There are several different causes of nursing home deaths, outside of natural causes or illness. They include:
- Falls: Over 800,000 people above the age of 65 are hospitalized each year because of falls. Often, these accidents result in hip fractures and other broken bones, from which many patients are unable to recover. In fact, studies show that one in three adults over the age of 50 dies within 12 months after experiencing a hip fracture. Many falls are preventable if patients are monitored more carefully and checked on regularly.
- Infections: Nursing home residents, particularly those with catheters, are at a heightened risk for urinary tract infections. These infections can be dangerous because of changes in organ function and limited mobility. An untreated UTI can spread to the kidneys, causing kidney damage and disease. While uncommon, the infection can also spread to the bloodstream, leading to septic shock and possibly death. Infection can also be caused by bedsores that are undetected for long periods of time. Both types of infection can be prevented with proper monitoring and care from nursing home staff.
- Medication errors: Nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to medication errors. Studies show that these errors are common and involve between 16-27% or all residents. In some cases, these errors can cause significant harm to patients who rely on the nursing home staff for proper medication. These injuries are often preventable with proper policies, procedures, and training.
Lack of supervision and neglect: Nursing homes are often understaffed, which can result in a lack of supervision or even elder neglect. While it is often unintended and the staff wants to provide proper care, understaffing can make it impossible to check on patients as often as they need. This can increase the likelihood of bedsores, injuries from heat stress or hypothermia, and injuries due to falls.
- Types of Abuse That Can Occur in Nursing Homes
There are many kinds of abuse that elderly nursing home residents can experience. They include:
- Physical: This occurs when someone causes the resident physical harm, such as slapping, hitting, or pushing.
- Emotional abuse: This type of abuse is also referred to as psychological abuse and can include yelling, threatening, saying words to intentionally inflict emotional pain, repeatedly ignoring, or preventing the elderly resident from seeing friends or family members.
- Neglect: This type of abuse occurs when the caregiver is not adequately providing for the elderly resident’s needs.
- Abandonment: This occurs when the elderly person is left alone and can happen due to understaffing. This means that they are left on their own for lengthy periods of time without help.
- Sexual abuse: This occurs when an elderly person is forced to watch or participate in sexual acts.
- Financial abuse: Financial abuse occurs when the elderly person’s money or physical belongings are stolen.
Warning Signs of Neglect in Nursing Homes
Unlike nursing home abuse, which usually has easy-to-recognize physical signs, nursing home neglect can be difficult to detect. There may not even be physical evidence, depending on the type of neglect that is happening. In these cases, behavioral changes are often the clearest indicator of problems.
Some signs of neglect in a nursing home may include, but are not limited to:
- Bedsores and frequent infections caused by malnutrition.
- Falls, which can cause numerous kinds of injuries.
- Sudden and unexplained weight loss, particularly in patients who are unable to feed themselves.
- Pressure injuries and bedsores that are caused by caregivers not moving or turning the patient often enough.
- Withdrawal from friends and lack of interest in activities they usually enjoy.
- Abnormal changes in behavior.
- Unusual and unexplained changes in appearance or hygiene.
- Hazardous living conditions, such as unsafe wheelchairs and walkers, slippery floors, and bad lighting.
While women are more likely to be the targets of abuse than men, either gender can be vulnerable to neglect and abuse in nursing homes. Nursing home residents who are particularly vulnerable include those who have dementia, disabilities, memory problems, or those with no family or friends who live nearby who can monitor them.
Talk to a Nursing Home Attorney Today
If your loved one is injured because of neglect or abuse in their nursing home, they may be entitled to compensation. The team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm is here to help. We can evaluate your case for free and help you explore your options for recovering compensation. We do not take upfront fees or require you to come out of pocket for anything. We work on a contingency basis, and only take a fee if you reach a settlement in your case. To learn more about the causes of nursing home deaths and injuries, contact us today at (800) 842-6336.