Posts tagged with "Nursing Home Injuries"

Nursing Home Neglect

How to Tell If a Nursing Home Is Neglecting a Loved One

Nursing homes and other assisted living care facilities are businesses a family hires to look after elderly loved one who can no longer safely look after themselves. Sadly, a lot of these places let folks down and nursing home neglect is a growing problem in America as the Baby Boomer generation ages and more of its members require assistance.

It’s common to find nursing homes that are understaffed or that lack adequate services, but the average person may not be able to tell which places are superb and which ones allow people to suffer. If you suspect your loved one isn’t being taken care of properly, try these simple strategies.

 

Ask Questions

Go right up to staff and ask them how many people are on duty, and how many seniors they are looking out for. Don’t be afraid to ask people about their credentials and qualifications. Do you see mostly teenagers and college students working there?

If something looks odd or out of place to you, ask about it. Is another resident in a wheelchair just left in the hallway facing the corner? Don’t be shy, ask what is going on.

 

Listen to Complaints

Most people being taken care of in nursing homes still have their wits about them, and if your loved one is talking about a problem, take them seriously. The seniors themselves are often the best source of information about problems in the nursing home. If they say someone else isn’t being taken care of properly, follow up on it and see if it’s true.

 

Pay Attention to Injuries

Does your senior have strange sores on their hips, heels, ankles or tailbone? That’s most likely a bedsore, and it’s the most common sign of nursing home neglect. These sores come from someone left lying in bed all day without being turned or moved.

Broken limbs are also a problem, and this can come from a senior who tried to move on their own and fall, such as if the staff doesn’t respond to their requests for help. That’s not the fault of your loved one, that’s a neglect issue and it needs to be followed up.

 

What Can You Do?

If someone from your family has been neglected at a nursing home or other care facility, give us a call at 1 (888) 330-6657 or contact us and we can talk to you about your rights and what you can do next.

Tales from our files – Lessons Learned Concerning Nursing Home Care

Nursing Home Care

My legal practice is concentrated in assisting victims of nursing home negligence throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Over my twenty-five year career, I believe I’ve seen nearly every conceivable fact pattern concerning neglect and abuse at these facilities. It recently occurred to me that providing examples of the problems that my clients have encountered over the years might serve a useful purpose in helping others to avoid common lapses in nursing home care.

Upon the initial admission to a nursing home, the staff is obligated to conduct an assessment of each patient to properly assess that person’s needs and to create an individualized “Care Plan” for them. If done correctly, the assessment will determine, among other things, whether an immobile patient requires assistance in “transferring” or moving from bed to chair or to the bathroom. The overall safety and welfare of the patient is the principle concern, of course. Sometimes, however, facilities are either understaffed, unprepared or simply “too busy” to properly and safely address the critical needs of their residents.

I had the honor to represent an 88 year old woman that I’ll call “Ann.” She had long been a resident of the defendant’s facility due to advanced Alzheimer’s Disease and other medical complications. Sadly, Ann was unable to verbally express herself, was non-ambulatory and remained completely dependent upon the defendant’s staff for all activities of daily living. Despite her many medical complications, Ann did not suffer from osteoporosis, however. The importance of this latter fact will become clear as you read on.

One day, Ann was being transferred to her bed with the use of a machine known as a Hoyer lift. It was immediately after this transfer that the she began to crudely express that she was in pain. Oddly, no trauma, fall or other “event” was recorded by the defendant’s employees in Ann’s medical chart. When her pain became unbearable, Ann was transferred to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a markedly displaced femur fracture with fragmentation and a massive hematoma. Her extensive injuries required immediate surgery. Ann’s family suspected that she had been dropped during the transfer on the Hoyer lift but the facility vigorously denied this. The case was further complicated inasmuch as there was no independent witness to any suspected accident. We argued that the displaced fracture of the patient’s femur, the body’s largest and strongest bone, was sufficient evidence that a trauma had indeed occurred. Moreover, we argued that the “fragmentation” (splintered bones) and “hematoma” (deep bruising) were corroborating evidence of a traumatic event that the facility had conveniently neglected to record. In response, the facility hired a medical expert who was prepared to testify at trial that Ann could have suffered her fracture by “organic means” (e.g. brittle bones in the elderly can sometimes break spontaneously-without a trauma). They cited the common occurrence of a senior suffering a rib fracture after a hearty sneeze. We successfully refuted this suggestion by conclusively demonstrating that Ann did not previously suffer from osteoporosis or other skeletal degeneration which would tend to make her bones exceedingly brittle and thus subject to fracture without first suffering a trauma. During the course of our investigation we also discovered that, even before Ann was a resident, this particular facility engaged in a systemic failure to promptly and accurately report accidents that injured their residents.

A large settlement was reached on the eve of trial, presumably because the facility was fairly convinced that a jury would likely punish them for their deception in failing to own up to their role in both causing and properly reporting Ann’s accident.

As always, a family’s best defense against nursing home neglect is both vigilance and active involvement in the care of their loved one.

Law Aims to Stop Misuse of Antipsychotic Medications in Nursing Homes

Across the country, nursing home residents are put on strong antipsychotic medications to treat such ailments as aggression and agitation. Often times, they are given these powerful medications for “off-label” uses without their consent or without the knowledge and consent of family members – sometimes leading to nursing home injuries. Some U.S. legislators would like to change that.

