Negligence in a Nursing Home

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If you suspect your loved one is suffering from negligence in an Illinois nursing home, it’s crucial to understand both the gravity of the situation and your next steps. Unfortunately, the Illinois Adult Productive Services Annual Report for fiscal year 2023 indicates nursing home negligence is all too common in Illinois, manifesting through inadequate care, emotional neglect, or even abuse. This negligence can lead to serious health repercussions for residents, making it imperative to recognize the signs early.

Understanding what constitutes negligence is the first step. Illinois law requires nursing homes to provide a standard of care that ensures the safety and well-being of their residents. If they fail to meet this standard, it could be grounds for legal action. You can report suspected negligence to local health departments or the Illinois Department of Public Health, which takes such accusations seriously and will conduct investigations.

Discovering that a loved one might be suffering from a nursing home’s negligence in a nursing home is a deeply distressing situation. Knowing how to identify signs of negligence and what steps to take to protect your loved one’s rights and well-being is essential. As a concerned family member or friend, you play a pivotal role in ensuring they receive the care they deserve.

Types of Nursing Home Neglect

Physical Neglect: This form occurs when the basic needs of a resident, such as food, water, or a clean and safe environment, are not met. Signs of physical neglect include malnutrition, dehydration, unsanitary living conditions, and a lack of adequate medical care.

Emotional or Social Neglect

Emotional neglect happens when staff ignore residents or leave them alone for extended periods, leading to feelings of isolation or depression. Signs can include:

  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • A sudden change in mood
  • A lack of interest in activities they previously enjoyed

Medical Neglect

This involves inadequate medical care that can lead to complications or worsening existing health conditions. Indicators might be:

  • Untreated medical issues
  • Poor handling of medications
  • A lack of prevention measures for bedsores

Personal Hygiene Neglect

This neglect is evident when residents haven’t received proper assistance with personal care tasks such as bathing, brushing their teeth, or other grooming habits. Indications usually include a noticeable decline in personal hygiene or cleanliness.

Recognizing the Signs

Each type of neglect has specific signs that you may notice during visits:

  • Physical Signs: Unexplained injuries, frequent infections, or evidence of inadequate care.
  • Emotional Signs: Sudden fear of caregivers, reluctance to speak in someone’s presence, or general withdrawal.
  • Behavioral Signs: Unusual changes in behavior such as agitation or becoming non-communicative.

Reporting Nursing Home Neglect in Illinois

If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from neglect, it’s imperative to report it as soon as possible. You should:

  • Document the Signs: Keep a record of all potential signs of neglect, including photos and detailed notes. While this will likely be uncomfortable for you, it can be extremely helpful in building a case for your loved one.
  • Speak to Facility Management: Address your concerns with the nursing home’s administration. Sometimes, people can resolve the problem at this level.
  • Contact State Authorities: If the situation does not improve, contact the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) by calling their Nursing Home Complaint Hotline at 1-800-252-4343. They are responsible for regulating nursing homes and can investigate your claims.
  • Reach Out to an Ombudsman: Every nursing home resident in Illinois has access to an ombudsman through the Illinois Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. This official can act as a mediator (a neutral third party) and advocate on behalf of your loved one.

Legal Actions in Cases of Negligence

After reporting the neglect, you might consider legal action. This is where understanding the legal landscape can be invaluable.

Illinois Law on Nursing Home Negligence

Under Illinois law, residents are entitled to a standard of care that includes adequate medical care, nutrition, personal hygiene, and freedom from abuse and neglect. If a facility fails to meet these standards, it may be liable for damages.

Starting a Lawsuit

Initiating legal proceedings typically begins with consulting a law firm that has local experience in elder abuse and negligence. They can help assess the merit of your case based on the evidence and advise you on the next steps you should take.

The Legal Process

Your attorney will file a complaint against the nursing home, outlining the negligence and its impacts. Discovery follows, where both sides investigate the claims and gather evidence. Many cases settle out of court; however, if a settlement is not reached, the case will go to trial.

Settlement and Verdict Amounts: Settlements or verdicts in nursing home negligence cases can vary widely based on the extent of the neglect and the damages incurred. In cases where neglect has been proved, the settlement or verdict usually includes:

  • The cost of medical care
  • Pain and suffering
  • Sometimes punitive damages to discourage future neglect

Verdicts can be significantly lower or higher than any broad averages you may see reported online, especially if the jury finds the behavior of the nursing home particularly egregious.

How a Law Firm Can Help

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A law firm can provide valuable assistance throughout the process of dealing with nursing home neglect, including:

Case Evaluation

Attorneys can offer a professional evaluation of the signs of neglect and the viability of your case.

Legal Representation

From filing the lawsuit to negotiating settlements or representing your interests at trial, having experienced lawyers on your side is crucial.
Peace of Mind: Knowing that a professional is advocating for your loved one’s rights can bring significant peace of mind to them as well as to you during this painful experience.

What Should I Do Now?

Seeing a loved one suffer from neglect is a painful experience, no matter the details, but there are steps you can take to ensure their safety and dignity. By recognizing the signs of neglect, understanding how to report it, and knowing when to seek legal help, you can make a meaningful difference in your loved one’s quality of life.

If you believe that a loved one is suffering because of the negligence of an Illinois nursing home, call Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC now at 312-346-8620, or reach out online to schedule a free consultation. We handle claims from all nursing homes in the greater Chicago area.

Written by Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC Last Updated : May 14, 2024