Some with Cerebral Palsy Face Neglect and Mistreatment at State-Run Institutions

The San Francisco Chronicle published a troubling story this week about allegations of chronic abuse at state institutions for children and adults with special needs. According to the story, reports of abuse and chronic mistreatment at facilities for the disabled often go uninvestigated. An examination by an advocacy group known as “California Watch” has found that a task force charged with investigating mysterious deaths may not be doing its job.

The disabled residents in question include many who suffered birth injuries like cerebral palsy. The task force is supposed to ensure that the thousands of members of this vulnerable community receive adequate treatment. But the task force often fails to investigate. For example, a 50-year old autistic man died a few years after breaking his neck. A thorough investigation was not undertaken and no responsibility was ever had. In fact, out of the hundreds of reported cases of abuse over the past five years, only twice has an investigation led to an arrest. Allegations include claims of physical attacks and sexual assaults without anyone ever facing prosecution.

The law in the state requires that all mysterious deaths be fully investigated. Unexplained injuries are the most common reason for a death to be deemed mysterious. But even with this legal requirement, investigations rarely occur. The article shared stories of individuals who suffered broken bones, skin tears, sexual wounds, burns, and other injuries. In one case, a 25-year old cerebral palsy resident began coughing up blood and died of internal bleeding. It was later discovered that he had three cotton swabs in his stomach that torn a whole in his esophagus. His doctors admitted that with his physical abilities, it would have been impossible for the man to have picked up and swallowed the swabs on his own. No one was ever held responsible.

Each Illinois cerebral palsy attorney at our firm is well aware of the chronic problems faced by many youngsters with special needs who are forced to live at these institutions. For example, we have blogged about problems at one of these homes, Alden Village North, that was consistently cited for negligent care of young residents. A shocking 14 children died under mysterious circumstances at the facility over a series of years. In many of those cases it was clear that the death was caused at least in part my negligence on the part of caregivers.

In virtually all of these cases, the children are at these facilities because their family members do not have the resources or capability to provide them with the care that they need at home. Our Chicago cerebral palsy lawyers believe that when a child’s disability is caused by the misconduct of medical professionals at birth, then fairness demands that the negligent party pay for the consequences of their errors. In the birth injury context, that often means ensuring the injured child has access to quality services so that they are not forced to live in the often abysmal circumstances faced by those at facilities like these. We remain proud of our work on behalf of these vulnerable community members. If you or a loved one may know of a child that is not receiving the care they need, please do not sit in silence. Report the situation to authorities.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Family of Injured Boy Seeks Approval of $30M Award in Birth Injury Lawsuit

New Test to Detect Heart Defect Birth Injuries

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