Nursing Home Negligence/Bedsores in New York & New Jersey
Making the decision to put a loved one in a nursing home is extremely difficult. Many families chose to do so with the expectation that caregivers and the facility will treat their loved ones as they would be treated at home. Most professionals who work with the elderly care about their patients and approach them with love and respect.
Unfortunately, not all nursing home employees hold themselves to this standard. If you have a family member who has suffered neglect or abuse in a New York or New Jersey eldercare facility or nursing home, their injuries and suffering could entitle them to collect damages.
You can take steps to prevent your family member from neglect and abuse by taking the time to research potential nursing homes instead of placing them in the first facility you come across. The New York State Department of Health has a dedicated website to assist you with this process. Sadly, even after conducting extensive research and careful selection, your loved one could still be a victim of nursing home neglect or abuse. If that happens, you are able to pursue compensation for their pain by holding the at-fault parties liable.
To seek financial compensation on behalf of your family member and help them recover from their physical and emotional injuries, you should meet with a New York or New Jersey nursing home attorney at Metro Law who can determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit.
What is Nursing Home Abuse?
When a nursing home or care facility mistreats its disabled or aging residents, it is considered abuse. This abuse can occur in multiple ways, such as:
Physical Abuse: Physical abuse is the deliberate use of force on assisted living facilities and nursing home residents that results in pain, disability, or injury. Examples of physical abuse include slapping, hitting, hair pulling, pushing, burning, or improper or undue restraint.
Emotional Abuse: Not all abuse is physical. Emotional abuse often occurs in nursing homes and is just as damaging. Emotional abuse is the intentional infliction of emotional or mental distress, usually through humiliation, intimidation, or threats.
Sexual Abuse: As heartbreaking as it is, many nursing home residents experience sexual abuse at the hands of their caretakers. Sexual abuse includes any form of non-consensual contact such as forced inappropriate touching by a caretaker.
Active Neglect: Abuse doesn’t always involve hurtful actions. It can also include a lack of action or total neglect. Active neglect takes place when a carer willfully fails to fulfill their duties and properly care for a resident. This can involve withholding water or food, denying medical care, or abandonment.
Passive Neglect: Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are required to regularly observe and monitor their residents and provide them with any necessary care. Passive neglect is an unintentional failure to execute caretaking obligations. This may include forgetting to administer medication to a resident or failing to clean and bathe a resident when it is needed.
Financial Exploitation: The elderly are a demographic that is frequently targeted for financial exploitation. Financial abuse includes forgery, stealing, the unlawful transfer of property, and falsifying records.
Primary Causes of Neglect
Nursing home abuse and neglect can be caused by any number of issues. A few of the most common problems seen in New York and New Jersey care facilities include:
- A facility that is understaffed
- Staff members who are not qualified to perform their assigned duties
- Substandard background checks on employees
- Poorly maintained medical equipment
- Insufficient cleaning and sanitation of the facility
How to Identify and Prevent Elder Abuse
Abuse and neglect committed by nursing home staff can be very difficult to recognize. Family members should always keep an eye out for warning signs that are common red flags of these behaviors frequently seen in New York and New Jersey nursing homes, such as:
- Untreated wounds, bedsores, bruises, welts, and cuts
- An unusually pale complexion
- Bruising patterns that indicate restraints have been used
- Sudden and extreme weight loss
- Broken personal items or ripped clothing
- Dirt, fleas, or lice in the resident’s room or on the resident themselves
- Inadequate personal hygiene, offensive odors, or other health issues indicate a lack of attention
Nursing Home Bedsores
In a New York or New Jersey nursing home or care facility, a bedsore is usually the first sign of physical neglect. Pressure ulcers, pressure sores, and bedsores generally develop when a resident with age or health-related mobility issues is subjected to substandard nursing care or total neglect.
Bedsores develop rapidly and grow at a dangerous pace. They can also be the source of an infection that causes death if they aren’t treated immediately and effectively.
Nurses and doctors often fail to notify the patient’s family in an attempt to avoid liability for their condition. The patient is then discharged or referred elsewhere to pass the blame on to another party.
Bedsores are never caused by anything your family member did. They are the fault of a negligent staff and care home facility. When a family makes the decision to put their aging loved one in a nursing home, they are trusting that the aides, nurses, doctors, and other healthcare providers at the facility will provide the highest standard of care.
When residents are instead neglected, treated poorly, or become victims of malpractice, the nursing home, and the abuser, need to be held liable to the full extent of the law. Contact Metro Law today if you believe that your loved one has been neglected or abused in a New York or New Jersey nursing home or care facility.
What Are Bedsores?
Bedsores can form when a patient is bedridden, unconscious, immobile, or unable to feel pain. A bedsore is a section of damaged tissue and skin that develops when continuous pressure is applied to a single area.
When nursing home residents are left sitting or lying in the same position for a period of time, such as in their wheelchair or bed, the lack of physical movement reduces their circulation and limits blood flow to parts of the body.
Bedsores can spread deep into the skin, extending into the bone and muscle. Once a bedsore develops, they are usually very slow to heal. Depending on the patient’s physical health, any other diseases that they have, such as diabetes, and the severity of the bedsore itself. These types of wounds can take weeks, months, or even years to fully recover. They may even require surgery to aid the healing process.
Where Do Bedsores Occur?
