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Common Causes of Nursing Home Abuse

Elderly and infirm nursing home residents can be expected to experience physical and mental decline as they age and their illnesses progress. But a nursing home resident’s health should not decline as a result of the care provided by the nursing home staff. When this happens, it is often due to abuse or neglect at the hands of nursing home staff.

Many nursing home residents die or become disabled because of traumatic injuries, such as those sustained in falls, and medical problems like dehydration, infections and bed sores. In many cases, these injuries would have been prevented if proper care had been provided.

Injured resident of a nursing home facility.

The nursing home abuse attorneys of Hardison & Cochran investigate unexplained injuries and illnesses among North Carolina nursing home residents. When nursing home residents have been harmed by neglect or abuse, we help families obtain compensation for their loved one’s medical needs and other losses.

Contact Hardison & Cochran today for a free discussion of your case and your legal options.

Injuries From Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Lack of proper care and supervision of a nursing home resident – including intentional lapses in care (neglect) or infliction of harm (abuse) – can lead to debilitating injury or death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says nursing home residents fall more than two and a half times a year on average. People in nursing homes and similar facilities are generally frailer than older adults living in private residences, and are more likely to have physical or mental problems that can cause them to have mobility problems.

Falls in nursing homes result in:

  • Broken Hips. Fractured hips typically require surgery and hospitalization followed by extensive rehabilitation. Surgery may include implantation of an artificial hip or partial hip. One out of five hip fracture patients dies within a year of their injury, according to the CDC.
  • Head Injuries. More than two-thirds (81 percent) of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in adults aged 65 and older are caused by falls, according to the CDC. TBIs are caused by any blow to the head, and can lead to concussion or more serious injury resulting in loss of cognitive ability (thought, memory, expression). Among deaths related to TBI, falls were the leading cause for persons 65 years old or older, the CDC says.

Nursing home residents known to have mobility or cognitive problems should be closely monitored and/or assisted, or provided assistive devices like canes, walkers or wheelchairs to move about the home for meals, toileting and activities.

Some nursing home companies operate with too few staff members and nurses aides to increase their profit margin. That can result in a lack of proper supervision of those who need to be monitored closely and lack of adequate care for residents. Patients who need help toileting may be forced to wait unreasonable amounts of time until they soil themselves. A lack of adequate staffing puts those workers who are on duty under extra stress and increases the burnout rate. Unfortunately, overstressed staff members may take out their frustration and anger on the vulnerable residents in their care, verbally or physically abusing them.

Some nursing homes resort to physically restraining residents considered likely to fall. It is allowable to use restraints on a resident for a documented medical need. It is illegal to use physical restraints (ties, belts, straps, vests, wheelchair bars or brakes, bed rails), or chemical restraints (sedatives, antipsychotics, anxiety reducers) for purposes of discipline or convenience, or for reasons unrelated to treatment of the resident’s medical symptoms.

Indications that restraints are being used on a nursing home resident include:

  • The resident’s complain that they are being restrained, over-medicated or “drugged.”
  • The presence of bed rails or other restraining devices in the resident’s room.
  • Bruising, rope burns or welts on wrists, arms, ankles, legs or across the chest.
  • Unexplained sleepiness, lack of focus, and grogginess.

Nursing homes should have established systems for monitoring and assisting residents who have cognitive or physical infirmities that prevent them from eating well, or moving often enough to avoid development of bedsores. Nursing homes should also have established policies for prescribing, distributing and administering medicines, and ensure that responsible staff members are properly trained to administer them.

Contact Our Nursing Home Injury Lawyers

If your loved one has suffered an unexpected or unexplained medical setback in a North Carolina nursing home, it may have been caused by abuse or neglect. Let Hardison & Cochran help. We can investigate the treatment your loved one has received and protect their rights if they are being abused or neglected. If they require medical care or have been subjected to unjust pain and suffering, we can seek compensation on their behalf.

Our nursing home abuse lawyers stand up for the rights of long-term care facility residents and their families across North Carolina. Contact us today for a free review of your case.

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