There are different kinds of senior care facilities, each offering differing degrees of specialized medical care for elderly residents in need. When people think of the traditional “nursing home,” that usually refers to a skilled nursing facility. These locations offer the most intensive care that one can find in a long-term setting outside of an actual hospital. In that vein, seniors who are at these homes often need far more support than those at less intrusive locations–like assisted living facilities. There are many other differences which distinguish these home was well–including the number of actual medical professionals working with residents.
Because traditional nursing homes often provide more sophisticated medical care, there is a chance that actual medical malpractice might be committed at the facility. This might occur, for example, when a nursing working at the home violates the standard of care when performing medical services–perhaps involving medication.
Yet, even though skilled medical care is provided at these facilities, much neglect–and the nursing home neglect lawsuits that follow–are not actually based on medical malpractice. Instead, they often stem from negligence of a more fundamental nature. This might include failing to protect a resident from being attached by a fellow resident or failing to properly aid with transfer while allowing a resident to fall.
Another far too common example of negligence at nursing home is wandering. When not properly supervised, some residents are prone to wander to parts of the facility where they are not allowed (and that pose safety hazards). In more serious situations residents may even leave the facility itself. There are countless examples of seniors who leave a home and are killed after being exposed to the elements. Residents with degenerative brain injuries–like Alzheimer’s and other dementias–are by far the most likely to suffer harm in this way. Caregivers at these facilities must be well-aware of who poses these wandering risks and take steps to minimize the risk. When they fail and harm results, legal action might be appropriate.
Illinois Wandering Example
This risk was demonstrated recently at a Southern Illinois facility. According to a report in the Belleville News Democrat, this week a resident wandered out of a facility without caregivers knowledge. The man is 84 years old and suffered from dementia. He was first discovered missing on Wednesday morning. Fortunately, this case has a happy ending. About an hour after he was first identified as missing, a motorist saw him walking in pajamas on a side road. The traveler took the man to a local gas station and waited while authorities were called. The senior was taken to a hospital to be examined but he appeared to be relatively uninjured.
While this situation did not result in permanent injury to the senior, there are many other cases where the opposite is true. At the end of the day there is simply no excuse for caregivers allowing seniors with cognitive mental conditions to leave the facility unnoticed. It is critical that serious analysis be conducted at the home to ensure that this never happens again. Whether it is increase staffing levels, better training, and/or change of safety protocols, something must be done to prevent another senior from being exposed to the same harms.
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