How could a very lovely elderly lady or an adorable old man die horribly in a place where assurance of quality care would be provided? Yet this is the grim truth for thousands of elders housed in nursing home facilities in different parts of the United States.
Abuse is not the only thing that is causing so much pain and slowly gnawing away the life of nursing home residents; negligence is another major factor. As different from nursing home abuse, which is intentionally harming a resident, neglect is failure in the exercise of proper care or a form of sub-standard care resulting in harm to a patient.
Different news stories have spoken of various cases of nursing home neglect that have resulted not only in severe injuries, but also in death. One of these stories talks about an elderly man, who died horribly dehydrated (after not having had any food or liquid for 4 or 5 days) and in great pain due to a huge bedsore (about the size of a fist). Another is about an elderly woman, who died five days after suffering second degree burns on her left ear, cheeks, and under the nose (this caused her tongue and lips to swell); the burn was caused by the pure liquid oxygen the was hooked up to her face. Investigation revealed three things; (i) that the old woman was left alone in her room after she was given the oxygen; (ii) that the nursing home staff had no knowledge about the proper use of liquid oxygen and that the facility did not provide training to its staff (on the proper use of liquid oxygen) and, (iii) she was not taken to the hospital despite the severity of her injuries and that the facility did not follow a doctor’s instructions, which was to have the old woman’s chest x-rayed.
The stories above are just a couple of the so many disturbing cases of negligence in nursing homes. Others, which do not result to death or really serious injuries, or which some family members never even care to notice, never get reported. Some of these other acts of negligence include failure to change soiled diapers, double diapering, restraining patients to their bed, failure to clean and cut nails of patients, failure to change bed sheets, and failure to assist residents in their daily needs (such as eating, bathing, toileting, dressing, etc.).
One must bear in mind that neglect in nursing homes is committed against individuals who are either too sick or too weak to defend themselves against the many forms of mistreatment and threats on revealing acts of abuse and/or neglect. Thus, speaking up for the sake of residents, in order to save them from the cruelty and/or negligence of nursing home aides and nurses, and even administrators (who never bother to properly screen those who they will hire, never train those hired or who keep their facility understaffed for higher profit), should be a major concern of families with a loved one in a nursing home.
With help from a highly-skilled nursing home abuse/neglect lawyer, a family may be able to prove and stop incidences of maltreatment, as well as put behind bars the perpetrators of any cruel act.