Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Cases Should Not be Confused with Medical Malpractice Cases

As the baby boom generation ages, the population of nursing homes is also expanding. Elderly Americans and Illinois residents who reside in nursing homes are likely the most vulnerable members of this aging society. Nursing home cases should not be confused with medical malpractice cases. A medical malpractice case typically concerns particular acts of negligence, such as a failed surgery or misdiagnosis. In contrast, nursing home cases do not involve a particular or discreet act of negligence. Rather, a nursing home abuse case in Illinois involves a pattern of sub-standard care, abuse or neglect.

For example, a nursing home abuse case may involve bedsores. Bedsores can be wounds of the flesh that take form over many days, weeks or even months. A nursing home resident who is dehydrated or suffers from malnutrition would not be the result of a single wrongful act.

Many nursing home cases arise from substandard care, abuse or neglect. Often nursing homes in Illinois operate without a single on-site treating physician; instead, they have only one who may make regular rounds. At the same time, most well-run nursing home facilities provide treatment by a resident physician, a nursing home administrator, a well-trained nursing staff, CNAs, physical and occupational therapists, speech pathologists, wound care doctors, dieticians and other medical and nursing providers.

In medical malpractice cases, the medical standard of care is the touchstone for whether negligence occurred. It’s not the same in nursing home cases.

In nursing home abuse cases, the standards of care are dictated by federal and Illinois statutes, regulations and guidelines. The federal nursing home regulations are found in 42 CFR §483. Illinois is governed by the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. The federal nursing home regulations and guidelines are often referred to as OBRA standards. OBRA stands for the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987, which was the essence of the federal nursing home regulations. Illinois and most other states track the OBRA standards.

Specifically, OBRA standards require that nursing homes must be regularly evaluated and that non-compliance can result in citations and fines. The OBRA standards and the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act cover most aspects of nursing home care delivery. The OBRA standards cover what the nursing home may or may not do in the care and treatment of residents. In fact, the standards require that the nursing home provide “the highest practicable physical, mental and psychological well-being, in accordance with the comprehensive assessment and plan of care”. 42 CFR §483.25; 10-144 CMR, Ch. 110-13.A.8.

These OBRA standards and Illinois law specify that nursing homes may not neglect its residents or mistreat them either physically or mentally or impair them by lack of treatment or otherwise deprive residents of essential needs. This includes the demands of hydration, nutrition, diet and food preparation. Record-keeping is also important, and nursing homes are required to keep accurate and full records of each resident.

There are a variety of nursing home cases that do not involve medical malpractice. These include pressure sores or bedsores, failure to adequately nourish or hydrate a resident, physical or mental abuse or choosing not to properly restrain a resident, negligent administration of prescription drugs and medications; failure to notify a physician or family member of significant physical, mental or wellness change of a resident; failure to properly supervise and monitor a resident that results in wandering, elopement, falls or other kinds of injuries and also to protect residents from hostile or belligerent acts of another resident or personnel of the nursing home.

There are many more possible instances of harm that can be suffered by a nursing home resident in Illinois. Family members and loved ones are implored to spend time at the nursing home facility to see to it that proper and diligent care is provided. If you should become aware of some omission or lack of care, it should be reported immediately to the nursing home administrator.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling nursing home abuse cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Merionette Park, Alsip, Crestwood, Forest Park, Park Forest, Park Ridge, Des Plaines, Wheeling, Vernon Hills, Deerfield, Chicago (Logan Square, Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village, Little Italy, Pilsen, Lawndale, Austin, Portage Park, Sauganash, Edgebrook, Irving Park), Summit, Countryside, Country Club Hills, South Holland and Orland Park, Ill.

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