Recently in Nursing Home Neglect Category

August 20, 2014

New Illinois Laws Target Senior Care Complaints in Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care Facilities

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.

Continue reading "New Illinois Laws Target Senior Care Complaints in Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care Facilities" »

May 26, 2014

Nursing Home Abuse Updates from Across the Nation


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.


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.


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.


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.

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

January 22, 2013

Fines Continue to Add Up for Illinois Nursing Homes

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

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.

September 18, 2012

Dismal Quarterly Report for Illinois Nursing Homes

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health's Quarterly Report of Nursing Home Violators, the Illinois Department of Public Health initiated action against 132 Illinois nursing homes for violations of the Nursing Home Care Act or it has recommended decertification to the Director of the Department of Healthcare and Family Service, or the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services for violations in relation to patient care.

This Quarterly Report covers the time period from April 2012 to June 2012. The next report will cover July 2012 to September 2012 and it will be interesting to see if the number of nursing homes with actions initiated against them or decertification recommendations placed with appropriate federal agencies has increased or decreased.

While these statistics do not necessarily give any insight into the frequency of nursing home abuse, neglect or injury incidents, they do provide insight into the level of compliance of Illinois nursing homes with relevant laws that exist to protect the elder against such incidents. Nursing homes are tasked with caring for arguably society's most vulnerable class of citizens and these nursing homes need to make more of an effort to come into compliance with the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act and relevant federal laws. The reported 132 Illinois nursing home violators between April 2012 and June 2012 is a disheartening number. It is a frightening number for any person currently living in an Illinois nursing home and/or considering a transition into a nursing home and Illinois nursing homes need to do better. The nursing homes need to do better to prevent abuse, neglect and injuries that seem to occur at an alarming frequency. The nursing homes of this state need to respect the laws governing them and need to make a strenuous effort to come into compliance with any relevant laws.

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.

September 4, 2012

Illinois Nursing Home to Receive a Facelift Amid Allegations Related to Patient Mistreatment, Cleanliness Issues, and Mismanagement of Infection Control

A Lincoln, Illinois nursing home, Maple Ridge Care Centre, is planning a $500,000 effort to improve its operations and repair its reputation after coming under fire for several alleged instances of patient mistreatment, cleanliness issues, and mismanagement of infection control.

Tim Fields, a spokesperson for Maple Ridge, said that significant capital improvement dollars will go toward facility renovations that aim to improve the living conditions of the residents and the working conditions of the staff. Those renovations include updating the facility with new computer systems, break rooms for the staff and nursing stations. In addition, a medical records system is set to be installed, along with new social areas with flat-screen televisions and Internet availability.

Maple Ridge recently underwent a change in ownership and in the process of that change, will change its name to Symphony of Lincoln.

Despite the change in ownership and although the new owners have set out a plan to improve its operations, there are still concerns about understaffing, facility conditions, rough treatment of Maple Ridge residents by staff, lack of cleanliness, etc. Some feel that if the facility has additional funding that it should be spent directly addressing patient problems.

Jamie Freschi, a regional long-term care ombudsman, in a report dated August 25, 2012, stated that despite the change in ownership, complaints are still incoming about unanswered call lights, rude and sometimes rough treatment of Maple Ridge residents by the staff, lack of cleanliness and lax attitudes toward infection control. Freschi feels that if Maple Ridge has additional funding to spend on the facility, that additional funding could be spent providing more staffing and training.

There is cause for concern with the issues and complaints presented about Maple Ridge because these sub-par conditions often lead to nursing home neglect and/or injuries. Lincoln resident Diana Sexton reported that, up until the last few days, she had frequently found her daughter sitting in her own urine while nurse's aides were too busy or unwilling to help her use the restroom. Complaints like Diana Sexton's are too many and changes need to be made to prevent instances of neglect, abuse and/or preventable injuries from occurring. Nursing homes are tasked with providing a certain level of care to its residents and must strive to maintain that level of care so that residents do not suffer from low quality care due to understaffing and/or general lax staff attitudes that often lead to devastating results for nursing home residents.

