When we place our loved ones in the care of nursing homes or assisted living facilities, we expect them to be cared for correctly, treated with respect, and protected from harm. Unfortunately, substandard care and other forms of nursing home negligence can cause residents to suffer injuries, and even more troublingly, patients are often the victim of abuse.
The Problem of Elder Abuse in Illinois
A recent audit by the federal Department of Health and Human Services investigated cases which took place between 2015 and 2016 in which emergency room records indicated that nursing home patients may have experienced physical or sexual abuse. The audit found that in 28% of these cases, the possible abuse was not reported to the police. Of the 33 states where these incidents occurred, Illinois had the highest number of cases.
Federal law requires nursing home facilities to notify law enforcement within two hours of an incident that involves a suspected crime that results in serious bodily injury, or within 24 hours of other criminal incidents. Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to $300,000. Medicare is responsible for enforcing this law, but the audit found that in many of the cases investigated, the agency has failed to hold facilities responsible when they do not report suspected abuse.
Recognizing the Signs of Abuse
Elder abuse may sometimes be difficult to recognize, especially if a patient experiences health issues or dementia. However, warning signs should not be dismissed, and it is important to be vigilant against the possibility of harm from abusive staff members or other patients. Family members should be aware of the following signs that their loved ones may be experiencing abuse:
- Unexplained injuries, such as cuts, bruises, sprains, or broken bones
- Torn clothing or broken glasses
- Drug overdoses or failure to take medication
- Emotional changes, such as agitation, fear, or withdrawal from social activities
- Changes in mood or sleep patterns
- Sudden weight loss or other signs of dehydration or malnutrition
- Signs of improper restraint, such as abrasions on the wrists
- A staff member’s refusal to leave family members alone with a patient
- A patient seeming afraid to speak openly or answer questions
- A patient acting uncomfortable around a staff member
Contact a Cook County Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Elder abuse is never acceptable, and if you suspect that your loved one is being harmed while in the care of an assisted living facility, you deserve to seek compensation for the damages that they have suffered. The skilled, experienced attorneys at Pullano & Siporin will fully investigate your case and help you seek justice for the wrongs that have been done to your family. Contact a Chicago personal injury attorney today 312-551-1100 to schedule a free consultation.