Most nursing homes are staffed by compassionate employees who make every effort to provide their residents with high-quality care. Nonetheless, mistreatment and neglect are rampant issues in thousands of homes across America, with the National Center on Elder Abuse estimating that as many as one in 10 seniors have been abused. In 2012, non-profit journalism organization ProPublica investigated data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to uncover the top 10 most common violations that take place in American nursing homes. If your elderly parent or grandparent suffered an injury due to one of these violations, it may be possible for your family to recover compensation for nursing home abuse.
#1: Nursing Home Accident Hazards Cause Slip and Fall Injuries
According to ProPublica and the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, hazardous physical conditions were the number one most common violation in nursing homes throughout the country. Accident hazards accounted for 17,331 out of 265,000 recorded violations, or about 6.5%. Some common examples of hazards one might (but shouldn’t) find in nursing homes include:
- Broken support rails and banisters
- Leaks that go unrepaired
- Cracked or uneven flooring
- Loose wires or carpeting
- Insufficient lighting
- Clutter blocking hallways and foot traffic
Even an active, healthy young adult can easily have a slip and fall accident due to these types of hazards. For seniors – many of whom entered care because of repeat falls – the risk of a nursing home fall is elevated. According to CDC data, millions of adults age 65 and older suffer falls every year.
Not only are seniors at heightened risk of falling – they’re also at heightened risk of being seriously injured when an accident does occur. The CDC reports that, among older adults, falls are annually responsible for:
- More than 2.5 million emergency department visits
- More than 95% of hip fractures
- More cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI) than any other type of accident
#2: Mismanaged Infections Cause Amputation, Wrongful Death
After hazardous conditions, mismanagement of infections was the number two most common nursing home violation. ProPublica found that 14,186 facilities failed to establish an adequate infection control program, accounting for about 5.4% of all reported violations.
No matter how robust your health may be, infection is a serious medical issue which often requires an aggressive regimen of antibiotics. When the victim of an infection is an elderly adult, whose immune system is likely already compromised by conditions such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, diabetes, or osteoporosis, an infection can become fatal in a matter of days without proper management.
Other than increasing the risk of wrongful death, poorly managed infections can lead to amputations which would not have been necessary with prompt and proper treatment. This often occurs with the mismanagement of diabetes, which is extremely common in elderly individuals. According to the American Diabetes Association, just over a quarter of U.S. adults over age 64 – nearly 12 million people – are living with diabetes.
#3: Unsanitary Food Conditions Cause Malnutrition
ProPublica found 11,746 violations involving failures to store, prepare, and/or distribute food under sanitary conditions, accounting for approximately 4.4% of all violations. While substandard food safety might not result in visible injuries like a broken hip or a foot amputation, it can still lead to malnutrition, effects of which are just as debilitating. When a person is malnourished in a nursing home, he or she becomes more susceptible to a host of health problems, including:
- Blindness (Vitamin A deficiency)
- Chronic fatigue
- Decreased mobility
- Impaired immune response
- Low body weight
- Muscle wasting
- Scurvy (Vitamin C deficiency)
- Slow recovery from illnesses and wounds, such as bedsores
Other Common Nursing Home Violations on ProPublica’s list included:
- Failure to provide the necessary care for residents’ greatest wellbeing – 13,401 violations
- Failure to develop an adequate care plan for residents – 9,070 violations
- Providing inadequate services – 8,986 violations
- Keeping sloppy or incomplete clinical records – 7,962 violations
- Hiring staff members who have histories of committing abuse – 7,288 violations
- Allowing residents to receive unnecessary medication – 7,040 violations
- Failure to treat residents with dignity – 6,605 violations
Suspect Nursing Home Abuse? Contact a Philadelphia Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer at The Wieand Law Firm
If you suspect that your parent or grandparent was the victim of elder abuse or financial exploitation by nursing home employees, you deserve a comprehensive investigation into the misconduct. Your mother or father could be entitled to compensation for his or her injuries, pain, suffering, and financial losses. Call Philadelphia nursing home abuse attorney Brent Wieand at (800) 481-5206 today to speak confidentially about your family’s legal options in a free consultation. You won’t be charged any fees unless Brent makes a recovery for your loved one.
***Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes. It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice. Brent serves clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.***