Unfortunately, not all nursing homes take good care of their patients. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, keep an eye out for signs of neglect. In efforts to cut costs, some nursing homes have decreased their staffing and as a result, patients are suffering.
A common sign and symptom of nursing home abuse is bedsores. These are caused by failing to keep a patient clean, well nourished and not moving them often enough. Other signs of neglect include: overmedicating, malnutrition, depression, and poor hygiene.
Patients who are bedridden or in a wheelchair are at risk for bedsores because they are in the same position for long periods of time. When bony parts of the body are under pressure for too long, the skin turns red. These red marks – also called pressure marks – are usually the first sign of a problem. Marks are often found on the shoulders, lower back, hips, buttocks, ankles and heels.
If you notice pressure marks on your loved one, notify a nurse, doctor or staff member right away. Be sure to follow up and insist on a plan to treat the marks and make sure the problem doesn’t continue. If left untreated, the pressure on these points can decrease blood flow to the area and cause tissue damage. If they progress further, the skin can wear away and the sore can become infected. In extreme cases, surgery is required. Bedsores can even be life threatening.
Bedsores are usually preventable by changing a patient’s position often. There also are special mattresses designed to relieve pressure on these points. Keeping a patient well nourished and clean doesn’t simply keep them comfortable – it keeps them safe. While these should be common practices in nursing homes, the staff may be too busy to notice or untrained in preventing bedsores. It’s often left up to family members and friends to look out for their loved one. That said, nursing homes do owe a duty of care to their patients. And when neglect leads to injury, a lawsuit may be appropriate.
If you notice signs of nursing home neglect – pressure marks, bedsores, malnutrition or poor personal hygiene, unclean sheets, etc. – notify someone right away. If you suspect neglect, you may want to start visiting more often and during “off” hours to get a better sense of the care your loved one is receiving. If you notice bedsores, your first priority should be medical attention so the problem doesn’t progress.
If your loved one has been injured and you suspect neglect is the cause, you may want to speak to an attorney about a possible lawsuit. There are attorneys throughout Illinois who focus on representing individuals in nursing home abuse and neglect cases. Find someone who has experience and past success in this type of case and ask for an initial consultation.