Staff to Patient Ratio: A Recipe for Negligence

Many people may believe that nursing home litigation must originate from a bad act committed intentionally by a facility staff member against a patient.  This is not always the case, however.  Nursing home negligence cases can arise out of circumstances that are beyond the control of staff and patients alike.  For example, many nursing homes are operating with staffing shortages that range from a few vacant positions to extreme insufficiency of staff numbers in relation to the number of patients in the facility.  When this happens, patients’ lives can be at risk as staff members are physically unable to provide the treatment that is required to ensure all patients are cared for in a professional manner.

Staff to Patient Ratio

Each state typically has its own standards when it comes to nursing home staff to patient ratios.  For example, in Wisconsin, the law requires all nursing homes to have a licensed administrator, a charge nurse, and sufficient registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, or nursing aides. According to the law, each facility must have professional nursing staff care for patients for a range of .4 hours to .65 hours per day per resident depending on the level of their need (i.e. intermediate/limited need for care to intensive nursing care).  These laws were put into place in order to protect residents from institutions who made financial staffing decisions that created hazardous environments for patients who are in need of professional nursing care.  Without such laws, nursing home patients could be subjected to maltreatment by neglect by overworked or unlicensed staff members who were physically unable to provide the level of care that was necessary.

Calls for Reform

One report found a correlation between staffing levels and risk for negligence that some may use in support of reform efforts to make state laws more stringent as they apply to staffing minimums.  According to the report, “the chance of abuse or neglect is more likely in a facility with a high percentage of residents with dementia and a low staff ratio.”  The report continues by stating that a facility does not escape liability by hiring more low level aides, especially when a high number of at-risk patients reside there.  This correlation was linked to higher incidents of stress-induced backlash to a very natural symptom of diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer’s.  Patients with these types of diseases require extra care from skilled nursing staff as they often exhibit physically violent behaviors, or rebellious behavior that can be extremely taxing on untrained staff.

The Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C.

Delicate Questions for Sensitive Issues

When a family makes the difficult decision to entrust the care of a loved one to a healthcare facility, it is not done lightly.  Family members want to make sure their loved one will receive a level of care that they are unable to provide themselves.  When this decision is made, the last thing a family needs is to find out that the people entrusted with that care have failed and that failure resulted in harm to their loved one.  If you have questions about nursing home negligence and need someone who is experienced in the law, call the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C today for a consultation.  Our Chicago attorneys are skilled in negligence and abuse cases and will work tirelessly to protect your interests as well as the interests of your loved ones.



Burdens of Proof and Negligent Nursing Homes

As one woman will soon find out, merely filing a lawsuit alleging negligence is only the first step toward recovery.  When you or someone you love is injured because of the careless or reckless actions of another, it can be difficult to focus on anything except overcoming and healing from the injury.  What many people do not realize is that it is also your right to recover damages from the person (or entity) that caused the injury.  Filing a lawsuit to recover monetary damages can help you and your loved ones move forward with your lives, but it also can serve as a warning to wrongdoers.  Lawsuits and damage awards in negligence cases are not only designed to make an injured party whole, but they also serve as a deterrence to others who believe that they are above the law.

The Lawsuit

A Homewood, Illinois woman recently filed a lawsuit against the nursing home that was responsible for the care of her elderly mother.  She also filed suit against the hospital that treated her mother, as she claims that the staff there failed to provide the level of care required and contributed to her mother’s passing.  Through the lawsuit, the woman is seeking over $50,000 in damages stemming from the maltreatment of her mother.  According to one report, the plaintiff’s mother developed painful bed sores that went untreated by nursing home staff for months before they became infected and required surgery.  The lawsuit claims that the nursing home was negligent by failing to properly treat the sores, and the hospital was negligent in the care her mother received once the infection grew worse.  To make matters worse for the nursing home, there are reports of other lawsuits filed against it for seemingly similar negligence.

