If your loved one is experiencing repeated urinary tract infections (UTIs), this may be a sign of nursing home neglect. Since UTIs can cause extreme pain and be potentially fatal in those with weakened immune systems, it's important to understand your legal options for protecting your loved one.
About Urinary Tract Infections
A UTI can occur in the bladder, urethra, and kidneys. Bladder UTIs are sometimes referred to as cystitis, and UTIs in the urethra are sometimes referred to as urethritis. Some signs of a urinary tract infection in a nursing home resident include:
- Cloudy and/or foul-smelling urine
- Blood in the urine
- Pelvic pain
- Back pain
A UTI is diagnosed with a urine sample, which is tested for the bacteria that cause infection. Treatment involves a course of antibiotics, with pain relievers to minimize discomfort during the healing process. Patients are also advised to increase their fluid intake to help flush the harmful bacteria from their system.
A UTI can cause nursing home residents to feel as if they need to use the toilet constantly. When there is a lack of adequate staffing in the facility, this increases the risk of falls.
UTIs that have been left untreated can lead to hallucinations and an increase in dementia-like symptoms. This also increases the risk of accidents and self-harm. In severe cases, untreated UTIs can lead to sepsis. Sometimes referred to as blood poisoning, this complication can be fatal.
UTIs and Nursing Home Neglect
People of all ages can develop a UTI. However, repeated UTIs in nursing home residents may be caused by poor sanitation and a lack of attentive nursing care. For example:
- Unchanged clothing, bed sheets, and bed pans
- Residents allowed to sit in soiled adult diapers for an extended period of time
- Overuse of catheters
- Improper sanitation when changing catheters
- Not recognizing the early symptoms of a UTI to prevent further complications
Evidence of neglect that may be used to pursue a legal complaint includes medical records, photographs, testimony from family members, and notes detailing conversations with staff or the resident.
Often, a nursing home resident who is suffering from repeated UTIs will have experienced other problems that could be considered elder abuse. This may include choking, bed sores, and complications due to incorrectly administered medications. Verbal abuse or physical abuse from staff members could also be a concern.
Taking Legal Action
If you have concerns about the quality of care your loved one is receiving, you should first attempt to resolve the issue with the nursing home administrators. However, if there is no improvement, it's imperative that you take prompt action to move your loved one to a safer facility, and contact an attorney to protect your legal rights.
A nursing home neglect case is a type of civil complaint related to damages stemming from a nursing home injury or case of abuse. A settlement can include the following types of damages:
- Necessary medical treatment related to neglect such as diagnostic tests, antibiotics, and a hospital stay to address complications of infection
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental pain and suffering
- Punitive damages, if the case involves a severe pattern of neglect
The value of a claim will depend on a number of different factors, including the resident's overall health at the time of admission, the severity of the injury, the track record of the facility, and any related investigative agency findings. In most cases, claims are settled out of court.
If your loved one is using Medicaid or Medicare benefits to pay for nursing home care, these programs will be legally entitled to a percentage of funds recovered in a lawsuit.
Schedule a Free Consultation
The experienced nursing home abuse attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault are committed to helping Louisiana residents protect their right to compensation in nursing home neglect cases. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation case review. Appointments are available at six convenient office locations throughout the state.