Types of Nursing Home Injuries

 

Bedsores

Bedsores, or pressure ulcers, are lesions that impact the integrity of the skin. This is a medical issue commonly caused by skin breakdown due to a lack of proper care. Bedsores can be caused by many care-related factors. Some of these are unrelieved pressure, friction, shearing forces, temperature, age, incontinence and improper nourishment, hydration and/or medication. Just a few hours sitting in a wheelchair without proper padding can cause a pressure ulcer. Although easily prevented and completely treatable if found early, bedsores are a serious medical condition. They are very painful, and can be fatal to an older person, even if the patient is under medical care.

 

Diabetes Care

Diabetes is a disease that happens when the pancreas has stopped making insulin, which affects the person’s blood sugar level. There are different types of diabetes and each needs to be cared for differently, Type I diabetics need daily insulin shots, and Type II diabetics take pill form medication. Pre-diabetics do not use medication to control the condition, but must monitor their diet. In order to maintain good health, each of these types of diabetics need to eat a special diet that does not include any amount or type of sugar. The elderly diabetic normally depends on the family or licensed care taker to monitor and control their diabetic condition.

 

Fall injury

Falls and accidents are a serious concern for almost all care facility residents.  Approximately 50 percent of residents fall annually and 10 percent of these falls result in serious injury, particularly hip fractures. One study estimates that 75% of all nursing home residents will suffer from a fall, which is twice the rate of falls for the same population living at home.

 

Feeding Tube errors

A feeding tube is a medical device used to provide nutrition to patients who cannot obtain adequate nutrition by swallowing.  Placement of a feeding tube may be temporary for the treatment of acute conditions or lifelong in the case of chronic disabilities.

 

Improper restraints

There are times that restraints need to be used for some people, like during a seizure or when a patient is mentally confused and could be hurt. Additionally, there are times in the nursing home that a patient may need to be restrained when acting out that could harm themselves or others and the use of restraints might be necessary. However, there are times when the use of restraints is abused and the person is injured.

 

Inadequate Staffing

A large number of nursing home abuse and neglect cases can be attributed to a single problem: inadequate nursing home staffing.  It is the number one complaint of residents and families alike, and plagues nursing home throughout California. According to Charlene Harrington, Ph.D. of UCSF, a professor of nursing and sociology, and widely considered an expert on nursing home staffing, the nursing home staffing picture in California isn’t pretty.  She has said that there are over 12 million staffing deficiencies in U.S. nursing homes annually, and that approximately one-quarter to one-third of all nursing homes provide substandard care because of problems related to staffing.

 

Infections

Infection in nursing home and care facility residents is, unfortunately, an all-too common occurrence.  In many cases, infection is preventable, and, even when an infection is unavoidable, the infection can remain in-check and the resident can recover quickly with proper medical treatment. However, if the nursing home is not properly caring for the residents, infections can spiral out of control.

 

Lack of Proper Care

Residents of elder care facilities are, for the most part, dependent on others for their basic necessities such as food, shelter, and medical treatment. Not having all or some of those basic needs met can be harmful or dangerous to a resident.  Therefore, failure to provide services, such as food, treatment, clothing, shelter, supervision, or medical services, which are necessary or essential to the health and well-being of a resident, constitutes lack of proper care for that individual, which is considered to be a form of elder abuse.

 

Malnutrition and Dehydration

Nursing homes, elder facilities and other types of resident and skilled care facilities must provide each resident with a nourishing, palatable and well-balanced diet that meets daily nutritional and special dietary needs. Dehydration or malnutrition can be a particular problem with the memory-impaired, such as those suffering from Alzheimer's disease or dementia.  


Medical Errors

Most nursing home and elder care facility residents depend on medicine to treat illness and maintain their health. In order to ensure that medications are available and used safely, California law requires nursing homes, care facilities and physicians to properly order, record, store, administer, and monitor medications for each patient or resident. Despite the detailed standards, medication errors, such as unnecessary medication and over-medication, are common.

 

Wandering

In residents with dementia, wandering is a common behavior that causes great risk to the resident. Although it occurs with several types of dementia, wandering is especially problematic in persons with Alzheimer's disease. This is because Alzheimer's disease frequently produces impaired memory, and persons with impaired memory are likely to become disoriented and lost simply because they do not recognize where they are or do not remember how they came to be there.

 

Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse is a form of improper behavior involving the use of language, occurring with or without the use of expletives. Oral communication is the most common form of verbal abuse. However, it can include abusive words in written form. Examples of verbal abuse include:

  • Words/phrases/actions in order to reject a resident or make the resident feel unimportant.
  • Making unkind comments or saying unkind words about a resident's clothes, appearance, race, religion, or ethnicity.

When a resident or patient of a nursing home, residential care facility for the elderly or skilled nursing facility is subjected to verbal abuse, their behavior and demeanor can change. Possible indications that a resident or patient has been subjected to verbal abuse include:

•        Agitation
•        Anger
•        Defensiveness
•        Denial
•        Non-responsiveness
•        Hesitation to talk openly
•        Anxiety
•        Implausible stories
•        Confusion or disorientation
•        Fear
•        Withdrawal
•        Depression
•        Helplessness

Residents of care facilities have a right to be free from verbal abuse. It is a matter of basic human dignity that residents of care facilities are spoken to with respect by medical professionals and staff members of nursing home and other types of care facilities. When this basic human right is violated, there may be legal recourse a resident in a care facility can take against the facility.