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.

June 20, 2012

St. Louis County Nursing Home Confronted with another Allegation of Neglect

Last week, Gail Drmacich noticed that her 68 year old mother-in-law's arm was turning green. Drmacich's mother-in-law was under the care of St. John's Place, a nursing home facility that is not only in the midst of a criminal elder abuse investigation, but has been faced with three wrongful death lawsuits since 2003. Because it seemed that the nursing home was ignoring this serious sign of injury, Drmacich telephoned a doctor at a nearby hospital. The doctor recommended that the resident be taken to the ER immediately. Drmacich then notified St. John's Place, but she claims it took the nursing home over two hours to order an ambulance.

A medical examination revealed that Drmacich's mother-in-law was suffering from a separated shoulder and a fractured elbow. Drmacich believes the injuries were perhaps the results of a fall, and that they were caused by nursing home neglect. The former resident was still in the hospital at the time the story was reported, but Drmacich had already cleaned out her mother-in-law's room at St. John's Place and withdrawn her from its care. A representative for St. John's Place briefly commented that these are only allegations, yet to be proven by the state or even brought to the state.

Drmacich also stated that her mother-in-law had shown signs of bruising in the past, and Drmacich appears to have been continually frustrated with the care provided by St. John's Place. Although it took something as unnerving as a green arm to alert her that something was seriously wrong, you should be aware that sometimes smaller signals can be signs of big problems. Bruising can be caused by many factors, and can be much more common in the elderly, but there are some types of bruising that should alert you that abuse or neglect may be occurring. Here is a helpful guide on what to do if you believe your loved one is a victim of such abuse or neglect.

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.

June 7, 2012

A Troubling Story of Nursing Home Neglect

It is troubling the vast amount of news that is reported on nursing home abuse and neglect. A Laredo, Texas news story discusses a woman, Mary Arias, who was "shocked" by the treatment of her father, who currently resides in a nursing home. Her father is paralyzed on the left side of the body, which has drastically limited the actions he can take on his own. His limitations require him to rely on nurses at his nursing home to assist him in certain activities and take care of him. Mary Arias' father complained to her during one visit that he had wanted to rinse out his mouth and was told by the nurses to do it himself. Mary Arias, reported this incident and her father's treatment to Pro 8 News because she was and is concerned about the nurses' attitudes and lack of care and for the other residents who are the recipients of the same or similar treatment.

When a person and/or his or her family makes the tough decision to seek nursing home care, neglect and abuse should not be factors that are calculated in this decision. Today, however, nursing home abuse and neglect seem to be all too frequently occurring and, as such, must be factors at the forefront of the minds of those considering nursing home care. Mary Arias made a good point - if the nurses and/or staff do not want to work in a nursing home and do not want to help care for those in need, then they should not be in the business of caring for those in need. It is a sad state of affairs when, almost everyday, there is a report in the news of a nursing home resident who has suffered from neglect and/or abuse or has been injured in a nursing home. Lack of compassion, staffing reductions, funding cuts, etc. lead to an increase in instances of nursing home abuse and/or neglect. The family members of those who are being cared for in nursing homes are the eyes, ears and voices of the residents and should inquire into the level of care their respective family members receive to ensure that they are not victims of nursing home abuse and neglect.

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.

June 6, 2012

CMS Launches Initiative to Curb the Abuse of Antipsychotics in Nursing Home Care

A few months ago, we wrote about the dangers of overusing and improperly administering psychiatric drugs in nursing homes. Well, last week, U.S. health officials announced that they seek to alleviate some of these dangers by reducing the use of antipsychotics in nursing homes by fifteen percent before the end of 2012. This is a response to the rampant, wrongful use of these drugs to subdue dementia patients, and the risks that this abuse poses to their health and lives. If you believe that a nursing home is improperly or wrongfully providing medication to you or a loved one, here is an instructional guide on how to begin taking action. (see #9 for wrong medication issues)

To achieve their goal, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently launched a partnership with federal and state officials, advocacy groups, caregivers, and nursing homes, with the intention of providing better care to dementia patients in nursing homes. Antipsychotics certainly have proper and intended uses, including the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc., but nursing homes have long administered these drugs to subdue dementia patients, which can have dangerous side effects, including death. Many nursing homes continue to disregard these risks, and routinely drug dementia patients with antipsychotics, perhaps because caregivers think the patients are too difficult to deal with properly.

