Nursing Home Injuries & Abuse
When our loved ones face end of life issues, we like to think that at least they will have a facility in which to live safely and comfortably. Sadly, this is not always the case. Nursing home patients are a vulnerable sector of our population. Many cannot fend for themselves and have no way of calling for help when trouble arises. They present easy targets for predators.
Nursing home abuse falls into one of two categories: deliberate abuse and neglect.
Deliberate abuse is comparatively rare, though not necessarily easier to detect. Many elderly patients have dementia and either don’t know how to get help or are not believed when they reach out. It is the duty of other staff members as well as the loved ones to be vigilant for elder abuse in nursing homes.
Far more common is neglect, which can arise from indifference but often comes from complacency. Nursing home staff must perform similar functions day after day, multiple times per day. It’s easy to fall into a rhythm and not pay proper attention to details.
Other times, a staff member may simply not be interested in performing their duties to the best of their abilities. The results can be tragic.Bed Rails
The bed rails in a nursing home are a safety precaution. The staff raise the rails and prevent the patients from falling out of bed. However, they can also be a substitute for proper vigilance of the patient population. It is easier to leave the rails up and leave, and this can lead to many injuries, up to and including strangulation and death.Malnutrition
A patient can receive less nutrition than they require because of an inattentive and indifferent staff. They may bring the wrong serving size or not bring anything at all.
However, other times there are obstacles to eating and the staff need to be aware of these and take proper steps to overcome them. Dentures can break and make it hard to eat. Medications might have side effects like nausea. Some elderly patients simply don’t have the appetite.
A well-trained staff can deal with these issues and make sure the patient gets all the nutrition his or her body needs. But even a well-trained staff needs to have the desire to do the job right, and this is not always the case.Dropped Patients
Accidents happen, but nursing home staff need to take extra care with patients, particularly when transferring patients from bed to chair, or from chair to toilet and back.
The staff of a nursing home spend much of their day doing these transfers, and that can result in a staff member losing concentration and going on auto pilot. Falls of all kinds are the leading cause of death among patients over age 65.Dehydration
Similarly to malnutrition, dehydration can result from some of the obstacles faced by elderly patients. This cannot be an excuse, as caregivers are trained to overcome these obstacles and recognize the signs of dehydration.
A patient may experience dizziness, dry mouth and great thirst if he or she is dehydrated, but they may lack the ability to express it, or the cognitive coherence to recognize it. Staff members need to be on the look out so their patients do not suffer.Bedsores
A bedsore forms when a body part has been under pressure for a long period of time and does not receive the oxygen from the blood flow that it needs. These wounds grow and deepen over time and can become life threatening.
Nursing home staff must regularly check all nursing home patients for signs of incipient bedsores. In addition, staff should turn the patients and relieve pressure regularly. A little diligence in one’s duties can prevent a lot of suffering down the road.