Placing a family member or loved one into a nursing home can be one of the most painful and difficult decisions any family has to make. We entrust the assisted living facilities to care and treat our loved ones with the compassion and attention they deserve.
However, mistakes and nursing home neglect and abuse can occur, which can result in severe personal injury to a family member within a nursing home environment.
Just as damaging but more subtle are acts of abandonment, defective equipment, sexual assault, physical or mental abuse, and lack of supervision. All of these can lead to serious injury or even death.
In order to better protect your loved ones, it is important to be aware of common causes of nursing home injuries and how to identify signs of nursing home abuse.
Understanding Nursing Home Injuries
A nursing home injury encompasses any physical harm that comes to an elder occupying a nursing home or long-term care facility.
Senior citizens are often placed in nursing homes by their loved ones in order to prevent illness and injuries by providing around the clock care; unfortunately, illness and injuries can and do still occur in nursing homes.
Some of these injuries stem from natural factors, such as seniors being more unstable during day-to-day activities, making them more likely to fall and suffer more serious injuries from such falls. While caring staff members do all they can to prevent these injuries, they may still happen.
Some injuries, however, are the result of elder abuse at the hands of caretakers you thought you could trust. Abuse can range from negligence to neglect to purposeful physical actions taken to harm the individual.
A negligent or abusive caretaker can result in seniors becoming traumatized mentally and emotionally in addition to physical harm.
Knowing whether proper care and protocols are followed in your loved one’s facility, and if equipment and safety proofing are up to date, and more can help you determine the nature of your loved one’s injury and if negligence or even purposeful abuse was involved.
Common Nursing Home Injuries
Most nursing home staff members are caring and qualified individuals devoted to ensuring the health and wellness of your loved ones and other nursing home residents. However, even trustworthy staff can become negligent due to long hours, heavy patient loads and other factors.
The following injuries can be common in nursing homes and may be the result of a one-time incident of neglect or a pattern of abuse.
Patients can become injured when becoming trapped between the rail and the mattress. A patient’s body weight can contribute to their sinking in this space and result in serious injury and even death.
Disoriented, medicated patients may try to get themselves out of bed without help, which can lead to bedrail injuries. Similarly, elder patients tend to be frailer and can slip between this crack more easily than a robust patient.
Bedrails are not well-regulated, and facilities must take care to fit the correct rails with the correct beds and mattresses. Ill-fitting or improperly installed bedrails can pose a threat to nursing home occupants.
Bedsores are a type of pressure sore (ulcer) that occur in immobilized individuals who are not properly turned, repositioned or cared for. Bedsores can affect more than just the skin and penetrate deeply to muscle and bone and, in extreme cases, even take years to heal.
Bedsores pose a serious threat to individuals with certain underlying conditions, such as diabetes or circulatory issues.
Elderly patients are especially susceptible to bedsores and the resulting skin and internal infections they can cause.
Broken bones can be the result of a fall, rough treatment or improper handling. Seniors are especially susceptible to fractures due to skeletal fragility that occurs due to aging.
Common fractures include hip, femur, pelvis, vertebrae or spinal, wrist, ankle, arm, and leg fractures.
Hip fractures are especially treacherous for elderly citizens, who are often unable to live independently after one.
While bruises may seem fairly commonplace, bruises in elders can be signs of elder abuse and neglect.
Elders tend to bruise more easily, especially on the arms and legs. Unexplained bruising, however, can be a sign of serious health conditions (such as anemia) or of physical trauma to the person.
Bruising on or near the pelvis, buttocks, genitals or chest can be especially concerning signs of elder sexual abuse.
Concussions and other brain injuries are serious events that can result in confusion, dizziness, vision troubles, neck pain, mood swings and more.
Unfortunately, concussions can go undetected and undiagnosed in the elderly, as some of the symptoms can occur with dementia and other conditions associated with age.
Concussions don’t produce visible wounds and can happen from a jolt to the patient’s head and neck, a fall, or physical blow.
Concussions in seniors can cause an increase in the risk of dementia. Additionally, the risk of blood clot from a brain injury such as a concussion can increase in the elderly.
Falls are inherently tied to bone fractures, bruising and concussions, and they can be especially dangerous. Seniors who are unable to get help after a fall may be immobilized and in pain for hours.
Seniors are likely to fall in the shower, while walking, while transferring from a wheelchair or chair to a bed, as well as from bed and other situations.
Nursing facilities should always be equipped with railings for patients and residents, and staff should be available to help seniors in their day-to-day activities.
An estimated 2 million infections occur in United States nursing homes and long-term care facilities each year.
Patients and residents who have recently been in the hospital are especially susceptible to infection, as are patients recovering from surgeries.
Patients that eat via a feeding tube or use other mechanical equipment are also at a higher risk. Dental and personal hygiene are especially important in nursing homes, as many residents are unable to properly cleanse and care for themselves.
Infections of the urinary tract, skin and soft tissue infections, respiratory infections, seasonal influenza, pneumonia, and gastrointestinal infections such as norovirus and Clostridium difficile are common.
