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Common Types of Nursing Home Abuse

nursing home abuseNursing Home Falls

Lawyers Helping Nursing Home Fall Victims in RI and MA

Many senior citizens, especially those who require nursing home care, are prone to falling due to medical conditions that can limit mobility. That’s why state and federal law requires nursing homes in Massachusetts and Rhode Island to conduct risk assessments on new patients and implement safety procedures in order to prevent falls. When these facilities fail to take proper precautions, residents face an increased risk of serious—and even life-threatening injury.

How Dangerous Are Nursing Home Falls?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that:

  • Nursing homes report one to two falls per bed each year. Many more falls go unreported.
  • On average, nursing home residents fall between two and three times per year.
  • Approximately 50 to 75 percent of nursing home residents suffer at least one fall each year. This rate is more than double the rate of senior citizens living at home.
  • Nursing home falls are responsible for about 1,800 deaths per year, and 10 to 20 percent of falls result in serious injuries.
  • Falls often lead to permanent disabilities, chronic pain, loss of independence, and a lingering fear of falling again. Injuries from one fall may also make it more likely that a nursing home resident will suffer another fall.

What Should I Do After a Nursing Home Fall?

Nursing homes that allow or cause avoidable falls need to be held responsible for their negligence. Victims and their families may be entitled to financial compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses. By taking action, you can also help yourself or your loved one avoid falls in the future.

If you or someone you know has suffered a fall in a nursing home, it is important to seek legal assistance right away. At the Bottaro Law Firm, LLC, our Rhode Island and Massachusetts nursing home lawyers are ready to help protect your rights today.

Prescription Errors

Nursing Home Prescription Errors in Rhode Island and Massachusetts

With almost a third of long-term care patients taking 20 or more prescription medications, and two-thirds taking nine or more prescription drugs, elderly nursing home patients deserve professional assistance to help them take medications properly.

Unfortunately, nursing homes are often negligent in carrying out this essential function, which can adversely affect residents’ prognoses and quality of life.

Common Prescription Errors in Nursing Homes

Most prescription errors can be avoided through proper recordkeeping, training, and attention to detail. When nursing homes fall short in any of these areas, prescription errors can result from negligent practices such as:

  • Prescribing the wrong medication or an improper dosage
  • Co-prescribing of medications that have negative interactions
  • Prescribing drugs that trigger patients’ allergies
  • Transcription errors in labeling medications or sharing prescription information
  • Failure to address dietary restrictions relating to prescription medications
  • Improper administration of properly-prescribed drugs

Specific examples of administration errors include:

  • Failing to provide proper fluids or nutrition
    Many medications need to be taken with fluids or meals. Nursing home staff members who administer prescription medications must be sure that their patients are properly hydrated and fed before providing these drugs for consumption.
  • Failure to observe warning labels
    Along with food and fluid requirements, many medications come with other restrictions and warnings as well. In different situations, failure to follow these warnings can result in either overdose or ineffectiveness of the drug.
  • Overdose, under dose, and failure to administer
    Providing the wrong amount of a prescription medication – whether too much or too little – can have serious implications for a patient’s health and well-being. This can include administering the wrong medication at the wrong time or mixing up different patients’ medications.

Seeking Help for Nursing Home Prescription Errors

Studies show that hundreds of thousands of nursing home residents suffer injuries due to medication errors every year. That’s why residents and their families should be diligent about monitoring their medication regimens.

Do your best to understand what medications you are taking and why you are taking them. If you have questions, seek medical help. Doing so can help doctors and nurses avoid situations that can lead to improper medication.


Nursing Home Malnutrition in Rhode Island and Massachusetts

Malnutrition is among the most dangerous consequences of nursing home neglect and abuse—and it’s also one of the most common. Some studies have shown that as many as a third of all nursing home residents in the United States suffer from malnutrition, dehydration, or both. While malnutrition is a serious concern on its own, it is the risks associated with this avoidable condition that make it particularly dangerous for elderly nursing home residents.

The simple fact is this: With appropriate care, no one living in a nursing home should suffer from malnutrition. No one. Nursing home staff and administrators need to make nutrition a top priority, and if a resident is suffering from a condition that makes him or her susceptible to malnutrition, the nursing home has a duty to ensure that they have the opportunity to receive adequate care in a hospital. With only rare exceptions, any failure that leads to malnutrition in a nursing home is grounds for legal action.

