As the Chicago Tribune recently reported, a lawsuit has recently been filed in Cook County against an Arlington Heights’ nursing home after 57 maggots were allegedly found in the ear of a 90 year old Alzheimer’s patient.
The article alleges that after the maggots were removed from the patient’s ear, they were sent to a laboratory and determined to be approximately three days old.
Details in cases such as these are, in and of themselves, squirm-inducing, but what stands out in this story is a one-sentence aside that probably deserves a bit more attention. The article states that, after the incident, the patient’s family had “previously filed a complaint with the state Department of Public Health,” but that “[a]n investigation in October found no violations to the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act.”
Setting aside the question of whether this conclusion was right or wrong in this particular instance, the bigger question becomes, does this finding even really matter? Nursing home advocates and their attorneys will certainly say that it does. However, it really does not matter all that much.
As we’ve previously discussed, there are rules and bureaucratic hurdles left and right that limit the Department of Public Health on how much time it has to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect and what it can consider while doing so. Sometimes, unfortunately, the lack of a finding by IDPH against a nursing home doesn’t mean that there was no violation; it simply means that the agency ran out of time.
This is an incredibly unfortunate phenomenon, as not only does it hinder enforcement proceedings by the state (which can tend to embolden a violator of the Care Act), it dissuades families from seeking compensation for the harm to their loved ones, thinking that either they are prevented from doing so, or that no one will take their case seriously.
Neither of those two consequences are true, and as articles such as these illustrate, fighting for your loved ones rights shouldn’t end simply because a state investigation (that may possibly be hampered from the outset) doesn’t yield results.
You can contact us here 24/7/365 (and we really mean that as we will answer our phone) if you have anyquestions and to learn how we may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect – in particular, you will find that we listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages!). We would be honored to help you with your matters – large or small.