A few days ago an Illinois nursing home neglect attorney at our firm announced that we had reached a settlement on behalf of a 67-year old woman who died after care she received at Hampton Plaza and Rehabilitation. We filed the Illinois nursing home neglect lawsuit after the resident was severely burned at the facility a few years ago in a smoking accident. She died from her wounds about a month after the smoking accident occurred.
After an investigation into the incident it was learned that the senior was either attempting to smoke or playing with her lighter while she was in the bathroom at Hampton Plaza. While she was there with the lighter her clothing accidentally caught fire. The fire spread and caused third degree burns throughout her lower extremities and second degree burns on her hands and abdomen. The senior never fully recovered from the burns, and she died about a month later from complications from those injuries.
The lawsuit filed by our nursing home neglect lawyers on behalf of the resident’s Special Representative and Special Administrator, explains that the facility failed to develop a proper care plan which would have addressed the senior’s unsafe smoking and risk of harming herself. The case settled last month for $675,000.
Nursing homes in these situations have an obligation to keep their residents safe. That includes making sure that the resident’s environment is void of situations that present unsafe risks. For example, in this case, the nursing home care providers continued to allow the resident to have her own lighter and cigarettes. This was the case even though the woman’s physician had explicitly ordered otherwise. The woman was actually on a program to stop smoking, and she was using a daily nicotine transdermal patch. Beyond the doctor’s orders, the staff was also aware that the woman had a habit of being an unsafe smoker. She had previously been found to smoke in undesignated areas and risk her own health and safety. Yet, despite these concerns the woman was allowed to continue the unsafe conduct until it ultimately led to her death.
Smoking accidents in nursing homes is a surprisingly common (and preventable) cause of harm. Our Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys know that stories similar to this one pour in on a consistent basis explaining how residents have been severely injured and died because caregivers failed to properly account for the risks that smoking presents. It is particularly disturbing that the problems continue even after those charged with caring for the senior are made explicitly aware of the risk.
The law is reasonable in requiring these facilities to take basic action to prevent against known risks. If a resident is known to smoke and has difficulties which might make smoking dangerous, then it is logical for caregivers to step in. When they do not step in and harm results, the law demands accountability and redress. If you know a loved one that has been hurt in one of these actions, it is important to seek out legal help. Seniors and their family members should be able to count of these homes to prevent tragedies like the one that happened here. When they don’t it is necessary for full responsibility to be taken so that future victims are spared.
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