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Suits blame Chicago Sunrise facilities for resident mistreatment

The unadvertised need to sustain or improve finances is behind the caring motives promoted by long-term health care facilities. Added revenue can be used to improve services or line corporate pockets. A Chicago news investigator recently learned some local assisted-living facilities have broken rules that shortchange residents’ safety.

The media report reviewed the problems in the Chicago area’s 19 Sunrise Assisted-Living facilities. Ten Sunrise locations were issued citations by state public health officials for violations during the last two years. Inspectors uncovered serious issues.

Staff members not licensed to administer drugs were dispensing medications. Some Sunrise assisted-living residents lacked prompt care, suffered injuries that were unnoticed and were not transferred to nursing homes, despite health conditions that warranted it. Several negligence lawsuits filed against Sunrise facilities were settled.

A pending lawsuit accuses a Sunrise facility of mistreating a resident with multiple sclerosis. The wheelchair-dependent woman was placed in the facility after a fall broke her hip. The resident’s children chose Sunrise, in part, because residents were issued call buttons to wear; their mother required frequent help in the bathroom.

The children alleged the staff’s response to their mother’s calls were so slow, the resident was forced to attend to her own bathroom needs. The woman fell more than a dozen times in the attempt.

The complaint said the staff’s failure to monitor pressure sores led to infections, surgery and ultimately the woman’s death. An independent physician confirmed the resident’s sores were aggravated by a lack of regular physical movement, the staff’s responsibility. The lawsuit also claimed Sunrise refused to transfer the woman to a nursing home, despite her deteriorating health.

Nurse negligence may be caused by indifference, although in many cases, staff workloads are too heavy to provide quality patient treatment. The reason for the shortage is often traced to money. Every dollar a health care facility saves on payroll is profit.

Source: CBS Chicago, “2 Investigators: Assisted-Living Facility Neglected Resident, Suit Says” Pam Zekman, Feb. 24, 2014


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