CMS recently discovered that in 2010, daily doses of antipsychotics exceeding the recommended level were given to more seventeen percent of nursing home patients. There may have already been some rules in place to prevent caregivers from administering unnecessary drugs, and many of these antipsychotics explicitly warn of severe risks for dementia patients, but these rules were clearly not enough. This new partnership is a step in the right direction. CMS hopes to provide better training to caregivers, educate nursing homes on the use of antipsychotics, and provide alternatives to antipsychotics. Hopefully this will result in the desired fifteen percent decrease in antipsychotic administration, and more importantly, help provide better care for nursing home patients throughout the country.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a nursing home at the hands of nursing home caretakers, please contact Ed Fox & Associates today.

May 30, 2012

Risks of Bed Sores for Dementia Patients May be Increased by Feeding Tubes

As reported by U.S. News (Health), a recent Brown University study based on data collected from nursing homes has linked the use of feeding tubes to higher risks of bed sores in dementia patients. This may be one consideration for those with loved ones in nursing homes, as failures to prevent, recognize, and treat bed sores are some of the most common signs and instances of nursing home neglect.

The article states that providing nutrition via feeding tubes may cause dementia patients discomfort, agitation, and diarrhea. These symptoms may then lead to healthcare providers restraining or sedating patients. Ultimately, these results can put dementia patients with feeding tubes at a higher risk of developing bed sores, or of having existing bed sores worsen, than dementia patients without feeding tubes.

Further, the article states that the study's results challenge the long standing belief that feeding tubes help aid the healing of bed sores in dementia patients. Personally, I'm not sure that the data says much about whether feeding tubes can aid the healing of bed sores or not. While I am in no way qualified to determine what is medically best for a patient, to me it seems plausible that the issue/cause here is not whether the actual feeding tubes are a proper form of treatment, but whether the standard of care provided to patients undergoing this form of treatment is proper.

Bed sores are caused by a lack of blood flow to a certain area of the body, and occur when a patient is bedridden or immobile for a significant period of time. I would assume that patients with feeding tubes are more likely to be immobilized or bedridden for extended periods of time than patients without feeding tubes, resulting in a higher probability that their blood flow will be cut off. But should this higher chance of immobilization really result in these patients being over 2 times more likely to develop bed sores than patients without tubes? I would guess not. I think it is plausible that feeding tubes could be a proper treatment for dementia patients, but that nursing homes may be neglecting these patients by not taking proper measures to prevent bed sore development when patients are immobilized or bedridden.

Regardless, this risk the article mentions should be taken into account when deciding whether to use a feeding tube to care for a dementia patient in a nursing home, but it should probably not be the deciding factor. Like many other health care decisions, there may be positives and negatives to using a feeding tube with a dementia patient. Decisions like these should be discussed with professional healthcare providers, and the risk of bed sores should of course be discussed and monitored. Regardless of whether a patient has a feeding tube or not, bed sores can and should be prevented with proper treatment (see #4).

If bed sores have caused injury to a loved one, please contact the experienced attorneys at Ed Fox & Associates today.

May 29, 2012

Nursing Home Residents Pay for Medicaid Cuts

Illinois state lawmakers passed legislation last week that will result in $1.6 billion in Medicaid cuts. Many legislators and advocates are angered and concerned that the cuts will undercut much needed nursing home reforms. As part of the compromises reached last week, state officials set a level of care by registered nurses that was lower than what many advocates had hoped for.

Under the new staffing requirements, a minimum of 25 percent of all bedside care must be be provided by licensed nurses, with only 10 percent done by registered nurses. The new staffing requirements fell short of the 20 percent registered nurse bedside care that advocates for the elderly and disabled had been fighting for.

