A homicide investigation continues into the death of an 80-year-old dementia patient who was brutally beaten by a fellow resident at an Oak Park nursing home on February 12, 2012. According to a report by the Chicago Tribune, the victim of the attack was found lying unconscious after an altercation with a 66-year-old resident from the same ward at the Oak Park Healthcare Center nursing home. An autopsy revealed that the victim died of a traumatic brain injury from the assault.
Our Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers are shocked by the negligent circumstances surrounding this attack. Early reports indicate that the alleged perpetrator had a violent criminal history that was not adequately addressed by nursing home staff. Illinois law requires that nursing homes conduct background checks on residents within approximately three days of admission in order to determine whether or not they pose a substantial safety threat. Under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, nursing homes and assisted living facilities have a duty to supervise and protect all residents who are under their care. Accordingly, if a background check reveals that a resident has a criminal past, the nursing home must conduct a qualified risk assessment and make special arrangements to ensure the safety of other residents in the facility. Information about a resident's criminal background must also be provided to anyone who makes a request.
Unfortunately, it appears that this was not the first instance of nursing home negligence at this facility. According to the OakLeaves, which is published by the Chicago Sun-Times, at least 120 formal complaints have been made against the facility since 2001. Close to 10 identified criminal offenders currently live at the nursing home facility. The Illinois Department of Public Health has cited the facility several times in recent years for failing to properly report resident abuse, failing to enact comprehensive care plans for identified risk offenders, and failing to notify state authorities after discharging residents with a criminal history.
In addition to a number of complaints involving residents with felony backgrounds, other serious violations have been committed at Oak Park Healthcare that seriously jeopardized the safety of residents. In February 2010, a mentally ill resident engaged in a series of physical and verbal attacks against other residents and nursing home staff, but administrators at the facility did not take any steps to intervene. Another troubling example of inadequate care and supervision occurred in 2005, when a female resident at the facility was raped by a male resident who was under the influence of alcohol. Other fines and citations have been issued for hygiene violations and abuse by staff members.
Details about the most recent case of nursing home abuse at Oak Park Healthcare will continue to surface as the investigation unfolds. One of the legal questions that will need to be answered is whether and to what extent the nursing home breached its duty of care to the victim. Protocols will have to be examined, and interviews will have to be conducted with nursing home administrators and staff. Nursing home abuse and neglect cases such as this one require the assistance of a skilled nursing home attorney in order to ensure that the facility is held accountable. If you or a loved one has been harmed by nursing home abuse, it is important to contact an experienced Illinois nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as possible in order to protect your legal rights. Unless negligent facilities are held accountable for the harm that they cause, the safety and welfare of residents will continue to be severely threatened.