Do you suspect nursing home abuse? Many families are faced with a sudden need for nursing home care and make a rushed decision about who will tend to their loved ones. Without time for proper research and planning, your choices might be limited to the vacancies in an Indiana nursing home or assisted living facility. Trusting your elderly loved one's care to complete strangers can be quite unsettling—but it might have been your only option.
Sudden, Unexpected Health Decline?
The elderly might be fragile but many are in stable condition prior to entering a nursing home or assisted living facility. Some loved ones go to a nursing home to recover or rehab after being discharged from the hospital. A family never expects to discover that their elderly loved one is the subject of nursing home abuse and neglect.
Statistics Don't Lie
It's unthinkable. Nursing home abuse and neglect is prevalent in more than 30% of care centers nationwide. That's almost one-third of all nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Most nursing homes are in business to make a profit for shareholders. Because of this, they often reduce staffing at the nursing home to increase profits. This leaves fewer nurses and other care providers in the nursing home to care for residents. Because of short staffing, it is typical to find residents suffering from pressure ulcers, frequent falls, bed sores, decubitus ulcers, malnutrition, dehydration, rapid health decline, infections, wounds, contractures, and not getting their medications. These conditions exist not because the nursing staff does not care, but because of the intentional short staffing; the nursing staff find it impossible to meet the needs of the residents.
Nursing Home Falls
Nursing home falls are very common. They typically cause broken hips, other bone fractures and head injuries. Falls can also lead to death, particularly, where an elderly person has difficulty recovering from a severe fall injury. Falls often occur during the following times:
- When a nursing home resident attempts to go to the bathroom by themselves, often at night
- When a nursing home resident attempts to get into or out of a wheelchair by themselves
- When a nursing home resident is dropped during transfers
- When frail, physically limited, and sometimes cognitively challenged residents are left alone and unattended for prolonged periods of time
Nursing home falls are avoidable. Some residents are at higher risk for falls. Those at risk include residents suffering from dementia, Alzheimers, or other areas of diminished capacity. Residents who are physically weak and deconditioned because they were just released from the hospital are also at high risk for falls. Residents who are taking a lot of medications, especially heart medications, diuretics, and medications for depression or anxiety are at risk for falls. When a resident is at risk for falling, there are many tools available to a nursing home to prevent falls. The resident can be placed in a room closest to the nurse's station. The resident can be placed in a program for those at risk of falling, so that everyone in the facility knows that the resident should be monitored more closely. A wheelchair or bed alarm can be used to alert staff if a resident trying to get up without assistance. The resident should be helped to the bathroom regularly. A low bed with padding around the bed can be used to reduce the impact of a fall. Hip protection padding can also be worn by a resident to protect their hip during a fall. There are may tools available to nursing homes to prevent and avoid falls. When a loved one falls and suffers a severe injury such as a broken hip or head injury, chances are that the injury could have been avoided if the nursing home had used the tools available to it. An investigation by an experienced nursing home abuse attorney, should be undertaken to determine the whether the fall was the result of negligence.
Pressure Sores, Bed Sores, or Decubitus Ulcers
Pressure sores, also known as bed sores or decubitus ulcers, are unfortunately a common occurrence in Indiana nursing homes; however, they are almost entirely preventable. Pressure sores, bed sores, and decubitus ulcers are pressure-induced skin wounds. Pressure sores (aka bed sores or decubitus ulcers) begin as minor, relatively harmless skin abrasions but, without proper care and treatment, they have the potential of developing into massive, infected wounds that can deteriorate skin, tissue, and muscle to the depth of bone, inflicting severe pain and even causing death. The most common cause of pressure sores (bed sores or decubitus ulcers) is leaving a resident for a prolonged period of time in one position. Many residents, who may be wheelchair or bed bound, cannot move their body on their own. When that happens, the nursing home staff is responsible for repositioning the resident every two hours or so. This prevents pressure sores. Although unrelieved pressure is the initial and main cause of pressure sores, poor hygiene, malnutrition, and dehydration can also be substantial factors in contributing to the development and/or the deterioration of pressure sores. Thus, making certain a resident is regularly bathed, fed, and hydrated is very important. When a resident at risk for bed sores is not timely repositioned, pressure sores can develop on the following areas:
- Shoulder Blades
Treatment of Pressure Ulcers
If you find your loved one has developed a pressure sore, take action immediately. Pressure sores can deteriorate quickly and can become life threatening. If your loved one develops a pressure sore, be sure the nurses are regularly changing the wound dressing. Also, repositioning every two hours is more important than ever. If the pressure ulcer develops on your loved one's ankle, padding should be placed to elevate the ankle to relieve pressure. You also want to be sure that your loved one is receiving adequate nutrition and hydration. Getting enough protein in a resident's diet is important to improve the body's ability to heal from a wound, so be sure your loved one is getting the right amount of food and is actually eating. If your loved one has no appetite, ask about an appetite stimulant. Pressure sores are almost always preventable. In those instances when a pressure sore does develop, proper treatment and care including frequent turning and re-positioning of an individual will limit the severity of the wound. When a pressure sore develops and deteriorates, unfortunately, it is often found that this basic, fundamental care was not provided. If you need help because a loved one has developed a pressure sore or decubitus ulcer, contact our Indianapolis personal injury lawyersfor a free consultation.
Call Us at (317) 969-8000, We Can Help
If you think your loved one has suffered from a nursing home abuse or neglect, contact Emerson Divorce and Accident Injury Attorneys, L.L.C. for a free consultation. We can help.
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