Nursing Home Abuse Prevention
Nursing Home Compare
Choosing a nursing home for your loved one is a difficult process. One tool to assist you is NURSING HOME COMPARE on Medicare.gov. Nursing Home Compare includes important statistics such as how many nurses and nurse’s aides work at a particular nursing home, as well as how many violations have been cited by the government authorities.
Does Nursing Home Have Enough Staff?
For many nursing homes, their single biggest expense is the nursing staff. We have dealt with some nursing homes that seem to cut costs by cutting staff, thereby putting your loved one at risk. When you visit the nursing home, pay close attention to the staff. Talk to them if you get a chance. How many patients does one nurse’s assistant have to assist? Do call buttons get responded quickly? Are the staff members frantic or flustered? Does your loved one get the care he/she need? Don’t restrict your observations only to your own loved one. How does the staff respond to the needs of patients whose family is not there? Are their needs being met? Often, this will let you know the level of care your loved one is getting when you are not there.
Does the Nursing Home Have Any Money?
Because the law does not require liability insurance, many nursing home corporations have chosen to go uninsured in an effort to discourage families and lawyers from bringing lawsuits against them. Practically every nursing home defending lawsuit, claims that they do not have any money to pay a judgment or settle a case. Often, this is just a negotiation technique designed to discourage you. Many of the wealthy nursing home groups have spent tremendous amounts of money to create layers upon layers of corporate entities in order to “hide the money”. The nursing home in which your loved one is a patient may actually be several different companies operating under one roof. Despite their complicated corporate structures and claims of no resources many of the nursing homes do have very significant assets. As with the medical parts of your case, your lawyer can assist you in evaluating the nursing homes financial status is order to determine the best way to approach your case.
A call button is an extremely important tool to ensure the safety and health of your loved one. If he or she has an emergency or needs medical attention, the call button maybe his/her only way to alert the staff. Unfortunately, call buttons are often left out of the reach of patients who have limited mobility. Thus when a problem arises, the staff is unaware and the patient’s needs are not addressed. We have even seen cases where call buttons have been disabled by nursing home staff in order to prevent patients from calling. MAKE SURE YOUR LOVED ONE’S CALL BUTTON IS WITHIN REACH, AND TEST IT TO MAKE SURE IT WORKS.
Bed Sores are very serious medical conditions that can lead to infection and death. Sores develop due to pressure on an area for prolonged periods of time. Eventually, the skin breaks down and ***** occur. These sores can penetrate all the way to the bone, and cause a terrible risk of infection. The law requires that a nursing home patient be turnd and repositioned at least once every two hours to keep pressure from being on one area for too long. YOUR LOVED ONE SHOULD NOT BE ON HIS/HER BACK OR SEATED IN A CHAIR ALL DAY.
High Risk Areas for Bed Sores
High Risks Areas for bed sores include any areas that bear significant pressure. Common areas for bed sores include the tailbone and the heels. As unpleasant as it may be, resist the temptation to leave the room every time the staff is working with your loved one. Do not be afraid to look at your loved one’s high risks areas. Frequently, a patient may have bed sores and the family will not even know. If you know about the sores, you will be better prepared to assist with your loved one’s care. There are devices such as heel protectors and pressure relieving mattresses that can reduce the risk of sores. Also, if you know about the sores, you can discuss these devices with the staff, or request an appointment with a doctor or wound care specialist.
Are Bed Sores Unavoidable?
Despite what the nursing homes often claim, we have consulted with medical witnesses who feel that bed sores are almost never unavoidable. Certain medical conditions do make sores more likely. These include diabetes and peripheral vascular disease, each of which restricts blood flow to the extremities. A patient is also at risk if he or she has limited mobility, cannot control his/her bowels and bladder, and has poor dehydration and nutrition. If your loved one has these conditions, you should be aware of this risk and keep an eye out for breakdown of the skin. That said, if the nursing home considers these risks and takes adequate precautions, sores should be avoidable.
Malnutrition is a common problem with nursing home patients. Not only is malnutrition itself a serious medical condition, but it decrease the body’s ability to fight off other problems, such as bed sores. Sometimes, nursing home patients who have difficulty feeding themselves do not receive adequate assistance with their meals. Often, meals are even left out of reach of patients, and are later taken away uneaten. MAKE SURE MEALS ARE WITHIN REACH OF YOUR LOVED ONE, AND THAT ASSISTANCE IS GIVEN WHERE NEEDED. IF NECESSARY, ASK HAVING MEALS PUREED.
As with malnutrition, Dehydration is a serious and common problem that also depletes the body’s ability to fight off other conditions. In fact, dehydration and malnutrition often go together, and often lead to bed sores and other problems. Keep a look out of dehydration by paying attention to hair, skin, lips, fingernails and toe nails, all areas that may show dryness in a dehydrated patient. Water should be within reach, and a patient should get assistance where necessary.
We work with nursing home abuse and neglect cases. Learn more.