Are You or a Family Member a Victim of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?
Sometimes, necessity requires that older relatives or friends be placed in a nursing home or other assisted-care facility. It may be a parent, a grandparent, a spouse, or another close relative or friend.
Unfortunately, as we age, we sometimes require a level of care that our family members cannot provide. Perhaps it is because the care requires special medical training or knowledge. Or, it could be because a family doesn’t have the available time to adequately care for an elderly person’s needs.
Whatever the reason, it is common for people to turn to nursing homes, senior centers, or assisted living facilities. They look for them to provide the care and attention an elderly individual requires.
Most people take steps to ensure that whatever care facility they choose meets their particular needs. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that much abuse and neglect occurs in many nursing homes. This can be true even in those facilities that might otherwise seem ideal. If a loved one has suffered at the hands of a caretaker at a nursing home then learn what the Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers at Abels & annes, P.C. can do for you.
What Are Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse Claims?
The following are some examples of nursing home abuse or neglect claims:
- Bed Sores and Decubitus Ulcers
- Dehydration or Malnutrition
- Physical and Sexual Abuse
- Fall Injuries (for example – due to being dropped by staff)
- Burns – Due to Smoking and Bathing
- Bed Rail – Injury and Death
- Infection Due to Staff Neglect
- Medication Error
- Medical Errors
- Assault by Resident or Staff
Why The Elderly Cannot Protect Themselves?
The sad truth is that elderly individuals in nursing homes are not, as a rule, capable of defending or protecting themselves from many of these types of abuse or neglect. Not only do they lack physical strength, but many times, they can feel isolated and alone, believing that nobody cares about what is happening to them, and give in to the abuse out of a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness.
But the attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C., want these victims to know that we will stand by them to protect them and to protect their rights. Our Chicago elder abuse attorneys are ready to fight for the justice and damages that these victims deserve. Further, we’ll look to enforce existing elder abuse laws with the with the hope that more do not become victims.
Is Nursing Home Abuse Common?
As of 2010, there were 787 certified nursing homes in the state of Illinois. There is bed space to care for over 100,000 elderly patrons who, for one reason or another, are unable to live on their own.
The majority of nursing homes participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. These programs provide compensation, at least partially, for providing care to the elderly. Nationwide, these state and federal programs send over $58 billion to nursing homes.
State agencies are responsible for making sure that these facilities meet state and federal care standards. They are a prerequisite for receiving these funds. Failure to comply with these standards can result in monetary penalties, other enforcement actions and, at the extreme, termination from these programs.
In Illinois, the Department of Public Health is responsible for nursing home regulation. It performs surveys of these certified facilities every 15 months in order to see if they meet certification standards. This agency also has responsibility for investigating complaints and, if necessary, for taking corrective action. This includes pursuing criminal prosecutions against employees who abuse or neglect nursing home residents, if appropriate.
What is The Elder Abuse and Neglect Act?
The state of Illinois also passed the Elder Abuse and Neglect Act. This law mandates that certain persons—including social workers, law enforcement, and medical professionals—must report incidents of elder abuse and neglect. The law also protects those who report abuse from being the victims of any retaliatory action.
Further, the Act makes it unlawful for anyone to cause “any physical, mental or sexual injury to an eligible adult (that is, an individual 60 years or older), including exploitation of such adult’s financial resources” (abuse). Further, the law makes it unlawful for those under a duty to care for an elderly person to fail to provide an “eligible adult with or willful withholding from an eligible adult the necessities of life including, but not limited to, food, clothing, shelter or health care” (neglect).
What Are The Nursing Home Abuse Statistics?
Despite these legal standards and safeguards, nursing home abuse and neglect is still too common. There are roughly 1.4 million Americans living in nursing homes. Statistics from a number of sources, including the National Center for Health Statistics and the National Center on Elder Abuse, indicate that only 1 in 14 instances of abuse are ever reported to authorities. Yet despite the fact that there is abuse and neglect under-reporting, there are over 20,000 complaints of abuse, exploitation or gross neglect of nursing home residents every year.
Many law enforcement bodies also contend that, despite some instances of abuse and neglect amounting to criminal conduct, they are rarely notified of these incidents. Moreover, even when they are notified, it is usually long after the abuse has occurred. Often, either the facility itself or state regulators have already tried to handle the matter “administratively”. This leaves law enforcement with no ability to gather fresh evidence or to pursue prosecution. Overall, the sad fact is that most instances of abuse, whether minor or major, are never redressed.
How Can The Elder Abuse Attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. Help?
Nursing home residents and their families contribute over $34 billion every year to nursing home facilities. Additionally, there is an additional $58 billion coming in through programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Yet, nearly 90% of all U.S. nursing homes do not have sufficient staffing to provide adequate care for their senior residents.
At the same time, according to data compiled by Families for Better Care, the CEOs of some of the larger for-profit and publicly-traded enterprises that run nursing homes award themselves salaries in excess of $1 million annually. Further, they have seen phenomenal growth in profits in recent years.
Why You Cannot Rely Upon Nursing Homes to Police Themselves?
It is more than clear that we cannot rely upon nursing homes to police themselves. Further, it is difficult for state regulators and law enforcement to redress wrongs. When the most vulnerable of our elderly citizens becomes a victim of abuse or neglect, we all lose. And that’s not only in loss of life and quality of life, but in funds squandered on bureaucrats or highly-compensated executives, rather than on providing care. Sooner or later, we may all find ourselves in the same vulnerable position. We take steps to make sure this does not continue to happen.
The nursing home abuse attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. believe that the elderly need protection from mistreatment. One way to achieve this is to make sure that those who abuse or neglect the elderly pay damages.
Elder abuse and neglect laws are in place to protect the elderly. We should all take steps to make sure that those laws are enforced to their fullest. Further, we should make sure that these institutions are on notice that they cannot get away with mistreatment and abuse of the elderly.
Should You Contact a Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer?
If someone you know is living in a Chicago area nursing home and you see signs or symptoms of abuse or neglect or otherwise suspect that abuse or neglect may be taking place there, contact the nursing home attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. to find out how we may be able to assist you. We have extensive experience in elder law, and are ready to investigate allegations of abuse. Further, we will follow through with our investigation by filing a lawsuit, if necessary. Remember: we will not charge any legal fees unless and until we recover damages for our clients. Call us today, toll-free at (855) LAW-CHICAGO (529-2442), or locally at (312) 924-7575.