Antipsychotic medications are typically used to treat psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder, psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations, and sometimes even dementia. Since more than half of nursing home residents suffer from some form of dementia, the use of antipsychotics in nursing homes has skyrocketed. Nursing homes across the country also report using antipsychotic medications to treat their residents for anxiety; in addition, some use them as a sleep aid or in place of antidepressants.

Some Side Effects of Antipsychotic Medications in Nursing Homes

Although antipsychotics can help in off-label situations, they are not approved for such uses and carry far too many risks to do so lightly. Antipsychotics are strong medications that carry grave potential side effects. Some of the side effects of antipsychotic medications include:

  • Weight gain, which can lead to diabetes
  • Sudden cardiac arrest
  • Movement disorders
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure

These are especially dangerous for the elderly.

Efforts to Curtail Antipsychotic Medication Use in Nursing Homes

In light of these side effects, three U.S. senators have proposed a bill that would require nursing homes to gain written consent from a family member or designated health care agent before administering these powerful drugs to their residents. The bill would require nursing homes to provide information to family members about the possible side effects and risks associated with antipsychotics, as well as other treatment options available. The goal is to reduce the number of users at nursing homes and encourage alternative therapies. Other types of therapies include:

  • Message therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Distraction techniques
  • Social interaction
  • Calling family and friends
  • Water therapy

The three senators believe nursing homes have abused the use of antipsychotic drugs among the elderly for far too long. They are seeking to make sure nursing homes only use antipsychotic medications as a last resort, and that proper consent for such medications is given before administering them. In the meantime, family members of nursing home residents who have been given antipsychotics without their knowledge or against their will may wish to consider discussing their rights and options with an attorney, especially if their loved ones have suffered injury as a result of the facilities’ misuse of these medications.

Avoid Nursing Home Negligence – Check out the nursing home over the holidays

Most people know about the trick of checking the batteries in smoke detectors when they set their clocks back. Well, how about a similar idea where you check the quality of care your loved ones in nursing home facilities and care centers are receiving each year when you see them for the holidays? To avoid nursing home negligence and abuse, it’s time to check in and monitor your loved ones care.

Nursing home negligence and abuse can happen over the holidays

Some people in nursing homes are medically capable of being picked up to spend time with their families on Thanksgiving, Christmas or any other holiday they celebrate. Other people need more help and their family gets to visit them inside their assisted living community.

Nursing Home Negligence & Abuse Lawyers, Boston Massachusetts

 

Nursing home care is important to monitor to avoid nursing home negligence, abuse or death

Whatever your family’s situation is, stop in and spend some time in your elderly loved one’s home. Pay attention and look around for little clues. Are there people placed in wheelchairs and left in a corner for a few hours? Does a call button go off for 15 minutes before someone answers it? Does something just seem off? Nursing home negligence can take many forms.

You might think the staff will put on their best behavior when they know families will come by, but that’s not always the case. Family members drop by nursing homes all the time so many staff members won’t see the point of concealing something that was already out in the open.

Holidays often mean a skeleton crew is working, and when the safety of your mother, father, aunt, uncle or other elder relative is at stake, don’t you want to know what things look like in the worst-case scenario? Emergencies can happen anytime.

Don’t forget to talk to your loved one about their own experiences. Does the staff respond to requests? Are they happy there? Are their needs being met? What do they think?

One evaluation will not be enough, however. The quality of a nursing home can fall over time, so make sure you check back from time to time. The quality of care of your loved one depends on it.

Nursing Home Negligence, why is it on the rise?

Is the incidence of nursing home negligence growing?

The biggest reason people go from a regular home to an assisted living facilities isn’t because they want to play shuffleboard or have lunch with the neighbors – it’s because they need assistance from trained staff members to help take care of them. In many cases assisted living patient care, can lead to nursing home negligence and abuse.

So why so much Nursing Home Negligence and Abuse?

The problem we see with nursing home negligence and abuse is that far too many nursing homes have a lack of staff. These are private businesses trying to bring in a profit, which we accept and understand. Unfortunately, some of those nursing home corporations decide to increase their profits by cutting down on the number of staff members.

That is to say, some assisted living facilities don’t have enough people on hand to actually assist with everyone’s living! This leads to frail people trying to walk to the bathroom on their own without assistance and falling. It leads to people being left alone to stare at the walls all day. It leads to needless suffering, misery and even death. It leads to nursing home negligence and abuse lawsuits.

We take quality of life issues very seriously, and stamping out nursing home negligence is a crusade at Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin. If your loved one has been harmed by a negligent or understaffed nursing home, please give us a call.

The problems come from retirement homes where the staff has too much to do or little oversight. In those places, residents are left to fend for themselves half the time and become disengaged.

An effective nursing home has a full staff of eager, helpful and kind people who take an avid role in the care of your loved ones. They get involved, they interact, and this leads to a decrease in accidents and a better quality of life. That’s the kind of assisting people need.

Find out what you should watch for to see if your nursing home facility is up to par on nursing home standards!