April 2011 Archives

April 30, 2011

Certified Nurses Accused of Nursing Home Abuse

In Topsfield, Massachusetts, a group of Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) are being accused of abusing several nursing home patients. It was reported that the CNAs videotaped and mocked seniors who had dementia and sent picture text messages of one partially naked elderly man. Another senior was told that her family didn't love her and that is why she would die in the nursing home.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has initiated an investigation into these allegations. Also, one CNA was fired during the investigation. Massachusetts has reported that the nursing home is now in compliance of the regulations and the CNAs have appealed the findings against them.

CBS Boston, CNAs at Topsfield Nursing Home Accused of Abusing Patients, Apr. 30, 2011

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April 25, 2011

New Law Restricts Medical Malpractice Suits

New legislation recently proposed in the Tennessee legislature would cap the damages received in medical malpractice cases. Tennessee already caused a stir in 2008 when it passed a law that required every medical malpractice suit to be approved by a doctor. In essence, the law required that a medical expert sign a "certificate of good faith" warranting that the lawsuit has merit. The cost of hiring a medical expert up front, some people argue, has lawyers cherry-picking cases that they know will win. Not only win, but be a big payoff.

The new law proposed in the Tennessee legislature caps emotional suffering to $750,000 and punitive awards to $500,000. Only in exceptional circumstances can a plaintiff recover more. Economic damages, however, are unaffected by this bill, which means that those who earn more will look to make more money from lost wages. Simply stated, this bill hurts those most vulnerable in our society.

The Tennessean.com, Malpractice Suits Face New Barriers, Apr. 24, 2011

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April 21, 2011

Angel of Death Trial Begins

Penny Whitlock, 62, finally faces trial in Woodstock, IL. Whitlock was the supervisor to Marty Himebaugh, the so-called "Angel of Death".Whitlock is charged with five counts of neglect and two counts of obstructing justice. While she was the supervisor at a local nursing home, prosecutors claim Whitlock administered too much morphine to many of her patients.

Many twists and turns have already unfolded in the case thus far. One nurse testified that she saw the Himebaugh leave the room of one patient, looked in, and noticed that half the bottle of morphine was missing. The nurse reported this behavior later in the week to Whitlock who did nothing about the incident. Furthermore, one person testified that they overheard Whitlock telling Himebaugh, "I don't care if you play the 'Angel of Death', just don't let me know about it."

Phil Hisock, chief of the McHenry County State's Attorney criminal division, in opening statements described the events as sounding like a Hollywood movie but having taken place in Woodstock. He alleged that Whitlock was stockpiling bottles of morphine in her desk after her patients died but then destroyed the morphine when she discovered she was being investigated.

Northwest Hearld, Nurse Testified that She Quit Over Morphine Dosing, Apr. 20, 2011

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April 8, 2011

Chicago Target for Medicare Fraud

In recent lawsuits filed in the Northern District for Illinois, facts about the alleged medicare frauds in and around the city are finally coming to light. In one such incident, the Baltimore Sun newspaper tells of a medical equipment company who made thousands of dollars selling medical equipment to a group of seniors who didn't need it. The company, who was unnamed, made a living off convincing mostly elderly Asian residents of Chicago to purchase strollers and hospital beds by convincing them that they will one day need them. The company persuaded the doctor to sign off on the orders and then the receipts were submitted to medicare for reimbursement.

The article also mentioned other tactics being used in the Chicago area to deceive the elderly and rake in fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid checks. In some of the cases, doctors were being charged with falsifying documents as describing some patients who were bedridden when they actually were not. In another case, a nursing home owner was being charged for ordering unnecessary diagnostic tests and profiting off of them.

Chicago Tribune, Medicare Fraud-busters Target Chicago, Apr. 7, 2011

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April 6, 2011

Serious Neglect Leads to Two Sons Arrests

Two New Mexico sons were arrested after their mother died and police charged them with neglect of her care. The two brothers, Jason Mariner and Clayton Mariner, are alleged to have neglected caring for their 64-year-old mother, who was found dead in her hospice bed in her northwest Albuquerque home. The mother was found to have severe bedsores infested with insects crawling all over her body. Further, her shin was found to be broken and, at one point, her skin had grown over her foot brace.

The mother suffered from multiple sclerosis and was bed-ridden for many years according to her brother and the two sons' uncle. The sons were supposed to help care for their mother, but flaked on their responsibility and stopped showing up. The uncle admitted that the conditions in the home weren't exactly sanitary or clean.

KOAT.com, Police: Woman's Neglected Body Crawling With Insects, Mar. 21, 2011

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April 1, 2011

More Deaths Than Thought at Alden Village North, Equip for Equality Says

The Chicago based non-for-profit group, Equip for Equality, has recently released a study that there were more deaths at Alden Village North attributable to neglect than originally thought. The group was able to conduct its own investigation as part of a nationwide network of advocacy groups that was grant broad powers by Congress to do as much.

The group spent weeks at Alden reviewing records and produced its own report, of which the Chicago Tribune received a copy and reported on its findings earlier this month. The report finds that Alden Village North routinely destroyed reports of medication errors which "bears scrutiny for criminal negligence." Further, the report finds that about 20 residents died since the facility's current owner, Floyd Schlossberg, took over. This is in contrast to the eight residents that this blog and the Chicago Tribune reported on earlier in the year.

As part of the investigations of Alden Village North, the facility was ordered to close in March; however, the facility appealed the order and currently remains open.

Chicago Tribune, More Deaths Identified at North Side Nursing Facility for Disabled Kids, Mar. 28, 2011

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