August 22, 2014

Federal Inspector General Finds That Nearly 25% of Nursing Homes Fail to Report Abuse or Neglect Allegations

The United States Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has released its findings related to an investigation surveying approximately 250 nursing home care facilities throughout the United States. While this survey is a small cross-section of all nursing home care facilities within the entire nation, its findings are deeply troubling. The investigative report concluded that only seventy-six percent (76%) of the nursing homes maintained policies that address federal regulations for reporting allegations of abuse or neglect. Additionally, only fifty-three percent (53%) of care facilities actually reported the findings of any investigation completed in response to allegations by residents or their loved ones concerning abuse or neglect at the hands of a care provider at the nursing facility, as federally required.

Of those nursing home facilities complying with their federal requirements of reporting abuse and neglect, a total of 149,313 allegations of abuse or neglect were brought to the attention of the OIG in 2012. Of all these reports, abuse was the most common type of allegation, accounting for half of the allegations in 2012. Even more alarming than the significant number of allegations reported are those that fail to be reported. Very often, when this occurs, the individuals being abused or neglected suffer in silence.

The purposes of these reporting requirements are clear: to ensure the safety of nursing home residents and create a mechanism by which there is complete transparency within the nursing homes when it comes to allegations of abuse and neglect, and any subsequent investigative findings into the allegations. That being said, this study clearly indicates that further measures need to be implemented to ensure complete compliance by all nursing home facilities across the country. The OIG, in this investigative report, recommends that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) guarantee that nursing home facilities:

(1) Maintain policies related to reporting allegations of abuse or neglect;

(2) Notify covered individuals of their obligation to report reasonable suspicions of crimes; and

(3) Report allegations of abuse or neglect and investigation reusults in a timely manner and to the appropriate individuals, as required.

Continue reading "Federal Inspector General Finds That Nearly 25% of Nursing Homes Fail to Report Abuse or Neglect Allegations" »

August 20, 2014

New Illinois Laws Target Senior Care Complaints in Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care Facilities

Our Chicago Nursing Home abuse firm has been tracking recent legislative activity within the Illinois House of Representatives and Illinois Senate. As a result of a bill sponsored by both Illinois Republicans and Illinois Democrats, Governor Pat Quinn has, within the last week, signed into law a Long-Term Ombudsman program. This program is designed to expand ombudsman rights, an official who investigates complaints regarding nursing home conditions and patient care, and to expand protection for vulnerable individuals living in nursing homes and community based care. This law will take effect on January 1, 2015 and will be effective statewide.

Additionally, a second bill the governor signed has made it easier for individuals living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, along with their families and loved ones, to submit complaints to the Illinois Department of Public Health. These complaints may now be submitted electronically to the Illinois Department of Public Health in order to expedite the process when residents of care facilities and/or their families have concerns regarding the care facility. These complaints may range anywhere from issues of care and treatment to the physical conditions of the nursing home facility itself. We at Ed Fox & Associates have handled a wide variety of cases in all these areas, especially with regards to issues of abuse and neglect of nursing home residents.

These laws are integral to the nursing home care system within the state of Illinois. The elderly residents of these nursing homes and long-term care facilities are some of the most vulnerable members of our population. They deserve the most basic human rights in order to protect their physical, emotional and mental well-being. These laws are one small step in the right direction of protecting and enforcing the rights of any and all residents. That being said, there is still much that has left to be done in order to protect these residents from the abuse and neglect that occurs all too often in the state of Illinois.

Continue reading "New Illinois Laws Target Senior Care Complaints in Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care Facilities" »

May 29, 2014

Nursing Home Bill of Rights Gaining Momentum

The Health Care Council of Illinois is conducting a "Protect the Rights of Nursing Home Residents" campaign. They are traveling to different communities in Illinois and informing people of their goal to convince the Illinois legislature to pass legislation creating a Nursing Home Bill of Rights.