Bedsores most frequently develop on the patients:
- Soles of the feet
- Back of the head
- Shoulder blades
- Sides and backs of the knees
Risk Factors for Bedsores
Being unconscious, immobile, incapable of sensing pain, bedridden, or wheelchair-bound increases the chances of a bedsore developing. This risk is much higher if the patient is not positioned properly, turned regularly, and provided with adequate hygiene, skincare, and nutrition. Patients with circulation issues, diabetes, and malnutrition problems are at the greatest risk.
Diagnosis of Bedsores
Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers diagnose bedsores by examining the skin of at-risk patients. Bedsores are classified based on their appearance. Determining the severity of the wound must be handled by a medical professional. This process involves taking precise measurements of the circumference and the depth of the open wound.
Symptoms of Bedsores
Bedsores are broken down into four stages, from least critical to most critical. The four stages of bedsores are:
- Stage 1: The area is visibly red and warm to the touch. With darker skin tones, the site might have a purple or bluish hue. The patient might also complain that the area itches, burns, or hurts.
- Stage 2: The skin around the area looks damaged and an open scrape, blister, or sore may be present. The patient will probably complain of serious pain and the skin around the wound could be discolored.
- Stage 3: The affected area has developed a crater-like appearance caused by damage beneath the surface of the skin.
- Stage 4: The skin at the site is badly damaged and a deep wound is visible. Bones, tendons, joints, and muscles may also be affected. The onset of a serious infection is a major risk during this stage.
A bedsore is not placed into one of these categories if full-thickness tissue loss is present and a scab is found in the ulcer, or the root of the bedsore is covered by dead tissue, which can be green, yellow, brown, gray, or tan in color.
Treatment of Bedsores
Specific bedsore treatments will depend on the severity of the condition and should be discussed with the resident’s family by the medical staff at the care facility or nursing home.
Treatment becomes increasingly difficult after the skin is broken, and will include one or more of the following:
- Eliminating pressure on the area
- Cushioning and covering the bedsore using medicated gauze or other appropriate dressings
- Irrigating and cleaning the bedsore thoroughly and regularly
- Ensuring good nutrition guidelines are followed
- Debridement, the process of removing the infected, dead, or damaged tissue
- A skin graft, the transplantation of healthy skin over the affected area
- Negative pressure wound therapy
- Medication, most likely antibiotics to treat the infection
Properly trained facility staff should monitor the bedsore closely, and thoroughly document its depth and size as it responds to treatment.
Complications of Bedsores
Once a bedsore has developed, it could take months or possibly years to heal. It may also become infected, causing chills and fever. Once infection sets in, bedsores take much longer to heal. If left untreated, the infection can spread throughout the resident’s body causing rapid heartbeat, general weakness, and mental confusion.
Prevention of Bedsores
Bedsores are preventable. They can be avoided by daily examination of the patient’s skin, especially bony areas, for any red patches, which are the first signs that the skin is starting to break down. Other practices for preventing bedsores and stopping existing bedsores from worsening include:
- Turning and/or repositioning bedridden residents at least every two hours.
- Ensuring that residents confined to a wheelchair are sitting straight and upright and repositioned every 15 minutes.
- Placing soft cushioning in beds and wheelchairs to decrease pressure.
- Offering a high standard of skincare by keeping the patient’s skin dry and clean.
- Offering nutritionally balanced meals. If the patient is not getting enough vitamins, calories, fluids, protein, and minerals their bedsores will not heal regardless of how well they are cared for.
Liability for Nursing Home Negligence and Abuse
When residents suffer injury or neglect from a nursing home, anyone who contributed to or was directly responsible for their injuries could be held liable. Defendants in a New York and New Jersey nursing home abuse lawsuit can include:
- Physicians and physicians assistants
- Licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, or licensed vocational nurses
- Contracted care providers and vendors
- Maintenance staff, groundskeepers, or custodians
- Nursing homes, elder care facilities, and their parent companies
In New York and New Jersey, chronic understaffing has been routinely associated with substandard care, including failing to monitor residents and notice changes in their health. Nursing homes and other care facilities are required to comply with federal laws stating that a facility must have enough properly trained staff to provide an acceptable level of care to each of its residents. Unfortunately, many nursing homes have high turnover rates which can lead to training and testing of new employees being rushed or omitted altogether.
Metro Law – New York and New Jersey Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
Nursing homes are obligated to properly care for each of their residents. They are expected to provide safe and adequate living conditions along with medical, physical, and mental care and support. When they fail to do so and your aging family member is injured, the facility and its caregivers may be to blame.
When you work with a New York or New Jersey nursing home attorney, you are trusting them to help you and your loved one recover financial compensation for their damages, and pain and suffering. With decades of experience assisting clients in similar situations, the personal injury attorneys at Metro Law are prepared to answer any questions you may have about a potential lawsuit.
When you work with us, we will help you by:
- Collecting and analyzing eyewitness accounts, medical records, and other forms of evidence
- Filing your case with the appropriate court;
- Ensuring all federal and state laws are being followed
- Negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf
- Defending your family member’s rights at trial
Although it’s true that the majority of nursing home neglect and abuse claims settle out of court, we strongly urge you to hire an attorney who is willing to take your case to trial if necessary. Not all law firms have the necessary resources to take depositions, hire expert witnesses, and negotiate with insurance carriers.
Our firm does have those resources and we take pride in the way we challenge major insurance companies to ensure that our neglected and abused victims receive the maximum amount of financial compensation.
If you believe your family member is hurting at the hands of an abusive nursing home, elder care facility, or caregiver, contact the New Jersey and New York nursing home abuse attorneys at Metro Law today.