The Medicaid cuts also end the Illinois Cares Rx discount drug coverage for 180,000 low-income people and reportedly tighten Medicaid screening in ways that could remove hundreds of thousands of people from coverage.

The compromises and Medicaid cuts made last week stand to save the state about $240 million.

What does this mean for nursing home residents?

The compromises and Medicaid cuts made last week could have a minimal effect on nursing home residents. But this is unlikely. Negligence and abuse are more likely to happen in nursing homes that are underfunded and understaffed. As stated previously, this new legislation lowers the standard of care by registered nurses, who have a higher level of credentials and are paid more, which can only adversely affect the care provided to nursing home residents. Further, legislation of this nature requires nursing homes to re-prioritize goals. For example, nursing homes that, prior to this legislation, had abuse prevention as a priority, may have to set this objective aside until they can adjust to the Medicaid reimbursement cuts. The bottom line is that the Medicaid cuts are likely to adversely affect vital nursing home reforms enacted two years ago and delay improved care in nursing home facilities.

If you or someone you love has been neglected and/or abused in a nursing home, call the experienced attorneys at Ed Fox & Associates today.

May 8, 2012

An Overview of the Regulation of Illinois Nursing Homes

Illinois Nursing Homes are licensed, regulated, inspected and/or certified by public and private agencies at the state and federal level. Such agencies tasked with Nursing Home regulation include, but are not limited to, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the United States Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The IDPH monitors nursing home facilities to ensure compliance with mandatory state regulations. In addition, the IDPH, under a cooperative agreement with CMS, is responsible for ensuring that nursing home facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid in the State of Illinois satisfy federal regulations and certification requirements. The IDPH inspects nursing home facilities and also responds to complaints lodged against any facility. Inspections are conducted to evaluate a nursing home's equipment, staff, policies, procedures and finances to ensure an adequate level of care at each facility. During an inspection, the IDPH inspectors might evaluate and/or inspect medical records, observe resident care, inspect all areas of the nursing home for health and safety compliance issues, and interview residents and their families or staff.

The IDPH also reviews "reportable events". A "reportable event" is anything from personnel changes at a given facility to deaths or injuries sustained by residents at a given facility.

How often are Nursing Homes Inspected in Illinois?

According to the IDPH, nursing homes are inspected at least every 6 to 15 months. The average rate of inspection in Illinois is once a year. Does once a year ensure that a nursing home facility is providing an adequate level of care to its residents and remaining compliant with state and federal regulations? Possibly. One the one hand, in Illinois, facilities are given no notice prior to an inspection. On the other hand, once a year inspections may not be enough in light of the fact that if a nursing home falls below a certain level of care, even for a short time, this can have devastating consequences, including negligence and abuse, which could result in resident injury or death.

What if, During an Inspection, the IDPH Finds that a Facility has failed to Comply with all Applicable State and Federal Licensure Standards?

The IDPH will cite the nursing home facility for deficiencies if it is not in compliance with state and/or federal regulations or rules. When a facility is found to be deficient in some area, the facility is required to submit a written plan of correction within 10 days detailing how and when each deficiency will be corrected.

The IDPH can also direct specific corrective measures that must be implemented by the facility if the circumstances so require the IDPH to do so.

In some cases, a nursing home facility is given an opportunity to correct any deficiencies with which it is cited, without the imposition of fines, penalties or other punitive measures. However, the IDPH may impose a fine, curtail admissions, appoint a temporary manager, issue a provisional license or even suspend or revoke a nursing home's license. In extreme cases, the IDPH may order a facility to close or have a facility's Medicare or Medicaid certification suspended or revoked by CMS.

What about the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act?

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act provides another layer of protection for residents. The Act was enacted in response to concern over the increase of reports alleging inadequate and improper treatment of patients in nursing home facilities. The Act provides residents with the right to pursue actions for damages and other relief against nursing home facilities. Specifically, Section 3-601 provides that owner and operators of facilities are liable to a resident for injuries cause by intentional or negligent acts of their employees or agents. 210 ILCS 45/3-601.

