7 Deadly Sins of Nursing Home Abuse

Everyone has heard the term ‘nursing home abuse’ but most are unsure how to spot signs of neglect. Be on the lookout for these 7 deadly sins of nursing home abuse:

I. Bedsores

A bedsore (pressure ulcer) is an injury which occurs due to unrelieved pressure. These pressure wounds typically form on a patient’s sacrum (lower back) or coccyx (backside) if they are left in bed and not appropriately repositioned. A bedsore is staged based on severity from 1 to 4. Bedsores are preventable through turning and repositioning a patient every 2 hours in bed.

II. Falls

Nursing homes are obligated by law to assess each incoming resident for fall risk. This is generally done through a Morse Fall Scale score. Residents determined to be at-risk for falls must receive fall preventative measures, in order to prevent future falls. These fall preventative techniques include bed alarms, chair alarms, bed rails, fall mats and frequent supervision. Not all falls are preventable. However, if a resident suffers repeated falls without nursing home intervention, this may be a form of patient neglect.

III. Dehydration

Vulnerable nursing home residents are dependent on staff for their most basic needs. This includes hydration. Many residents are unable to communicate their thirst due to their underlying health conditions or mental cognition. An inability to communicate is never grounds to withhold water from a resident. A recent study confirmed that 24% of hospital admissions from skilled nursing facilities included the diagnosis of dehydration. When an elderly nursing home resident is not afforded the most basic human survival requirement (water), the results can be lethal.

IV. Malnutrition

Malnourishment in nursing home patients is the second-most frequent neglect injury, second only to dehydration. As we age, our ability to swallow and digest foods deteriorates. Accordingly, many nursing home residents require human assistance with eating. Some may even require a pureed diet of soft foods. When a resident experiences rapid weight loss and malnutrition, a nursing home must consult with a dietician or nutritionist to remedy the caloric deficiency. Failure to do so can result in wrongful death.

V. Infections

As you can imagine, infections run rampant in long term care facilities. These infections, such as MRSA and C. Diff, are nearly impossible to control. Developing an infection is not necessarily due to nursing home negligence. However, if the facility nurses ignore the resulting symptoms and allow the infection to spread throughout the body (ex: sepsis), the family should investigate the matter.

VI. ‘Spontaneous’ Fractures

Unexplained or undocumented fractures in nursing home residents are a red flag for elder abuse. Many nursing home residents are bed bound and unable to move themselves. When we encounter these kinds of residents with traumatically-induced hip fractures, this is highly suspcious of the patient being dropped during a transfer.

VII. Understaffing of Nurses and Aides

While a lack of nursing staff is not necessarily an injury, it is the root cause of most nursing home negligence. The largest line item on every nursing home’s budget is labor. The way to make money operating a long term care facility is to maximize occupancy (“a head in every bed”) while minimizing staff. This may be great for the bottom line, but it spells disaster for patient care and supervision.

When understaffed facilities cannot adequately care for high acuity residents, the results are the above injuries.

Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers at Senior Justice Law Firm

Let’s Stop The Cycle of Nursing Home Neglect

Through education, patient advocacy and action, we can stop the cycle of nursing home abuse and hold negligent facilities accountable. If you have a question on a potential elder abuse case, contact our knowledgeable and compassionate Florida nursing home abuse lawyers at Senior Justice Law Firm today at 1-844-253-8919.

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