Recently in Nursing Home Neglect Lawsuit Category

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.

April 8, 2013

The Effects of Filial Support Laws on Nursing Home Costs

Recent developments in the area of filial support law have the potential of affecting how families budget for nursing home costs. Currently, 29 states (not including Illinois) have what are called filial support laws on the books. Filial support laws are put in place in order to require certain family members of an indigent elderly person to provide financial assistance for his or her unpaid care. These laws have various levels of requirements depending upon the state that you are in. A recent law review article by law professor Katherine C. Pearson, which was published in the Spring 2013 edition of the University of Illinois Law School's Elder Law Journal, took an in-depth look at some of the states where these laws are taking a more prominent role in nursing home funding.

One of the cases that Pearson looked at was the Pennsylvania HCRA v. Pittas case. In September of 2007, John Pittas' (who was the appellant) mother was admitted to an HCR facility for skilled nursing care and treatment where she resided and was treated until March of 2008. In March of 2008, Pittas' mother relocated to Greece. A large portion of her bill at the HCR facility went unpaid and, as a result, HCR sued Pittas for $93,000 under the state's filial responsibility law. After a three-day trial, the trial court ruled against Mr. Pittas in the amount of $92,943.41. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed this ruling and refused to consider imposing joint responsibility on his mother's husband or her two other adult children.

In a recent article reacting to this decision in the Southern Illinoisan Business Journal by Richard Habiger, he states that "[w]ithout proper planning by both parents and children, and without legal advice from an experienced elder law attorney, children may very well be on the hook for thousands of dollars of care required by their aging parents." Although there are no filial support laws currently on the Illinois books, there are some experts, like Professor Pearson, who believe that more states may adopt similar laws in the upcoming years. This puts a premium on making sure that families plan for the costs of nursing home care in advance of admitting their loved ones into a long-term care facility.

Professor Pearson concluded her article with this theory on where legislation may be heading "It seems reasonable to conclude that when a nation is both willing and financially able to provide adequate public support to assist poor elders, filial support laws are less important and less frequently used. In the United States, when the federal government was willing to fully fund Medicare and Medicaid for elders' health care and long-term care in nursing homes, federal policies led states to repeal or limit the use of filial support laws to mandate financial support for parents by their adult children. However, as the large demographic cohort of baby boomers ages, thus increasing the likelihood of costly health care and long-term care, there may be heightened interest among the U.S. states in using filial support laws against adult children." Our office encourages you and your family to take the necessary steps to plan for nursing home care costs so that you will not have to worry about the effects of this potentially growing area of law. This may very well include seeking legal counsel for advice on how best to plan for funding, and how current state or federal law could affect your family's liability for the costs of long term 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.

February 21, 2013

Is Litigation Really the Problem?

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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December 4, 2012

Nursing Home Actions Are Becoming More Common

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.

January 9, 2012

Damage Caps in Nursing Home Arbitration Clauses

The Florida Supreme Court has recently handed down two decisions regarding arbitration clauses in nursing home disputes (Shotts v. OP Winter Haven, Gessa v. Manor Care of Florida) The court struck down a segment of nursing home arbitration clauses that put in place damage caps that fell below what is legally recoverable in state court.

The rulings are being hailed as a big win for nursing home residents and their families. And though these cases come out of Florida, the effects of the decisions are predicted to be felt throughout other States. Legal experts are saying that the decisions may likely deter nursing homes in other states from imposing similar damage caps in their arbitration clauses.

Continue reading "Damage Caps in Nursing Home Arbitration Clauses" »

November 21, 2011

Illinois Nurse Accused on Withholding Medications from Resident

A nurse at a Southwestern Illinois nursing home stands accused of purposely withholding medications from an 83-year-old resident. The medications were allegedly prescribed to the resident. According to a spokeswoman from the local prosecutor's office, the nurse withheld the medications for a period of 45 days spanning from January 2011 through February 2011.

The spokeswoman said that the resident was hospitalized for a time but then returned to the nursing home. The resident passed away this year. It is not clear yet whether or not the resident's death was a result of the nurse's conduct.

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act provides for the rights of residents and the responsibilities of nursing home facilities. Knowingly withholding medication is a clear violation of the Act.

Continue reading "Illinois Nurse Accused on Withholding Medications from Resident" »

October 24, 2011

$91.5 Million Dollar Damage Award against Nursing Home Facility

A jury in Charleston, West Virginia awarded $91.5 million dollars in damages against a Heartland nursing home. The plaintiff, an 87 year-old woman, died from complications caused by severe dehydration after she was admitted to the Heartland home for only 3 weeks.

Tom Douglas, the plaintiff's son, said her stay in the home was intended to be temporary and would last until another bed opened up at a local nursing home. The lawsuit claimed that the nursing home failed to feed and properly care for Mr. Douglas' mother, resulting her death only hours after leaving the Heartland home. Mr. Douglas stated that before his mother entered Heartland, she could walk and talk. 3 weeks later she was confined to a wheelchair.

Nursing home abuse and neglect cases are litigated around the U.S. on an increasingly frequent basis. Sadly, most of the cases arise from the death of a loved one who was a resident at a nursing home facility.

Continue reading "$91.5 Million Dollar Damage Award against Nursing Home Facility" »

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?" »

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.

June 17, 2011

Illinois Nursing Home sued for Neglect of Resident

The saga of nursing home neglect continues in Illinois as just last week Virgil Calvert Nursing and Rehabilitiation Center in Southwestern Illinois was sued by two women who allege that Ms. Vandy May was not properly treated or looked after during her time at the nursing home. As the Madison/St.Clair Record notes, Ms. May developed decubitus ulcers, also known as bed sores, recurrent urinary tract infections, an infection of her urinary tract, malnutrition and dehydration.

Ms. May became further disabled, due to these neglectful conditions the complaint alleges, just before her death. The lawsuit further alleges that not only did Virgil Calvert contribute to May's death by not treating her in a proper manner, they also negligently failed to properly supervise May, failed to protect May from neglect and failed to timely notify May's physician of significant changes in her condition.

These are terrible insights into neglect concerning some of the most vulnerable in our population. If you or someone you know has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect in Illinois please contact one of our experienced Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys today.

The Madison/St.Clair Record, Virgil Calvert Nursing center sued over resident's decubitus ulcers, June 8, 2011.