Nursing home attorney, Jonathan Rosenfeld, of Nursing Home Law Center LLC was recently interviewed by Mywebtimes.com regarding “How to detect nursing home abuse” related to the LaSalle County Nursing Home sex abuse scandal. Here is an excerpt from the interview:
Q: In a nursing home abuse situation, who is usually the abuser?
A: Most involve residents victimizing residents, rather than staff victimizing residents. Some cases also involve visitors victimizing residents.
Q: What challenge do investigators face in gathering evidence?
A: The victim is usually disabled or suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and thus unable to help investigators. In the case of the La Salle County Nursing Home, the Illinois Department of Public Health was fortunate enough victims were able to respond to questioning. The state usually does a good job of investigating. Abuse happens more than people realize.
Q: What is the typical reason abuse goes unchecked?
A: Short staffing. The facility may meet guidelines for proper number of staff, but it may not be what’s really enough. It’s dollars and cents. If they hire one or two more, they go over budget.
Q: What else creates an environment for abuse?
A: When a facility has young and old residents and the young are permitted to mix freely with the old. Another source of trouble is that a number of registered sex offenders have been found living at nursing homes. Also putting residents at risk are unsupervised visitors.
Q. What are signs of nursing home abuse?
A.Physical, mental and sexual abuse are forms of abuse encountered by nursing home residents across the country.Remember, you know your loved one better than anyone else. If you suspect mistreatment or abuse immediately report the situation to local police and/or ombudsmen. The reality is that most episodes of elder abuse go unreported.
The following situations warrant further investigation:
- Unexplained bruises, cuts, burns, sprains, or fractures.
- Bed sores.
- Frozen joints.
- Unexplained venereal disease or genital infections, vaginal or anal bleeding.
- Bloody clothing.
- Sudden changes in behavior.
- Staff refusing to allow visitors to see resident or delays in allowing visitors to see resident.
- Staff not allowing resident to be alone with visitor.
- Resident being kept in an over-medicated state.
- Loss of resident’s possessions.
- Sudden large withdrawals from bank accounts or changes in banking practices.
- Sudden loss of appetite.
Q. Are bedsores an unavoidable part of living in a nursing home?
A. No! Bedsores, also called pressure sores or decubitus ulcers, are preventable — with proper screening, early detection, and staff involvement. Bedsores are a widespread problem in nursing homes and hospitals. The development of bedsores in nursing home patients is really a reflection of poor nursing care than an inevitable part of of the aging process.
Bedsores likely will develop if the nursing home and its staff do not make bedsore prevention a top priority. Nursing homes must do a thorough assessment of residents on admission and on a regular basis during their stay. Following the assessment, the nursing home should develop a comprehensive care plan that specifies what precautionary measures should be in place.
The nursing home plan should include considerations to monitor each resident’s hydration, nutrition, and hygiene. Early signs of bedsores should be identified by the nursing home staff and treatments should implemented. Unattended, bedsores can quickly become infected leading to sepsis, limb amputation and even death.