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South Carolina Personal Injury Law Blog

Malnutrition can have a serious impact on the elderly

If your loved one is getting neglected in a nursing home or assisted living facility, they may not be getting all of the nutrients that they need every day. This can lead to malnutrition, which can have a drastic impact on their health.

Depending on their mental and physical capabilities, they may not realize what is happening, or they may not be able to communicate it accurately to you. That's why you need to know what signs and symptoms to watch out for:

  • Injuries and wounds may take longer to heal than they should.
  • The person's temperament could change, and they could be irritable all of the time.
  • The person may always talk about feeling tired or may seem very fatigued.
  • Depression could set in, changing their mood and the way that they interact with others.
  • You may notice a distinct loss of weight that has no other apparent cause.
  • Their skin could look pale and feel cold and stiff to the touch.
  • The person's hair could start to fall out at an accelerated rate.
  • They may always talk about feeling tired or cold.
  • They may have trouble breathing and struggle with even simple tasks that they could do before.
  • Their face may take on more of a sunken and unhealthy appearance.
  • They may get sick more than they used to, or they may not get better very quickly.

What is 'microsleep?'

When a driver dozes off for even a second, catastrophic consequences can ensue. They can swerve into another lane or fail to stop when the vehicle ahead of them does. They may not see a pedestrian or bicyclist entering their path.

There's a term for brief episodes of dozing off, which can last from one to ten seconds — microsleep. It often occurs when someone is already drowsy and fighting to stay awake.

4 infants injured when car crashes into day care facility

Not all car accidents involve a collision between vehicles or even with a pedestrian. People going about their day at home, work or elsewhere can become the victim of a careless or reckless driver.

Earlier this month, a woman ran her car through the wall of a Columbia day care facility, injuring four infants. The babies were taken to a nearby hospital. However, none of them suffered serious injuries.

Fast-food workers face violence, many other dangers

People who work in fast-food establishments are on the front lines -- literally. They regularly interact with customers (and non-customers) at the counter and in drive-thru lanes. Most of these interactions are unremarkable. Too often, however, they are violent.

Just this month, surveillance video captured a young McDonald's employee being attacked by a man who reached across the counter and grabbed her. Other employees came to her assistance, and together they fought him off. Here in South Carolina, at another McDonalds, a customer in the drive-thru threw hot coffee in an employee's face.

Are assisted living facilities safe for people with dementia?

As the American population ages, there's been considerable growth in the assisted living industry. Approximately 40 percent of the people in assisted living facilities have dementia. Unfortunately, the people who work in many of these facilities aren't trained or equipped to properly care for them. This can be dangerous for those residents suffering from dementia as well as for other residents.

Some of our readers may remember the tragic 2016 case of a 90-year-old woman with dementia whose body was found in a pond behind the South Carolina assisted living facility where she'd been living. She'd been attacked by at least one of the alligators that lived in the pond. This wasn't the first time she'd slipped out unnoticed, but no one had noticed that the woman had gotten out of Brookdale Charleston until her body was discovered some seven hours later.

What are 'social host liability' laws?

If you're involved in a car crash with a drunk driver who's returning from a holiday party, can you hold the hosts of the party responsible along with the drunk driver? Fortunately, South Carolina has "social host liability" laws that apply to both adults and minors.

This means if someone encouraged — or even allowed — another person to drink excessively and that person injures or kills another person (or themselves) or causes property damage, they can be held liable. The same applies if a person gets stoned or otherwise impaired by drugs and then harms someone.

Program seeks to cut hospital readmissions by nursing homes

The federal government is taking steps to try to reduce the number of nursing home patients who return to the hospital within 30 days after their previous stay with a program they've recently implemented.

Based on readmission rates over the next year (from Oct. 2018 through Sept. 2019), nursing homes with the highest readmission rates will have their Medicare benefits cut by almost 2 percent, while those with the lowest rates will get 1.6 percent more money for their patients who are eligible to receive Medicare benefits.

Do dementia patients live longer in care facilities or at home?

If you have a loved one who's suffering from dementia, it's likely becoming increasingly more difficult to care for them and ensure their safety at home. They may wander away -- sometimes even taking the keys to the car and driving hundreds of miles -- if they aren't watched constantly.

However, many families hesitate to place their loved one in a nursing home or other care facility. One fear is that being away from loved ones and a familiar place -- even if they no longer recognize them -- will hasten their decline and even their death.

13 injured when South Carolina school bus goes down embankment

A field trip ended in multiple injuries on Oct. 19 when a school bus went off the road as it was headed southbound on U.S. 25, about 4 miles from Ware Shoals. The bus reportedly struck a fence and utility pole and then fell down an embankment.

Twenty-nine children were on the bus, along with five adults who were chaperoning the trip. The kids are students at Westwood Elementary School, which is located in Abbeville County.

Changes in reporting shed light on nursing home staffing issues

All of us who have loved ones in nursing homes are concerned about the staffing levels. We know that patients in an understaffed facility are more likely to suffer injuries because someone isn't always available to help them when they want or need to move. There are more likely to be errors in dispensing medication. Patients are more likely to get bedsores because they aren't turned or allowed to get up regularly.

It wasn't until recently, thanks to the 2010 Affordable Care Act and the requirements for Medicare and Medicaid funding, that we got an accurate picture of nursing home staffing levels. The law mandates that information about the patient-staff ratio of facilities be obtained directly from payroll records. In the past, the information had been self-reported by the facilities, and numbers could easily be inflated. That and other helpful information is available on the Nursing Home Compare section of the Medicare.gov website.

LITCHFIELD OFFICE
90 Wall Street
Pawleys Island, SC 29585

Toll Free: 866-586-0116
Phone: 843-235-6747
Fax: 843-235-6650
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GEORGETOWN OFFICE
235 Church Street
Georgetown, SC 29442

Toll Free: 866-586-0116
Phone: 843-527-8020
Fax: 843-485-4121
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Columbia Office
1116 Henderson St.
Suite 200
Columbia, SC 29201

Phone: 803-254-5551
Fax: 803-252-2462
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