Common Injury Claims in Virginia Nursing Homes
Nursing homes and residential care facilities should be safe places for families to place their loved ones. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some homes cut costs and operate on minimal staff numbers. Common injury claims in Virginia nursing homes include falls with fractures, bedsores, medication errors, and claims arising from residents wandering.
The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the true extent of the problems in the nursing home industry. AARP reported the coronavirus killed over 184,000 nursing home patients in the United States. Virginia lost hundreds of residents.
According to a ProPublica report in April 2021, recent inspections of 286 Virginia nursing homes found 31 homes with serious deficiencies and 255 with infection-related deficiencies. The list of homes fined for serious deficiencies included facilities in Williamsburg, Virginia Beach, Suffolk, and Norfolk.
Nursing homes and residential care facilities can be held liable for visible injuries to residents as well as other forms of elder abuse such as emotional and psychological abuse and financial exploitation. The most common injury claims at Virginia nursing home arise from the instances below.
Falls with Fractures at Virginia Nursing Homes
Falls are among the most common causes of injuries in Virginia nursing homes and residential facilities. Although elderly people are often less steady on their feet and more likely to break a bone than younger people, a nursing home may be held liable for these injuries.
Falls are one of the most common causes of injuries to elderly people in care facilities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to three-quarters of elderly residents of nursing homes suffer at least one fall every year. Falls at Virginia nursing homes and assisted living facilities can cause serious injuries, ongoing pain and suffering, and result in lawsuits against the homes.
The CDC states about 20 percent of nursing home falls cause serious injuries. Falls are also the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries. Common causes of falls in nursing homes and residential care homes include a failure to fit bedrails correctly, meaning a resident falls out of bed, or a failure to assist a resident into a wheelchair. Although homes are the subject of strict standards to safeguard residents from falls, nursing home staff are often inexperienced, poorly trained, or overworked.
Virginia care homes are under considerable financial pressures. Like many other sectors, they are dealing with a recruiting crisis. Many struggled to find and retain experienced nursing staff before the pandemic. They often fail to meet the needs of elderly residents with acute conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia who are more likely to tumble over. Some residents may be over-medicated or under-medicated, leaving them at great risk of taking a fall. On occasions, negligent staff at homes leave trip hazards for residents to fall over.
Bedsore Injuries at Virginia Nursing Homes
The failure of nursing home staff to move elderly residents may result in bedsores. Although some facilities downplay bedsores, these can be serious and life-threatening injuries.
Bedsores are also known as pressure ulcers and decubitus ulcers. Neglect at a nursing home or an assisted living facility is the most common cause of this injury. Bedsores are a high risk for patients with limited mobility and residents who remain in beds or chairs for hours at a time.
Bedsores are produced by prolonged pressure on the skin. The ulcers are tissue damage that occurs beneath the upper-epidermal layers of the patient’s skin. Bedsores are most likely to occur on the skin that covers the bony areas of elderly residents’ bodies. They are most common on ankles, heels, hips, and the tailbone or the backs of legs, and arms. The failure of staff to treat a bedsore can lead to an open wound and life-threatening infections.
Medication Errors at Virginia Nursing Homes
Medication errors should never occur at Virginia nursing homes. Unfortunately, this remains a common cause of elder abuse. Decades ago, nursing home residents in the United States were often sedated to make the life of nurses and care assistants easier. Although over-medication is prohibited, some homes continue to give heavy doses. This is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening practice.
Giving too little medication can fail to adequately treat a medical condition and leave a resident in pain. According to a study by the Medication Error Quality Initiative, the most common negligent medication errors include administering expired medications, giving too much or too little medication, skipping doses, using incorrect administration techniques, giving residents medication that they are allergic to, or failing to monitor a resident after medication. While nursing homes are seldom able to conceal an injury such as a fracture from a fall from family members, medication errors habitually go unchecked.
Wandering and Elopement at Virginia Nursing Homes
Family members who place an elderly loved one into a nursing home or an assisted care home in Virginia, have a right to expect their relative will be safe and secure within four walls. Sadly, this is not always the case.
Elderly residents with conditions like dementia are prone to wander. If homes fail to secure their premises, residents can walk off and quickly come to grief on highways or succumb to hot or cold temperatures. This is known as wandering and elopement. It’s a more common problem than many family members think due to understaffing, poor security, and overworked nurses and caregivers.
When elderly residents walk out of nursing homes they can become seriously ill or die in a matter of hours. Nursing homes sometimes fail to report disappearances immediately to the police, losing valuable time in the hunt for a missing resident. These are just a few of the common injury claims in Virginia nursing homes. Unfortunately, there are many other instances of elder abuse. Homes should be held accountable for failures to protect their vulnerable residents.
Talk to a Virginia Nursing Home Injury Attorney About Filing a Claim
Every year, care and nursing homes in Virginia and elsewhere face lawsuits over the injuries or the deaths of residents. Nursing homes have a high duty of care to look after their residents. Staff must actively protect residents from falls and make sure they are properly medicated. If your loved one has been mistreated, please contact our Virginia nursing home lawyers as soon as possible.