At the Bottaro Law Firm, LLC, we provide experienced legal representation for nursing home residents and their families throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island. All consultations are completely confidential, and a member of our legal team will gladly come to you at a time that fits your schedule. It is important that you act quickly, and we’re ready to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call (401) 777-7777 or contact us online to get started.

Understaffing and Nursing Home Malnutrition

Many nursing homes do not have enough nurses on staff to make sure that their residents get enough to eat and drink. While the solution is simply hiring more qualified nurses and staff members, nursing homes continue to operate understaffed at an alarming rate. How can you tell if a nursing home is understaffed? When we take your case, we will perform a thorough investigation to answer questions such as:

  • What is the nursing home’s staff-to-resident ratio?
  • Are all nurses properly qualified with appropriate training and experience?
  • Are nurses and staff members familiar with residents’ unique dietary needs and restrictions?
  • Are residents’ care plans being consistently followed?
  • Are nurses and other staff members readily available to respond to residents’ needs?

Common Causes of Nursing Home Malnutrition

Even in nursing homes that are adequately staffed, malnutrition is a persistent problem. Why? In our experience, there are a number of recurring causes – all of which are equally unfortunate and avoidable. Along with inadequate staffing, some of the most common factors leading to malnutrition in Massachusetts and Rhode Island nursing homes include:

  • Untrained staff
  • Inadequate staff supervision
  • Deficient nursing home administration
  • Failure to follow a resident’s care plan
  • Failure to supervise meals
  • Failure to adjust a resident’s nutrition following a change in medical condition
  • Failure to identify the initial warning signs of malnutrition
  • Not addressing the nutritional side-effects of a resident’s medications
  • Not monitoring a resident’s intravenous (IV) fluids
  • Other forms of nursing home negligence and abuse

Warning Signs of Nursing Home Malnutrition

If you or an elderly family member living in a Massachusetts or Rhode Island nursing home has been diagnosed with malnutrition or is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, we encourage you to contact us promptly so that we can help:

  • Bloating
  • Confusion
  • Dry skin
  • Fragility
  • Lightheadedness
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Memory loss
  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Tooth decay
  • Weight loss

Contact Attorneys Who Know Nursing Home Abuse Law

At the Bottaro Law Firm, LLC, we are here for you, and we are committed to making sure that our clients receive the treatment they need and the compensation they deserve. Don’t let your situation worsen. Call (401) 777-7777 or contact us online to schedule a free, confidential consultation with a member of our staff.


Dehydration Injuries in Rhode Island and Massachusetts Nursing Homes

In nursing homes across Rhode Island and Massachusetts, an alarming number of elderly individuals suffer from dehydration every year. At the Bottaro Law Firm, LLC, we are experienced in helping the elderly and their families hold nursing homes accountable for the effects of dehydration—a preventable condition that can lead to serious injuries and often leaves nursing home residents and their families struggling with financial and emotional damages.

If you or a loved one has suffered from dehydration in a nursing home, we are here to help you protect yourself and your family and obtain the compensation you deserve.

Nursing Home Negligence and Abuse Can Lead to Dehydration

Along with malnutrition and bedsores, dehydration is one of the most common conditions suffered by victims of nursing home negligence and abuse. Dehydration occurs when the body uses and expels more water than it takes in, and in a nursing home setting, it is easy for this to occur.

Many nursing home residents rely on their caretakers to provide adequate fluids to avoid dehydration, and they may suffer from dehydration as a result of:

  • Being abandoned
  • Having their medications administered improperly
  • Inadequate supervision
  • Lack of access to clean drinking water
  • Unreasonable restraints

In addition, elderly individuals who suffer from the following conditions may be at increased risk for dehydration. All of these are common consequences of medical conditions that can result from inadequate and improper nursing home care:

  • Diarrhea and increased urination
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fever
  • Vomiting

Malnutrition May Also Lead to Dehydration

Nursing home residents who do not receive adequate nutrition may also be at an increased risk for dehydration. Not only do these two problems often go hand-in-hand with inattentive care, but much of the body’s water intake comes from food. As a result, elderly individuals who experience malnutrition frequently suffer from dehydration as well.