The Nursing Home Bill of Rights consists the following:

• Opportunity to choose where they want to get their care
• Protects their right to live in the nursing home they have called home
• Seamless delivery of care that they, their family, and their doctor request
• Care that serves their best interests, not a managed care organization's bottom line
• Care approval line that open when health changes, 24 hours every day of the year
• Appeal process that requires the managed care company to prove the care isn't needed
• Help understanding the plans and making the right choice, protection from direct mail and telemarketers
• Care delivery decisions that never trump their needs, their doctor's orders, or family wishes

The Bill of Rights was made to protect seniors who rely on Medicaid for their care. Not included are rights related to abuse or neglect. However, nursing home residents do have the right to be treated with a certain standard of care.

If you or someone you love has been injured, neglected, or abused in a nursing home at the hands of nursing home caretakers, please contact Ed Fox & Associates today.

May 26, 2014

Nursing Home Abuse Updates from Across the Nation

Oklahoma

Recently, a Tulsa reporter has uncovered some disturbing practices at a local nursing home. The nursing home reportedly, at times employs 2 aides to take care of the residents in a facility of 76 people. The lack of staffing leads to unattended residents, and injuries such as bedsores, and bed wounds. The state of Oklahoma has stringent mandates that regulate how many caretakers a facility needs for a certain number of residents, depending on the time of day. From 7 am - 3 pm, nursing homes are expected to have one direct care staff member for every seven residents. Federal regulations on the matter are less informative, requiring "adequate staff" at nursing homes. The state is now taking a closer look at the nursing home system and common practices of the industry.

You can find the story here.

Kansas

Federal authorities have fined a Kansas nursing home $185,000 based on charges of neglect and abuse. As an incentive to fix the problems as soon as possible, the home will be fined an extra $1,000 for every day that the problems are not fixed. The Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services aided in the investigation by interviewing 27 residents of the facility. The violations originated from abusive actions of the staff, as well as inaction resulting in resident on resident abuse.

You can find the story here.

Nebraska

An employee of a Lincoln, Nebraska nursing home has been charged with the assault and abuse of three elderly residents. She allegedly slapped the three residents, and was too physical with them during other interactions. The employee has since been fired.


You can find the story here.

Illinois

The discussion revolving around allowing cameras in nursing home rooms is a controversial one. It is now being discussed in Illinois. The movement started, or at least grew immensely after a the family of a Kansas nursing home resident placed a camera in their mother's room, and ended up witnessing her being abused. The fight to get cameras placed in the rooms is not only being fought by people who currently have family member's in nursing homes, but people who believe camera's could have helped their previously deceased loved ones. Sometimes, it only takes one instance to change a state legislature's mind. For example, footage of elder abuse in Oklahoma convinced the governing body to allow voluntary video cameras in the rooms. Most of the pushback is based on privacy concerns stemming from HIPPA. It will be interesting to see how this debate unfolds.

You can find the story here.

If you or someone you love has been injured, neglected, or abused in a nursing home at the hands of nursing home caretakers, please contact Ed Fox & Associates today.

May 22, 2014

Illinois Attorney General's Office Attempts to Combat Financial Scams Targeted at Elderly with the "Silver Beat"

The Illinois Attorney General's office has noticed a problem consisting of financial scams aimed at the elderly population. Criminals see the elderly as attractive targets for these schemes because of their general access to fixed sums of money such as retirement accounts and pensions. In response, the office has created the "Silver Beat" program aimed at educating the elderly about possible scams and giving them tools to detect the scams and avoid them.

Some of the programs also concentrate on letting seniors know about common financial mistakes that seniors make that are not necessarily based on illegal actions, but could still be detrimental to the senior's financial well being. For example, they have created simple fact sheets about credit card debt, reverse mortgages, monitoring credit reports, and debt collection.

The program is community oriented, meaning they accept volunteers to host "silver beat" meetings and are willing to train people to educate the elderly in their communities. The hope is that once a core group of seniors learn the skills offered by the program, they can go back to their communities and pass some of the information along. With that being said, it could be useful for anyone in the community who has an elderly person in their life to be part of the program. Some of the onus falls on the elderly person's support system to help them stay safe, especially if they are living away from the loved ones in a nursing home.

