Articles Posted in Nursing Home Neglect

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According to a recent newspaper report, an employee at an Illinois nursing home has been given a notice to appear in court after allegedly striking a 74-year-old resident on November 24, 2014. The employee has been suspended. A State’s Attorney said she is investigating whether to file a criminal complaint against her.

The report indicates that the incident was documented in an internal memo from a nursing home manager. The memo states that a 74-year-old resident with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s and dementia was being washed up with the assistance of two CNAs and a nurse. While being washed up, the resident punched one of the CNAs in the chest. The CNA that was hit reacted by punching the resident in the upper arm. No immediate injury or bruising was noted. The other CNA and nurse witnessed the incident. It is questionable that this behavior by the CNA could be justified as self defense given the medical status of the resident.

The sheriff’s office was notified. The CNA was not arrested, but was given a notice to appear in court later this month. The incident also will require reporting to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
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We previously reported that a Center for Public Integrity investigation revealed how a federal website administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, called Nursing Home Compare, has not been accurately reporting staffing levels at nursing homes across the country. This was due to a reliance on information self-reported by facilities rather than Medicare reports that reflect more accurate staffing levels. In some cases homes were self-reporting more than double their actual staff level, and the problem is particularly pronounced in many southern states. Such discrepancies led to inaccurate reporting on the Nursing Home Compare website, which is meant to provide information on nursing homes such as ratings, investigation-related information, and staffing levels for consumers to use in searching for the right facility. The Center for Public Integrity investigation also revealed that staffing levels were particularly lower in nursing homes that served minority communities of residents.

The report revealed majority-white nursing homes have about 34% higher staffing levels than facilities with mainly African-American residents, and how those same homes had 60% higher staffing level than nursing homes mainly comprised of Latino residents. According to the statistics, “[h]undreds of majority-black homes” nationwide reported through Nursing Home Compare that their registered nurses provided on average just over 30 minutes of care time to each resident every day. However, according to the Medicare reports, this figure was really only about 20 minutes per day. In some Latino nursing homes the average time spent on care per day was only 10 minutes.
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Three former employees of a nursing home owned by Genesis Healthcare have been criminally charged based on allegations that they abused and neglected two women.

The three former employees were hit with multiple criminal charges after being accused of abusing residents at the nursing home. State Police and other agencies engaged in an investigation of the nursing home where the alleged abuse and neglect occurred, leading to the criminal charges. One employee faces 14 counts each of criminal abuse and knowingly abusing or neglecting an adult. That same individual has also been charged with two counts of wanton endangerment.

The second employee was charged with four counts of criminal abuse in the first degree and of knowingly abusing or neglecting an adult in the first degree. That individual also faces fourth degree assault charges and two counts of second-degree wanton endangerment. A third employee also has been charged with the same crimes. All of the defendants have pleaded not guilty.
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The long-term consequences of frequent falls in nursing homes are not always immediately apparent. A recent study published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that half of residents who suffer a hip fracture after falling either pass away or lose mobility completely. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine observed more than 60,000 nursing home residents who were hospitalized for hip fractures in a four-year period. The researchers found that residents above the age of 90, and those who did not undergo surgery for the fracture, were most likely to pass away or become disabled.

Most of the nursing home residents observed for this study were able to move around on their own before they suffered a hip fracture. Six months after hospitalization, about one in three nursing home residents had passed away. A year after the injury about half of the patients had died. Moreover, those who survived suffered from many different types of disabilities. Among the residents who survived, nearly 30% had to depend on others to help them get around, to get in and out of bed, and to perform personal hygiene. This significantly restricted their ability to participate in nursing home activities so they spent more time in bed, which increased their risk for developing other. This reinforces the need to focus on preventing falls in the first place.

Families with a loved one in a nursing home should be aware that, if a fall does occur and the patient suffers a hip fracture, they are unlikely to return to their pre-injury health state. It may also be helpful to encourage residents to undergo surgery for the fracture, even if they express hesitation. In these and other areas, families should begin planning for the future care of their loved one, who may become newly dependent on nursing home staff to get around.
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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.
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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.

