Nursing home neglect is the maltreatment of elderly persons that results from a caregiver breaching their duty to that elderly person. This includes failure to provide food, clothing, medicine, shelter, supervision, and medical care and services that a person in a nursing home requires. When this duty is breached, the health and safety of nursing home residents are put in jeopardy. Death is a tragic yet common result of nursing home negligence. It is important to look for the following signs of negligence in nursing homes to ensure that your loved one is not a victim.
Short-staffed nursing homes are at a higher risk of neglect. This is the first sign to look out for since many of the following signs of neglect stem from this. Staffing shortages lead to burnout which can cause staff to behave in more aggressive or even violent ways with residents. Staff being overworked often results in them failing to keep up with the dosing regimen of residents. This is a dangerous situation as medications are not administered as prescribed. Staffing shortages can also lead to dehydration or malnutrition as staff fails to keep up with residents’ diets. Taking note of a nursing home’s staffing can save your loved one from being neglected before it’s even occurred.
Elderly people who have mobility issues can suffer from fall injuries when not handled properly by staff. Falls are exceedingly common in nursing homes. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, half of the 1.6 million residents in U.S. nursing facilities fall annually. About 1 in 3 of them will have multiple falls. The nursing homes where falls occur the most are ones where negligence is common place.
Pressure ulcers are one of the most common signs of negligence in nursing homes. A study by The New England Journal of Medicine shows that 15.9% of nursing home neglect cases involved pressure ulcers. These ulcers are caused when caregivers fail to properly move bed-ridden residents. When a resident spends extended periods of time in bed, they need to be adjusted regularly so that parts of their body aren’t under pressure for too long. The presence of pressure ulcers is a sign that nursing staff failed to conduct this duty.
Burns are a sign that residents have been left in water for too long or placed into water that is too hot. When bathing residents, caregivers must ensure the water is at an adequate temperature and that the resident isn’t left in the water for too long. Seeing burns across the body is a sign of neglect that caregivers failed to bathe a resident properly.
Infections and Sepsis
If your loved one has developed Sepsis, that is a strong sign of negligence in nursing homes. Nursing home residents need to be checked regularly to ensure they have not developed any infections; failing to do so can lead to Sepsis. Sepsis is lethal, and 1 in 3 people who develop it succumb to it. Residents developing Sepsis is a substantial failure of nursing staff in performing their duties.
Mishandling of Medication
One sign of neglect is when a resident is not given the prescribed medication. Residents exhibiting symptoms that their medication should have under control is a sign that they are not being given their medication. Overprescribing is also a sign of neglect. Psychotropic drugs are often used by nursing home staff as a form of restraint for difficult residents. Changes in a patient’s behavior are a sign that they may be overprescribed psychotropic drugs to make them more docile.
Malnutrition or Dehydration
If a resident develops malnutrition or dehydration, it is likely due to nursing staff failing to ensure they receive a proper diet. This type of neglect can quickly become fatal, so it’s important not to shrug off any symptoms of malnutrition or dehydration in your loved one.
Have You Witnessed These Signs of Neglect in Your Loved One?
If you notice any of these signs, your loved one may be the victim of neglect. The first action you should take is to immediately remove the resident from the nursing home. As mentioned before, any of these signs can quickly become fatal, so this should be the top priority. Once the loved one is removed, contact an attorney to get justice for the neglect suffered.
Since 1994 Garrison Law Firm has been here to ensure Arizona residents receive justice when their loved one hasn’t been treated with the care they deserve. Reach out to us, and we will ensure that nursing homes are held accountable for the abuse and neglect they commit against residents under their care.