How Common is Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes and Other Care Facilities?

As our population ages, elder abuse is a problem that continues to grow across the United States. One study estimates that nursing homes care for 1.5 million elderly and frail Americans, for whom physical and verbal aggression may occur on a routine basis. In fact, by the year 2050, researchers estimate that 20 percent of the total population will be senior citizens. The abusive behaviors that nursing home residents consistently experience include inappropriate, disruptive or hostile actions by other residents, unwelcome entry into residents’ rooms, physical incidents, verbal incidents, and sexual incidents. Therefore, elder abuse in nursing home and other long-term care facilities is far more common than one might initially think.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, a recent study showed that anywhere from 7.6 to 10 percent of elder Americans suffered abuse in the prior year. While reports of elder abuse are increasing, it is estimated that only one of every 14 cases of elder abuse is actually reported to authorities. All too often, these cases of abuse, many of which occur in nursing homes, go completed undetected and unpunished. In one study of 2,000 nursing home residents, 44% of nursing home residents reported that they had suffered abuse, and 95% reported that they had either been neglected or witnessed another resident being neglected.

Moreover, almost one in three American nursing homes were cited for violating federal standards related to potential or actual harm to a resident. Nearly one out of every 10 homes had violations that actually caused residents harm, serious injury, or in danger of death. Additionally, more than 50% of nursing home staff members surveyed admitted to having mistreated a nursing home resident in the past year, with two-thirds of those incidents involving neglect.

The lawyers of Boller & Vaughan have unparalleled knowledge of Wisconsin elder abuse laws and know how to help guide you through any elder abuse claim. Regardless of the type of abuse or neglect involved, we are here to help you and your family get through this devastating ordeal. In many cases, residents are reluctant to seek a remedy or even report abuse at the hands of a nursing home. Rely on your Madison elderly abuse attorneys to help you explore all available avenues of relief and get the justice that your situation demands.



Centers for Medicare & Medicaid to Incorporate New Nursing Home Quality Measures

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) has added six new quality measures to its Nursing Home Compare website, which allows consumers to get information on 24 different quality measures for over 15,000 Medicaid and Medicare-certified nursing care providers from across the United States. Three of these new measures are based on data regarding Medicare claims from hospitals, rather than simply data that nursing homes report to CMS.

The three new quality measures based on Medicare claims data consider a facility’s rate of re-hospitalization, emergency room usage, and community discharge. More specifically, the six new measures include:

  • The percentage of short-stay residents who were successfully discharged to the community
  • The percentage of short-stay residents who have had an outpatient emergency department visit
  • The percentage of short-stay residents who were re-hospitalized following nursing home admission
  • The percentage of short-stay residents who made improvements in function
  • The percentage of long-stay residents whose ability to move independently worsened
  • The percentage of long-stay residents who received an anti-anxiety or hypnotic medication

These new quality measures focus more closely on short stays in nursing facilities, or those that last 100 days or less. They also measure the key outcomes that are important to those looking for short-stay nursing home. The existing quality measures already address outcomes related to longer stays, such as those last 100 days or more.

The new nursing home quality measures are designed to help ensure the safe and appropriate care of all residents of nursing homes and other types of care facilities. By hopefully eliminating some of the factors that directly contribute to the neglect and injuries to nursing home patients, it is our sincere hope that such incidents can be avoided altogether. At Boller & Vaughan, we are here to stand up for the rights of all those residents and their families who have suffered substantial injuries while under the care of those are supposed to prevent such injuries from occurring. Contact us today at (608) 268-0268, set up an appointment with one of our Wisconsin nursing home abuse attorneys, and discover how we can help.






Improper Usage of Restraints By Nursing Home Staff

One of the fundamental tenets of the Nursing Home Patients’ Bill of Rights is the right of a long-term care patient to live free from restraints, whether they are physical, chemical, or mechanical. Patients must have the ability to control their own body functions, to the greatest degree possible, unhampered by restraints. While restraints are necessary in some extreme cases, or on a temporary basis during an emergency situation, the overuse of restraints can lead to significant injuries to a nursing home resident, both physically and emotionally.

Unfortunately, many short-staffed nursing or long-term care facilities use restraints for convenience rather than necessity. Physical restraints are objects that physically restrain a resident, such as belts, straps, and side rails on a bed. If a resident is left restrained for a significant period of time, he or she may suffer physical injuries due to an inability to freely move about, such as bruises on their wrists and feet. A prolonged period of physical restraint also can cause psychological or emotional issues in a patient due to neglect, lack of human contact, and inability to move in any meaningful fashion.

Although chemical restraints act much differently than physical restraints, they often have the same effect. By using drugs to restrict a patient’s freedom, nursing home staff may believe that they can more easily care for a large number of residents. However, continual usage of medications to effectively sedate nursing home residents is not in accordance with a resident’s rights to move freely without fear of dizziness, falling, or excessive sleepiness. These drugs are only appropriate when prescribed by a doctor to a specific patient in order to treat a certain medical condition or symptom, not for the convenience of nursing home staff.

