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Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Unsanitary Conditions?

Under state and federal laws, failure to provide safe housing and proper care is considered to be a form of neglect or abuse. Illinois nursing home residents harmed by unsanitary living conditions have the right to sue for damages through a nursing home abuse lawyer Woodstock.


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Infographic, Can you sue a Nursing Home for Unsanitary Conditions


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Nursing Home Neglect

Nursing homes are required by law to provide proper care to their residents. When Illinois residents are harmed by improper care, many file lawsuits with a nursing home abuse lawyer Woodstock for damages. The consequences of nursing home neglect range from minor to severe, but the physical and psychological damage is almost always harsh due to the frailty of elderly residents. Many victims of nursing home neglect are ignored or silenced, unable to speak up for their own rights. Nursing homes owe a duty of care to make sure the basic needs of their residents are met. According to law, specific acts among nursing home employees and staff which can be regarded as neglect include:
  • Failure to provide residents with proper shelter
  • Failure to assist residents with personal hygiene
  • Failure to provide residents with clean and proper clothing
  • Failure to protect residents from health and safety hazards
Elder neglect is considered to be a form of elder abuse under state and federal laws. Elder abuse refers to physical abuse, as well as the deprivation of basic life needs including suitable housing, clean sheets and clothes, and proper hygiene for the express purpose of reducing the risk of harmful infections and maintenance of human dignity. Medical studies show that unsanitary conditions in nursing homes increase the risk of harmful infections in elderly residents who typically have depressed immune systems due to age and illness. A nursing home abuse lawyer Woodstock often sees Illinois nursing home residents who have suffered from painful bed sores and serious skin infections due to unsanitary conditions and poor hygiene.

Unsanitary Conditions

Many nursing home residents are incapable of even the most basic functions such as bathing or showering, changing their clothes, and brushing their teeth. When a resident's basic needs are neglected, the consequences can be devastating to the resident's health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports for unsanitary nursing home conditions commonly include:
  • Soiled bedding and clothing
  • Unsanitary bathroom facilities
  • Foul smells in living quarters
  • Bed bugs, rashes or lice
  • Repeated viral, bacterial and fungal infections
  • Heat related illnesses including dehydration and heat stroke
  • Patient bed sores
  • Patient hair loss, uncombed hair, and bloody scalp
In addition to the disregard for residents' basic needs, many nursing homes are cited for unsanitary facilities. Reports show that patient rooms, bathroom floors, toilets, showers, and bathtubs are not properly sanitized, leading to the spread of germs that cause disease and infections. Kitchen areas, where food is cooked and served, are often found to be improperly and inadequately cleaned on a regular basis. Kitchen staff are often cited for unsafe handling of food. Resident dining areas including tables and chairs, buffet tables, and floors are not properly sanitized on a daily basis. All of these unsanitary conditions can provide a breeding ground for germs, resulting in a variety of viral and bacterial infections that are often difficult to treat in the elderly. In Illinois, a nursing home abuse lawyer Woodstock often sees cases of influenza and pneumonia attributed to unsanitary facility conditions.

Illinois Nursing Home Regulations

Illinois nursing homes are required to comply with state and federal regulations. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) ensures that nursing homes comply with mandatory state regulations. Every year, IDPH responds to approximately 6,000 complaints and conducts over 1,300 on-site inspections to evaluate nursing home staff, equipment, policies and finances. According to state regulations, nursing homes must provide the highest quality of resident care possible. Facilities that fail to meet these standards are subject to fines and other enforcement actions. Residents who suffer harm due to lack of proper care, including unsanitary living conditions, can sue for damages through a nursing home abuse lawyer Woodstock.

Illinois nursing home inspections are typically conducted once every 12 months without notice to the facility. On-site inspections are conducted by state surveyors with qualified teams that evaluate all aspects of nursing home practices and resident care. State inspections often include observation of residential care, evaluation of medical records, and interviews with staff, residents and family members. All alleged cases of abuse and resident accidents, injuries or deaths are promptly investigated. After each inspection, IDPH findings are given to nursing home administrators. If state or federal violations are found, the facility is cited for deficiencies.

Nursing home residents have legal rights. Illinois now allows in-room video monitoring cameras in residents' rooms to help in the prevention of nursing home neglect and abuse. If a lawsuit is filed, evidence collected from in-room monitors is allowed in Illinois courts.

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