As of January 1, 2016, Illinois nursing homes are likely to have a new tool in their arsenal to combat nursing home abuse and negligence. Now that the new Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Care Facilities Act has gone into effect, health care facilities will be able to place cameras in the rooms of their residents to help ensure those that are entrusted to their care are receiving the proper treatment. The Act also provides some level of comfort to families who place their trust in the facility to care for their loved ones in a professional manner. It may only be words on paper, but the power in this new law will hopefully lead to more prosecutions for abusers and better recovery for victims if litigation is necessary to hold guilty parties accountable for their actions.
Building a Case
According to state records, Illinois has approximately 1,200 facilities that serve over 100,000 residents. These facilities are fully licensed and regulated by the state, and must pass annual inspections in order to keep their licenses active. They are also subject to federal laws, and answerable to the agencies responsible for enforcement, if they accept federal benefits. One would think that this level of monitoring and accountability would be sufficient to make administrators hire quality staff who care for their patients at the appropriate level. Sadly, this is not always the case, as institutions find their funding sources vary year to year while the costs of medical care steadily rise.
The first step in identifying who may be at fault for injuries to loved ones is to dig into the financial history of the facility responsible for their care. If the facility has a history of cutting costs by hiring less qualified staff members, or not hiring sufficient staff for the number of patients in their care, that facility may be setting itself up for a negligence action. All too often, abuse occurs when staff members are ill-equipped to handle the challenges of 24-hour elder care and typically react in one of two ways: lashing out, or choosing to ignore patients. While some may think that abuse must take the form of bruising or open cuts, the mental abuse of being ignored by your caregiver for hours on end and not having your basic needs being met can be even more painful.
The new law allowing cameras in patient rooms will help families and their attorneys build a case against an institution that has chosen to save pennies rather than fulfill their duty of care toward their patients. Much of nursing home negligence law deals with situations that require a battle between the statements of the alleged abuser and his/her powerful institutional attorneys, versus the story of the victim and any witnesses who may come forward. Unfortunately in many situations, if there are any witnesses to abusive behavior, they are often too afraid to speak out on behalf of patients as they rely on their job to care for their own families. The ability to record the care provided to each and every patient will provide victims with a new ally that will help catch their abusers in action.
If you are concerned about the level of care a loved one is receiving from a long-term care facility in Lake County, call the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C today and speak to an experienced attorney. Our team knows the law and can help you recover damages for your family and ensure facilities are following the law.