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.

August 18, 2011

Failure to Properly Maintain Nursing Home Facility Brings Lawsuit

The Madison St. Clair Record reported on July 21, 2011, that Dorothy Stimson, a resident of Glen Carbon Nursing Home, filed a lawsuit against Eden Village Care Center claiming that a faulty furnace in her room caused her to suffer a heat stroke. Stimson stated that one one evening in October 2010, the malfunctioning furnace heated her room to 110 degrees.

Stimson states that the heat caused her to suffer a heat stroke. Stimson was found on the floor of her room the next morning, unconscious and near death from exposure to the intense heat.

Stimson is claiming $100,000 for medical damages and court costs.

Cases of Illinois nursing home negligence not only arise from poor medical care but may also arise from improper upkeep of nursing home care facilities. Illinois nursing homes are required by law to maintain proper upkeep or their facilities. If you or your loved one fear that a maintenance issue or faulty design issue with a nursing home facility may endanger or has endangered your or someone you love, contact the experienced attorneys at Ed Fox & Associates.

Madison Record: Glen Carbon nursing home resident claims heat stroke in suit, July 21, 2011

August 2, 2011

Substandard Nursing Home Care Case goes to Federal Prosecutor

Authorities in Kentucky have handed over a recent case that alleges that a Northern Kentucky nursing home provided substandard care to many of its residents. U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey filed a lawsuit alleging that Villaspring Health Care and Rehabilitation in Erlanger, Kentucky, roughly 100 miles from the Illinois border, and its parent company billed Medicare and Medicaid for "worthless" services and seeks reimbursement for the government. The Kentucky Attorney General sent this lawsuit to the U.S. Attorney in order to get the "best result possible", in other words to levy the greatest amount of fines against the nursing homes so that it will be adequately punished for the wrongs they committed with respects to many residents.

The allegations stem from incidents that occurred between 2004 and 2008 when numerous residents suffereed serious injuries because nursing home personnel did not properly follow physicians' orders, did not properly treat bed sores, did not update resident care plans and di not monitor blood-sugar levels of diabertic patients. Of these residents that were neglected adequate treatment, five died shortly afterwards the lawsuit alleges. Kenton County Attorney Garry Edmondson, who originally received the lawsuit and sent it to the Kentucky Attorney General has been quoted as saying that "I am confident that the elder abuse victims and their families will receive justice."

This is a step in the right direction to make sure that elder abuse and neglect does not go unpunished. It is important to note that victims of abuse and neglect, along with their families, have other alternatives for justice other than government intervention such as a private lawsuit against nursing homes that violate the law. Our attorney's have fought and won a number of cases in Chicago, Illinois and surrounding area. If you or someone you love has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect please contact one of our trusted and experienced attorney's to see that your or your loved one's rights are vindicated.

The New Republic, Ky. nursing home case alleging substandard care given to federal prosecutors for 'best result', July 20, 2011.

July 13, 2011

Illinois Nursing Home Sued Over Bed Sores

In yet another despicable sign of nursing home neglect in Illinois, a St. Clair County nursing home has been sued for their negligent care of a Belleville man while at their nursing home. Specifically, the allegations made against Calvin Johnson Care Center stipulate that the nursing home allowed a resident under their care to develop severe bed sores. The complaint is suing the nuring home for neglecting a disabled man with a mental illness, Robert McLean, and also for violating Illinois' Nursing Home Care Act.

This complaint further alleges that the Belleville elderly care center is guilty of negligence for allegedly failing to properly care for Mr. McLean and failing to train staff to adequately monitor him. This complaint just goes to show the risk that elderly residents have at improperly run care centers. What may seem like a small thing, that of making sure a resident is properly examined and moved throughout the day so he will not develop such sores, continues to occur throughout the state of Illinois.

Due to the further prevalence of such negligent care, residents of nursing homes and their loved ones continue to need the law to vindicate their most basic human rights. If you or a loved one believes that the care being received is inadquate, negligent or abusive, please contact one of our trusted and experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Ed Fox and Associates. You and your loved ones deserve to be vindicated of your very basic rights at such care facilities. Such actions or lack thereof by nursing home care facilities need to be punished so that in the future residents will receive the care that is required and consistent with the law.

Madison Record, Calvin Johnson Care Center Named in Suit Over Bed Sores, June 30, 2011.

July 12, 2011

Southern Illinois Nursing Home Worker steals from Patient

A nursing home in Bethalto, Illinois, a rural township just east of St.Louis, is the sight of yet another appalling and inexcusable instance of a nursing home patient being taken advantage of by a worker tasked with their care. The 41-year-old worker from Alton, Illinois allegedly removed an 87-year old patient's fentanyl patch so that she could ingest the pain-killing drug herself.

Fentanyl is an opioid pain killer often administered via skin patches, especially for cancer patients. Without this patch the elderly patient was not receiving the required medicine that she was required to receive. This crime is unspeakable not only because the drug may be used illicitly to have similar effects as heroine on the body, but also because it was done by a person tasked with the care of the elderly at the home.

We at Ed Fox and Associates deplore the kind of behavior this woman took towards her elderly patient. The elderly in our society deserve the utmost respect and care because of their vulnerability. If you or a loved one has been abused, neglected or taken advantage of by a nursing home or workers at a nursing home, please contact one of our trusted and experienced attorneys about protecting your and your loved one's rights.

St.Louis Today, Authorities: Worker in Bethalto nursing home took patient's drug patch, June 29, 2011.

July 5, 2011

Chicago Area Nursing Home trying to reopen

Northlake Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, located just outside Chicago in Merrillville, Indiana, is attempting to reopen its doors. Just over a year since being closed for a number of violations cited by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services for not meeting standards and being labled as one of the worst performing nursing home in the country.

Northlake is now filing suit against the government in order for it to grant it a new license which it states was promised if it could correct "minor citations". The Nursing home contends that when it did correct such violations the government continued to refuse to grant it a new license, in violation of a court agreement.

While we at Ed Fox and Associates do not know exactly what the court agreement consists of, we do know that nursing homes, such as Northlake, need to be held accountable for violations before they are allowed to operate. Nursing homes that abuse or neglect residents and fail to comply with minimum standards need to be once and for all shown that such actions will not go unpunished. If you or a loved one has been abused or neglected while a resident or patient at a nursing home in Illinois and the Chicago area please contact one of our trusted and experienced nursing home attorneys at Ed Fox and Associates.

Post-Tribune, Northlake Nursing Home Trying to Reopen, June 8, 2011.