October 18, 2011

Sex Offenders Living in Kansas Nursing Homes; Illinois Legislation Combats the Threat

More than a dozen sex offenders live in Kansas nursing homes, the Wichita Eagle reported Sunday. Officials said there is not system in place to alert the facilities that the sex offenders are moving in.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation report found that 19 of the 5,868 people in the sex offender registry listed nursing homes as their current residences. The sex offenders have been convicted of crimes that include indecent exposure and rape. Shockingly, 7 of the offenders lived in a single Wichita nursing home before being transferred to different facilities.

This news caused policy makers to consider implementing a system in which nursing homes will be made aware of any resident's status as a sex offender before they move into the facility. Another option is to build nursing homes specifically for aging sex offenders.

Continue reading "Sex Offenders Living in Kansas Nursing Homes; Illinois Legislation Combats the Threat" »

October 14, 2011

Illinois Nursing Home Nurse Pleads Guilty to Criminal Neglect

Marty Himebaugh, dubbed the 'Angel of Death', plead guilty on Thursday to criminal neglect of a long-term care facility resident. Himebaugh worked at a Woodstock, Illinois, facility that has since changed ownership.

Himebaugh is accussed of arbitrarily administering morphine and anti-anxiety medications to patients at the Woodstock home. Prosecutors say that her conduct recklessly endangered the patients' lives by giving unprescribed medications and excessive levels of morphine.

An investigation by the Illinois Department of Public Health found that she gave the residents drugs to ensure that the nurses' had a quiet shift.

On at least one occassion, Himebaugh gave a resident Avitan. Avitan is a medication used to combat anxiety and the side-effects include drowsiness and decreased balance. The resident fell on his head and suffered from a head injury as a result of being given the Avitan.

Continue reading "Illinois Nursing Home Nurse Pleads Guilty to Criminal Neglect" »

October 13, 2011

Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. Part 4: What are the Responsibilities of Nursing Homes?

We have already addressed many of the rights of residents under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. The Act not only establishes the basic rights of nursing home residents but also sets forth responsibilities of nursing home facilities. Many of the below listed responsibilities may seem common place however, any violation of these responsibilities is a serious matter.

Responsibilities of Nursing Home:

- A nursing home must always have a resident advisory counsel. The counsel is to be made up entirely of residents. The counsel must meet at least once a month and is intended to be a forum where residents can obtain and disseminate information, solicit and adopt recommendations for facility programs or improvements, and identify and recommend orderly solutions to problems.

- Records of all residents must remain confidential. All health records and documentations must remain completely confidential and cannot be released without consent of the resident or his or her guardian.

- A nursing home is required to have a system of policies and procedures. The polices and procedures must be written and available to all residents to staff members. It must include the procedure for the investigation and resolution of resident complaints. It must be clear and unambiguous. A written copy of the policies and procedures must be made available to every resident and representative.

Continue reading "Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. Part 4: What are the Responsibilities of Nursing Homes?" »

October 4, 2011

Chicago Area Budget Cuts Leave Transfer Patients at Risk

An Oak Park Charity hospital closed its doors to long-term care patients at the end of Summer 2011. The closure is blamed on the massive budget deficit that is plaguing Cook County.

The hospital was home to patients who required high levels of treatment and care. One such individual, Michael Yanul, was forced to transfer to a local area nursing home after the hospital shut down. Mr. Yanul had muscular dystrophy and required a ventilator to breathe. Mr. Yanul feared he would not survive the transfer and sadly, his fears became true.

Just three weeks after transferring to a local nursing home, Mr. Yanul died of pneumonia and a blood infection after a number of issues with his care arose at the home. Tom Yunal, Michael Yunal's brother, has filed a complaint against the nursing home claiming that the home lacked the necessary equipment to care for his brother and that the staff was not trained on how to care for him.

Transfers of this type are extremely complex and communication between the sending and receiving facilities are essential. Even minor changes in types of equipment used can prove fatal.

Continue reading "Chicago Area Budget Cuts Leave Transfer Patients at Risk" »

September 30, 2011

Illinois Nursing Home Care Act Analysis. Part 3: What Rights Do Residents Have?

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act establishes a number of rights granted to any resident who lives in a nursing home facility in Illinois. All residents maintain the Constitutional rights granted to them as individuals living in the United States. However, given the unique circumstance of an individual living in a nursing home facility, the Illinois legislature imposed mandatory rights for nursing home residents, above and beyond those basic rights granted by the Constitution. These rights cannot be violated by any member of a nursing home staff.

