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It can be difficult to know what to do when you have concerns about an elderly loved one’s safety in a nursing home in Los Angeles County or elsewhere in Southern California. Whether you are visiting a family member in a nursing home or you have other reasons for suspecting abuse or neglect after talking to a loved one or speaking with a healthcare provider, it is important to know what steps you should take. Consider the following tips from our Los Angeles County nursing home neglect lawyers.

Do Not Second Guess Your Instincts

If you have concerns about a senior’s health or well-being in a nursing home, and especially if you have concerns about elder abuse or neglect at a facility, it is critical that you trust yourself and that you do not second-guess your instincts. Many family members feel uncertain about reporting abuse or taking action when they have concerns about an elderly resident. Indeed, some people feel concerned about erroneously making a report about abuse or neglect concerns or moving forward with a complaint against a facility. You should trust yourself, and you should remember that the most important thing is ensuring that a senior you love is not being harmed because of abuse or neglect. As such, making a report or filing a complaint may often be necessary.

Nursing home neglect can take many different forms in San Diego County. In some cases, a senior in a nursing home or assisted living facility might be harmed as a result of willful deprivation, where a staff member refuses to provide the senior with the medications, medical devices, or care they need. Under most circumstances, however, nursing home neglect is not intentional. Rather, injuries arising out of neglect in Southern California result from issues like understaffing, lack of appropriate training for staff members, and ultimately, a failure for an elderly nursing home resident to receive the care they need without any intention by the facility to cause harm. Yet just because a nursing home or assisted living facility in San Diego County does not intend to cause injuries or any other type of harm does not mean that the facility cannot be held accountable.

Infections are one type of harm for which nursing homes and assisted living facilities in San Diego County can be liable if any infection results from negligence. Our San Diego County nursing home negligence attorneys can provide you with more information.

Nursing Homes Have a Duty to Prevent Infections

Older adults in San Bernardino County nursing homes are at greater risk of severe injuries from falls than younger adults. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls among adults aged 65 and older result in about 34,000 deaths yearly and three million emergency department visits. In terms of the economic costs of senior falls, the CDC reports that falls among older adults cost approximately $50 billion annually in medical care. There are many different reasons that older adults are more likely to fall and that those falls are more likely to result in severe injuries. Older adults are more likely to be on medications that make balancing difficult. Physical conditions can make it more challenging to get out of bed or shower without falling. In addition, older adults — and women in particular — may have bone density issues that can make a severe fracture more likely when a fall does occur.

When falls happen at nursing homes, is the nursing home liable? To determine liability, it will be important to have an experienced San Bernardino nursing home negligence lawyer assess your case. In the meantime, the following are some questions you can ask yourself to consider whether the nursing home could be responsible for damages resulting from a fall.

Did the Fall Result From a Hazard on the Nursing Home Premises?

Southern California experiences year-round high temperatures, but the summer months can be particularly intense in Orange County. People of all ages can experience heat-related injuries due to exposure, but older adults can be particularly susceptible to heat-related injuries as a result of their increased susceptibility to dehydration and health complications. It is critical for nursing homes to take steps to prevent heat-related illnesses and injuries, monitor patients for signs of heat-related illnesses and injuries, and take immediate action when a resident shows signs of a heat-related illness or injury. When a nursing home resident does experience an injury as a result of the heat, the nursing home could be negligent. You should get in touch with an experienced Orange County nursing home neglect lawyer who can help you with your case.

Recognizing the Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses and Injuries

Heat-related illnesses and injuries can range from mild to severe, and they can affect older adults in serious ways. As the Mayo Clinic explains, dehydration is especially common among the elderly when they do not drink enough water or experience exposure to high temperatures. There are a few reasons for increased susceptibility to dehydration and heat-related illnesses among seniors, including the fact that “older adults naturally have a lower volume of water in their bodies,” and older nursing home residents frequently take medications that place them at greater risk of dehydration and heat-related illness during heat waves. 

When you have concerns about an elderly loved one’s safety in a nursing home, it can be difficult to identify signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse. Under some circumstances, it might seem as though there are logical explanations for certain indicators of abuse or neglect, while in other situations, the signs and symptoms of abuse simply might not be obvious. While it is critical for friends and family members of nursing home residents to know how to spot indicators of abuse, it is also important to remember that residents may be able to provide key information about neglect or negligence taking place at the nursing home. Although seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia may not be able to voice their concerns directly, certain questions may be able to provide helpful information.

