There are over 15,500 nursing homes in the United States, housing roughly 1.4 million elderly and disabled adults. Many of our loved ones, including our parents and grandparents, require full-time care in these facilities. When we cannot provide the necessary care for these individuals ourselves, we entrust nurses, doctors, and administrators to treat our families with the same care and attention that we would provide.
Many, if not most, nursing homes receive funds from Medicare and Medicaid and must be adequately staffed with a sufficient amount of properly trained employees or risk the loss of funding in the future. While lawmakers have taken strides to ensure our loved ones are adequately protected, elder abuse and neglect affect the lives of thousands of American families each year.
It is absolutely vital for families considering moving a loved one into an assisted living facility to conduct thorough research into the quality of potential homes. A well-organized nursing home should be adequately staffed with administrators, dieticians, nurses, and nursing assistants, among other professionals. Proper staffing ensures that residents receive adequate care in all aspects of living and do not fall victim to neglect. Unfortunately, many nursing homes are understaffed, or the employees are under-trained.
Nursing home understaffing can occur for a number of reasons. For example, the cost of labor for nursing homes is high compared to other fields. Also, because many nursing homes are run purely on government funds, they may lack the resources to take on more employees. Due to understaffing, nursing home employees may need to work overtime. The lack of new employees coupled with the overwork of existing employees often creates a greater likelihood of neglect.
Neglect can occur when a nursing home resident fails to receive the care necessary to ensure a healthy quality of life. Some of the most prevalent cases of abuse and neglect include isolation, improper medication maintenance, malnutrition, and a general lack of proper care. Common signs of these types of abuse or neglect include bruising, weight loss, an unclean environment, and illness. Oftentimes, residents are moved into nursing homes with preexisting medical conditions, which unfortunately become life-threatening due to neglect or abuse.
Recently, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of an elderly man in Virginia who lost his life due to the alleged neglect of nursing home employees. Donald Shelton was admitted to Madison Health and Rehabilitation after a brief stay at a hospital where he was diagnosed with deep tissue wounds and a pressure sore on his buttock. Mr. Shelton’s family hoped that by moving him into a nursing home, he would receive the around-the-clock care that his conditions required. However, after being admitted to Madison Health and Rehabilitation, he was reportedly severely neglected for several days, resulting in new two new pressure sores which eventually developed necrosis. Mr. Shelton died shortly after.
Pressure sores are caused by constant pressure on an area of one’s body for a prolonged period of time. Pressure sores are prevalent in nursing homes because many of the residents are immobile and require assistance to move. If left untreated, these sores can fester and eventually wear away at a person’s skin. This in turn can cause serious infection and in Mr. Shelton’s case, necrosis.
The sad truth is that many nursing homes are understaffed. This leads to cases of abuse and neglect. If you suspect that a loved one is being abused or neglected at a nursing home, the first step is to remove them immediately and then seek legal advice. The nursing home negligence attorneys at Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz specialize in the complex litigation required to compensate your loved one for nursing home abuse or neglect.