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Common Injuries in Nursing Homes

by | Jun 1, 2020 | Firm News

Illinois has approximately 1,200 long-term care facilities that serve more than 100,000 residents.  Illinois Department of Public Health, Nursing Homes (https://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/health-care-regulation/nursing-homes).  Nursing homes are licensed, regulated, inspected, and certified by Illinois Department of Public Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Care Financing Administration.  Id.

The Illinois Department on Aging (“IDOA”) identifies eight categories of abuse that can occur to elderly residents of nursing homes:

  • Physical Abuse – causing the infliction of physical pain or injury to a person.

  • Sexual abuse – touching, fondling, or any other sexual activity with a person when the person is unable to understand, unwilling to consent, threatened, or physically forced.

  • Emotional abuse – verbal assaults, threats of abuse, harassment, or intimidation so as to compel the person to engage in conduct from which she or he has a right to abstain or to refrain from conduct in which the person has a right to engage.

  • Confinement – restraining or isolating a person for other than medical reasons.

  • Passive neglect – the failure by a caregiver to provide a person with the necessities of life including, but not limited to, food, clothing, shelter, or medical care, because of failure to understand the person’s needs, lack of awareness of services to help meet needs, or lack of capacity to care for the person.

  • Willful deprivation – willfully denying assistance to a person who requires medication, medical care, shelter, food, a therapeutic device, or other physical assistance, thereby exposing that person to the risk of harm.

  • Financial exploitation – the misuse or withholding of a person’s resources to the disadvantage of the person or the profit or advantage of another person.

See Illinois Department of Aging, What is Abuse, Neglect, or Financial Exploitation (2020).

In 2017, 52 percent of adult elder abuse reports to the IDOA alleged financial exploitation, 40 percent alleged active or passive neglect and emotional abuse, and 23 percent alleged physical abuse.  Id.

I.        Common Injuries at Nursing Homes

Common injuries at nursing homes include:

  • Malnutrition and dehydration

  • Bed sores and pressure ulcers

  • Sepsis

  • Infections, including COVID-19

  • Falls

  • Failure to provide adequate hygiene

  • Failure to provide adequate medications and medication errors

  • Failure to properly supervise residents

  • Clogged breathing tubes

  • Physical and chemical restraint injuries

  • Burns

  • Wandering and elopement

  • Verbal abuse

In some cases, abuse and neglect can also lead to death. Injury and death can occur from a combination or one or more factors, including: (1) understaffing, poor staff training and oversight, and high turnover among the staff, (2) outdated equipment and inadequate maintenance of equipment, and (3) the lack of an abuse prevention policy.

II.       Classifications of Violations of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act Leading to Death or Injury

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act categorizes violations of the Act that injure or kill residents into four types: AA, A, B, and C.  A type AA violation is one that “creates a condition or occurrence relating to the operation and maintenance of a facility that proximately caused a resident’s death.”  210 ILCS 45/1-128.5.  A type A violation is one that “creates a condition or occurrence relating to the operation and maintenance of a facility that (i) creates a substantial probability that the risk of death or serious mental or physical harm to a resident will result therefrom or (ii) has resulted in actual physical or mental harm to a resident.”  210 ILCS 45/1-129.  A type B violation is one that “creates a condition or occurrence relating to the operation and maintenance of a facility that is more likely than not to cause more than minimal physical or mental harm to a resident.”  210 ILCS 45/1-130.  Finally, a type C violation is one that “creates a condition or occurrence relating to the operation and maintenance of a facility that creates a substantial probability that less than minimal physical or mental harm to a resident will result therefrom.”  210 ILCS 45/1-132.

The Illinois Department of Public Health investigates complaints of death and injury to residents of nursing homes and publishes quarterly reports of nursing homes that violate the act.

III.       Conclusion

The abuse and neglect of seniors residing in nursing homes remains a serious problem in Illinois.  If you or someone you love has been a victim of abuse or neglect in a nursing home, please call Arlo.

Other Useful Resources

Illinois Department of Public Health – Nursing Home Page

Illinois Department on Aging

National Center on Elder Abuse

Nursing Home Abuse Center