Last week we shared the story of a 14-year old girl with cerebral palsy who died because of neglect by her at-home care providers. The child weighed a shocking 28 pounds at the time of her passing, besides being riddled with bed sores and infections. Considering her condition, it is without question that the last year of her life was filled with longing, confusion, and pain. Our Chicago injury lawyers continue to be completely shocked at the absolutely unacceptable treatment provided by those charged with caring for some of our most vulnerable community members. It remains inconceivable that so many could see a child in such a condition, weighing only 28 pounds!, and do nothing. Several involved in that situation will rightly be facing serious criminal charges as a result of the incident-a testament to the gravity of their wrongdoing.
In that story we mentioned that while such callous treatment of children is particularly troubling, similar misconduct routinely take places at nursing home with elderly victims. For example, last week the Star Tribune reported on a case of nursing home neglect also involving extreme weight loss. The story explained how a State Department investigation found severe neglect led to the death of one nursing home resident. The victim, whose identity has not been released, died earlier this year at a hospital near the long-term care facility. He was brought to the hospital after his severe weight loss was finally uncovered. A medical examiner’s office ruled after his death that while pneumonia was the primary cause of it, a contributing cause was severe dehydration.
In citing the involved nursing home, the State Department investigators noted that the there was a “breakdown in facility systems” which allowed the man’s condition to deteriorate seemingly without notice. Many different staff members were supposedly providing care, but that care was obviously illusory. Health officials explained that the man’s condition must not have been monitored for two months or more. They explained that the caregivers failed to evaluate his solid food intake and liquid intake. For inexplicable reasons they also did not notice his extreme weight loss. Because none of the victim’s problems were identified, the man’s doctor’s were never notified of his change in condition. Lifesaving care was therefore not provided until it was too late.
To most community members, including our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers, it remains unclear how on earth such extreme weight loss can go without notice. Usually these sorts of extreme body changes are examples of the worse kind of neglect, where staff members provide care that no reasonable group would ever deem acceptable. Unfortunately, while these stories occasionally make newspaper headlines, most of the time similar abuse goes without recourse. It is for that reason that some of the worst offenders feel comfortable treating seniors this way again and again. If every victim (and their family) become aware of the nursing home abuse and actually came forward, then it is likely that those providing the care would actually do more to ensure that quality standards were met.
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