Each year, the elder population grows. As family members struggle to keep up with the demands placed on them by the special needs of seniors, nursing homes and assisted living facilities become the only option. But just because our most vulnerable family members are residents of long-term care facilities, does not mean that they are necessarily safe. Just like the senior population, the number of nursing home neglect cases is also growing. Most often, this is a result of nursing homes not keeping up with demand, i.e., not being able to hire and train staff in the appropriate care of senior citizens. With less trained staff having to attend to more residents, the likelihood of neglect is unavoidable. Nursing home neglect comes in many shapes and forms, and can result in all types of physical injuries, including bruises, cuts, abrasions, and black eyes.
Falls at Nursing Homes Often Result in Bruises, Cuts, Abrasions, and Black Eyes
Bruises, cuts, abrasions, black eyes, and broken bones often occur when a nursing home resident falls. A large number of the nursing home cases that we handle at Schenk Smith involve falls that result in such injuries. The senior population are more likely to be injured in falls than the younger population. Many nursing home residents, and indeed many seniors, suffer from mobility problems, coordination issues, and in some instances, a lack of capacity. These attributes create a ‘perfect storm’ for slips and falls. That said, falls are not simply a result of the nursing home resident attempting to walk without assistance. Other falls, including those within the presence of staff, are quite common. Falling wall transitioning to and from bed, toilet, or bath, occur frequently. Due to body frailty, seniors are more likely be harmed as a result of falls. Thus, falls should be at the top of all nursing home safety concerns.
Nursing Homes May be Liable for Injuries Sustained in Falls
Long-term care facilities, like nursing homes and assisted living facilities, may be held liable for the injuries sustained by residents in falls. These facilities are required by law to take appropriate steps to minimize the risk of falls. This begins with an assessment of each resident’s specific risk. Then, based on the assessment, certain precautions will need to be put in place. For example, the implementation of rounding procedures on an hourly basis. When a nursing home fails to take these steps, they can be held responsible for the damages caused.
Nursing home staff sometimes fails to properly assess an injury after a fall. This can make matters much, much worse. For example, even though bruises, cuts, abrasions, and black eyes are observed by the staff, they may fail to check for more serious, internal injuries. In one of our recent cases, a resident was observed with a bloody knee and a black eye. She was also observed as acting lethargic. The staff decided to provide aspiring and nothing else. What they failed to realize was that her diminished capacity was a symptom of a head trauma from the fall. Unfortunately, the situation got worse and she passed away two days later from a subdural hematoma. In short, when a nursing home does not assess the extent of an injury, even though the signs are there, they can be held liable for the resulting complications.
Intentional Conduct by Nursing Home Staff May Cause Physical Injuries
Bruises, cuts, abrasions, black eyes, and broken bones can also be a result of intentional, wrongful, and abusive conduct. Nursing home staff that must oversee more and more residents with fewer resources have a tendency to provide poor treatment. In order to get residents quickly changed, cleaned, fed, or moved, staff may have a tendency to get inappropriately physical. This sometimes includes improper restraints. Still, in other scenarios, particularly if residents are non-cooperative or lack the mental capacity to make the provider’s job easier, staff may punch residents. Whether done out of frustration or to deter uncooperative behavior, there is absolutely no excuse for this conduct. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities, as well as the guilty staff, may be held responsible for injuries resulting from physical abuse and neglect.