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A recent article out of Wisconsin has been making the rounds on a lot of local blogs. Changes in Wisconsin law, which took effect in February 2011, prevent families from using state health investigation records in state civil suits against long-term providers including nursing homes and hospices. It also makes these records inadmissible in criminal cases against health care providers accused of neglecting or abusing patients.

A 32 year-old man, who is brain damaged and paralyzed from the chest down, was living in a group home in Menomonie, WI. In October 2011, he had to be rushed to a local hospital for treatment of a bedsore that had gotten so bad, doctors thought he might be permanently bedridden. A Wisconsin state health department investigation report later found that he had the bedsore for four month before being hospitalized. The facility never reported it to the state or told his family about it. The family is currently suing the facility, seeking damages for negligence, but due to the changes in Wisconsin law, their attorney cannot use state investigation records as evidence in the lawsuit.

Supporters of the bill, which include Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, argue that this law only has a minimal effect on the use of investigation records. Critics say the law removes a good tool for revealing abuse and neglect because attorney’s cannot use state inspection reports to support allegations or impeach a witness. This also has a big effect on injured residents who do not have the capacity to testify about what happened to them.

Around 270 tort reform laws have been implemented in 49 states since 1990. Some, including the one in Wisconsin, can be traced back to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is a group funded by private industry that focuses on pro-business model legislation used mostly by Republican law makers. Supporters of the bill insist that it will help fuel the economy by reducing corporate litigation costs. Brian Hagedorn, Governor Walker’s chief legal counsel, said that the law is aimed at jobs, and went on to state “[t]hese changes send a symbolic and substantive message that Wisconsin is open for business.” That bears the question, at what cost?

Other proponents of the bill claim that implementation of this law allows healthcare providers to discuss problems more openly “without fearing a (personal injury attorney) is going to come [and read his or her report].” Walker said in an interview that the bill has helped slow the “constant pattern of litigation” that could be seen as a negative by employers.

Judge William Hanrahan, a Dane County (WI) Circuit Court Judge, with 19 years of experience prosecuting crimes against the elderly, expressed concern about the law because it forbids district attorneys and the state Department of Justice from using these records as evidence in criminal cases. He went on to state “I can’t imagine if it were a homicide, it would be like saying the police reports couldn’t be used.”

Laws like this make it harder for attorneys like those at Ed Fox & Associates to do their jobs to the best of their ability in order to protect victims of nursing home negligence and abuse. What is more troubling is that the driving force behind these sorts of laws is stimulating the economy and job growth. There was very little mention of the needs of nursing home and long-term care facility patients by the proponents of this legislation. As was mentioned above, through the work of ALEC (which provides model bills for this type of legislation), 270 similar laws have been implemented across the United States. We have to work hard to make sure that these laws, veiled by good intentions, do not get implemented on a more widespread basis and lead to a lack of justice for those who are victims of neglect or abuse.


