When it’s time to find a nursing home for your aging loved one, it can be an emotionally difficult process. Once you’ve put in the hard work of finding a place that’s a good fit, you should be able to rest easy in the knowledge that your parent or other relative is living comfortably and with around-the-clock care when it’s necessary. Unfortunately, every year, a substantial number of nursing home patients sustain a serious injury while at the facility, sometimes with devastating results.
Spinal cord injuries are a type of injury that nursing home residents should never sustain. When they do, they are almost certainly entitled to compensation for their losses, including their medical expenses and lost quality of life. As a result, if your loved one sustained an SCI in a nursing home setting, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
Nursing Home Abuse and Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing homes owe all their residents a duty of care, which includes individually assessing each for his or her specific health needs and then implementing a plan of care that effectively addresses these needs. Nursing home neglect is a subset of nursing home abuse in which the caregivers fail to take care of a resident’s physical, medical, nutritional, emotional, social, and/or hygiene needs to the detriment of that resident.
Nursing home abuse, on the other hand, is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a staff member’s or administrator’s intentional action (or failure to act) that causes the resident to be harmed or to be at risk of being harmed. Such abuse can be physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, or financial. Nursing home neglect is often the result of an overworked staff that simply can’t get to everyone’s needs—and doesn’t. Nursing home abuse is something much more nefarious.
If your loved one has suffered a serious injury—like a spinal cord injury—in the nursing home, you know how devastating that is. Nursing home abuse can lead to such injuries, and you need an experienced nursing home abuse attorney. At the Hughey Law Firm in Charleston, our dedicated nursing home abuse attorneys have the skill, experience, and compassion to aggressively advocate for your loved one’s dignity, rights, and just compensation.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are usually extremely serious injuries. A healthy spinal cord is essential to overall health. The spinal cord, coupled with the brain, comprises the central nervous system, which is responsible for coordinating all the body’s physical movements and sensations—a serious responsibility. A serious spinal cord injury can decrease the brain’s ability to send messages to different parts of the body, which can result in sensory dysfunctions related to where the spinal cord is injured (and below). Often, this includes some degree of paralysis. Spinal cord injuries in the elderly are especially dangerous.
Spinal cord injuries are caused by damage to the vertebrae, the ligaments, or the discs in the spinal cord—or to the spinal cord itself. Every spinal cord injury is unique to its own circumstances, and these injuries don’t always immediately present with symptoms, as sometimes it takes time for swelling to occur. This can make spinal cord injuries that much more difficult to detect and treat. This function of spinal cord injuries can also make them more difficult to identify in nursing home residents—further complicating nursing home abuse claims.
Spinal Cord Injuries: The Symptoms
The Mayo Clinic outlines those signs and symptoms that are often associated with spinal cord injuries:
- Loss of movement
- Inability to recognize altered sensations, including the inability to feel heat, cold, or touch
- Exaggerated reflexes (or spasms)
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Pain or intense stinging that’s caused by damage to the nerve fibers in the spinal cord
- Difficulty breathing, coughing, or clearing secretions from the lungs
Further, the Mayo Clinic reports that falls are the number one cause of spinal cord injuries in people over 65. Nursing home residents, like your aging relative, are vulnerable to dangerous falls that can lead to spinal cord injuries.
Spinal Cord Injuries and Damages
Spinal cord injuries usually result in significant economic and noneconomic losses. They are often exceedingly painful, they can worsen over time (especially for elderly sufferers), and they exact extensive physical, emotional, and financial costs. If your loved one is living in a nursing home, he or she is most likely already in a weakened physical state. A spinal cord injury makes things that much more difficult physically—and these injuries are often accompanied by a significant emotional component that can lead to serious depression and increased anxiety.
It’s difficult to witness your elderly relative endure such a devastating injury, and when it’s caused by the abuse of the very people charged with your loved one’s care, it’s that much more upsetting. While no amount of money can return your relative to his or her pre-accident self, just compensation can help your loved one better travel the path toward emotional and physical recovery.
Your Loved One’s Claim
Your elderly relative lives in a nursing home that’s responsible for providing him or her with excellent care, comfortable accommodations, nutritious meals, and around-the-clock nursing care—whenever necessary. The nursing home staff and administrators are charged with identifying your relative’s health and safety needs and with protecting him or her from serious harm, such as a significant fall or other incident that leads to a spinal cord injury. The nursing home owes your relative a duty of care, and if your loved one instead suffers a spinal cord injury, it’s a serious matter that may entitle him or her to substantial compensation.
If Your Loved One Suffered a Spinal Cord Injury in the Nursing Home, You Need a Charleston Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
The elderly are among the most vulnerable among us. If your loved one sustained a serious injury while in a nursing home, you should discuss the matter with a lawyer right away. At the Hughey Law Firm in Charleston, South Carolina, our dedicated nursing home abuse attorneys recognize just how emotionally fraught these cases are, and we have the experience, skill, and compassion to fight for your relative’s rights, rightful compensation, and dignity. We’re here to help, so please contact or call us at (843) 881-8644 today.