A woman has chosen to file a lawsuit on behalf of her deceased sister, alleging that her sister was neglected while living in a nursing home, and that neglect ultimately lead to her death.
The suit was filed after the 68-year-old nursing home resident died of pneumonia. The complaint alleges that even though the resident had been living at the nursing home for over 14 years, the level of care had recently deteriorated when it was announced the facility would be closing. The biggest issues began, her sister claims, when the facility began to make staffing cuts.
“Once staff started to cut back, they couldn’t keep an eye on everybody.” She stated.
She reports that prior to her sister’s death, another resident beat her sister with a metal chair. Her injuries included a broken nose, eye sockets, and serious internal bleeding. At the time, the nursing home assured her that it was an isolated incident and her sister would be well cared for. A few months later, she was approached by a nurse who confided in her that she had been instructed to feed the resident lying down, despite the fact that there was a chance she could choke.
That’s exactly what happened – during feeding, her sister choked and aspirated some of the food into her lungs, leading to the development of pneumonia, and eventually, her death.
Her sister wants the nursing home to be held accountable for the decisions she believes ultimately ended her sister’s life. Unfortunately, she isn’t alone. Throughout the country, patients are neglected and abused on a regular basis.
Common Forms Of Neglect & Abuse In Nursing Homes
Time and time again, patients in nursing homes and their loved ones report several types of neglect or abuse. These include:
Bed Sores & Ulcers
A bed sore, which is also called a pressure sore, occurs when a part of the skin is exposed to long term pressure. It can happen anywhere on the body, but occurs most often on bony parts, such as the tailbone and hips. In nursing homes, bed sores typically occur when a patient is left in the same position for long periods of time.
There are four stages of bed sores depending on the severity of the ulcer.
This is considered the beginning stage of a bed sore. Stage one symptoms include:
- unbroken skin
- red skin which doesn’t blanch or lighten when touched
- tender and sometimes swollen painful skin
If the bed sore continues to get worse, physicians will find:
- broken skin – especially the outer layers
- a shallow wound
- if the skin hasn’t completely broken open yet, the ulcer may appear blister like
In stage III:
- the wound is deep enough to expose fat and looks like a deep crater
- dead tissue may be visible
Stage IV is the most severe stage:
- fat, tissues, muscles, and bone may be visible through the ulcer
- dead tissue is most likely visible
- infection and damage extends beyond the visible wound
These sores are very difficult to treat and very painful for the patient.
Infection & Sepsis
Nursing home residents frequently suffer from:
- Bacterial Pneumonia
- GI Infections
- Skin Infections
Any time that an infection isn’t treated quickly there is an increased risk of developing sepsis, which can lead to multi-organ failure.
Patients have an increased risk of choking when they are given inappropriate foods, if the food isn’t cut into small enough pieces, or if a medical condition prevents them from chewing their food before they swallow.
Slip & Fall Accidents
Weakened and often disoriented, nursing home residents should never be left to wander on their own. A slip and fall could result in a brain injury, broken hip, or another serious injury.
Anywhere from 35 – 85% of a nursing home’s residents are malnourished and dehydrated. Signs that your loved one may be malnourished include:
- weight loss
- thinning hair
- a lack of appetite
Malnutrition typically occurs in facilities that are understaffed and lack in mealtime supervision.
Cuts & Bruises
If your loved one has cuts and bruises that they can’t or won’t explain, it may be possible that they are being neglected or abused.
What To Do If You Suspect Neglect Or Abuse
If you suspect that someone you love has become the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect you should take the following steps to protect them:
- Talk with your loved one to see if they can provide you with any information.
- Speak with those who are in charge of the nursing home to see if there is a simple solution.
- If no improvements are made, file a formal complaint with the New York State Ombudsman.
- Contact a nursing home abuse lawyer.