Prove It, and Damages Will Come

As with all litigation, both parties are provided an opportunity to present evidence to support their positions on the matter involved.  The plaintiff’s first burden that must be overcome is during the pleading stage.  He or she must allege sufficient facts that, if true, would be a violation of a law or duty.  It is common for defendants to first argue that this initial burden has not been met in motions leading up to a trial.  Typically, a court will determine if a plaintiff met this burden and if so, move the case forward toward trial.  The defendant can then present evidence at trial that either proves the plaintiff’s allegations to not be true, proves that they have a defense that protects them from liability, or (more often) a combination of the two.

If the plaintiff is successful in his/her argument at trial, and is able to convince a jury that the defendant caused the injury, the jury will then typically also make a determination on the amount of damages that the defendant must pay to the plaintiff.  These damages vary significantly from case to case, and can be very large if a jury determines that punitive damages should be awarded as a punishment to the defendant.

The Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C.


When someone you love is injured it can be a very stressful time during which it is difficult to focus on anything other than helping them recover.  It is during this time that a skilled lawyer, who is knowledgeable about negligence claims and litigation, can provide you with answers and help you move forward.  If you have questions and want to speak with an experienced negligence attorney, call the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C today for a consultation.  Our attorneys can be your guides and trusted advisors during your darkest times.



Obesity in Nursing Homes: Warning Sign for Future Negligence Cases?

The growing number of Americans who are considered morbidly obese in recent decades has raised red flags across many industries. Whether blame is being directed at the fast food industry, or other sources, the responsibility for treating these individuals disproportionately falls with the healthcare industry. More specifically, as Americans continue to live longer and reach ages that our ancestors (obese or not) never could, healthcare institutions such as nursing homes and long term care facilities are beginning to feel the strain from this growing responsibility. One question that is being asked across the country as well as in Illinois is “how are nursing home facilities (and other healthcare providers) supposed to provide quality care for individuals who require an increased level of care, when their resources are consistently subject to budget cuts and losses?”

Nursing Home Negligence Knows No Budget

Unfortunately for many nursing homes and their patients, the law surrounding nursing home negligence does not contain the defense of “insufficient funds to provide care.” Illinois law defines neglect as “a facility’s failure to provide…adequate medical care…or assistance with activities of daily living that is necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish, or mental illness of a resident.” While it may be possible for a facility to attempt to limit its liability for neglect by outlining specific services that it will provide to the resident in a contract, these contracts often come under fire in the courts if they are seen as too one-sided. Further, even if a contract between a patient and a facility states that the facility must only provide services that are “reasonably necessary,” this may still allow for negligence actions if the lack of care offered does not provide the resident with basic care.

It does not take a legal scholar to understand that when nursing homes, hospitals and healthcare facilities are not provided sufficient funds to operate safely, their patients are the first to suffer. In the ever more common environment of “do more with less,” legislatures across the country have tightened their belts by slashing public funding to programs such as Medicaid, which are a primary funding source for healthcare facilities. Many facilities are finding that without adequate funding, they cannot afford to retain high-quality employees or provide top-notch care for their patients. In a modern day catch-22, these facilities must still find a way to meet their obligations to those entrusted to their care, or face charges of negligence in court.

The Law Offices of Robert T. Edens

Growing Need

Given the growing budgetary problems that often plague the healthcare industry, what will happen to the growing number of baby boomers who are aging and will need their services in the coming decades? This is a question that will likely be asked many times and there is no one answer. What is known, however, is that healthcare facilities that are feeling overwhelmed by budget or staffing issues need to also understand that they cannot skirt the law by shifting the blame. If a facility does not have the capability of providing the correct level of care to its patients (both current and future), then it should immediately address the issue before someone is injured by their negligence.

Attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. in Antioch are here to answer any of your questions about nursing home negligence cases and has the experience to get your family results. Do not allow a loved one to suffer in silence. Call today and speak to an attorney about your rights under Illinois law.

The Last Stage of Abuse: Wrongful Death in Nursing Home Negligence

While nursing home abuse is never a topic that someone wants to discuss, it is important to know the signs of abuse or negligent care of your loved ones. Those whose job it is to care for and protect the patients and residents under their care owe a duty, not merely under society’s standards of decency, but under the laws of the state and federal government. When negligence goes unpunished, one unfortunate outcome can be the untimely death of someone’s loved one.