Dehydration Causes Serious Health Complications

The risks associated with dehydration are severe. Sadly, elderly people are among those who are at the greatest risk for the serious—or even life-threatening consequences of dehydration, such as:

  • Cerebral edema
    Cerebral edema, or swelling of the brain, is a complication closely linked to dehydration. This is an extremely serious condition that can be fatal when not diagnosed and treated promptly.
  • Coma
    Elderly individuals who suffer from dehydration may fall into a coma.
  • Hypovolemic shock
    Dehydration can cause reduce blood volume, which can lower blood pressure and, ultimately, a lack of oxygen supply for the brain and the body’s other vital organs.
  • Kidney failure
    Dehydration can also lead to kidney failure, preventing removal of waste from the blood. This too can be fatal without prompt medical intervention.
  • Seizures and Coma
    Another consequence of dehydration is an imbalance of electrolytes in the body. This imbalance can cause seizures and loss of consciousness, which can lead to falls and other dangerous injuries and conditions.

Warning Signs of Nursing Home Dehydration

Due to the extreme risks associated with dehydration, it is important for nursing home residents and their family members to be familiar with the warning signs of dehydration. Unfortunately, in many cases residents are unable to help themselves, and their loved ones may not become aware of the problem until it is already too late.

Some of the warning signs and symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry skin
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Dark yellow urine or little to no urination
  • Low blood pressure
  • Persistent or extreme thirst
  • Sunken eyes

If you are concerned that you or an elderly loved one may be suffering from dehydration, you should seek emergency medical attention right away. Then, call the Bottaro Law Firm, LLC and let our Rhode Island and Massachusetts nursing home abuse attorneys investigate your loved one’s injuries and help you hold the facility accountable for their negligence.


Lawyers Investigating Nursing Home Bedsores in Rhode Island and Massachusetts

Decubitus ulcers, also known as “pressure ulcers” or “bedsores” are a common result of inattentive and negligent nursing home care. According to a study published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 10 percent of nursing home residents suffer from decubitus ulcers every year.

While some nursing homes try to argue that there is no preventing bedsores among elderly and bedridden residents, the reality is that these injuries are easily preventable. No one should have to suffer through the agonizing pain and discomfort that can accompany untreated bedsores. If you or a loved one is suffering and you believe that a negligent nursing home may be to blame, the Rhode Island and Massachusetts attorneys at the Bottaro Law Firm, LLC want to fight for you.

Risk Factors for Decubitus Ulcers

Elderly individuals often exhibit many of the risk factors for decubitus ulcers. When combined with the prevalence of negligence and abuse in nursing homes, nursing home residents are among the individuals who are most at risk for suffering these injuries.

Many of the risk factors for decubitus ulcers can be brought on by inadequate care. These include:

  • Weight loss due to malnutrition or dehydration
  • Excess moisture or dryness
  • Diabetes and other medical conditions that affect blood flow
  • Lack of sensory perception due to injuries, such as those resulting from slips and falls

Recognizing a Decubitus Ulcer

Decubitus ulcers are caused by prolonged pressure to the skin. This is a common result of being confined to a wheelchair or bed, which is why decubitus ulcers are also known as bedsores. These painful injuries typically occur in bony areas of the body, including:

  • Ankles
  • Back of the head
  • Elbows
  • Heels
  • Hips
  • Shoulders and shoulder blades
  • Tailbone

When you suffer a decubitus ulcer, the pressure prevents blood supply to the affected area, and this can quickly lead to painful injuries.

Symptoms of Decubitus Ulcers

Decubitus ulcers are classified into four different stages, depending on the level of severity. At Stage I, typical symptoms include:

  • Red or discolored skin that does not lighten when touched
  • Tenderness in the affected area
  • Unusual firmness or softness of the skin
  • The affected area feeling warm or cool when compared to the surrounding skin

If you can seek treatment for a decubitus ulcer at Stage I, it may be possible to make a full recovery with months or weeks of attentive care. Unfortunately, many nursing home residents are reliant upon the individuals who allow them to suffer these injuries in the first place. Some of the symptoms of advanced-stage decubitus ulcers include:

