According to the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, all residents in nursing homes are entitled to receive quality care and live in an environment that improves or maintains their overall physical and mental health. This entitlement includes freedom from abuse and neglect. Yet, the most prevalent types of elder mistreatment in care facilities are abuse and neglect. The bottom line is that abuse and neglect are criminal acts. It is a violation of State and Federal law for any person, including facility staff, volunteers, visitors, family members or guardians, or another resident, to neglect or abuse an elderly resident of a nursing home. Victims from California, Nevada and Arizona can get help from the lawyers at Blackman Legal Group, experts in nursing home abuse, neglect and wrongful death.
Nursing home abuse and neglect is associated with several types of injuries. Among those, bedsores, malnutrition and dehydration, and fractures are most common.
Bedsores, or pressures sores, result from a lack of repositioning or turning the elderly person, and improper nutrition. The most common areas on the body that develop bedsores are bony parts of the body, such as heels and buttocks. They start as slightly reddened, tender areas and develop into painful, infected wounds. If not treated, the infected area may develop a deadly blood infection (septicemia) and need to be amputated.
DEHYDRATION AND MALNUTRITION
Dehydration and malnutrition are two of the leading causes of death among elderly in nursing homes. Elderly who suffer from malnutrition and dehydration are individuals who rely on others to feed and hydrate them because physical disability or dementia may prevent them from caring for themselves.
Fractures caused by falls can be avoided with simple preventative measures. Simple preventative measures, such as close supervision, fall alarms and placement of protective padding, can reduce the risk of injury due to falls. Fractures and injuries due to falls, especially if they occur with frequency, are tell-tale signs of neglect.
Often, elderly people have difficulty chewing and/or swallowing. Aspiration pneumonia occurs when food and liquid are improperly swallowed and pass into the respiratory tract rather than the stomach. Symptoms of aspiration pneumonia include fever, fatigue, cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath. It frequently leads to death. Again, simple preventative measures can prevent death by aspiration pneumonia: elevating a bed and monitoring feeding. Additional precautions should be taken if the elderly person has a percutaneous endo gastrostomy tube (PEG tube).
URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS
One of the most common injuries associated with neglect among female nursing home residents is the development of septicemia from a urinary tract infection. This injury usually occurs in residents who are immobile, and lay in urine or feces for long periods of time. Fecal contaminants can therefore easily invade the urinary tract, causing a urinary tract infection, and that infection can sometimes enter the bloodstream, causing death. Nursing homes can usually prevent severe urinary tract infection by keeping residents clean, dry and properly hydrated.
Other examples of neglect include the development of gangrene, injury from physical or chemical restraint, and injuries to a resident who “wandered off” resulting from exposure to the elements and lack of food and water.
If you suspect that you or someone you love has suffered from nursing home abuse including negligence or elder abuse, contact an attorney with experience in elder abuse law as soon as possible. At the Blackman Legal Group we help our clients recognize when nursing home abuse or neglect has occurred and we help them recover damages when that abuse or neglect caused injury to a beloved elder.