All too often, nursing home staff members use restraints on residents improperly, and to the extent that the residents suffer neglect and even injury. While restraints are necessary in certain situations, they should not be used as a means to control unattended patients. At Boller & Vaughan, we focus on protecting the rights of those who have suffered neglectful or abusive actions at the hands of nursing home facilities. We have the skills and knowledge to delve into the facts your case, consider all available options, and advocate on your behalf by bringing any legal claims that you may have against the nursing home in question, or its staff members. Call your Wisconsin nursing home neglect attorneys at (608) 268-0268 and schedule your free consultation today.








Nursing Home Falls: When Patients Are Left Unattended

Falls among elderly nursing home residents can result in critical injuries, some of which even may be fatal. Hip fractures, brain injuries, and fractures to other bones all can have grave results for the elderly residents who fall. Despite these serious consequences, however, a large number of nursing home residents suffer from falls on a daily basis, many of which are easily preventable or avoidable.

A nursing home or other care facility has a duty to minimize risks to its patients, including the risks of falling and suffering falling-related injuries. All too often, issues such as neglect, chronic understaffing, and lack of supervision can result in an individual being injured in a fall. When this type of injury occurs, the resident’s family members and loved ones must determine whether the fall was truly an unavoidable accident, or whether the nursing home facility and its staff could have prevented the fall and resulting injuries.

If there is evidence of negligent behavior on the part of staff members or the nursing facility itself with respect to the care of your loved one, and he or she suffers injuries as a result, you may have a cause of action for the damages resulting from the fall. Depending on the outcome of the resident’s fall and injuries, this cause of action may take the form of either a personal injury action or a wrongful death suit.

When a nursing home resident suffers injuries or even death due to falling while left unattended by staff, you may have legal grounds for a lawsuit against the staff and facility who failed to do their jobs. If you or a loved one is in this situation, you should definitely contact an experienced Wisconsin nursing home abuse attorney at Boller & Vaughn today. We know how to protect your rights and potentially get compensation for any injuries that occurred. Nursing homes have a duty to protect their residents and ensure that they receive the appropriate level of supervision. When nursing home staff fails to meet that duty, it is up to you to hold negligent Wisconsin nursing homes responsible for their actions. Call Boller & Vaughan today and see what assistance we can offer you and your family.


What is the Abuse of Individuals at Risk Act?

The Abuse of Individuals at Risk Act, which is located at Wisconsin Statutes 940.285, is a Wisconsin state law that is designed to penalize those individuals who abuse any individual at risk, which can include both an adult and an elder adult. With a few exceptions, this law provides that any person who intentionally, recklessly, or negligently subjects an individual at risk commits a criminal offense. If the person’s actions result in death, the person can be charged with a Class D or Class C felony, depending on the person’s level of intent. On the other hand, if the actions lead to great bodily harm, the crime is a Class F felony. If the actions are likely to cause great bodily harm, the crime is a Class G or Class I felony, depending on the level of intent. Actions resulting in bodily harm may be either a Class H or Class I felony, again depending on intent. Finally, if a person’s actions are not likely to cause bodily harm, then the crime is a Class B misdemeanor.

It is important to note that the Abuse of Individuals at Risk Act does not apply to staff members at residential care facilities, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities. There is a separate statute, located at Wisconsin Statutes 940.295, which provides for criminal penalties in these situations.

Boller & Vaughan knows elder abuse law and has the experience to help you through any type of elder abuse claim. No matter what type of nursing home facility abuse or neglect is at issue in your case, we can help. All too often, residents and their families are reluctant to demand justice for situations that occurred in the resident’s care. In this situation, you can count on your Madison elderly abuse attorneys to guide you through every step of the personal injury claims process.



Choking Injuries in Nursing Home Residents

Nursing home residents are often more susceptible to choking injuries than individuals in the general population. For instance, nursing home residents may suffer from certain neurological conditions that may adversely affect their ability to swallow, such as a stroke or brain injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or muscular dystrophy. Certain cancers, as well as radiation treatments, can make it difficult or impossible for an individual to swallow. Likewise, one of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease may be difficulty in chewing and swallowing. Finally, aging itself may make it more difficult for an individual to swallow, simply because so many muscles are involved when an individual tries to swallow.

Neglect by nursing home staff often can lead to choking injuries for residents, as well. Some residents may need close supervision whenever eating or drinking in order to avoid the risk of choking. Staff may need to change the form or type of nutrition that a resident receives in order to minimize the chances of choking. Furthermore, staff will need to give special consideration to residents who are dependent on breathing tubes, in order to avoid brain injury and even death.

The effects of choking can be swift and severe. Even a short choking episode can lead to the patient’s air supply being cut off, which, in turn, can cause permanent brain damage. Longer episodes of choking may even lead to death.

