Nursing homes are expected to provide high-quality care and treatment for older adults who have serious physical health concerns and /or mental disabilities. Nursing homes provide a wide range of personal and medical services to its residents, including round-the-clock supervision, prepared meals, and assistance with mobility issues.
However, sometimes nursing homes fail to adhere to reasonable standards. Negligence can take many forms in a nursing home. When nursing homes fail to provide reasonable care to elderly and dependent adults in a safe environment, nursing home residents can suffer physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences. Nursing homes can be held accountable for harm caused to the residents.
SOME IMPORTANT FACTS AND STATISTICS ON NURSING HOMES IN CHICAGO AND THE REST OF THE COUNTRY.
- 60% of nursing home residents are aged between 75 to 94.
- Two-thirds of the population of nursing homes are women (approximately 65.6%).
- Medicaid covers the vast majority of nursing home costs of elderly in the country.
- 70% of all nursing homes in the country were ‘for-profit’ ownership businesses.
- Nursing homes are often minimally staffed in the country that a nurse’s aide provides care and services for up to 30 people at a time.
- The Department of Justice believes that an estimated one in fourteen cases involving elder abuse, neglect, and mistreatment gets reported in the country.
- US Department of Health and Human Sciences has estimated that 35% of older Americans are likely to use a nursing home in later years.
- Illinois has approximately 1,200 long-term care facilities serving more than 100,000 residents.
- It is estimated that approximately one in three Chicago nursing homes are understaffed and violating staffing regulations.
WHO REGULATES NURSING HOMES IN ILLINOIS?
Nursing homes in Illinois are licensed, regulated, inspected, and/or certified by a number of public and private agencies at the state and federal levels, including the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA).
The IDPH assists the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) with certifying nursing homes in Illinois for participation in federal payment reimbursement programs.
The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act is in place to ensure protection and safety of residents in nursing homes and other institutions that are long-term care facilities. The IDPH’s Bureau of Long-term Care is responsible for making sure nursing homes comply with the provisions of the Act.
The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act addresses issues such as:
- Duties and responsibilities of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
- Rights of residents.
- Licensing of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
- Enforcement and implementation of the obligations that nursing homes have towards its residents.
- Imposition and recovery of penalties from nursing homes and long-term care facilities for infringement of the rules and regulations contained in the Act.
The federal nursing home regulations and interpretive guidelines are often referred to collectively as the ‘OBRA Standards”. OBRA stands for Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 which is the legislation that ensures adequate care is provided to residents in a nursing home.
PROVING LIABILITY IN AN NURSING HOME NEGLIGENCE CLAIM IN CHICAGO, IL.
Nursing home negligence cases can be challenging because nursing home negligence is often hard to recognize.
The following four elements are generally necessary to establish in sustaining a nursing home negligence case:
- DUTY OF REASONABLE CARE WAS OWED BY THE NURSING HOME.
In a nursing home negligence claim, the first element which a plaintiff must prove is that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. This duty arises from a nursing home – resident relationship, in which the nursing home assumes the obligations associated with caring for its residents.
- VIOLATION OF THE STANDARD OF CARE.
The plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s care was substandard, and care rendered was unreasonable. It can also mean that, though the act was appropriate, it was performed in a negligent manner.
- INJURY TO THE PLAINTIFF.
The plaintiff must have suffered some injury to give rise to a claim for damages.
- LINK BETWEEN THE NEGLIGENCE AND THE INJURY.
A negligent act that does not result in an injury is not sufficient to constitute a legal claim. The defendant’s negligence must have caused or contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries.
SOURCES OF EVIDENCE IN A NURSING HOME NEGLIGENCE CASE.
Nursing home charts.
By obtaining the entire chart of the resident’s stay at the nursing home, an attorney can properly evaluate a nursing home case. Charts include care plans, physician prescriptions, food and liquid intake, therapist notes, laboratory reports, social and religious activities, and other records.
Reviewing charts often provides nursing home negligence attorneys with important evidence that helps them build a solid case.
The Victim and family members.
The victim can be the source of information regarding the negligent care provided by the nursing home. Family members who visit can offer observations about the care provided. Important information can be gathered with regard to care rendered, victim’s hygiene, meals, treatment, and how and where the victim spends most of his or her time.
Statements of employees and ex-employees.
Employees and ex-employees can be important witnesses in a nursing home negligence case. Although current employees can be tight-lipped and it is unusual for them to make statements against employers, they can provide valuable information on whether adequate staffing and resources were provided for the victim’s care by the nursing home. Ex-employees may offer important insight into the care provided by the nursing home.
Every nursing home is evaluated for compliance with OBRA standards. Non-compliance can result in citations or fines. These reports and surveys provide valuable insight into the overall quality of care provided by a nursing home.
COMMON WARNING SIGNS OF NURSING HOME NEGLIGENCE.
On visits to the nursing home, it is necessary to look around and see if the premises are clean and safe. It is also important to observe if other residents are healthy and cheerful or not. If you suspect that a loved one has been a victim of negligence after being placed in a nursing home, then be sure to look at the following common signs,
- Bruising, cuts, or welts.
- Significant weight loss.
- Reclusiveness and refusal to Communicate.
- Refusal to Eat or take Medicines.
- Lack of cleanliness and poor physical appearance.
- Being withdrawn or distant.
- Blood or fluid stains on clothes and bedding.
- Frequent infections
- Recurring medical issues
ARBITRATION CLAUSE AND HOW IT AFFECTS THE RIGHT TO SUE A NURSING HOME?
An arbitration clause in a contract between the nursing home and a resident requires that private arbitration rather than the court system be used to resolve issues arising from nursing home injury or death. Most nursing homes are including arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts in an attempt to avoid lawsuits and trials by a jury of their peers.
THE LAW OFFICE OF JEFFREY FRIEDMAN, P.C. – PROTECTING AND CHAMPIONING THE RIGHTS OF THE ELDERLY IN CHICAGO.
The elderly are often vulnerable and reliant upon nursing homes for their well-being. They often find themselves ignored and many are too afraid to come forward when they become victims of neglect, abuse, or mistreatment.
The State of Illinois publishes quarterly reports on nursing home violations. These reports contain disciplinary actions initiated against nursing homes by Illinois Department of Public Health. The report also lists the names of nursing homes that have been recommended for decertification.
If you or your loved one has decided to get admitted to a nursing home and you have concerns about negligence, neglect, or abuse, you are welcome to contact the Law Office of Jeffrey Friedman, P.C. at 312-357-1431 for a free consultation.
For victims of nursing home negligence, the Law Office of Jeffrey Friedman, P.C. carries out the following steps in reviewing a nursing home neglect case:
- Conduct a thorough investigation of the case.
- Determine whether the victim has a viable Nursing Home Negligence case and help him or her decide on the next steps to take.
- Determine the value of the victim’s claim.
- Ensure that the victim fully understands the applicable laws that may apply to his or her respective case.
- Consult medical and legal experts.
- Identify liable parties.