Elder abuse can be physical or financial. If you or someone you love has been injured, neglected, or abused in a nursing home at the hands of nursing home caretakers, please contact Ed Fox & Associates today.

May 19, 2014

Illinois Nursing Homes Receive Failing Grade from Non-Profit

Nursing home watchdog and non-profit Families for Better Care, has ranked and graded the nursing home systems in all fifty states. The group ranked Illinois forty second out of all fifty states and gave it one of eleven failing grades. The grades were based on a number of different categories. These categories included the average staffing statistics from each state, the amount of personal care hours given to residents of each state, results of health inspections, the number of verified ombudsman complaints, and the amount of facilities containing deficiencies or severe deficiencies.

Illinois ranked at the bottom in most of categories mentioned above. The most apparent weakness was the lack of average direct staffing hours per resident in the state. They ranked last and each resident only received about 2 hours of direct resident care per day. The report also indicates that Illinois' score in not just based on a few rogue nursing homes, as 96% of nursing homes in Illinois were cited for at least one deficiency.

The conclusions from this report make it as important as ever for family members and friends of nursing home residents to be vigilant in maintaining that person's well being. It is important to visit your loved ones often to catch signs of abuse and neglect, and be aware of the remedies available to you if you do notice something wrong. This can be anything from filing a complaint with the state's complaint process to hiring legal representation.

If you or someone you love has been injured, neglected, or abused in a nursing home at the hands of nursing home caretakers, please contact Ed Fox & Associates today.

April 3, 2014

Illinois Long-Term Care Ombudsmen Program Expanded by Legislature

The Illinois Act on Aging created the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program. 20 ILCS 105/4.04. The program was created to make sure older persons and others with disabilities receive quality care in long-term care facilities. The idea behind the program is to give elders a government ran support system, which they may not have had otherwise. Elders and their families are able to go to the ombudsman with complaints and in turn the ombudsman will advocate on behalf of them. This advocacy manifests itself in many ways. Ombudsmen inform long-term care residents and their families of their rights, resolve complaints they may have, provide information about residents' needs and concerns to long term care facilities, and generally advocate for good individualized care. More information about the program can be found here.

Legislation expanding the Illinois Ombudsman Program was signed into law in August of 2013. The expansion's goal is to have ombudsmen advocate for seniors in home care and managed care situations as well as for ones in long-term care facilities. This expansion will not affect the role of the ombudsmen, "serving as an independent voice and advocating for individuals receiving long term services." What it will do is increase the impact of that mission. The decision to expand was a choice made by the State to offer services already provided to a certain population of seniors, to other seniors who may also be in need.

In an attempt to make the service convenient to residents throughout Illinois the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program has regional offices all over the state. The addresses and contact information of the offices can be easily found on this list.

The recent expansion of this program in Illinois may be a reaction to a growing problem in the state: an increase in elder abuse and neglect combined with a lack of knowledge of how to deal with it. One effect of the increase of ombudsmen presence could be an increase in general awareness that elder abuse goes on, and this heightened sense alone could empower a sector of society's most vulnerable people.

If you or someone you love has been injured, neglected, or abused in a nursing home at the hands of nursing home caretakers, please contact Ed Fox & Associates today.

March 25, 2014

Florida to Vote on Bill Aimed at Limiting Tort Liability in Nursing Home Litigation

Florida is one of the nation's most popular destinations for the elderly, which has made nursing homes and other long term care facilities a major part of the state's economy. The Florida legislature has recently addressed an important issue facing this sector of their economy: the extent of liability in nursing home tort litigation.

HB 569/SB 670 has been proposed in the state house and senate. The bill proposes the following: (1) liability arising from the violation of a duty to a nursing home patient can only be filed against licensees, management or consulting companies, managing employees, and/or any direct caregiver employees or contractors; and (2) if a nursing home facility fails to pay a judgment the Agency for Healthcare Administration may revoke its license or decide not to renew the license. At the moment, the bill is in its preliminary stages, as it was introduced to the Florida House of Representatives March 24, 2014. Meaning, there is time for heated debate on the subject.

