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Articles Tagged with nursing home negligence

understaffing and falls at nursing homes
Like many U.S. nursing homes, elder care facilities in Illinois seem continuously challenged by an inadequate amount of care workers. Even though the state requires 2.5 hours of direct care for residents each day, about a quarter of the residents in Chicago-area homes are living in understaffed conditions putting them at risk for abuse and neglect.

While some long-term care facilities have been routinely understaffed for years, others continue to manage facilities with very little interest in providing attentive and quality resident care even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. As a result, fall-related injuries among residents are on the rise.

Hazards that contribute to nursing home resident fall injuries have included:

can dehydration cause delirium
An altered mental status is a difficult condition for nursing home residents to manage on their own, especially when symptoms can present slowly and brushed off for age-related memory loss, stress, medication side-effects, lack of sleep, or other conditions like dementia. Delirium, sometimes referred to as “sundowning” or “psychosis”, is one of those conditions that if misdiagnosed or treated with overmedication, can worsen quickly with irreversible outcomes including long-term cognitive impairments.

Delirium has been defined by The American Delirium Society (ADS) as a state of confusion that comes on very suddenly and lasts hours to days. If a nursing home resident becomes delirious, they may have hallucinations, disorganized thinking, difficulty understanding daily tasks, and inability to pay attention and be unaware of their environment or trust of the people in it. Delirium affects nearly 18% of long-term care residents and has a staggering 40% one-year mortality rate.

Nursing homes have been known to manage residents with disruptive behaviors in less productive ways, and many things can make delirium (and other mental conditions) worse, such as:

covid-19 pandemic highlights
U.S. nursing home residents, totaling 1.2 million seniors and nonelderly people with disabilities living in over 15,000 facilities, are at increased risk of coronavirus infection and complications. The combined challenges of the facility setting and shared living environment, residents with underlying health conditions, the close contact that many care workers have with residents, and failures in facilities who do not provide quality care, all contribute to the high number of COVID-19 cases and outbreaks in the elder communities.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), as of August 7, 20202:

  • More than 25,000 cases of COVID-19 have been traced back to nursing home residents and staff, resulting in 4,162 deaths.

abuse of covid-19 relief funds

Some U.S. Nursing Home Providers Will Misuse COVID Relief Funds

A revealing story published in the Washington Post shows that many for-profit nursing homes across the U.S., received hundreds of millions of dollars in COVID relief by The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The funds were intended to be shared to help health care workers and nursing home residents address pandemic-related shortcomings in care, but came with few spending restrictions. Unfortunately, some for-profit owners may take advantage of the support rather than spend the money on necessities such as personal protective equipment or hazard pay for nurses and aides caring for residents battling COVID-19.

According to Health and Human Services (HHS):

nursing homes high risk of covid-19

Illinois Nursing Home Facilities with Ongoing Infectious Disease Shortcomings

For decades, nursing home owners and operators have cut corners and allowed their facilities to perform under minimal oversight. Legal liability serves a definite purpose and is a functional safeguard for nursing home residents who have the right to be served by an operation that complies with laws and regulations. Our attorneys are currently investigating outbreaks and reviewing over 100 complaints involving assisted living, long-term care, and skilled nursing facilities that have failed to uphold adequate procedures and responsibility related to the COVID-19 outbreak in the greater Chicago area and surrounding communities in Illinois.

Here is a summary of facilities representing only a small number of our findings.

nursing home staff ignoring dementia symptoms

Identifying Dementia Warning Signs in Nursing Home Residents

Dementia denial from caregivers is real and dangerous. And unfortunately, many nursing home owners find it easier to have staff ignore the warning signs of declining cognitive abilities rather than provide additional support. Dementia diagnoses can also be missed when overworked, and poorly resourced care teams are not trained to evaluate struggling residents who require extra supervision and management of their daily activities, medications, and financial needs. Eventually, these residents need to move to a 24-hour assisted specialized environment to keep them safe, especially as their disease progresses into later stages. Family members and friends are typically the first to request help after noticing a loved one’s behavioral changes or one or more of the concerning events listed below.

#1. Early Stage Memory Loss

meadowbrook nursing home covid-19 update

Meadowbrook Manor Reports Another COVID-19 Death, Highest Case Rate in Will County

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reports another COVID-19 death at Meadowbrook Manor in Bolingbrook in Will County. The facility has been home to 41 deaths since the start of the pandemic, with the majority related to an outbreak in May. This is the first death noted since May 29th.

  • The facility has the highest number of deaths in Illinois among any other long-term care facility.

nursing home understaffing dire

The Chronic Problems Related to Understaffed Nursing Homes

Deliberate understaffing is a common practice in nursing homes across the U.S., and especially here in Illinois, where nearly 70% of all long-term care networks are for-profit owned. When facilities are privately owned and operated, owners become more concerned about profits than having the right amount of staff available to provide quality patient care. According to a 2018-2019 report prepared by the Department of Health and Human Services, an incredible 90% of U.S. facilities are understaffed. The findings were documented by evidence through payroll records that showed nursing homes were underreporting staffing challenges.

Worker shortages contribute to nursing home struggles that sometimes lead to preventable hospitalizations, injuries, or deaths. Risky cost-cutting measures and unethical practices are creating a ripple of adverse effects that nursing home residents ultimately pay for.

nursing home global impact covid-19

Analysis of COVID-19 Long-Term Care Deaths in 17 Countries

The Canadian Institute for Health Information performed an analysis using data collected (report as of May 25, 2020) from 17 countries to show the similarities and differences between coronavirus pandemic experiences related to long-term care. The review focused on three specific areas of comparison:

  1. COVID-19 outcomes in LTC (cases and deaths)

heat strokes at nursing homes

Nursing Homes Should Identify Signs of Heat Stroke in Residents Before It’s Too Late

Elderly nursing home residents, without the appropriate indoor cooling areas, can negatively react to high-temperature exposures and become especially at risk for heat stroke or heat stress injuries. Heat stroke is a serious condition that can cause seizures, fluid retention, brain damage, dehydration, cardiac-related events, and even death. When a nursing home is not prepared to manage residents in the heat, residents will suffer.

To identify any heat-related illness, nursing home staff should watch out for:

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