The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act was recently reformed in order to address the safety of Illinois nursing homes. The reform comes on the heels of a series of articles by the Chicago Tribune documenting regular acts of nursing home abuse, including rape, murder, and assault, against geriatric residents by younger psychiatric residents and convicted felons.
The Illinois nursing home reform will begin by tightening psychological screening and required criminal background checks for new nursing home residents in order to determine which potentially dangerous residents should be placed in secure therapeutic wards that are separated from the rest of the nursing home facility. In order to address potentially dangerous residents already housed in Illinois nursing homes and limit occurrences of nursing home abuse, the reform measures will transfer thousands of mentally disturbed patients into smaller units structured to provide better supervision and therapy for those patients.
In addition, those nursing homes that admit mentally ill patients will be required to obtain an additional certification that demonstrates the facility and its staff are equipped to effectively monitor and treat these residents. A current problem with Illinois nursing homes is that they are understaffed and lack adequate training to deal with non-geriatric patients. These new standards will effect to combat these potential causes of Illinois nursing home abuse.
In addition, new nursing home standards will be written that will set staffing requirements. These standards are expected to include provisions requiring psychiatric professionals be available on a 24-hour basis and that all staff is trained in managing aggression and preventing crises. These new standards could affect the way Illinois nursing home abuse lawsuits are filed and litigated considering that these standards dictate the level of care that Illinois nursing homes are required to provide under law.
In Illinois, both medical malpractice cases and nursing home malpractice lawsuits require that the treaters failed to provide treatment required according to a reasonable standard of care. The standard of care is defined as the level of care an average, reasonable medical professional would provide in similar circumstances. When the standard of care is violated then medical malpractice has occurred. The new staffing requirements and standard of safety could increase the level nursing homes are held to under the standard of care requirement.
Another key provision in the reform bill will increase Illinois residents’ ability to identify potentially unsafe nursing homes. Currently the Illinois Nursing Home Act lacks a comprehensive database that tracks violent incidents, but the new reform bill includes provisions to establish such a database. This provision will make it easier for Illinois residents to find a quality nursing home for their loved ones.
While the Illinois nursing home reform will require a great deal of manpower and effort to implement, the hope is that the reform decreases the wide-spread violence and low-quality care within Illinois nursing homes and improve the quality of life for its residents.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois nursing home abuse lawsuits for over 30 years, serving those areas in and around Cook County, including Wilmette, Oak Park, Bolingbrook, and Blue Island.
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