When this happens and healthcare professionals are held accountable for their mistakes, a common theme is for their insurance company to come in with a settlement. Nobody wants to think of their loved ones as items over which to barter a settlement, and insurance companies are counting on the emotions of the situation to guide the family to a quick settlement that is far below what they are entitled to under the law.

Wrongful Death

Wrongful death actions in Illinois are governed by statute and are defined as a death that is caused by “wrongful act, neglect or default.” The law protects citizens who were injured by another so egregiously that they were not able to bring an action against the wrongdoer themselves solely due to the severity of the injury. In wrongful death actions, the injured person’s family can stand in the stead of their loved one and hold the actor responsible for their actions.

Settlement in Wrongful Death Actions

Settlement in any legal matter can be complex and difficult, but that difficulty is compounded in cases involving wrongful death in nursing homes as the insurance companies of the wrongdoers have a significant advantage over grieving family members. It is important to understand that to an insurance company offering immediate settlements for cases involving their clients, grief can be a tool that can be used to obtain a swift conclusion to their client’s potential liability.

However, settlement in cases of wrongful death is sometimes the best option for families who want to put a bad situation behind them. Luckily for victims of nursing home negligence, Illinois law was recently changed to provide more support in cases where a victim’s family seeks to settle in order to avoid the time and cost that comes with protracted litigation. According to Illinois law, defendants in wrongful death lawsuits who seek to settle with plaintiffs must meet certain deadlines or face significant penalties. For example, a defendant must pay all money owed to a settling plaintiff within 30 days after receipt of settlement documents. These deadlines do not apply to plaintiffs. This may be described as an inequity by defendants, but it could be argued that it balances the equity by providing plaintiffs some protection from overeager insurance providers.


If your family has been affected by the negligence of someone who was trusted to care for a loved one, contact the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. in Grayslake today for a consultation. Our attorneys are skilled in Illinois’ wrongful death laws and can help guide you to a fair and equitable outcome.

Accountability in Nursing Home Negligence Cases: Bill Update and Discussion

A bill that would allow cameras to be installed in nursing homes has been pending since last year, and has yet to be signed by Illinois’ Governor Bruce Rauner.  The bill has now passed both houses of the Illinois General Assembly and has been sitting on Governor Rauner’s desk since June 29, 2015.  If he approves the bill or fails to take action within 60 days of receiving the bill, it will become law.  So far the governor’s office has been quiet as to his leanings, but whatever he decides nursing home negligence is a problem that does not seem to be going away on its own.

Nursing Home Negligence: A Unique Beast

Any time government agencies discuss increased surveillance as an option to decrease crime, it opens up a long-running debate between those who believe cameras are key law enforcement tools and those who believe they violate individual privacy considerations.  Nursing home negligence is not an ordinary crime, however, nor is it something that is easily proven through more traditional investigative methods.  The unique nature of nursing home negligence includes the fact that it affects a very vulnerable population, is easily covered up by innocent explanations, and involves an industry that is heavily regulated and at the same time neglected by governments across the country by weak enforcement.

Surveillance: Pros and Cons

Those in favor of adding cameras to nursing homes argue that they will increase visibility of what exactly goes on after visitors have gone home.  Unexplained bruising, sudden changes in loved ones’ behavior, and unexpected financial transactions for services that are difficult to prove were provided are harder to sweep under the rug if there is a video of what happened every second that you were not with your loved one.

Opponents often concur in the bill’s noble goal of preventing elder abuse in nursing homes, but view the use of cameras as an inappropriate method to achieve that goal.  They argue that the privacy concerns of the residents and staff members trump any potential protection offered by the use of cameras.  A primary concern of some is with regard to who will make the decision to place a camera in a resident’s room.  If one resident’s legal guardian decides that a camera is a good idea for their loved one’s room, but the individual’s roommate opposes such an idea, how will the nursing home solve the problem?  Fear of intrusive use of cameras in living areas also brings to light ideas of “big brother” watching over loved ones in their most private moments.