The bill has evoked opinions from groups advocating differing point of views. Those in favor of the bill see it as a compromise between the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA), the Florida Justice Association, and AARP. They believe it is an important step to protecting one of Florida's biggest industries, while providing the flexibility for victims of nursing home abuse or neglect to receive redress from the people directly responsible. That view is expressed in this editorial.

Proponents against the bill see it as the result of an enormous lobbying effort from the nursing home industry and feel that it shields nursing home executives and other powerful nursing home entities from liability. They believe this grants a potential defense to primary decision makers who are insulated from the actual execution of their orders. The detractors' sentiment is that there is a low overall standard of care in nursing homes currently, and elders need tort reform that gives them more protections, not less. This view is expressed in this editorial.

As the Tort reform debate rages on in Florida, in Chicago and other parts of Illinois senior citizens are subject to similar health risks and are just as vulnerable. It is important to stay vigilant in checking up on your family members and protecting their rights. If you or someone you love has been injured, neglected, or abused in a nursing home at the hands of nursing home caretakers, please contact Ed Fox & Associates today.

March 18, 2014

Elderly Abuse Proving to be a National Problem in Recent Months

Illinois

An incident occurred at Rosewood Care Center in St. Charles, Illinois, a suburb in Chicago. The St. Charles Police accused two employees of the facility of aggravated battery of a person older than 60 as well as an unlawful videotaping of the incident. Thankfully, there are no lingering physical injuries suffered by the victim.

Find the story here.

New York

The Medford Medical Center in Long Island, New York has been reprimanded more than once since its inception in 2003, but the most recent incident may be the final straw. The New York's Attorney General's is prosecuting a Medford employee for negligent homicide following the death of Aurelia Rios. Doctors mandated that the 72 year old Rios be connected to a ventilator throughout the night. One night in October 2012, Rios' ventilator was not connected properly. During that night, an alarm went off every 15 minutes for 2 hours and no staff member, even the one assigned to check on that room, responded to the alarm. Rios died later that evening. Other employees were charged after the fact for covering up the death. The Rios family is planning on filing a civil law suit against the nursing home to compensate them for their loss.

Find the story here.

Delaware

The Delaware Attorney General's office has filed charges resulting from an investigation of a New Castle County Group nursing home. The investigation was triggered by complaints made to the Delaware Division of Long Term Resident's Protection. The employee arrested was responsible for multiple residents at the home and charged with abuse, neglect, and exploitation or Mistreatment of an Infirm adult. This investigation and result has provoked the Delaware Attorney General's Office to solicit more complaints in an effort to bring justice to the state's elderly residents.

Find the story here.

Massachusetts

A jury found a nursing home in Massachusetts liable for resident abuse and awarded the victim $2 million. There were no eyewitnesses but the physical evidence combined with expert testimony convinced the jury that assault occurred. The victim was 87-year old.

Find the story here.

The wide spread nature of nursing home abuse should be a reminder to families who have loved ones in nursing homes to be vigilant in checking up on their vulnerable family members. For information on what steps to take if you suspect nursing home abuse is happening to a family member or friend follow this link.

If you or someone you love has been injured, neglected, or abused in a nursing home at the hands of nursing home caretakers, please contact Ed Fox & Associates today.

March 11, 2014

Nursing Home Abuse Statistics Refocus Attention to the Issue

According to a Digital Journal article, there are currently five million seniors living in long-term facilities and 11 million seniors who live alone. Of the five million seniors that live in those facilities, a staggering 95% of them claim they have either been abused or have seen another senior being abused in their facility. Even 50% of nursing home staffers have admitted to abusing patients.

These statistics are even more troubling than they seem. The National Center on Elder Abuse has reported around 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse is reported, and even cited another study only focused on New York nursing homes which found only 1 in 24 cases of elder abuse were known by authorities. Not only are elderly people being abused, but most of the abuses are going undetected.

