Types of Nursing Home Injuries | Joel Bryant

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Nursing Home Injuries

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Nursing home injuries are becoming more and more common. In some cases the reason is the resident’s age and condition. But in most cases nursing home injuries are the predictable result of business decisions made by for-profit corporations that make millions of dollars each year. These decisions place the “shareholder” ahead of the people they are supposed to be caring for, which frequently result in nursing home injuries. In other words, the emphasis on profits over people results in more nursing home injuries, including death. These injuries often occur due to simple neglect, abuse, or understaffed facilities and poorly trained employees.

Nursing home injuries are a sure sign of abuse and/or neglect. It is the responsibility of the nursing home to provide your loved one with a safe environment, and if they fail to do so, they should be held legally responsible. Contact Attorney Bryant today for a free legal consultation. Your call could be the difference between safety, or serious injury and even death for not only your loved one, but every present and future resident in the same nursing home facility. Do not hesitate to reach out. Call Attorney Bryant and his knowledgeable team of California elder abuse attorneys today!

Types of Injuries in Nursing Homes

There are a wide variety of injuries that can be sustained while an elder is in the care of a nursing home facility. Unfortunately, as nursing homes become more crowded, residents are at a high risk of suffering an injury, which is ultimately a sheer sign of neglect and/or abuse. Some common injuries that an elder may sustain while in the care of a nursing home include but are not limited to the following:

Bed Sores

Nursing home bedsores​,​ also known as pressure sores, pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, are caused by nursing home neglect. In fact, as set forth in an authoritative medical treatise “pressure sores are graphic, ugly, smelly evidence of a health care providers’ failure to take good enough care of the elderly.” Bed sores and pressure ulcers are caused by a lack of blood flow and oxygen to the skin, resulting from continual pressure on a particular area of the body. Failing to frequently turn and reposition an elder in their bed or a wheelchair can cause bedsores. Additionally, failing to provide the elder with proper nutrition and to keep their skin dry often results in the bedsores getting much worse. Bedsores and pressure ulcers commonly develop on areas with prominent bones beneath thin layers of skin, such as the coccyx, sacrum, lower back, and heels. The severity of a bed sore can range greatly, from mild bed sores appearing as just minor skin reddening, to severe bed sores appearing as deep wounds exposing muscle and bone. In this regard, bed sores and pressure ulcers are ordered from stage one to stage four, with stage four bed sores being the worst. In any case, bedsores or pressure ulcers are preventable, though very painful and uncomfortable. Your loved one should not have to suffer as a result of pressure ulcers.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse​ is rampant in California nursing homes. According to a 2017 study by the World Health Organization (WHO), 9.3% of nursing home staff members admitted to committing some form of abuse against an elderly patient in the past. Unfortunately physical abuse in nursing homes is so widespread due to the fact that many, if not all, nursing home residents have cognitive and/or physical impairments that inhibit them from defending themselves from perpetrators. Additionally, those suffering from physical abuse often do not tell their loved ones out of fear of retaliation, and thus it goes unnoticed. Physical abuse is the intentional use of physical force resulting in bodily injury. This kind of abuse can include the following:

  • Bruising/Wounding/Welts/Scaring (especially if appearing on both sides of the body, symmetrically)
  • Burning
  • Pushing/Shoving/Shaking
  • Kicking
  • Scratching
  • Biting
  • Excessively Restraining (including physical restraints and chemical restraints) /Confining
  • Sexual Assault and/or Battery
  • Denial of Food and/or Water
  • Force Feeding
  • Overly Medicating (such as a drug overdose that involves hospitalization)
  • Under Medicating (recognized by more left of a medicinal prescription than there should be)
  • Withholding Medical Care
  • Broken Eye Glasses/Frames (indicating strikes or blows to the face, or falls from shoving)
  • Fracture/break of bones​ ​including the ankle, wrist, upper arm (humerus), leg (femur), hip, spine (vertebrae), and pelvis. Breaks and fractures can easily result in elderly residents due to their weakened state and low bone density (osteoporosis) as a result of aging.