  • Damaged skin or loss of skin
  • Pinkish, red, and crater-like wounds
  • Exposed body fat
  • Exposed muscle, tendons, or bone
  • Yellowish or dark wounds, indicating dead tissue
  • Damage extending beyond the wound site under layers of healthy skin

The Hidden Dangers of Nursing Home Bedsores

Part of the reason that decubitus ulcers are so dangerous is that they can be catalysts for other serious injuries and complications. Nursing home residents who suffer from bedsores may also be at risk for:

  • Cellulitis
  • Infections
  • Injuries and complications from surgical errors
  • Prescription medication errors
  • Sepsis
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (a dangerous form of cancer that forms in chronic wounds)

Sadly, these conditions can make elderly individuals even more reliant on their nursing homes. As a result, victims of decubitus ulcers often find themselves in a cycle of mistreatment and serious illnesses and injuries. At the Bottaro Law Firm, LLC, not only are we here to help you obtain compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other losses caused by nursing home negligence, we can also help you find a new, safer nursing home as well.

Contact Our Nursing Home Negligence and Abuse Lawyers

No one deserves to endure the pain and suffering that come with bedsores. If you need help holding a nursing home accountable, the experienced legal team at the Bottaro Law Firm, LLC wants to fight for you. Call (401) 777-7777 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation—24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Nursing Home Elopement Lawyers Serving Rhode Island and Massachusetts

One of the most basic obligations of a nursing home is to provide adequate supervision to prevent residents from harm. But statistics show that a startling number of nursing home residents wandering at least once, and abusive or otherwise inadequate environments may cause others to attempt to elope, or purposefully leave their facility.

Nursing home residents who wander and elope frequently suffer from dementia and other cognitive impairments. These impairments not only lead them to wander, but make it difficult or impossible for them to take care of themselves and find their way back home as well. This is why it is so critical for nursing homes to protect their residents who may be at risk for wandering or elopement.

Understanding Wandering and Elopement From Nursing Homes

At the Bottaro Law Firm, LLC, our attorneys help nursing home residents and family members who have experienced losses due to wandering and elopement from nursing homes in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. These are what the medical ministry calls “never events.” Like bedsores and other nursing home injuries, with proper care and supervision, wandering and elopement should never be allowed to happen.

While wandering and elopement are often discussed together, they are two distinct issues that can arise from inadequate nursing home care.

Nursing Home Wandering vs. Elopement

Wandering is the term used to describe the situation where residents walk aimlessly around a nursing home, without regard for their own safety or personal needs.

Wandering nursing home residents are at risk for falls and other injuries resulting from inadequate supervision, dangerous conditions on the premises, access to stairwells, access to medications, and other major safety concerns. While certain conditions may be reasonably safe for the average person, they can present significant health and safety risks for elderly individuals who may be frail or have cognitive impairments.

Elopement refers to the situation where an elderly resident purposefully leaves their nursing home. Eloping without supervision and without the resident’s medications can lead to dire, and in some cases life-endangering circumstances. One study has shown that 10 percent of all lawsuits against nursing homes involve claims arising out of an elopement, with 70 percent of all elopement lawsuits involving a fatal incident.

Risk Factors for Wandering and Elopement

Cognitive impairments are the leading cause of wandering and elopement among elderly nursing home residents. Residents who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia may be particularly prone to wandering and eloping from their facilities.

Along with a resident’s own risk factors, factors relating to the quality of their nursing home care can increase the risk of wandering and elopement as well. The following forms of improper care can all lead a nursing home resident to wander or elope:

  • Abandonment
  • Inadequate supervision
  • Injuries
  • Malnutrition, dehydration, and other failures to meet their basic needs
  • Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse

These can all lead to the most common reasons that nursing home residents wander and elope:

  • Anxiety or fear
    Elderly individuals with dementia and other mental illnesses may react to stressful situations by seeking to leave.
  • Boredom
    Nursing home residents who feel isolated may wander or get lost while simply looking for something to do.
  • Following past routines
    Dementia and other cognitive impairments may lead elderly patients to attempt to follow past routines, such as going to the store.
  • Seeking to fulfill basic needs
    Nursing home residents who have been abused, abandoned, or ignored may wander or elope in an effort to provide for their own basic needs.