Patients with mental illness are also at a higher risk for falls.
When Negligence Leads to the Spread of Infection in Missouri Nursing Homes
According to the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services, infection prevention and control (IPC) is critical in all healthcare settings, including nursing homes. IPC programs help protect residents, including those resistant to antibiotics, from acquiring and spreading infections.
Nursing homes in Missouri must develop and enforce an IPC program to prevent the spread of disease among residents.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers several guidelines for developing an effective IPC program. Critical components of an effective IPC program include:
- Routine surveillance for infections among residents and staff
- Prevention measures, such as hand hygiene and vaccinations
- Prompt identification and treatment of infections
- Education and training for staff on infection prevention and control measures.
Contributing factors that spread disease in nursing homes in Missouri include:
- Nursing staff failed to disinfect equipment after each use, leading to the spread of disease.
- Missouri long-term care nurses and nurse aides do not wear gloves when handling patients, which can spread infection.
- The staff does not follow proper hand-washing procedures, which can lead to the spread of infection.
- Nurses do not keep patient rooms clean and sanitary, which can lead to the spread of infection.
- Long-term care nurses do not properly dispose of medical waste, which can spread infection.
- Care providers do not isolate infected patients, which can lead to the spread of infection.
- Nurses do not provide adequate education on preventing the spread of infection, which can lead to infection.
- The nursing staff is inadequately trained in preventing infection, which leads to the spread of disease.
Even With Federal Regulations, Abuse Still Happens in Nursing Homes in Missouri
Despite federal and state regulations, nursing home abuse and neglect still occur. Nursing home residents are among the most vulnerable members of our society, and they should be able to trust that they will be treated with dignity and respect. However, all too often, they are not.
Mistreatment can cause severe physical and psychological harm to Missouri nursing home residents and lead to pain, injuries, hospitalizations, and even death.
The mistreatment can take many forms, including:
- Poor quality of care: When Missouri nursing homes are overcrowded, underfunded, and understaffed, the quality of care suffers, leading to the mistreatment of residents.
- Lack of stimulation: Nursing home residents can often become bored and inactive when there is little to do in their environment, leading to a decline in their mental and physical health.
- Limited socialization: Nursing home residents can often feel isolated and alone if they do not have regular opportunities to socialize with their peers. This can lead to depression and other psychological issues.
- Poor nutrition: Nursing home residents may not receive adequate nutrition if the staff is not properly trained or if the facility is understaffed. This can lead to health problems such as malnutrition or dehydration.
- Inadequate medical care: Residents may not receive appropriate medical care if the staff is overworked or if the facility is underfunded. This can lead to severe health complications.
- Neglectful staff: Nursing home staff may neglect residents if they are overworked or if they do not have the proper training. This can lead to physical and emotional abuse.
- Financial exploitation: Nursing home residents may be financially exploited by staff or family members if they cannot properly monitor their finances. This can lead to loss of assets or even bankruptcy.
- Physical abuse: Nursing home residents may be physically abused by staff or other residents if there is a lack of supervision or if the environment is hostile, which could cause severe injuries.
- Verbal abuse: Nursing home residents may be verbally abused by staff or other residents if there is a lack of supervision or if the environment is hostile, leading to psychological damage.
- Sexual abuse: Nursing home residents may be sexually abused by staff or other residents if there is a lack of supervision or if the environment is hostile and can cause physical and psychological damage.
- Inadequate staffing: If nursing homes are understaffed, this can lead to neglect of residents' needs, including basic needs like food, water, and hygiene.
- Unsafe environment: If nursing homes are not properly maintained, this can create a hazardous environment for residents, leading to falls, injuries, and even death.
- Poor quality of care: When Missouri nursing homes are underfunded and understaffed, the quality of care suffers, leading to the mistreatment of residents.
Do not hesitate to speak up if you believe a loved one is being mistreated in a nursing facility. You may need to speak with the nursing home staff, management, the resident's doctor, or the police to get help. You can also contact a lawyer specializing in elder law for advice on protecting your loved one's rights.