Article II of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act lists the rights of nursing home residents. Below is a summary of some of the most notable rights in the Act:

1. No resident shall be deprived of any rights, benefits, or privileges gauranteed by law, the Constitution of the State of Illinois, or the Constitution of the United States solely on account of his status as resident of a facility.

2. Residents may manage their own financial affairs.

3. Residents are free to retain, use, and wear their own personal property.

4. Nursing homes must provide adequate storage space for residents' personal property.

5. Residents can retain the services of their own personal care doctor.

6. Residents and/or their guardians can inspect and copy all clinical and other records concerning their treatment and care kept by the facility.

7. Residents are permitted respect and privacy in medical and personal care programs. Every consultation, case discussion, exam, and treatment are confidential. Individuals who are not directly involved with the resident's care must have the resident's permission to be present.

8. All nursing homes must have an established grievance procedure and all residents are permitted to present grievances to the nursing home staff and/or board.

Continue reading "Illinois Nursing Home Care Act Analysis. Part 3: What Rights Do Residents Have?" »

September 27, 2011

Asbestos Found in Illinois Nursing Home

Hallmark House, located in Pekin, Illinois, is the subject of an Illinois Department of Health investigation involving the finding of asbestos in the building. Hallmark House, built in the early 1960's, is home to nearly 70 elderly residents.

In mid-April, the home contracted to have tiles removed and replaced in the laundry room area. The tiles were found to contain asbestos, an extremely harmful, cancer-causing material that was used frequently in construction prior to the 1980's. Hallmark House's administrator said last week that she was not told the tiles contained asbestos until last week. Evidently, an anonymous individual reported the asbestos tiles to the Department of Health in April.

The administrator's lack of knowledge regarding the asbestos does not save her from scrutiny. The Illinois Department of Public Health requires a licensed health inspector to check for asbestos before repairs or renovations are begun in older nursing homes such as Hallmark Home. Hallmark Home failed to inspect the tiles before work was done and now may face a heavy fine from the Department of Public Health.

Continue reading "Asbestos Found in Illinois Nursing Home" »

September 23, 2011

Illinois Nursing Home Care Act Analysis; Part 2: What Constitutes Abuse?

In Part 1 of our blog, we discussed what constitutes neglect under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. Today, we examine what constitutes abuse under the Act. Most commonly, cases brought against nursing homes are caused by the home and/or its staff abusing or neglecting a resident.

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act defines abuse as "any physical or mental injury or sexual assault inflicted on a resident other than by accidental means in a facility."

Physical injuries that constitute abuse are most often characterized as incidents in which a nursing home staff member intentionally causes physical harm to a resident. The key word here is intentional. Accidents that result in physical injuries are best analyzed under the "neglect" standard of the Act. An example of when a physical injury amounts to abuse is an incident where a staff member intentionally hits or pushes a resident. A slip and fall accident caused by slick floor conditions would not constitute abuse under the Act. However, it may constitute neglect under the Act if the nursing home was aware of the slick conditions and failed to properly warn or assist residents passing through the area (refer to Post 1 for more information on what constitutes neglect).

Mental injuries can bring just as much pain and distress as physical injuries. Unfortunately, mental injuries are underreported and are often not taken as seriously. The Illinois courts have recognized that words and actions directed towards a nursing home resident that were embarrassing and derogatory towards the resident can constitute mental abuse under the Act.

Continue reading "Illinois Nursing Home Care Act Analysis; Part 2: What Constitutes Abuse?" »

September 22, 2011

The Tragedy of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse

An article in U.S. Politics Today highlights the difficulties facing an aging person and his or her family in deciding whether it is time for such person to enter a nursing home. This already difficult decision is compounded by the very real tragedy at play in many of this country's nursing homes: nursing home neglect and abuse.

While many nursing homes offer exemplary services and staff, there are equally as many nursing homes where abuse and neglect are rampant. This reality makes the difficult decision to enter a nursing home that much more heart wrenching.

One of the most pervasive problems with nursing home neglect and/or abuse is that it often goes unreported and at best, it is under reported. The National Elder Abuse Study reports that only 16% of nursing home neglect and abuse cases get reported to the proper government agency. Perhaps this is because a vast majority of the population is unaware of this very real problem and/or do not know how to spot it.

The article, " Confronting the Tragedy of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse" lists the many forms of nursing home neglect and abuse that affect this country's nursing home residents. Some of those are:

1. Not giving a nursing home residence adequate food or liquids;

2. Failure to properly dispense medication;

3. Failure to take reasonable steps to prevent nursing home falls;

4. Failure to turn bed-ridden residents;

5. Physical abuse;

6. Sexual abuse and/or rape; and

7. Theft of residents' personal property.

The existence of these problems is very frightening, but knowing what to look out for can prevent the exacerbation of already occurring abuse or prevent such abuse before it happens.

