We hear a lot about nursing home negligence and about how nursing homes residents are very often abused or neglected. Certainly, there are often intentional acts, such as battery or sexual assault.
But more often, the resident injury is caused by negligence. Because we are often not present when injuries occur, and because so many residents may not be capable of telling families what happened to them, it’s also important to recognize the signs of neglect or abuse.
Types of Nursing Home Accidents Common in South Carolina
In some cases, it may be obvious that an accident has occurred. Suddenly broken bones, burns, or sudden infection can all be signs that an accident or neglect has happened.
Certainly, many people in homes are unstable and frail, and falls can sometimes be expected. But in many cases, they are foreseeable and preventable. For example, if a resident is clearly not able to be mobile on their own, a fall should never occur unless the resident was allowed to be walking without proper supervision.
Remember that changes in medication can alter someone’s risk of falling. A resident that normally is safe to be walking on their own should not be allowed to do so if they start taking medicine that makes them drowsy or unstable, as many medicines can do.
Conditions can make it more likely that a fall occurs. For anybody, poor lighting, or torn up carpet or uneven flooring, can create a danger, but that’s especially true with elderly nursing home residents.
Neglect can also cause decubitus ulcers, also known as pressure sores. These are sores that can eat into the tissue, often exposing the bone. They happen as a result of continued pressure on bedding, without movement. Residents who are immobile are at the highest risk.
The development of this kind of sore should be an immediate indication that a resident is being neglected, and is not being monitored by staff who should be routinely moving immobile residents.
Recognizing When Neglect is Occurring at a Nursing Home
If a relative is not able to express what happened to them, there are signs you should look for as a sign that something may have happened.
Changes in a resident’s mood, such as depression or sadness, could be a sign of abuse or neglect.
Wounds, even minor ones, that are untreated or exposed, as well as medical equipment such as wheelchairs, crutches, or braces that are inoperable or not accessible, should also be a warning sign to families.
Using your own eyes can help. When you look down the hallway outside the resident’s room, is there any staff within eyeshot? Is there a way for staff to see or hear a resident who may get out of bed and start to wander on their own? Are the hallways busy with staff going in and out, or deserted and empty?
Remember that nursing home staff won’t be thrilled to hand over records to families, and in some cases, events that cause injury to residents may be omitted or misrepresented in records. It’s always best to get legal representation to obtain medical records if you suspect that a loved one has been injured while in a nursing home.
Make sure that your attorneys are prepared to take your accident case to trial if need be. Call the nursing home abuse attorneys at Thomason & Pracht LLC for a free consultation to discuss your accident and injuries.
Christopher Pracht is an experienced Trial Lawyer who practices in Anderson, SC. He graduated from the Charleston School of Law, and has been practicing law for 10 years now. Christopher Pracht takes pride in representing those who have suffered a severe loss. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.