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Prosecutors cite negligence, abuse in nursing home fatality

When families are exploring their options for admitting a loved one to a nursing care facility, it can be an emotional and difficult process. To make the decision a little easier, facilities often promote the fact that they have the staff, resources and technology to help people feel better and get the care they require. These are essential factors in a family's decision.

However, too many facilities in and around Illinois fall short of providing the quality care they have promised to families. In reality, many are short-staffed or employ workers who are not trained properly. There are also places where claims of abuse or neglect are ignored. The victims of this substandard care can be left to suffer serious illnesses or injuries that put their life in danger. One 72-year-old woman fell victim to alleged negligence when staff workers at a nursing home ignored alarms signaling that she was in distress.

According to reports, the woman was suffering from a number of health issues that left her unable to care for herself. She relied on a ventilator but was admitted to a facility that was supposed to help wean her off the mechanical breathing device.

The facility boasted thorough measures designed to monitor patients and alert staff members if anyone was in distress. On the day that the woman passed away, all those systems appeared to be functioning properly, but the staff members failed to respond to the multiple alerts that sounded when something was off with the woman's blood oxygen and pulse.

Due to the inaction of the staff, the woman died in the very facility that was supposed to help her feel better. Seven people are now facing both criminal and civil charges. Authorities are also looking into claims of negligence on the part of the state Health Department for failing to investigate previous complaints regarding the facility.

There is nothing that can bring a loved one back or truly compensate a family after a tragic loss like this one. However, by taking legal action against a negligent party, family members can work to hold the appropriate parties accountable and shine some light on what may be a much bigger problem.

Source: Newsday, "Medford case puts elder care into the spotlight," Joye Brown, July 7, 2014

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