Continue reading "The Tragedy of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse " »

September 20, 2011

Illinois Nursing Home Care Act Analysis; Part 1: What Constitutes Neglect?

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act is an Illinois law that protects the rights and safety of residents living in long-term care facilities. If you or a loved one lives in a nursing home, it is important to understand what rights the Act protects and what actions the Act prohibits.

Over the next two weeks, we will discuss four important aspects of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act:

Part 1: What Constitutes Neglect?
Part 2: What Constitutes Abuse?
Part 3: What Rights do Residents Have?
Part 4: What are the Responsibilities of Nursing Home Staff Members?

PART 1: What Constitutes Neglect?

Neglect is one of the most common issues raised in nursing home cases and litigation. Nursing homes are required to provide proper care to all residents and if there is a failure to do so, the home may have violated the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act.

The Act defines neglect as "a facility's failure to provide, or willful withholding of, adequate medical care, mental health treatment, psychiatric rehabilitation, personal care, or assistance with activities of daily living that is necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish, or mental illness of a resident".

Continue reading "Illinois Nursing Home Care Act Analysis; Part 1: What Constitutes Neglect?" »

September 16, 2011

Antipsychotic Drugs for Dementia Patients: Call to Action for Chicagoland Nursing Homes

Antipsychotic drugs are used primarily to control hallucinations, delusions and other abnormal behaviors in people suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. However, they are also given to hundreds of thousands of elderly nursing home patients to pacify aggressive and paranoid behavior related to dementia. The effects on nursing home patients can be drastic causing limited or complete destruction of patients' ability to communicate, socialize, or participate in everyday life.

Since 2005, antipsychotics have been under an FDA warning that alerts doctors that the drugs could increase the risk of death in patients with dementia due to heart attacks or pneumonia.

Many nursing homes are now actively involved in reducing the use of antipsychotic drugs and many are finding that patients who were once detached and sedated are now living actively by playing games, listening to music, or simply socializing with other patients in the community.

Continue reading "Antipsychotic Drugs for Dementia Patients: Call to Action for Chicagoland Nursing Homes" »

September 14, 2011

Illinois' Willowcreek Rehabilitation and Nursing Center Sued Over Resident's Death

In October 2010, a Belleville man, named Lloyd Collier died while a resident at Illinois' Willowcreek Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. The family of Mr. Collier claims that between September 2010 and October 2010, Mr. Collier was neglected by the facility's staff and that as a result of such neglect, he became dehydrated, suffered a perforated colon and developed a bacterial infection in his blood. The family of Mr. Collier claims that his death, in October 2010, was a result of the conditions he developed as a result of the neglect he suffered at Willowcreek.

Enone Collier, on behalf of Lloyd Collier's estate, filed a lawsuit on September 2, 2011, in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Helia Healthcare of Belleville LLC, doing busines as Willowcreek Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. Mr. Collier's family is accusing Willowcreek Rehabilitation and Nursing Center of violating Illinois' Nursing Home Care Act. Illinois' Nursing Home Care Act enumerates the rights of patients in healthcare facilities, the responsiblities of the facilities providing such services, licensing requirements, enforcement of the act, and discusses violations, penalties and remedies.

In addition to the Collier family's allegation that Willowcreek was in violation of the Illinois Home Care Act, the family is alleging wrongful death and negligence.

The Collier family is seeking in excess of $200,000 in damages for medical expenses and court costs.

While many nursing homes or healthcare facilities provide excellent care, some neglect and ignore the duty they owe to their residents or patients. Unfortunately, deaths and/or injuries resulting from nursing home abuse and/or negligence are becomming all too commonplace. As the population grows older, the very real existence and prevalence of nursing home abuse and neglect is frightening.

http://www.madisonrecord.com/news/238268-willowcreek-rehab-sued-over-residents-death

September 9, 2011

Illinois Long-Term Care Ranks 23rd Nationally

A new report released yesterday by the AARP's Public Policy Institute ranked Illinois long-term care services 23rd in the nation. The report ranks state long-term care services and supports (LTSS) to older adults and people with disabilities. The "Scorecard" examines four key dimensions of state LTSS system performance: affordability and access; choice of setting and provider; quality of life and quality of care; and support for family caregivers.

Illinois ranks in the top quartile for affordability and access; the second quartile for quality of life and quality of care; and in the third quartile for choice of setting and provider and support for family caregivers.