This problem will get worse because people over the age of 85 are the fastest growing segment of our society. This means in the coming years, the targets of nursing home abuses will become more plentiful. Chicago may be affected more than other areas around it because it is home to a large population of those entering into senior citizenship. The increasing instances of nursing home abuse have even influenced the development of a new industry for elder care professionals, Senior Care Auditors. This is a private service that a family can hire to check on their loved one's facilities and detect nursing home abuse. Solving the problem preemptively will undoubtedly have a positive change, but it will not eradicate the problem completely. Sometimes one must deal with nursing home abuse and neglect after the fact.

One way to control this problem is to punish the abusers after the nursing home abuse takes place. Hopefully, this will show people who take advantage of the elderly that their actions have consequences as well as empower other senior's to speak up if they have endured abuse themselves. If a senior in your life has been treated poorly by a nursing home's staff, Ed Fox and Associates can provide you and your family guidance on how to handle it.

If you or someone you love has been injured, neglected, or abused in a nursing home at the hands of nursing home caretakers, please contact Ed Fox & Associates today.

February 28, 2014

Illinois Elderly Scammed out of Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars

Bilking is the act of obtaining money from someone by deceit or without justification, and the elderly are at greater risk than the general population of being affected by it. Recently, an Illinois couple was found liable for bilking a group of 1,000 or more elderly victims out of more than $800,000. One member of the couple was recently sentenced to more than 13 years in a federal prison.

To implement the scam, she pretended to be a fraud investigator, seeked out vulnerable elderly people and told them she was investigating potential frauds on their financial accounts. Once the scam artist developed a relationship with the victim, and gained their trust, her and her husband would gather the victim's financial information and in some cases even gained access to their actual credit cards.

To ensure this scam would work, the couple targeted one of society's most vulnerable demographics, the elderly. They visited nursing homes and approached residents that had trouble getting around or seemed weak. One of their victims even needed to be hooked up to an oxygen tank. To say the least, most of the victims were not in a position to protect themselves from such experienced and determined scam artists. Sadly, in many nursing homes today the elderly are neglected making it easier for people with unwholesome intentions to take advantage of them. This story, is one of many examples that illustrates why family members need to pay attention to the elderly people in their life. The first step in helping one's relatives is knowing who to contact to protect their rights as well as employing some preventative measures to keep those rights intact.

One way is to put your loved ones in a reputable nursing home. U.S. News & World Report has recently published rankings for nursing homes in every state. Here is a link to the Illinois rankings. The Nursing Homes are rated using a 5-star rating system. The rated categories are: "Overall, Health Inspection, Nurse Staffing, and Quality Measures." The lists are organized by states and zip codes. For example, a Chicago native can enter their zip code and find a quality nursing home with within the metropolitan area or the surrounding suburbs.

If you or someone you love has been injured, neglected, or abused in a nursing home at the hands of nursing home caretakers, please contact Ed Fox & Associates today.

February 14, 2014

TRIAD: A Partnership Built to Keep Elders Safe

The elderly have been long recognized as a valuable and cherished fabric of society. At the same time they have been considered to be one of the most vulnerable sectors of society as well, susceptible to injury, abuse and neglect. People need to be aware of the safety of the elderly in their lives, and hopefully will receive the same treatment when they reach that point in their life. TRIAD is a partnership that decided to put action behind this ideology in 1988.

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and the National Sheriffs Association (NSA) joined together to figure out a way to "reduce crime against older adults". The organization also focuses on reducing the fear of crime that the elderly may experience as well, which enhances the overall comfort of the elderly in our communities.

TRIAD organizations can be found throughout Illinois and in particularly in Cook County and its surrounding areas. Illinois State TRIAD furnishes its site with useful tips and common activities that disproportionately negatively affect older citizens. For example, mail order and door to door scams. The Illinois TRIAD's usually consist of local law enforcement figures and community activists. They arrange meetings in communities so citizens have an acute awareness of dangers facing the elderly, and therefore the ability to prevent those particular situations.

This national network of elderly support and safety groups were created for a reason. In some cases, families have to act as their own TRIAD organization for their loved ones and be aware of the dangers facing them. This may even be more necessary if your family member is not by your side and living in a nursing home facility. If you have a family member in a nursing home facility be sure to know the type of care they are receiving and be ready to protect them if need be.

