A recent article in the Naples (FL) Daily News recounts the sad story of York Spratling, an 84-year-old veteran and resident of a nursing home operated by Consulate Health Care of Jacksonville.
According to the story, Mr. Spratling passed away in February 2017 after being taken to a local hospital where he underwent emergency surgery for gangrene on his genitals.
The cause? Mr. Spratling’s family charges that he wasn’t bathed or even helped to go to the bathroom for days. Instead, he was left to lie in bed in a pool of his own urine. Nursing home staffers admit to smelling the stench from his room, yet doing nothing. The ER doctor said he had never seen anything like it before.
Signs of Neglect
While Mr. Spratling’s story may sound extreme, negligence is an all-too-common issue in nursing homes throughout this country. In a recent survey of 2,000 nursing facility residents, 95% reported some form of negligence over the past year.
While incidents of nursing home neglect vary widely, negligence typically falls into four distinct categories:
- Basic needs neglect, in which the nursing home fails to provide food, water, or a clean and safe environment leading to malnutrition, dehydration, and other issues;
- Medical neglect, in which the nursing facility fails to treat or prevent medical issues ranging from bedsores and infections to medication errors and cognitive disorders;
- Personal hygiene neglect, where the nursing home fails to provide adequate assistance with basic hygiene practices such as bathing or going to the bathroom, resulting in unpleasant smells, unclean living spaces, uncontrolled pest problems, and development of physical or emotional issues;
- Social neglect, where residents are ignored, left alone, or verbally attacked by nursing home staff, resulting in anxiety, depression, fear, and anger.
What to Do If You Suspect Negligence
While certain signs of neglect – such as bedsores, dehydration, or malnutrition – are easy to spot, nursing home neglect is often difficult to pinpoint because the warning signs can be subtle.
Nursing home residents may also be reluctant to report negligence because they don’t know how to file a report or fear punishment. And because nursing home residents are often medically fragile to begin with, it can even be difficult for family members who visit regularly to identify negligence.
When visiting nursing home residents, family and friends should always be on the lookout for any of the signs of neglect noted above. They should also observe what’s going on in the nursing facility itself:
- Is the entire building – not just the common areas – clean?
- Is the medical equipment in good shape and up-to-date?
- Is the staff friendly?
- Do they respond quickly to calls for assistance?
- Does there seem to be enough staff to handle the number of residents and their specific needs?
- Is the staff sufficiently trained to meet the needs of residents?
- Are regular activities available for the residents (and are they encouraged to participate)?
- Do the residents have an opportunity to interact on a regular basis with each other?
- Are medications and meals delivered on a regular schedule?
If you suspect a loved one may be a victim of nursing home negligence, please contact the attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today. All consultations are free and, if we represent you or your loved one, you pay nothing unless we win. Call 800-794-0444 today.