Despite the many state and federal regulations and the laws that serve to protect residents of nursing home facilities, many residents continue to suffer from an inadequate level of care at some of Illinois' nursing homes. This inadequate level of care might be be the result of a number of factors, including but not limited to, decreased staffing, negligence and/or abuse.

If you or someone you love has been neglected in a nursing home, call the experienced attorneys at Ed Fox & Associates today.

Information on the regulation of Illinois Nursing Homes can be found at:

May 4, 2012

Joliet Nursing Home License to be Revoked

The Herald-News reported that state public health officials confirmed Wednesday, May 2, 2012, that the State of Illinois is in the process of revoking the license for a Joliet nursing home, Hillcrest Healthcare Center. Hillcrest Healthcare Center reportedly has a "spotty regulatory record" filled with incidents of abuse and neglect. An Illinois Department of Public Health investigation found that between May and October, a male Hillcrest resident sexually, physically, or mentally assaulted several other residents. Unfortunately, this was not the first complaint filed against Hillcrest. In February, the state conducted an investigation after a resident was found dead in her room with a coaxial cord wrapped around her neck and mouth. In March, the state conducted another yet another investigation into the hospitalization of a Hillcrest resident and found that the facility staff gave that resident too high a dose of prescription seizure medicine.

The Mayor of Joliet, Tom Giarrante requested that the Illinois Department of Public Health perform one more inspection on Hillcrest before it closed citing his concern for the employees of Hillcrest once Hillcrest closes as one reason for his request. However, given the history of state investigations into the Hillcrest facility dating back at least 10 years, it seems that Hillcrest has had ample time to undergo change to provide adequate care for its residents.

State agencies that are responsible for overseeing nursing home care too often fail to ensure that problems with a facility are corrected. The reported revocation of Hillcrest's license signifies an effort by the Illinois Department of Public Health to take action when a facility is either underperforming or continuously falling short on the level of care provided to its residents.

If you or someone you love has been neglected in a nursing home, call the experienced attorneys at Ed Fox & Associates today.

February 29, 2012

Elders Struggling with Neglect and Abuse in Care Centers

Raina Hunter shared a story about her grandmother, who she calls "Nana" in ABC's, The Drum Opinion, and talks about the abuse and neglect her grandmother suffered at a care center in Melbourne.

After Raina's grandmother fell and fractured her pelvis in two places, she had to spend time in rehabilitation and respite centers to recover. During her time in care, Raina's grandmother experienced several complications, including the development of cellutitis in her legs, that Raina untimately attributes to neglect. Raina stated that "there is no question in [her] mind that the dangerous cellulitis in her legs would have remained unnoticed by the medical staff charged with looking after her...."

When Raina's grandmother finally saw a private hospital doctor, the doctor had to hold himself back from swearing when he saw her legs - Raina's grandmother was ultimately admitted to the hospital where she was placed on an antibiotic drip for two weeks. When she was released, Raina noticed that her legs seemed "redder" than were the previous week. So she asked the workers at the new respite center - the one her grandmother was moved to after suffering neglect at the first one - for advice because there was no doctor or nurse on staff. Raina's grandmother, again, had to be taken to the hospital, where she was ultimately readmitted, placed back on the antibiotic drip, this time for three weeks. Fortunately for Raina, her grandmother has started to recover and even walk with the aid of others.

Raina's grandmother's injuries were exacerbated because of the negligence she suffered at two different care facilities. And while Raina's grandmother utlimately received the treatment she needed, what if her family had not been around to keep an eye on her treatment? Or as Raina pointed out in her story, what about those elderly people who do not have any family to keep an eye on them? Another frightening prospect is: what if the family of an elder person, whom they suspect is being abused and/or neglected simply does not know what to do? Raina's grandmother is unfortunately not alone in suffering. There are too many stories of nursing home and/or care center neglect and abuse. Such neglect or abuse often results in serious injury, and even death, to some residents.

If you or someone you love has been neglected in an Illinois nursing home, call the experienced attorneys at Ed Fox & Associates today.