According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1.5 million Americans currently reside in a nursing home. While nursing homes, assisted living centers, and other long-term care facilities provide millions of elderly Americans with the care they need, they can also cause elderly people serious harm. In fact, thousands of cases arise every year because nursing home residents are harmed while under the care of a facility that’s supposed to protect them. Here are some of the more common reasons why nursing home abuse and neglect cases arise.
Nursing Home Slip and Fall Accidents
Elderly people are much more prone to suffering significant injuries if they slip and fall. Experts say that more than half of all nursing home residents suffer some kind of fall every year, and 11% of those falls result in significant injuries. Further, deaths that result from fall related injuries occur more than four times as frequently in nursing home residents than they do in the general public.
When the nursing home fails to protect residents by providing a safe environment, residents injured after a fall can often sue the nursing home for damages. Many of these cases involve negligence claims, but others are more serious and involve medical or healthcare malpractice.
Nursing Home Burns
In some cases, nursing home residents are unable to determine when they are hurt as a result of a burn or scald injury. For example, residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease suffer burns because they are placed in a bath that is too hot, and don’t know they’re being burned. In other situations, residents who smoke can burn themselves because they are confused, have lost hand dexterity, or are exposed to fire hazards. Also, many elderly nursing home residents regularly use oxygen. When those residents smoke, or come into contact with those who do, the risk of suffering burns increases.
Nursing homes have a duty to provide residents with a healthy diet, and to ensure that residents get enough to eat and drink. Yet when nursing home residents are unable to express hunger or thirst, or prevented from receiving proper nutrition, malnourishment and dehydration can result. In many situations where nursing home staff are negligent and unable to recognize when an elderly resident is going without proper nutrition, the resident can suffer serious medical complications, and can even die.
Also called pressure sores or pressure ulcers, bedsores are one of the most common injuries elderly residents of nursing homes suffer. These wounds develop over a sustained time, and though not all pressure sores are due to negligence or lead to litigation, they are often a sign that nursing home staff have neglected the elderly resident.