The Law Offices of Robert T. Edens

Need Help?
As Abraham Lincoln famously said, “A law without enforcement is just good advice.”  This cannot be better shown than in the area of nursing home negligence, which depends on the enforcement actions brought by private citizens in the courts to deter further violation from offending institutions.  Whether or not the governor signs the camera bill into law, one thing is clear:  nursing home negligence cannot go unpunished.

Facilities must be held to the highest standards in order to protect our loved ones entrusted to their care.  If you believe your loved one has been victimized by negligence of assisted living personnel, call the Lake County attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. today.  We can help answer your questions and get help for your loved ones who deserve the highest quality care.



Nursing Homes’ Secret Drug War: Overmedication of Today’s Seniors

It is the worst fear of anyone whose family has a history of Alzheimer’s disease.  One day, their family members will no longer be able to care of them and likely will not have sufficient wealth to hire a 24-hour in-home caretaker.  These individuals will share a fate with hundreds of thousands of other seniors; namely, life in a nursing home.  While there are of course “good” and “poor” facilities, what rings true throughout the nursing home industry is the use of antipsychotic medications for Alzheimer’s and other dementia patients.  What nursing homes often fail to tell family members, however, is that these drugs are in many cases unwarranted and are used by nursing home staff to sedate otherwise healthy patients.

The blame game of informed consent

Informed consent laws were created to act as a form of checks and balances for nursing homes.  Essentially, under Illinois law a licensed health facility, such as a nursing home, must receive written or verbal agreement from a patient (or their authorized representative) before undertaking any procedures or in many cases administering new medication as a treatment option.  In order to obtain the consent, the facility is required under the law to provide a “fair explanation of procedures.”  Unfortunately for many individuals with loved ones in nursing homes across the country, this law has been shown to have been patently abused by health facilities.  Investigations into facilities’ use of antipsychotic medication, such as Haldol, Risperdal and others, have shown that these drugs have been used as chemical restraints in patients who are not diagnosed with the conditions for which the drugs are approved (i.e. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder).

Use of antipsychotic drugs on dementia or Alzheimer’s patients has been found to be authorized by nursing home staff to control “problem behavior” such as wandering, anxiety, verbal outbursts, and confusion.  In 2010, one study found that 39.4% of patients with cognitive disorders (like dementia or Alzheimer’s) were given antipsychotic drugs and 41% were prescribed these medications in violation of nursing home prescribing guidelines.  Anyone who has seen what dementia can do to loved ones understands that all of these behaviors are not “problems” but merely a symptom of a greater disease.

Follow the money

In nursing homes across the country, government prosecutors have charged numerous for-profit facilities for subjecting patients to unnecessary treatment in order to overbill Medicare.  One study showed that between 2003 and 2008, the 10 largest for-profit nursing home chains cut their registered nursing staff by 37% and received 59% more notices of deficiency from government overseers than similar non-profit run facilities.  These statistics are heartbreaking for anyone who has faced the hard decision of placing their trust in a nursing home facility, only to be betrayed by the greed of the nursing home industry.

The Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C

As Hubert Humphrey once asserted, “it was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those…who are in the twilight of life, the elderly…”  If we are to live up to this moral test as a nation, it is up to those who have been wronged to stand on behalf of their loved ones against the abuses some have faced at the hands of nursing home staff, doctors and others who are responsible for ensuring that patients receive proper care.  If you have a loved one in a health facility and have questions about potential abuse, call the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C in Antioch today.  Our attorneys are skilled at representing clients in nursing home abuse cases from consultation to litigation, and work to ensure that our clients receive the care they deserve.


Nursing Home Negligence: Options for Protecting a Loved One

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are entrusted with the care of loved ones who deserve to be able to relax and live the rest of their lives in peace.  These facilities were designed to help Americans care for their loved ones while still going about their busy lives. Of course, caring for an aging loved one is a full-time job, and most households cannot afford to lose a wage earner who could stay home all day and act as a caretaker.

Sadly, far too often the elderly become victims of abuse at the hands of their caretakers within a nursing home or assisted living facility. What options are available to family members whose trust has been violated by another’s negligent or criminal behavior?

