Why are there so many lawsuits against Illinois nursing homes?

This is a common question asked by our clients. There is no simple answer to this, but a primary factor is due to the high number of for-profit facilities putting a profit ahead of patient care.

The nursing home industry is a big business. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are over 15,600 nursing homes in the United States. In Illinois alone, there are more than 732 facilities caring for more than 100,000 patients.

More so, nearly 70% of these are operated as for-profit facilities. 37% of these facilities were deemed to be below average by surveyors, according to recent data by Medicare.

While there is nothing illegal about making a profit by caring for people, a conflict arises when there is an intense pressure of intense competition and desire to make a profit over the care of others.

The following cost-cutting measures by nursing home operators are putting patients at risk, impacting patient care and often causing serious injuries and death.

Reducing staffing levels:
When nursing homes are short-staffed, nurses and aides are forced to scramble when delivering patient’s meals or medications, helping bedbound residents to the restroom, notating and filing paperwork properly, and answering phones for inquiries and pain medications. Essential medical tasks such as repositioning patients to avoid bedsores and sepsis is often overlooked when nurses are overburdened, sometimes leading to avoidable hospitalizations.

Hiring inexperienced workers and failing to train them:
Unlicensed employees provide support to the ongoing care of residents. When facilities fail to meet residents needs, many facilities will combat this problem by hiring inexperienced workers and rushing them into their job roles with no proper training. All staff members must be provided with the tools and support needed to do their jobs properly and within state standards for nursing homes.

Not following industry guidelines or Illinois law:
There are several Federal and Illinois laws implemented to protect patients with skilled care and a reasonable quality of life. If a nursing home fails to abide by these standards, then it may have its license revoked. Not doing so can negatively impact a patients care.

Ignoring reports of abuse and neglect by patients:
It is estimated that at least 2.3 million seniors will become victims of nursing home abuse, yet most cases go unreported. Family members are often oblivious; victims are too afraid to come forward, or they don’t know that inadequate care is abuse under federal regulations. The American Association of Justice reported that only 1 in 14 nursing home abuse cases are reported to the proper authorities.

Not addressing issues with clients and their families:
Staff members described staff-family interactions as difficult, problematic and time consuming, but by not doing so they are not allowing for family members to become involved with in care decisions. This is important for the health and well being of patients.

When facilities choose to cut costs and practice unethically, nursing homes cannot operate safely and effectively. Patients aren’t always capable of comprehending the extent of what’s going on around them or feel unable to express it to their loved ones. It’s important for family members to be aware of any neglect, abuse or suffering and help be their voices.

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