Malnutrition and Dehydration​

Many residents suffer from ​malnutrition​ and dehydration​ ​in California nursing homes. Nursing homes are responsible for providing nutritious meals and liquids to residents in order to avoid any serious health problems. Lack of proper nutrition can trigger health problems ranging from bed sores to heart disease to ​severe weight loss​. On the other hand lack of proper hydration can also have severe health implications such as a urinary tract infection to kidney failure. Elderly adults need an adequate amount of food and liquids as well as vitamins and minerals to make them stronger. Elderly malnutrition or dehydration can have multiple causes including diminished appetite and a lack of healthy food and potable water. When it occurs in a nursing home, it is usually a sign of neglect. A healthy diet is very important as a person ages to prevent physical decline. Nutritious food, healthy meals, and snacks are required for nursing home residents and should be assessed regularly by nursing home staff. Elderly nursing home residents often need nutritional supplements as well. Bringing a tray of food to a resident does not guarantee adequate nutrition. Malnutrition is usually caused by inadequate food intake, poor food choices, medication causing a lack of appetite, or poor nutrient absorption.

In addition to a balanced diet, regular hydration is also essential in keeping elderly patients in nursing homes healthy. Lack of hydration can result in negative health effects such as urinary tract infections​, to even kidney failure. Simply bringing water to a patient does not mean that they have ingested it or are no longer at risk of being dehydrated. It is the responsibility of the nursing home to ensure that the patients are actually hydrating. Malnutrition and dehydration are sure signs of ​nursing home neglect​ and signs that a resident is not receiving basic care and attention. When serious, malnutrition can cause death due to starvation just as severe dehydration can cause death.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse​ in nursing homes in California is increasing. Sexual contact without consent and violent or forced sexual contact constitutes abuse. Many seniors with moderate to severe dementia likely lack the mental ability to consent to sexual contact. Although the elder’s body is that of an adult, due to the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, their brain may be more like that of a child. Nursing home residents are weak and defenseless and unfortunately are often easy prey for sexual predators. When a nursing home resident is weak and unable to resist or unable to speak there is an increase in the likelihood of sexual abuse occurring. Nursing home residents can be sexually abused by a nursing home resident, visitor, or employee. Sexual abuse against an elderly individual can be perpetrated in a variety of ways including anything from unwanted touching all the way to the extreme such as sexual assault and rape.

Slips and Falls

Falling or slipping​ alone can lead to serious injury and even death for elderly individuals. Residents in nursing homes are at a significantly increased risk of falling. Walking and maintaining balance is often a struggle which leads residents to be more susceptible to slip and fall injuries, and the elder’s frailty may lead to the injuries from the fall being more severe. The nursing homes they live in have a responsibility to protect them by providing safe maintenance for the premises and hallways. Once a resident has shown him or herself to be at risk for slip and fall accidents, a supervision plan should immediately be put into place to prevent an injury from happening again. Plans can include additional supervision or adding rails to beds and walls. Providing medical equipment like wheelchairs, walkers, or canes can also help prevent falls. Interestingly, studies have found that a nursing home’s failure to timely answer the resident’s call lights can often
lead to falls. When the call light is not answered, an elder in need of going to the bathroom may have no choice but to try to get out of bed and walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Excessive Restraint

Excessive restraint ​(including physical restraints, such as straps and bed rails, and chemical restraints as well) is a form of abuse and/or neglect. Excessive restraint inhibits an elder’s mobility and quality of life and can lead to injuries, including damaged skin and open sores. Excessive restraint can also keep the elder from obtaining what they need. Restraint can also result in weakened muscle and bones as a result of less usage which can lead to a larger risk of fractures. Even more common these days is the improper use of chemical restraints. Improper use of chemical restraints occurs when a nursing homes over medicates some of their residents so that they remain docile and sleepy. By keeping some of their residents overmedicated, the nursing home can reduce the amount of staffing and supervision required to monitor its residents, particularly those residents who typically require more supervision due to their mental and physical needs. In addition to depriving elders of dignity, respect and quality of life, such improper use of chemical restraints can cause long-term damage to the elder’s brain and well-being. This overmedication is elder abuse.

Emotional Abuse

Nursing home injuries​ ​can also suggest other forms of abuse, such as emotional abuse. There are of course emotional signs to watch out for that may indicate a form of abuse is being carried out against the elderly individual. Such signs of emotional abuse include but are not limited to the following:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Social withdrawal
  • Emotional withdrawal
  • Easily agitated
  • Signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Panic attacks
  • Uneasiness around a certain individual out of fear
  • Shrinking from physical contact
  • Efforts to flea the nursing home or certain care
  • Avoidance of assistance when it comes to bathing, changing, or showering

What to Do about Nursing Home Injuries

An injury of any severity, including emotional trauma, sustained while in the care of a nursing home can reduce the quality of life for an individual in the care of a nursing home, thus if your loved one has suffered from any of these injuries or others, contact Attorney Bryant today. Your loved one should be properly taken care of in a nursing home, and if they become injured and their life is at risk, or their quality of life is hindered in any way, it is important as their loved one to seek justice for them. In doing so, the nursing home can become legally and financially responsible for their failure. Attention will also be brought to previous abuse and neglect that the nursing home may have tried to cover up. In doing so, future injuries can be avoided for not only your loved one, but present and future residents of the nursing home as well.

