Types of Nursing Home Abuse Injuries

New Jersey Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

Types of Nursing Home Abuse InjuriesThe New Jersey nursing home abuse lawyers from Davis & Brusca, LLC are here to help you and your family during your time of need. Nursing home residents are often very vulnerable to injury and must be given a high level of care to protect them from harm. When patients are neglected or abused, there are many types of injuries that may incur:

Bedsores, Pressure Injuries, or Ulcers

One of the most common nursing home injuries is bedsores, or pressure sores, which affect approximately 10 percent (10%) of nursing home patients, many of whom are confined to a bed or wheelchair. When patients stay in the same position for an extended period, unrelieved pressure in certain areas can restrict blood flow.  Skin tissue and muscle deteriorate from lack of circulation, and a serious wound develops.

Bedsores are typically categorized as Stage I through IV (Stage I = least severe;  Stage IV = most severe).  Wounds may also be designated “unstageable”, such as when the wound is covered by too much dead tissue to properly stage.  Bedsores are easily prevented by regularly changing the position of patients who cannot move themselves. Bedsores are very serious and can be life-threatening.

Drops, Fractures & Broken Bones

Injuries and falls frequently happen when patients are left on their own, or when staff move patients from one location to another. Nursing homes must conduct a fall-risk assessment on every new patient when they enter the facility so that they can take the proper steps to keep patients safe. When a fracture occurs due to a fall, a patient being dropped, or other circumstance, it can be extremely painful and may require surgery.  Tragically,  fractures in the elderly are more serious than in other age groups and may lead to death.

As we age, our bones become more fragile, making them more susceptible to fracture. There are multiple types of fractures, including:

  • Traumatic fracture: usually caused by a fall, a patient being dropped or other physical injury.  What may be a “minor trauma” to a young person can produce fractures or other severe consequences for an elderly person who has weaker bones
  • Compression fracture:  These are “crush” type fractures and often occur in frail bones or persons with osteoporosis or osteopenia
  • Stress fracture: tiny fractures, often caused by repetitive motion in weak bones

Bruises and Bleeding

Accidents such as falls can also result in severe bruising. In addition to bones being weakened by age, other body tissues become more fragile and can be easily damaged. Nursing home residents must be handled with care to prevent unnecessary injuries, which may require more extensive treatment in elderly patients. These injuries are compounded by the fact that many residents are prescribed blood thinners.  When the bleeding occurs in the brain it is often fatal.  In some cases, bruises can be a sign of physical abuse by nursing home staff or other patients, so it is important to keep an eye out for unusual bleeding or bruising.

Malnutrition and Dehydration

Full-time residents of a nursing care facility are dependent on staff for all their meals; some may require assistance to feed themselves. Nursing staff must be properly trained to care for these patients, especially those that have difficulty chewing or swallowing. Malnutrition and dehydration are some of the leading types of nursing home neglect, and approximately 35 to 85 percent of patients in nursing homes or long-term care facilities suffer from malnutrition. If the facility’s staff is not properly attuned to the needs of its residents, it can have disastrous consequences. Nursing staff must be just as attentive in making sure patients are properly hydrated. Persistent dehydration can cause organ systems to fail, particularly in older patients who retain less water.

Unexplained Illness/Infection

Infections are common among nursing home patients who often have decreased immune function. Some of these infections are preventable, and most can be treated effectively if identified in a timely manner. However, misdiagnosis or lack of diagnosis can prolong infections and make them more dangerous to elderly patients. Infections such as sepsis, which occurs when infections move into the blood and trigger an inflammatory reaction in the body.  Sepsis can be fatal if left untreated or when not properly treated.

Physical Discomfort

While some nursing home patients may retain their mobility, others are entirely dependent on nurses and aides to help them. Nursing home patients may need assistance with tasks such as bathing, using the bathroom, or simply getting out of bed. Patients must be routinely checked to make sure they are comfortable and their rooms are in good, sanitary condition. In situations where staff is overworked or simply neglecting to attend to patients, residents can be left in extreme discomfort for extended periods of time.

Emotional Withdrawal

Living in a nursing home can be a lonely experience. Some patients have family who visit regularly and can interact with other residents. Others are more limited in their opportunities to socialize, either due to medical issues, lack of family or lack of mobility. Consequently, it is not unusual for patients to become more reserved. If there is a profound change in a nursing home patient’s behavior, however, it is often a sign that they are suffering from some type of abuse, or they are suffering from a significant change.

Nursing home abuse can be passive, a result of neglectful behavior from staff, or active, when a patient becomes a target of hurtful actions. It can occur in many forms and may not be immediately obvious to family or friends. If a person suspects that their loved one is being abused, it is important to act quickly to prevent any further harm to them, as well as to other patients.

Common Myths About Nursing Home Abuse

People place their loved ones in nursing home facilities, expecting that they will be well taken care of. Unfortunately, however, some nursing home residents can suffer abuse from the individuals who are supposed to look after them. Here are some common myths about nursing home abuse.

  • Nursing home abuse has obvious signs. When many people think about nursing home abuse, they imagine bruises, cuts and other physical signs. However, the signs of nursing home abuse aren’t always as obvious as you think. For example, nursing home residents may suffer emotional abuse, which sometimes doesn’t have obvious signs.
  • Nursing home abuse occurs because caregivers are stressed. It’s true that many nursing home caregivers are overworked and stressed. However, that is still no excuse to mistreat nursing home residents. Staff members should always try to provide residents with quality care, no matter how stressed they might be.
  • Nursing home abuse always involves violence. While nursing home abuse sometimes involves physical abuse, it’s sometimes not the case. For instance, nursing home staff members may call residents hurtful names or intimidate them. They might also neglect residents or financially abuse them. All forms of nursing home abuse are very harmful.
  • Nursing home residents will admit they’ve been abused. Unfortunately, this isn’t typically true. Many nursing home residents won’t speak up against abuse for several different reasons. Some may feel ashamed while others may have received threats from their abusers. Residents who have dementia may not even realize when they’re being mistreated.
  • Abusers always get caught. Although this would be nice if it were true, it isn’t the case many times. Since victims often don’t report their abusers, they frequently are let off the hook.
  • Nursing home abuse isn’t a big deal. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Nursing home abuse is absolutely a big problem and can cause serious harm to victims. Residents who experience abuse are more likely to become seriously ill.
  • There’s nothing you can do about nursing home abuse. If you have reason to believe that your loved one is being mistreated in a nursing home, you can certainly take steps to stop the abuse and have justice be served. One of the first things you should do is discuss your case with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer. He or she will assess your case and advise you on what to do next.

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