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Helping Families and Loved Ones Identify Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect


One of the most difficult decisions a family can make is to place a loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility. Although such facilities can provide a level of care and supervision that many families cannot give on their own, poor nursing home care can sometimes worsen a resident’s condition, or even hasten his or her death. Most nursing homes are staffed with caregivers who want to provide the best care, but the work is difficult and many facilities have high staff turnover. This can lead to nursing home abuse and neglect.

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One of the most difficult decisions a family can make is to place a loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility. Although such facilities can provide a level of care and supervision that many families cannot give on their own, poor nursing home care can sometimes worsen a resident’s condition, or even hasten his or her death. Most nursing homes are staffed with caregivers who want to provide the best care, but the work is difficult and many facilities have high staff turnover. This can lead to nursing homes that are understaffed or have poorly trained or inexperienced workers.

Families often must select a nursing home quickly when a loved one is injured or ill and suddenly needs full-time care. Family members want to be assured that the nursing home they’ve selected has an excellent record, but even with web sites such as Medicare’s "Nursing Home Compare," the task can be daunting.

A study by Wisconsin's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel highlights the difficulties in finding accurate and specific information on nursing home violations, as the article’s authors had to manually compile information from thousands of pages of records. The 2008 study revealed that over a recent three-year period, 359 nursing home residents in Wisconsin were subject to violations that "put patients in jeopardy." Surprisingly, many families were unaware that their loved ones’ injuries or deaths later resulted in citations against the nursing homes.

Against this background, it is easy to see why many instances of nursing home negligence and neglect  are unknown, even to family members.

Detecting Injuries That May Be Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

Bed sores, also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers, are among the most common signs of neglect. They form as a result of a lack of blood flow to areas of the body with significant pressure, such as the backside of a person confined to a bed or wheelchair. Although they can be avoided by simply moving the person every two hours, the infections they cause can be life threatening.

Other nursing home injuries that should be red flags include:

  • Broken bones or fractures
  • Bruises
  • Infections
  • Internal bleeding
  • Malnutrition or weight loss
  • Dehydration

Asking the Right Questions

Having looked up to parents, grandparents and other relatives for so many years, family members concerned about nursing home abuse or neglect may find it difficult to ask what seem like very personal or even embarrassing questions of loved ones in nursing homes. If they have concerns, however, family members should not be afraid to question the staff and loved ones.

These are warning signs to look for during visits:

  • Does the staff deny or delay your visit?
  • Do you get enough "alone time" with your loved one?
  • Does there seem to be enough staff on hand when you visit?
  • Is the staff following the orders of the doctor and family?
  • Have there been errors in medication?
  • Is the facility using what seem to be unnecessary restraints on your loved one?
  • Do you see signs of poor hygiene, such as soiled bedding?
  • Are changes in the patient’s condition reported to you and the doctor promptly?
  • Have there been any unusual banking or financial transactions, or changes to wills or life insurance documents?
  • Have any of your loved one's personal items disappeared?

Some forms of nursing home abuse can be more difficult to detect, such as verbal and mental abuse and sexual abuse. Often, patients do not report them for fear that the abuse will get worse or they will face reprisal. If your loved one shows signs of depression or anxiety, talks of wanting to move to a different facility or mentions caregivers whom he or she dislikes, it may be a cry for help.

Seeking Legal Help

Just as placing a family member in a nursing home is an important decision that should be made carefully, the decision to seek legal help following an injury or death of a loved one can seem daunting for many families — particularly those who are grieving.

It is important to remember, however, that even outstanding facilities can face some of the same problems as poorly equipped or poorly staffed facilities. Even if you selected what appeared to be excellent care for your loved one, it is possible that the actions, or inactions, of the home’s staff are the cause of your family member’s injury. An attorney who has dealt with nursing home abuse can help you determine your legal options and help cut through administrative red tape.

If you have questions about nursing home abuse or neglect, it is important to not be silent. Talk to your loved ones, talk to the staff, and if your questions are not resolved quickly and to your satisfactionComputer Technology Articles, talk to an experienced attorney.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


The law office of Aiken and Scoptur, S.C. Milwaukee Wisconsin litigation attorneys is distinguished by a history of successful personal injury recoveries, by settlement and verdict, in medical malpractice, car and truck accident claims and nursing home neglect litigation. Contact an experienced attorney for a free consultation at 414-326-4979 or visit our web site at http://plaintiffslaw.com/



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