What groups of individuals are most susceptible to sustaining an injury in a nursing home?

Every resident of a nursing home can sustain an injury as a result of abuse and/or neglect, however there are certain groups of individuals that are more vulnerable than others. There are many risk factors to take into account that may make you or a loved one more susceptible to nursing home abuse and/or neglect, and they include the following:

  •  Memory Loss:​ Those suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other memory loss diseases or conditions are more prone to abuse as they are vulnerable and fail to
    recognize abuse as it occurs.
  • Disabilities:​ Elderly individuals who are disabled often are more prone to suffering from abuse within a nursing home facility as well. Often times these individuals
    require a bit more work, assistance, and ultimately patience from caregivers, which in turn can make caregivers a bit frustrated. Upon becoming frustrated or irritated, a
    caregiver can lash out at an elderly individual in the form of physical abuse.
  • Isolation:​ Nursing home patients who do not receive regular visits from friends or loved ones are also more susceptible to abuse as they are not regularly monitored, and the perpetrators can get away with the abuse without it becoming noticed.

Nursing Home Risk Factors

All elders are susceptible to elder abuse and neglect regardless of whether they suffer from any of the conditions mentioned above, as elder abuse and neglect is the result of choices made by the nursing home, after all. There are many factors that may result in an increased risk of a nursing home neglecting or abusing an elderly individual. Such factors include but are not limited to the following:

  • Understaffing​: To increase profits, the nursing home management hires an  insufficient number of nurses and nurse assistants to safely monitor and care for its  frail and vulnerable residents
  • Lack of Training​: To increase profits, the nursing home management hires  inexperienced staff (who are cheaper) and fails to provide proper training to its staff  because training, of course, takes times and money
  • Failure to perform background checks​: to save money, the nursing home  management hires staff without doing background checks. As a result, some  workers with very shady criminal backgrounds are hired and put in charge of caring  for the frail and vulnerable residents at the nursing home with, predictably, bad results  for the elders.
  • Profits over People: Profits made by the nursing home are taken by a related  corporation for the benefit of the shareholders instead of being used for care of the  frail and vulnerable elderly residents at the nursing home.
  • Need Heads in the Beds: Nursing homes make more money when all of the beds in  their facility are full with residents. Unfortunately, when they have available beds,  some nursing homes knowingly accept residents who they are not able to properly care for. For example, some assisted living facilities accept residents who actually should be in a skilled nursing facility to receive the appropriate level of care they need.

It is important to ensure that the individuals providing a loved one with care are truly passionate about what they do and feel rightfully compensated for their work. It is also important to support care providers and be sure that they have adequate breaks. After all, taking care of an elderly patient is never easy and can sometimes be as emotionally frustrating as it is rewarding.

Contact Attorney Bryant and His Knowledgeable Legal Team Today for a Free Consultation

If your loved one has suffered abuse and injuries in a nursing home, contact San Diego elder abuse attorney​ Joel Bryant today for a free, confidential, legal consultation. ​Mr. Bryant​ has been litigating complex nursing home injury cases for more than twenty years. ​Call us​ today to explore your legal options.

Types of nursing home injuries may include

  • Bedsores (decubitus ulcers)
  • Fractures
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Weight Loss
  • Improper use of restraints
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Poor physical and dental hygiene
  • Burns
  • Pneumonia
  • Mental, verbal abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Choking
  • Bruising
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Slip and fall
  • Wandering
  • Elopement

Attorney Joel Bryant is committed to helping the elderly and their families. If you suspect that your loved one has been the victim of less than adequate care at their nursing home contact Joel Bryant today at (619) 239-7900 for a free legal consultation.

“Joel and his team were the help I needed to approach the nursing home that didn’t take good care of my grandmother. With Joel’s help, my grandmother was fairly compensated for the injuries she suffered as a result of the nursing home’s neglect and abuse.”

Andrea C.

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