Chicago Nursing Home Attorneys for Abuse and Neglect
Often, victims of nursing home abuse feel powerless to stop the negligence or misconduct. They may not be able to tell anyone what happened, or they may not be cognitively aware of what is happening. It is important for family members to keep an eye out for warning signs of abuse.
A Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer can help if you are concerned that a loved one has been harmed. At Moll Law Group, our injury lawyers represent people throughout the nation in pursuing claims against nursing homes for harming the elderly.
Common Examples of Nursing Home Abuse
- Bedsores: Also known as pressure ulcers, these injuries result from patient immobility, which causes prolonged pressure on a certain part of the body. They can result when nursing home staff members fail to move a patient regularly, fail to check that their bedding and clothing are dry, or generally fail to monitor them to make sure that the bony areas of their body are not under excessive pressure.
- Unexplained bruises: While bruises can result from simple accidents or naturally thinning skin, they can also indicate the use of physical restraints by a facility. In some egregious instances, bruises can result from corporal punishment or other physical abuse.
- Burn injuries: Nursing homes that are understaffed may not take sufficient care in providing services to residents, which means that food or drink may be served at excessively hot temperatures or may be spilled on residents. Residents also may be burned if showers or sinks are not set at proper temperatures, or if careless staff members fail to monitor residents who are smoking.
- Broken bones: Similar to bruises, broken bones (or fractures) are often a sign of physical abuse. Even if they result from resident-on-resident abuse, rather than abuse by a staff member, a nursing home is responsible for preventing harm by other residents and taking action to prevent a recurrence of any incident that occurs.
- Significant changes in behavior or mood: If your loved one is not acting like their usual self, this may suggest that abuse is occurring that they are uncomfortable with reporting. Sexual abuse and psychological abuse occur far too often in nursing homes, sometimes leaving few physical traces but affecting a resident's personality.
- Hygiene issues: If a nursing home fails to provide proper sanitation, germs and bacteria are likely to spread and cause residents to become ill or worsen their existing conditions. Staff members need to make sure that a resident is observing proper hygiene if they are unable to care for themselves, and they also need to make sure that facilities such as toilets, showers, bathtubs, floors, and kitchen areas are properly sanitized.
- Malnutrition or dehydration: If your loved one appears to be underweight or suffering from dehydration, you should look into whether the nursing home is meeting their nutritional needs. About a third of the nursing home residents in the U.S. suffer from these conditions, which can result in broken bones, low blood pressure, anemia, and many other serious health conditions, as well as undermining a resident's ability to fight other infections and illnesses.
- Falls: Nursing home residents often suffer from compromised mobility and require assistance from staff to move around the facility. If the staff does not provide proper assistance, or if the nursing home fails to address hazards such as poor lighting or wet floors, serious injuries or even deaths can occur.
Other ways in which elderly individuals may be harmed include financial exploitation, medication errors, the use of physical and chemical restraints, physical abuse, sepsis, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, or wandering and elopement.
What is Considered Nursing Home Abuse in Illinois?
Nursing home abuse is prohibited in Illinois under the Nursing Home Care Act. Under the Act, abuse is defined as any injury or sexual assault that is inflicted on a nursing home resident other than by accident. Physical abuse can include hitting, punching, slapping, or using unnecessary roughness. Emotional abuse includes threatening residents or shouting at them. Sexual abuse includes any unwanted sexual touching or rape.
The Act also includes a residents' bill of rights, which guarantees residents specified protections, including the right to be free from neglect or abuse by nursing home staff. Neglect in this context means that the home failed to provide or willfully withheld appropriate medical or mental health treatment, personal care, psychiatric rehabilitation, or help with daily living activities that were necessary to avoid the patient suffering physical harm, mental illness, or mental anguish.
Examples of Neglect in a Nursing Home
An example of nursing home neglect is when a nursing home may be understaffed and therefore fail to keep an incapacitated resident properly hydrated and moved around to prevent bedsores or ulcers. If the bedsores worsen and an infection develops, an undertrained or overworked staff member may fail to seek the appropriate medical care. This can result in serious illness or death, which likely is actionable. A nursing home abuse lawyer can help Chicago families pursue a claim in these circumstances.
Filing a Nursing Home Abuse Complaint
The Act gives the Department of Public Health enforcement and regulatory power, and it provides for civil and criminal penalties. Moreover, it also gives residents the right to sue for damages, attorneys' fees, costs, and an injunction against a nursing home owner or operator that has violated the Act. You may also recover punitive damages if you show that the defendant acted willfully and wantonly in the nursing home abuse.
Some nursing home residents may be concerned that they may suffer retaliation or another adverse action if a complaint is filed. However, it is illegal for an agent or employee of a nursing home to transfer, harass, evict, or otherwise retaliate against a resident or his or her agent for filing a complaint.
An ordinary nursing home abuse case is not considered a medical malpractice case, and therefore it is not necessary to provide an expert's affidavit or report. In some cases, however, there may exist a medical malpractice claim in addition to a nursing home abuse claim.
Discuss Your Nursing Home Abuse Claim with a Chicago Attorney
If you are considering a nursing home negligence or medical malpractice claim, the Chicago attorneys at Moll Law Group can help you explore the scope of your options. We represent nursing home residents and their families in Naperville, Schaumburg, Wheaton, and communities throughout Cook County. Billions of dollars have been recovered in cases in which we were involved. Call us at 312-462-1700 or contact us through our online form to schedule a free consultation with a Chicago nursing home abuse attorney.