Two ways Illinois can improve its ranking is by improving access to information regarding the quality of nursing homes and improving support for family caregivers by offering them legal protections. Contact your state or local representative to encourage them to support said initiatives.

PR Newswire, First-Ever Scorecard of State Performance on Long-term Services and Supports Finds Wide Variation - Illinois Ranks 23rd Nationally, September 8, 2011.

September 6, 2011

Nursing Home Fined For Withholding Medications

A Connecticut nursing home was fined after an internal investigation uncovered incidents of nursing home neglect. The home was fined $3,000 after a state Department of Health investigation found that multiple nurses at the facility had withheld medications from patients, including those suffering from congestive heart failure, seizures, and hypertension. After the director of the nursing home discovered that one licensed practical nurse had withheld medication from a diabetic resident, she undertook an audit of all medication carts in the nursing home. The results of the audit were frightening. The director determined that all six of the nursing home's units were affected by staff failure to administer medications.

All residents of the nursing home were evaluated by the facility's medical director to ensure that the nursing home's neglect did not create any adverse outcomes for its residents. The nursing home also conducted extensive staff re-training in medication administration.

Problems such as failure to properly administer medications are all too common in our state and around the country. The attorneys at Ed Fox & Associates are experienced in dealing with nursing home abuse and neglect. If this has happened to you or a loved one, please contact our attorneys today.

New Haven Independent; Danielson Nursing Home Fined $3,000 for Withholding Medications, September 6, 2011.

August 31, 2011

ILLINOIS TO END RELIANCE ON NURSING HOMES FOR DISABLED ADULTS

On Monday, August 29, 2011, the State of Illinois took a big step to end Illinois' long-standing reliance on nursing homes to house adults with disabilities. A proposed settlement to a class-action lawsuit was filed on Monday in federal court that would require Illinois state agencies to offer subsidized apartments to Cook County residents who can function independently and outside of nursing home care.

Before this agreement becomes state policy, it must be subjected to a "fairness hearing" to consider the comments and/or objections of interested parties. This agreement, however, is likely to receive positive reactions by interested parties and has been hailed as a civil rights victory by advocates for low-income people with disabilities who say the new settlement would bolster recent court agreements and much needed legislative reforms aimed at reshaping Illinois' long-term care system.

Governor Pat Quinn and other Illinois officials worked to settle three linked disability-rights lawsuits and reform Illinois nursing homes following a 2009 Chicago Tribune investigation that detailed several instances of extensive nursing home abuse. While many Cook County residents receive excellent treatment in nursing home facilities, others suffer great abuse at the hands of those in positions of authority and Illinois legislatures, by proposing this new agreement, are trying to reform Illinois' long-term care system and reduce instances of abuse.

Chicago Tribune, State may end reliance on nursing homes for disabled adults, August 29, 2011.

August 29, 2011

Nursing Home Industry Launches Campaign to Fend Off Medicare Cuts

As experienced nursing home neglect and abuse attorneys, the attorneys at Ed Fox and Associates know many nursing home abuse incidents occur in understaffed and poorly maintained nursing home facilities. Given that many nursing homes are directly or indirectly funded through Medicaid and Medicare, we must pay close attention to the current budget crisis and legislative response to said crisis.

The effects of legislative budget cuts in Medicare and Medicaid funding has decreased nursing homes' ability to remain fully staffed with quality care providers. The increasing number of nursing home neglect and abuse cases filed in the past two years may be a further sign that the budget cuts are having detrimental effects on the nursing home industry and our senior citizens who rely on the industry's services.

With the current budget crisis on everyone's mind, the nursing home industry has reportedly decided to launch a multimillion dollar ad buy and advocacy campaign to prevent further Medicare and Medicaid cuts once Congress returns to Washington. "This nationwide campaign aims to inform our lawmakers that additional cuts to skilled nursing and assisted living threaten access to quality care needed by America's seniors and individuals with disabilities," said Mark Parkinson, president of the American Health Care Association. According to data recently released by Avalere Health, nursing home facilities have absorbed federal payment cuts in just the past two years that will add up to $128 billion throughout the next decade.

As nursing home neglect and abuse attorneys, we know the consequences of under or poorly staffed facilities. Understaffed and poorly maintained facilities are much more likely to have incidents of residents with pressure sores, fall accidents, and conditions related to poor nutrition.

Those of us with loved ones in a nursing home know the importance and peace of mind that comes with knowing our loved one is given the highest quality of care. If you or someone you know has suffered from nursing home abuse or neglect, please contact one of our experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys today.

Healthwatch: Nursing homes launch TV, lobbying campaign to ward off Medicare cuts, August 29, 2011.