Furthermore, nursing homes are more likely to see antibiotic-resistant organisms that can pose serious and unique challenges for those who become infected.
Investigating Nursing Home Injuries
It is important that you inquire after any injuries your loved one sustains in a nursing home and keep careful track of them when they occur.
Especially important is asking your loved one privately how an injury was sustained as well as asking their caretakers and staff.
If stories don’t match up or if your loved one doesn’t want to share details or seems afraid to confide in you, there may be reason to suspect elder abuse and neglect.
Michigan Nursing Home Quality
In 2017, a study conducted found that 22% of Michigan’s 444 nursing homes were cited by the government for violations. These citations related to actual harm caused to at least one resident, with hundreds of other citations noted dealing with both administrative issues as well as quality of care.
As of September 2020, only 439 Michigan nursing homes are Medicare and Medicaid-certified. Visiting the Medicare.gov site provides detailed information on nursing home ratings, as well as citations of abuse. For instance, 16 of the 41 Michigan nursing homes with a much below average ranking are flagged as having abuse citations, and a total of 198 nursing homes are graded as being average or worse than average.
Similarly, ProPublica provides a list of Michigan nursing homes by city and provides the number of deficiencies, serious deficiencies, COVID19 cases, and fines for each facility. They note that
- 141 homes have serious deficiencies
- 408 homes feature infection-related deficiencies
- $12.5 million dollars has been paid in fines
- 165 homes have received payment suspensions from the government
Michigan ranks nursing home deficiencies by severity, with a letter ranking from B to L, with L being the most serious. A ranking of B notes a pattern of incidents with no actual harm caused and minimal potential for harm. An L ranking, on the other hand, signals a widespread amount of cases in which residents are in immediate jeopardy.
As of 2018, a staggering 10,282 D deficiencies had been identified in Michigan nursing homes, with 24 cases of L deficiencies. Other statistics include 2,993 cases of E deficiencies, 1,844 cases of F deficiencies, 943 cases of G deficiencies, 19 H deficiencies, 5 I deficiencies, 178 J deficiencies, and 42 K deficiencies.
Rankings of F, H, I, J, K, and L are flagged as providing a substandard quality of care.
In short, the amount of Michigan nursing homes providing substandard or downright jeopardizing care is overwhelming.
Perhaps this is why the 2019 United States Senate-issued report on nursing homes providing persistently poor care included 10 Michigan nursing homes:
- Cambridge East Healthcare Center
- Clarkston Specialty Healthcare Center
- The Laurels of Coldwater
- Medilodge of Midland
- Medilodge of Livingston
- Medilodge of Sterling Heights
- Medilodge of Southfield
- Metron of Belding
- Samaritas Senior Living in Saginaw
- Schoolcraft Medical Care Facility
When choosing a nursing home or long-term care facility for your loved ones, you shouldn’t have to worry about their well-being or safety at the hands of nurses and staff. Be sure to check a nursing home’s history of citations when choosing which care facility in which to place them, or research the home your loved one already inhabits.
When to Seek Help
If you suspect or have been made aware of nursing home injuries that are the result of elder abuse, neglect or mistreatment, time is of the essence. Do not wait to seek help for your loved one. It could become a matter, quite literally, of life or death.
Please contact our nursing home abuse lawyers at (800) LEE-FREE—(800) 533-3733—for a free phone consultation.
What Types of Nursing Home Cases Do We Handle?
The Michigan nursing home lawyers at the Law Offices of Lee Steinberg, P.C., handle a wide variety of nursing home negligence cases. Our law firm recognizes nursing home abuse and negligence come in many different forms, including:
- Bed sores and pressure sores
- Medication errors and medical malpractice
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Physical or sexual assault or abuse
Our Michigan Nursing Home Injury Lawyers
Michigan nursing home abuse and Michigan nursing home injury law are constantly changing and demand lawyers who will fight to protect your rights. The litigation of nursing home cases is not easy. It usually involves reviewing thousands of pages of medical documents, close inspection of personnel files and facility data, interviews with witnesses, numerous depositions, as well as the involvement of top-notch experts.
Our Michigan nursing home injury lawyers and Michigan nursing abuse lawyers can walk you through the process from beginning to end. We will answer your questions and make you feel comfortable and at ease about the process.
Our experienced team of Michigan nursing home injury lawyers and Michigan nursing neglect lawyers are dedicated to fighting for our clients so they can obtain the justice and compensation they deserve.
We Come to You
We understand it can be difficult to travel to a lawyer. With offices throughout Michigan, we can come to you and offer an initial free consultation. You pay nothing until we settle your Michigan nursing home case.
What to Do Next
Please call Lee Free and Michigan nursing home injury lawyers at (800) LEE-FREE or (800) 533-3733, or fill out the free case evaluation form so we can answer any questions you have about Michigan nursing home negligence law and wrongful death.
We are the Michigan nursing home injury experts. You pay nothing until we win your case. Let us help you today.