The nursing home abuse lawyers of Boller & Vaughan pride themselves on advocating on behalf of clients who have been injured in some way, whether it be through choking, suffocation, or another type of incident. We can seek compensation for you through the legal claim process, while you and your family can concentrate on healing, recovering from any trauma that you might have experienced, and moving on with your life. Don’t hesitate to call our office today and learn how we can help.





When Nursing Homes Fail to Properly Screen Employees Before Hiring

All too often, low pay rates and chronic understaffing leads to a high turnover among nursing home employees, particularly among nurses’ aides and other unskilled workers. As a result, nursing homes often fail to properly screen employees before hiring them, simply in an attempt to keep a full staff. When this situation occurs, serious harm can come to residents at the hands of individuals who never should have been working at a nursing home in the first place.

Some individuals may have a criminal background that should preclude them from working in a nursing home, or others may have had previous incidents or allegations of abuse when working at other nursing homes or residential facilities. While no employee screening system is foolproof, facilities that provide care to some of Wisconsin’s most vulnerable individuals should have reasonable employee screening methods in place to help ensure the safety of their residents.

In addition to pre-employment screening, nursing homes should strictly monitor employees’ cell phone and social media usage. A recent investigative report pointed out numerous incidents, including incidents that occurred at three Wisconsin hospitals, of nursing home employees posting degrading and dehumanizing photos of nursing home residents on different forms of social media, including Snapchat and Instagram.

The nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers of Boller & Vaughan are experienced in ensuring that nursing homes and other elderly care facilities live up to reasonable standards in screening and hiring employees. When a nursing facility fails to do so, and injury to a resident occurs, the nursing facility may be liable for those injuries. We know how to investigate your case, assess your situation and determine whether you or your loved one has any potential claims against nursing home staff or the nursing home itself. Contact Boller & Vaughan today and learn how we can help you through this difficult situation.


Nursing Home Care and Malnutrition

No one likes to think of nursing home care being so poor that residents literally starve to death. However, in some extreme cases, this is precisely what happens. Without properly trained and supervised staff to carefully monitor the nutritional intake of nursing home residents, no one may be aware of a resident’s declining medical condition until it is too late. Malnutrition can occur when residents do not eat a balanced diet, or simply do not take in enough nutrition to sustain their bodies.

Many nursing home patients may experience a lack of appetite for a number of reasons. For instance, depression can lead to little or no appetite. Nursing home patients may have dental problems that make it difficult for them to eat. They also may receive medication that suppresses their appetites or causes nausea. Finally, due in part to a lack of staffing and the need to feed a large number of residents, nursing homes may serve food that is not kept at the correct temperature until it is served, food may be bland and unappetizing, and staff may need to hurry residents through their meals in order to accommodate everyone who needs to eat.

There are a number of signs that you typically can see in malnourished individuals, but these symptoms all too often are attributable to medication side effects or other medical conditions altogether. Some of these symptoms include: tooth decay, mental decline and confusion, dry skin, weight loss, bloated abdomen, and fatigue. If you notice any of these symptoms in your loved one who lives in a nursing home, you should take immediate steps to determine the cause the symptoms, whether they result from malnutrition or another source.

At Boller & Vaughan, we are dedicated to protecting the rights to those who have been wrongfully injured. We have the experience and knowledge to investigate your case, explore your options, and pursue any legal claims that you may have. Contact your Wisconsin nursing home neglect attorneys today at (608) 268-0268 and set up your free consultation today.



Infection and Nursing Home Care

The risk of contracting an infection while being cared for in a nursing home or other type of assisted care facility can be quite high, for a variety of reasons. Many nursing home residents suffer from chronic medical conditions or take medications that make their immune systems weaker and thus more susceptible to infection. Some residents also have cognitive and motor skill issues that may impair their ability to exercise proper hygiene. When you combine these medical conditions with a large number of residents confined to a relatively small space, the potential for infection is very high. Without rigid staff training and hygiene procedures, infection is almost a certainty.

Common types of infections that plague nursing homes include gastroenteritis, which leads to vomiting and diarrhea, influenza, which can lead to complications like bronchitis and pneumonia, and multi-drug resistant organisms, which can include vancomycin resistant enterococcus (VRE) and methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). All of these infections can lead to medical conditions that cause the elderly and those with weakened immune systems to become gravely ill and even pass away in severe cases.

If your loved one has suffered injury or even death as a result of infection or another type of medical condition caused due to neglect or lack of care by nursing home staff, you may have a valid personal injury or wrongful death claim. In these types of circumstances, it is essential that you contact an experienced Wisconsin nursing home abuse attorney who can protect your rights and obtain any compensation to which your family is entitled. Nursing homes have an obligation under Wisconsin law to refrain from creating or aggravating medical conditions, such as harmful infections, that can injury their residents. Hold negligent Wisconsin nursing homes responsible for their actions. Contact Boller & Vaughan today and learn what we can do to help.






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