When the difficult decision to place our parents or loved ones into a long-term care facility must be made, we must place our trust in unfamiliar caregivers. Normally, nursing homes are staffed with highly trained, caring, individuals equipped with the knowledge and patience to handle the situations that arise daily.
Unfortunately, there are also instances in which the care is inadequate and sometimes facilities are plagued with abuse and neglect. It is difficult to know exactly how to handle this problem without subjecting your loved one to even more suffering at the hands of a disgruntled caregiver. Knowing the most common problems that arise in nursing homes can help determine if there is a problem and help to restore proper care to your loved one.
Malnutrition Due to Unsanitary Foods
A large number of violations are reported from nursing homes each year concerning the preparation and distribution of meals. This type of violation can result in patients becoming more susceptible to infections, muscle wasting, chronic fatigue, decreased mobility, and a host of other problems. Although this type of violation is not as easily detected as broken bones or other visible injuries, malnutrition can be just as debilitating for the resident.
Amputations Stemming from Mismanaged Infections
For someone living in a skilled nursing facility, an infection can have serious consequences. There must be an infection control protocol in place to prevent spreading and eradicate the infection quickly. Many residents are already suffering from conditions that compromise their immune systems, so an infection that is not properly managed can become fatal in as little as a few days. If these infections are not adequately treated, they can lead to amputations and even wrongful death of your loved one.
Slip and Fall Injuries Due to Accident Hazards
Hazardous conditions that lead to injuries are the most commonly reported violations in nursing homes. Falls are particularly risky for senior citizens as they are statistically more likely to sustain more serious injuries such as bone fractures and traumatic brain injuries.
Inaccurate or Incomplete Clinical Records
It is of dire importance to keep good records of the activity of each resident. It is crucial that accurate records of medications, dosage, and frequency are kept but it is equally important to keep records of how much they have eaten, if they are taking in adequate fluids, and how much waste they expel. All of this information is used to judge the effectiveness of their care and plan for future changes. Inaccuracy in these records can be disastrous for your loved one.
Employees With a History of Abuse
A strict policy should be in place to screen potential employees before they have access to patients. Any person with a history of abuse should be barred from employment in these facilities. Past offenders are more likely to repeat the behavior. Hiring employees with a history of abuse can lead to dangerous and even deadly consequences for the residents.
Improper Administration of Medication
Problems with improperly administering medications is a common problem. Dispensing the wrong kind or expired medications can result in disaster. Failing to order refills at the appropriate time or dispose of expired medications promptly are also frequently reported.
Some nursing homes have been reported for suggesting that families hire private-duty aids to accommodate for the needs not offered by the nursing home. Nursing homes are required to offer any and all care needed by the resident. Facilities may refuse certain services simply because they do not want to perform them or they may feel that the request is unreasonable. According to The Law Offices of Roger S. Weinberg, the staff of some nursing homes may be overworked, causing them to neglect the residents. In these cases you may need a lawyer’s help. Your lawyer will know the steps to take in making sure your loved on is properly cared for.
Failing to Ensure Proper Hygiene in Residents
Discomfort, infection and many other problems arise when caregivers fall short in helping patients with basic hygiene tasks. Staff members are routinely responsible for helping residents with bathing, changing bedding, brushing teeth and a number of other tasks to promote cleanliness in the facility. Proper hygiene is vital to a healthy environment for residents as well as members of the staff.
Failing to Ensure Proper Employee Health
Most facilities require that staff members get flu shots each year along with other vaccines. Conditions such as Tuberculosis and Hepatitis in employees can be dangerous to residents suffering from weak immune systems. All employees must receive the proper vaccines and undergo proper testing for conditions that may be problematic. Violations occur when the hiring manager fails to strictly adhere to employee health schedules.
Improper Emergency Planning
In a nursing home environment, many patients are unable to walk or even get out of bed. Planning for emergencies such as fires, earthquakes, floods, or hurricanes is vital to ensure safety in these situations. Facilities must perform drills and review the readiness plans frequently to adequately handle these disasters. Facilities in violation of these procedures if they are not followed explicitly and updated regularly.
Residents Restrained Unnecessarily
A very common violation is the use of restraints to keep patients in their beds or in chairs as a convenience to the staff. Restraints can only be used to treat the medical symptoms or conditions of the resident. If a nursing home recommends a restraint, they must also suggest a less restrictive method for managing the problem. Patients may become even more unsteady if their ability to move is limited. This sometimes makes them more prone to falls and injuries.
When families of residents are more knowledgeable about the laws surrounding nursing homes, problems are significantly reduced. It is important to speak up and ask the tough questions for the sake of your loved one. Never be afraid to speak up if you don’t understand or if something doesn’t seem to be handled properly. Your loved ones deserve to be treated humanely and with dignity while receiving high-quality care. Family members must be their voice to ensure they are treated with respect and given the proper treatment to keep them as comfortable and active as possible.