When you have a loved one in a nursing home, you should learn about the types of questions you can ask to identify indications of abuse. The following types of questions may be able to reveal abuse or neglect.

Questions Concerning Daily Activities

Nursing home abuse injuries can affect any resident of a nursing home in San Diego County or elsewhere in Southern California, regardless of age, sex, or health condition. However, it is important to know that there are risk factors that can make it more likely that a nursing home resident will be subject to nursing home abuse or neglect. To be clear, the fact that a nursing home resident has one or more of the most common risk factors for abuse does not necessarily mean that the resident will be subject to abuse, but that they are at greater risk for harm from abuse or neglect. Consider some of the following risk factors that could make elder abuse or neglect in a nursing home more likely.

Physical Health Issues

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), physical health and mobility issues are common risk factors for nursing home abuse. When an older adult requires assistance with physical care, mobility, and activities of daily living (ADLs), that older adult is more likely to be subject to abuse or passive neglect. Activities of daily living can include dressing and eating, but they can also include bathing and bathroom assistance. Not only can these seniors be at greater risk for acts of intentional physical or emotional abuse, but they can also be more likely to suffer injuries if they do not receive the level of care they need.

Nursing home restraints in Los Angeles County and throughout the state of California can only be used in certain circumstances, and they are generally not appropriate in cases where a lack of restraints would be sufficient to provide a nursing home resident with the care they need. If you have an elderly loved one who was physically or chemically restrained in their nursing home, it may be possible to file a nursing home abuse claim. Our Los Angeles County nursing home neglect lawyers want to provide you with more information about restraints and when they cannot be used for residents of skilled nursing facilities.

Understanding Physical and Chemical Restraints

Generally speaking, there are two types of restraints that can be employed in a nursing home setting — physical restraints and chemical restraints.

When nursing homes in San Bernardino County fail to provide adequate care to residents who are confined to their beds or have trouble with mobility, those residents can develop bed sores. While early stage bed sores can usually be treated effectively, bed sores that worsen can result in debilitating and life-threatening harm. In fact, in some cases, bed sores can result in fatal infections. What causes bed sores in Southern California nursing homes, and what should you do if you have an elderly loved one who developed bed sores under a nursing home’s watch? Our San Bernardino nursing home abuse lawyers can assist you.

Learning About the Causes of Bed Sores in Nursing Homes

What usually causes bed sores in nursing homes in San Bernardino County? According to the Mayo Clinic, bed sores result from “pressure against the skin that limits blood flow to the skin.” There are major contributing factors that often involve nursing home negligence, as well as risk factors for certain residents. The Mayo Clinic identifies the following as the three major contributing factors to bed sore injuries:

Currently, when nursing homes in Orange County and elsewhere in the country receive payments from Medicaid, they are able to spend the payments on facility maintenance, operations, and even toward profits. According to a recent article in California Healthline, newly proposed legislation could change that, requiring nursing homes in California to spend those Medicaid payments on patient care alone. There are currently about 15,500 nursing homes in the United States, and the article underscores that the Biden administration is considering making this change for all nursing homes nationwide. In the meantime, however, California lawmakers are considering making the change across the state. 

A bill that is currently being considered “would require nursing homes to spend at least 85% of revenue from all payers on direct care for residents.” What do you need to know about potential changes and how they could limit nursing home abuse injuries in Southern California? 

Pandemic Has Changed the Way Many Think About Nursing Home Safety

Whether you have an elderly loved one in a nursing home in Riverside County or elsewhere in Southern California, it is extremely important to pay attention to signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse or neglect. Yet family members and friends alone should not bear the immense responsibility of identifying indicators of abuse or nursing home negligence. Rather, state laws should be in place to protect seniors at skilled nursing facilities from injuries resulting from intentional abuse and passive neglect. According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, California lawmakers “are considering several proposals” aimed at making facilities safer, “including changes to nursing home licensing rules.”

Assembly Bill 1502 Would Prevent Nursing Home Owners From Operating Without a License

Did you know that it is actually possible for a nursing home operator to buy a skilled nursing facility and even to run a nursing home in the state of California without obtaining a license to do so? According to the article, the process has been described as “backward and unique to the state.” Indeed, according to California state Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, “in California, nursing home owners and operators can operate without a license even after they have been denied a license.” As a result, Muratsuchi explained, “many of these owners and operators have, unfortunately, an extensive history of neglect and abuse.”

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