Mercury News reported this week on a lawsuit filed by five different plaintiffs alleging nursing home neglect and mistreatment at a health care center for seniors. The claims being made in the suit are familiar ones for our Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys who work with families whose loved ones have suffered all manner of injuries while living in long-term care facilities. In particular, this latest suit involves claims of inadequate staffing levels–a common problem throughout the country.
According to the story, a long-term care facility and its parent corporation were used by at least five individuals, all who claim that facility residents were subject to a range of abusive and downright dangerous conditions which violated basic standard of care regulations. The suit makes various claims about the injuries suffered by residents as a result of the chronic problems. Specifically, the suit alleges that residents are regularly left unattended for long periods of time (elopement), have soiled garments only changed irregularly, develop bed sores, and are frequently overmedicated (chemical restraints).
Each Illinois nursing home neglect attorney at our firm has worked on cases involving all of these issues. One would hope that these sorts of issues would be isolated problems. Unfortunately that is not true. As this suit shows, facilities across the country continue to provide substandard care on a consistent basis.
The suit suggests that the systematic problems are largely rooted in understaffing. There are not enough caregivers at these facilities to ensure proper treatment and so, even if no single caregiver acts inappropriately, residents as whole suffer neglect because there is not enough manpower to go around. Nursing home neglect results in this way from corporate greed, with profits and low staffing levels placed above resident care.
One particular allegation is this case is somewhat unique, suggesting an incredible lapse of basic caregiving standards placing residents at serious risk of harm. According to documents filed with the court, the facility had inadequate security measures. As a result a man was able to come in off the street and sexually assault at least four residents over a 6 months period. The man was eventually arrested and convicted of four different count of sexual battery.
According to the story, during the assault the victims did everything they could to get help. The suit claims that “During the assault, residents screamed for help, sometimes for more than 30 minutes, but no one came.”
It seems amazing that this sort of assault could happen without notice. Yet, when a culture of inadequate care permeates at one of these facilities, any number of egregious events can occur.
Those pursuing this latest lawsuit claim that they are motivated by the goal of preventing future residents from suffering. The underlying purpose is to force owners of the facility to follow regulations to ensure staffing levels are appropriate and care to seniors is sufficient. Sadly, many facility owners only act appropriately when they are forced to do so via the justice system.
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