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
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According to an article by Deborah L. Shelton, a Chicago Tribune reporter, Illinois ranks 3rd among states in the number of times federal officials suspended payments to a nursing home due to serious deficiencies. In the past 3 years, payments for Medicare and Medicaid have been suspended 91 times at 78 different homes. Suspending such funds occurs when the deficiencies at a facility are so serious that regulators must press for immediate improvement.
The Illinois Department of Public Health conducts surveys of nursing homes under contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Facilities are rated on an A to L scale, with L indicating the most serious deficiencies. In Illinois, D was the most common rating by far.
Scores of J, K, and L signify “immediate jeopardy to resident health or safety.” For example, a J score signifies an isolated incident while a K score signifies that the deficiency was part of a pattern. An L score, which is the most severe, signifies that the occurrence was widespread. Among the 773 nursing homes in Illinois, 144 nursing homes were cited for at least one J, K, or L deficiency within the last 3 years. However, 54 were able to escape without any fines from Medicare or Medicaid. In regards to nursing homes in the Chicago area, All American Nursing Home had the highest number of serious deficiencies, 11, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Additionally, a total of $2.43 million in fines were levied against 199 nursing homes, with the average fine being $6,031. The penalties ranged from an $80,160 fine imposed against a Chicago nursing home for having 53 deficiencies to a $650 fine imposed on a Peoria nursing home cited for 27 deficiencies.
Further, some nursing home facilities have been designated as a special focus facility, which means that the facility has a history of serious quality issues and is part of a special program to stimulate improvements in care. According to Illinois surveys, Fairview Care Center of Joliet was one of three homes that tied for having the most deficiencies in the state, 82. Due to these deficiencies, the facility has had their payments suspended twice and has been designated a special focus facility. In fact, last year a resident was attacked with a metal container by another resident. The resident was hurt and had to get six staples and six stitches to the head. State auditors cited the facility for failing “to respond appropriately to resident’s behavior in a timely manner, provide appropriate interventions and adequate supervision to prevent resident to resident physical abuse.”
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.
To read this news article in its entirety, please click http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-12-24/health/ct-nw-illinois-nursing-homes-20121224_1_deficiencies-special-focus-facility-three-homes.

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In the past, nursing home abuse actions, especially in Chicago, were relatively rare for a variety of reasons, including difficulties in proving causation and the belief that substantial damages were unlikely to be awarded. However, tort litigation has been increasingly utilized to seek redress for these injuries; and substantial verdicts and settlements have been achieved.
Both intentional and unintentional torts can arise in a hospital or nursing home setting. Intentional torts including assault, battery, false imprisonment, and conversion are frequently alleged in nursing home litigation. For example, in Gragg v. Callandra, an Illinois court allowed claims for battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress to be maintained against defendant hospital for disregarding the patient’s living will.
Additionally, claims regarding the improper use of physical or chemical restraints also are emerging. In Bryant v. Oakpointe Villa Nursing Centre, a decedent suffered from multi-infarct dementia and diabetes, had suffered several strokes, and required twenty-four-hour-a-day care for all her needs, including locomotion, dressing, eating, toileting, and bathing. Her condition impaired her judgment and reasoning ability and, in turn, caused cerebral atrophy. She had no control over her locomotive skills and was prone to sliding about uncontrollably and, therefore, she was at risk for suffocation by “positional asphyxia.” Because she had no control over her locomotive skills, the nursing home’s medical director authorized the use of various physical restraints, including bedrails, restraining vests, and wedges and bumpers. The decedent slipped between the rails of her bed and was in large part out of her bed with her lower half of her body on the floor. However, her head and neck were stuck under the bed side rail with her neck wedged in the gap between the rail and the mattress. This prevented her from breathing, which ultimately caused the patient’s death. Here, the court upheld the validity of such a claim that the nursing home was liable for the patient’s death due to the fact that the death occurred as a result of “positional asphyxiation” while in the facility’s care.
Unintentional torts are predominantly claims of negligence in care or supervision such as result in falls or other injuries to residents. Several jurisdictions have imposed tort liability upon nursing homes for injuries sustained by residents as a result of negligent or intentional acts by the facility’s employees. A nursing home also may be vicariously liable to a resident who is injured by another resident or by a third party who is not an employee. In addition, several states have created statutory private rights of action, ranging from statutes making explicit a nursing home resident’s right to utilize common law remedies, notwithstanding the existence of statutory remedies, to schemes that set out rights and damages available to nursing home residents. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act also provides for the recovery of attorney fees and costs. Litigants also have relied on consumer protection and related statutes to seek recovery from nursing facilities.

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.

The information in this blog was provided by Elder Law: Advocacy for the Aging 2d, by Allen D. Bogutz, Robert N. Brown, Joan M. Krauskopf, and Karen L. Tokarz.