The elderly population in America is growing larger than ever before. According to the 2010 Census, the elderly in America comprise 13% of the total population with the number estimated at 40.3 million. With the “Boomer Generation” arriving at the age of 65 and older, this increase will continue.
Unfortunately, with this trend also comes an increase in the number of elderly suffering abuse and neglect in nursing homes. Elder mistreatment is defined as,
“Intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm (whether or not harm is intended) to a vulnerable elder by a caregiver or other person who stands in a trust relationship to the elder. This includes failure by a caregiver to satisfy the elder’s basic needs or to protect the elder from harm.”
Many factors make it difficult to know the actual number of elderly who suffer at the hands of caretakers. Many of these cases are never reported. One study showed that the approximate number of those abused is 1 in 10, and this does not include financial abuse. In a study of 2,000 interviews of nursing home residents, 44% said they had been abused and 95% said they had been neglected or seen another resident neglected. (Broyles, 2000).
Often violations are not reported because of lack of training. Workers simply are not aware of what to look for when an elderly person becomes abused or neglected. Elderly people cared for in these facilities are afraid to report incidences for fear of retaliation from workers. Sadly, victims lack the physical or cognitive ability to report violations themselves.
NBC recently investigated Illinois public records to find that Medication errors are leading to hospitalizations for dangerously low blood sugar, visual hallucinations and labored breathing. The Illinois Department of Public Health documented 384 nursing home medication errors since 2011. Two of these errors lead to deaths, and one led to an amputation when an infection got out of control.
Errors are going to happen, according to IDPH, but none of them should be because of negligence.
Tanya Karney-Brown’s brother Joseph lost his life at a care facility she had moved him to in Roseland in 2005. She checked it out responsibly and felt it would be the “perfect place”. Two years later her brother was diagnosed with gastrointestinal cancer, was put on medication, and was doing very well.
Months later, though, things changed. His family discovered that the nursing home had not given Joseph his medication for nearly a year. They had also failed to get him to his oncologist for appointments. By this time it was too late. The cancer had spread and he lost his life.
By the time the error was noticed, Joseph’s cancer had spread. Joseph passed away in early 2010.
Joseph’s family filed a lawsuit and reached a settlement with the nursing home.
Since then The Renaissance Park South had partnered with a national pharmaceutical provider who ensures the proper distribution of medications to each resident. The nursing home facility also performs regular audits to make sure meds are dispensed properly and in a timely manner
Illinois currently has a 9% facility citation rate for medication errors, which fares better than the national average, though the goal is 5%.
Hasbrouck said Illinois currently has a. He said that compares “favorably” to the national average. However, Hasbrouck said the state’s goal is a 5% citation rate. Facilities are monitored on training standards, operating procedures and systems for protection and can be fined or shut down for documented medication errors.
According to a representative of The Illinois Health Care Association, the long term care sector is doing a lot right now to combat this crisis in elderly care facilities. John Vrb states that one medication error is too many.
Obstacles that get in the way of necessary improvements are things like lack of funding, and lack of proper training for nurses.
The great state of Illinois, along with us here at Passen Law, urge you to thoroughly investigate elderly care facilities before placing a loved one in their care. Click here to access reports of the latest facilities that the Illinois Department of Public Health has taken action against for various violations of the Nursing Home Care Act. Another helpful link for tips on how to select a good care facility is here.
When you do decide to place your loved one in care, visit them often. Unfortunately, the consequences of abuse or neglect take a huge toll on elderly victims. Those who experience abuse…
- Have a 300% higher risk of death when compared to those who had not been abused.
- Have significantly higher levels of psychological distress and lower perceived self-efficacy than older adults who have not been victimized.9
- Have additional health care problems than other older adults, including increased bone or joint problems, digestive problems, depression or anxiety, chronic pain, high blood pressure, and heart problems.
If you or a loved has experienced physical abuse, injury or even death while in the care of a facility, call on experienced attorneys at Passen & Powell for a free consultation. You may be entitled to compensation for your losses.