If you or someone you love has been injured, neglected, or abused in a nursing home at the hands of nursing home caretakers, please contact Ed Fox & Associates today.

February 11, 2014

Across the Pond it is More Difficult to Hold Nursing Homes Responsible for Their Actions

At Hillcroft nursing home in England, three former staff members have been sent to jail for abusing up to eight separate patients, between 2010 and 2011. However, due to English law the directors of the nursing home could not be prosecuted. On February 4, 2013 the Bill Committee in England will review the Care Bill, the English law that regulates abuse in nursing homes, and discuss an amendment that imposes liability on culpable, negligent owners.

In Illinois, nursing homes can be held liable for negligent behavior. The law provides remedies for families seeking a remedy for the abuse done to their loved ones. The lawyers at Ed Fox and Associates can help you protect the vulnerable people in your life.

If you or someone you love has been injured, neglected, or abused in a nursing home at the hands of nursing home caretakers, please contact Ed Fox & Associates today.

February 11, 2014

Illinois Hospice Owner Chain Charged With Fraud: Another Reminder to Make Sure Your Medical Bills are Correct

Seth Gilman, a representative agent of Passages Hospice, LLC and Asta Healthcare Company, has been charged with fraudulent billing practices by the federal government. Passages Hospice has a presence in almost every county in Illinois, and Asta Healthcare provides nurses to elders in need in the Northwest suburbs. The charges are against Gilman in his personal capacity.

He has been accused of training staff to look for symptoms in patients that would qualify them for general inpatient care, which means higher daily payments, even if the care was unnecessary. This is a unique case where the deceptive practice of the nursing home results in better care for your loved one, but for more than it should have cost. Families need to not only be vigilant about making sure their families are safe, but that they are not being taken advantage of financially as well. The charges are based on activity between August 2008 and January 2012.

Find the story here.

June 25, 2013

A Few Recent Stories Remind Us to Remain Vigilant

Although it is difficult and painful to imagine the possibility of your loved one(s) suffering abuse or neglect at the hands of a caretaker, a quick Google search for nursing home abuse reveals just how pervasive these problems are. New stories of abuse emerge almost daily. With the horrifying story of Joan Vila, a man who was recently convicted of murdering 11 nursing home residents under his care in Spain, it is important to remember to do everything you possibly can to protect your loved ones who need care.

So, what can you do to prevent or stop this from happening? The first step is simply to be aware of the problem. After that, it is important to remain vigilant and to look for any signs of abuse or neglect. If you do suspect that your loved one is being mistreated or may be receiving inadequate care, here is a list of actions to take. Now, let's look at a few recent stories showing the types of problems that can and do occur.

Physical Abuse
First, a 32 year-old employee at The Place, a nursing home located in Augusta, Georgia, was arrested on June 19th and charged with battery for physically abusing a resident. The incident report states that caretaker Lashanda Annette Johnson woke the resident to change her bed sheets. The resident, an Alzheimer's sufferer, resisted Johnson's care. Johnson then pushed the patient back into bed and told her that she would hit her if she resisted again.

Police decided to investigate after a bump was found on the resident's head a couple days after the incident. During the investigation, surveillance footage showed the abuse happening (using cameras to capture incidents like this one is a very interesting topic that we will cover in an upcoming blog post). Although caring for Alzheimer's and dementia patients may be difficult at times, violence should simply never be used as a tactic to subdue or restrain them.

Story located here

Sexual Abuse
Next, a 25 year-old man was recently charged with sexually assaulting a 78 year-old resident of the Ann Pearl Nursing Facility in Kaneohe, Hawaii. No word on how the abuse was discovered, but the man was charged with three counts of third-degree sexual assault. It is important to know that sexual abuse in this type of setting does often go unreported and to keep an eye out for any signs.

Story located here

If you or someone you love has been injured, neglected, or abused in a nursing home at the hands of nursing home caretakers, please contact Ed Fox & Associates today.