In a perfect world, a person’s age would not determine the quality of care they receive. Unfortunately, a fast-growing number of legal cases have shown that, too often, seniors in nursing homes can easily fall into neglectful care situations.
While it may not be malicious, quality of care can decline for elderly patients for many reasons. The facility may be understaffed. The caretakers may be underqualified to handle the complex needs of senior patients. In some instances, simple laziness and indifference for patients’ wellbeing may be to blame.
If you have a loved one in a nursing home, there are warning signs you can look for to determine if they are not receiving the level of care that they deserve.
A Lack of Communication
It is important to make sure you, the doctor, and your loved one (if it is within their physical and cognitive abilities) have an open flow of communication. Have the doctor explain to both you and the patient what the medical plan is, so everyone understands the type of care and treatment that should be expected.
If the staff of the facility seems unable or unwilling to discuss their treatment in detail, it may be because the treatment is not up to par. Regularly ask your loved one if they are being treated well by the doctor and the staff. If they don’t seem pleased, bring it to the staff’s attention right away.
While communication with the doctor is necessary, it may not always give you the full information you need to determine how your loved one is being cared for. You may need to examine the patient yourself for any physical signs of neglect or abuse. A very common warning sign is pressure ulcers.
Many nursing home residents are unable to walk or have difficulty walking, so they spend significant stretches of time in a wheel chair or in their bed. If they are not regularly adjusted, helped out of bed to bathe, or otherwise mobile, the pressure put on certain parts of their body can cause decreased blood flow, which leads to cell death and ulcers.
Other factors such as poor nutrition and dehydration can also increase the risk of developing pressure ulcers. Make sure you are regularly checking areas where they occur most commonly, such as the lower back, hips, and back of the head.
Another sign you can look for is bruising on the skin. Because of their age, nursing home patients do tend to bruise more easily than others. However, large bruises can also be warning signs of abuse or neglect. If you see a bruise, be sure to ask a nurse about it and look on the patient’s medical chart for reports of any falls or injuries. If the patient had a major fall and you were not contacted, that could be a red flag. Also, pay close attention to the shape of the mark. If the bruise was caused by physical abuse, it would likely appear in the shape of a hand.
What To Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Negligence
If you have any reason to believe that your loved one is being neglected or abused at a nursing home and you aren’t getting the information or answers you need from the staff, it may be time to seek legal action.
We at Hyatt & Weber handle many cases of nursing home abuse , including mismanagement of care, failure to provide care, failing to have appropriate staff on site, underqualified individuals providing care, and care that’s rendered by people who shouldn’t be providing care, among others. Contact our office at (410) 384-4316 to learn more about how we can help.