A series of articles by the Chicago Tribune on the poor state of Illinois nursing homes has prompted public action, the latest of which is an increase in surprise inspections to local nursing homes by state officials. Surprise inspections are key in maintaining a safe and healthy environment for nursing home residents and protecting against instances of Illinois nursing home abuse. These investigations ensure that Illinois nursing homes are up to state standards and represent a safe environment for their residents.
However, a recent Chicago Tribune article has uncovered further information that suggests Illinois nursing homes are not as safe as these investigations indicate. According to the article’s sources, several Chicago area nursing homes have possibly been tipped off that their facilities were going to be investigated, giving them time to prepare for the ‘surprise’ inspection. Those facilities that were aware of the pending inspections supposedly increased the staff and presented a false image of the facilities on the date of inspection.
Traditional Illinois nursing home abuse cases focus on negligence or abuse by the nursing home and often are a result of inadequate care by the nursing home staff. For example, one common nursing home negligence claim is that the nursing home failed to prevent the development and spread of decubitus ulcers, also known as pressure sores. There is a high incidence of pressure sores developing in bedridden patients or patients with limited mobility, a category which a high number of nursing home residents fall into.
In order to prevent the development of pressures ulcers, a nursing home must develop and implement a plan to prevent the skin breakdown. This plan typically includes a schedule for repositioning the patient every few hours, a special type of mattress designed to ease the pressure on the resident’s skin, and a careful monitoring for incontinence issues. If a nursing home fails to establish and implement a skin care plan they could be found guilty of nursing home abuse.
In addition, instances of poor care can result from understaffing at the nursing home, or can be due to a lack of training. Therefore, the perception is that an increase in nursing home staff, in compliance with the newly revised Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, will decrease the occurrences of medical negligence amongst nursing home residents. However, if nursing homes are incorrectly representing the number of staff typically present for each shift then this impairs the state’s ability to cite nursing home noncompliance and suggest improvements.
State officials are taking the allegations of security leaks very seriously and have even gone so far as to tighten the security around the investigation schedule. In addition, officials are also investigating the source of the alleged leaks in an effort to increase the effectiveness of the nursing home investigations and improve the overall quality of Illinois nursing homes.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois nursing abuse lawsuits for over 30 years, serving those areas in and around Chicago, including Cicero, Chicago Heights, Wheaton, and Skokie.
Gary Marx and David Jackson. “Inspection was no surprise to nursing home- State investigating possible tipoff by city official.” Chicago Tribune. September 1, 2010.
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