When a loved one is injured in a nursing home, one of the first issues to determine is who is responsible. If a person places their spouse or family member in a nursing facility, they are entrusting that facility with providing quality care, and they have the right to find out who is legally responsible for an injury caused by abuse or neglect at the nursing home.
At Parker & Parker, our skilled Peoria nursing home injury attorneys will evaluate who is responsible for your loved one’s harm. A lawsuit must be filed against the nursing home’s owner or operator. Illinois laws are designed specifically to make the facility owner or operator liable for any action or inaction that injures a resident – even when the hands-on caregivers are to blame. We need to figure out everyone involved in a resident’s care and who employs them. Nursing homes frequently have different layers of corporate names and ownership, like an onion, which are designed to protect them from cases and limit liability. With a track record of success, including record settlements or verdicts in a number of Illinois counties including Knox, Tazewell, and Putnam, we will put our experience to work in making sure the right people are actually held responsible.
Nursing Home Staff Responsibility
We know nursing home staff are not automatically “good” or “bad” and many times are overworked, underpaid, and stressed. Sometimes they are trying to care for up to 30 or 40 residents at a single time. Sometimes staff are sympathetic and helpful to families when good care isn’t being provided by other staff.
Even though these are difficult situations, mistakes are still being made. The staff at the nursing home can be at fault for something as simple but vital as not turning or repositioning a resident enough times in a day. Undoubtedly a clear case is when the patient has been physically abused, but far more often treatment does not rise to the level of abuse, and the evidence is based on neglect, such as mistakes in dispensing medication.
Inattentive care is the chief cause of nursing home injuries. Failure to monitor or adequately care for a nursing home resident routinely results in fall injuries and bed sores. Sixty percent of Illinois nursing homes have been cited by inspectors for failing to properly treat bedsores – more than all but three states. Ultimately, the fault might lie with a floor supervisor or administrator in charge of adequate staffing during shifts. Deficiencies in management or training can be a more widespread problem going beyond one CNA, on one particular day – or one injured resident.
Nursing Home Ownership or Management Responsibility
For nursing home injuries, the buck stops with ownership or management when it comes to responsibility. Nursing homes are often for-profit organizations that notoriously cut corners to reduce costs. This cost-cutting can result in resident injuries in several different ways:
- Understaffing – Staffing of Illinois nursing homes is among the lowest in the country. This means fewer people responding to emergencies, turning residents to prevent bedsores, lifting immobile residents, and accompanying them to the restroom. Sometimes nursing homes over-medicate with psychotropics to sedate residents instead of properly caring for them. Understaffing is such a major problem that Illinois continues to legislate new laws with bigger penalties, including making nursing homes advertise their violations on websites, public entries, and lobbies.
- Negligent Hiring – The facility may fail to hire competent staff or properly screen new hires, increasing the chances of abuse or neglect.
- Inadequate Training – The nursing home may also fail to train their staff adequately. For example, staff members may not receive training about how to prevent scalding accidents that may occur during bathing.
- Favoring Rehab Patients – Patients who need short-term stays for rehabilitation after injuries and surgeries are more desirable to nursing homes because Medicare pays almost twice as much for their care. The problem is nursing homes are not up to the challenge of the intensive additional care they need. Rehab patients often find themselves readmitted to the hospital with more dangerous medical problems than when they left.
In 2017 there were 745 facilities in Illinois licensed as nursing homes by the Illinois Department of Public Health, and during that year 619 violations were issued by the Department. Complaints of violations just in the Peoria region totaled 748. Yet most investigations do not result in fines or significant penalties. There is quite simply no way that the State of Illinois can detect and solve all of the problems that happen in nursing homes.
You need to know that this is the very reason that the Nursing Home Care Act laws exist. They were created so that residents can seek recovery for themselves – acting as their own “private attorney generals.” Residents and their families have been given the tools of protection from violations, but it is still up to them to use them.
Winning a case against a nursing home for improper care can lead to more than compensation for the resident and their family. It may lead to changes by the facility in staffing, procedures, or patient care. These changes have been reported as a result of cases we’ve handled, such as by the Register-Mail newspaper in Galesburg; the Director of Nursing said that “everything” changed “for the better” in the facility’s healthcare, including a doubling of staff, new procedures, and a new facility.
Contact Parker & Parker for Your Nursing Home Injury Needs
If your spouse, family member, or other loved one has been injured at their nursing home, contact Parker & Parker to discuss a potential legal claim for abuse or neglect. Contact us today at 309-673-0069 or complete our online intake form to schedule an attorney consultation.