Nursing home negligence: Who’s at risk and what are the signs?

When your aging parent transitioned from independent living to an assisted care facility, you might have felt both relieved and worried. On one hand, you may have been glad to know that your mother or father would no longer be living alone, especially since you’re unable to stop by every day as you would like to because of your own daily life obligations.

On the other hand, you might have also felt a bit anxious as to whether the Missouri facility you helped your parent choose would provide high-quality care. There’s only so much you can do when researching and visiting various nursing homes to find one that best fits your parent’s needs. Sadly, not all facilities are equal and some are downright dangerous due to care provider negligence or abuse.

Risk factors you’ll want be aware of

Perhaps your parent is still of sound mind but has physical limitations that cause him or her to need daily living assistance. If so, he or she may be less at risk for nursing abuse. If a patient can be proactive and is fully aware of the goings on in his or her immediate surroundings, it is less likely that a worker will be negligent. The following list shows issues that may increase the risk for negligence or abuse:

  • If your parent shows signs of dementia, chances are he or she may not recognize signs of abuse or negligence.
  • The worse off your loved one is physically may also be a factor toward risk of abuse or negligence. Those who are fully dependent on others are not always able to defend themselves.
  • Is your parent a widow or widower? If so, lack of a spouse to advocate on his or her behalf may increase the risk that he or she might fall victim to nursing negligence.

When you visit your loved one, you can help by paying close attention to his or her environment. Is the residence room clean? Do the other patients appear well cared for and reasonably content in their surroundings? If a particular issue raises concern, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions.

Signs that negligence or abuse is taking place

Let’s say you visit your parent and he or she has a bruise. When you ask what happened, you’re not satisfied with the explanation. This would definitely be an example of a situation that warrants further investigation as would the additional issues included in this next list:

  • Bedsores are often a sign that nursing staff has been negligent. If staff members are turning your parent often enough, he or she should not have sores.
  • Pressure marks on the skin can be a sign that staff members are being too rough or are intentionally inflicting pain on your loved one.
  • Dirty linens or foul odors suggest a housekeeping problem and, perhaps, care provider negligence as well.
  • If your loved one’s disposition seems abnormal or he or she appears agitated when certain workers are near, you are wise to request a meeting with administrators to discuss the issue.

Nursing home negligence should never occur. It is said that personnel shortages, worker fatigue and other issues are often causal factors toward substandard care. While such issues may explain the lack of quality care in some instances, they do not excuse it. Missouri nursing home patients who suffer illness or injury due to negligence or abuse may seek justice through the civil court system.


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