Nursing Home Neglect Signals

In 2002, Andrew Schneider and Phillip O’Connor wrote an article in the St. Louis Dispatch entitled, “Nation’s Nursing Homes are Quietly Killing Thousands.” In this article they discuss how thousands of elderly Americans have died due to neglect in nursing homes. Bed sores, malnutrition, and dehydration are the main causes of death in these nursing home neglect cases. All of these problem can easily be solved. In one case a man named Donald Mallory, lost 40 pounds in a 37-day stay in the former Claywest Nursing Home in St. Charles. Court records say that 60 year old Mallory, was dehydrated, malnourished, and severely infected with bedsores when he died. Doctors who reviewed Mallory’s medical records for a lawsuit said neglect caused his death. This is only one of thousands of cases of easily avoidable deaths.

Louisiana Sen. John Breaux, a Democrat and chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, called deaths from nursing home neglect “a hidden problem.” Investigations by his staff and other research show that 500,000 to 5 million cases of elderly neglect and abuse take place in institutions and private homes each year, although about 80 percent go unreported.

In this article, the Post-Dispatch examined the death certificates and the physicians’ evaluations of 55 nursing home residents in Missouri and Illinois who died in the past two years and whose relatives decided to sue for neglect. The newspaper found that the cause of death listed on the certificate differed from what physicians said the medical records actually showed in 42 of the 55 cases. In 40 of these cases, the nursing homes involved agreed to a settlement with the family before trial or were found in civil proceedings to have committed neglect.

If you see any of the following signs of elderly abuse in nursing homes, they should be immediately investigated:

  • Unexplained bruises, cuts, burns, sprains, or fractures in various stages of healing.
  • Bedsores or frozen joints.
  • Unexplained venereal disease or genital infections; vaginal or anal bleeding; torn, stained, or bloody underclothing.
  • Sudden changes in behavior.
  • Staff refusing to allow visitors to see resident or delays in allowing visitors to see resident.
  • Staff not allowing resident to be alone with visitor.
  • Resident being kept in an over-medicated state.
  • Loss of resident’s possessions.
  • Sudden large withdrawals from bank accounts or changes in banking practices.
  • Abrupt changes in will or other financial documents.

If you suspect that a loved one has been neglected at a nursing home, please call us for a free consultation at 618-426-1077. Someone needs to stand up for your loved one and, at WWF&G, we have valuable experience in nursing home neglect cases. Get your loved ones the safety and care that they deserve.