State and Federal Resources

In Illinois, family members who believe their loved ones are being abused or neglected can seek help from the State’s Department on Aging. This agency works to protect senior citizens from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation by working with legal services to provide advocacy or representation services free of cost.  The agency also provides free seminars and training sessions on how to identify victims of abuse, as well as providing information on senior citizens’ rights under the law.  On the federal level, loved ones can turn to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  The role of CMS is to ensure that Medicare and Medicaid licensed facilities are providing the level of care required by federal statute. Family members who believe their loved one is in a facility that is not meeting its legal obligations can contact the federal Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and/or a local Long-Term Care Ombudsman for assistance.

Recovery from Litigation

Another path to protect loved ones from abuse is through Illinois’ Elder Abuse and Neglect Act.  This law mandates that caretakers of seniors who are unable to care for themselves must report any signs of abuse to law enforcement, or face liability.  State criminal and civil laws may be used to stop any ongoing abuse, punish the abuser, and/or obtain civil damages on behalf of an abused individual to help them on their path to recovery.  Litigation, or the threat of litigation, also serves the purpose of highlighting any wrongdoing on the part of a caretaker, and can help motivate a nursing home or assisted living facility to make changes that will protect loved ones in the future.

The Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. | IL Nursing Home Negligence

It is not easy choosing a facility to care for an aging family member, and it is heartbreaking to learn that a loved one is not being treated with the care and respect they deserve.  If you or someone you know suspects that a caretaker is engaging in abuse, neglect or fraud, call the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C.  Our Antioch professionals can explain your options and help your loved one obtain immediate relief from abuse or neglect.


Harmful Assistance: Nursing Home Negligence and Resident Rights

As the old saying goes, nothing is certain but death and taxes. Everyone may not age in the same way, or with the same grace, but what is certain is that as people age it is common for some to require the help of others to go about their daily lives. Many individuals move into nursing homes or assisted living facilities as they grow older and are unable to live independently any longer. According to a survey conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 1.5 million Americans resided in nursing homes in 2004. That number will only increase as baby boomers reach retirement age and beyond. By the year 2030, 18% of the country will be aged 65 or older and some of them will require care from nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Making sure these facilities are safe for aging loved ones is the highest priority for anyone who needs their services.

Industry-Wide Problems

Nursing home negligence has some of the most egregious patterns reported in this country. Some reports tell stories of neglect, over-medication, under-medication, abuse and even wrongful death. These reports are not limited to facilities in Illinois, but they are widespread throughout the state. Incorrect use of prescription medication is one of the leading types of abuse in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and takes many forms. One common type of abuse in nursing homes is chemical restraint via medication. When nursing home staff is incompetent and cannot provide the level of care required for some residents, many turn to prescription medication to sedate residents rather than get them the care they need. What is even more egregious is that many nursing home administrators condone this behavior in order to control what they consider unruly residents.

Rights of Residents

What many may not know is that nursing homes and assisted living facilities owe a duty to their residents and can be held responsible when they fail to provide the correct level of care. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act protects the rights of residents by guaranteeing that they are provided all rights as a U.S. citizen, including the freedom of speech and religion, the right to manage their affairs, the right to privacy and respect, and the right to refuse medical treatment. These rights, among others, belong to each resident and cannot be taken away. If a resident believes that his or her rights are being impeded by facility staff or procedures, he or she also has the right to file grievances without fear of reprisal.


Elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes and assisted living facilities is a serious problem in Illinois. There is hope, however, as the Illinois legislature has created laws to protect against this type of abuse and residents have the power to protect their rights in court. It is not easy to give up the independence of living in one’s own home to live in an assisted living environment and residents should not then have to fight to protect themselves from callous administrators and staff. As the American population ages, care must be taken that the rights and privileges of our parents, grandparents and loved ones are respected so that they may focus on more important matters, like enjoying all life has to offer.

If you are concerned that your loved one has been harmed in a nursing home or assisted living facility, a legal professional can help. Reach out to the Buffalo Grove elder abuse attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. for immediate assistance.