Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog
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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.

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I have not had the opportunity to blog in about a month, so forgive me if this news is a bit old.

Anyways, I just stumbled across this CNN news story from early July commenting on a disturbing video of a group home employee allegedly abusing a helpless resident. I must warn you, the video is difficult to watch and may hit especially hard for those of you with loved ones in homes. I had trouble stomaching it and am still feeling a bit angry.

An anonymous source sent one copy of the video to the State of Connecticut, one to the group home, and one to a news station. The source labeled the videos “A Perfect Employee” and included a description stating that the incident happened at the East Hartford, Connecticut group home. For those of you who do not wish to watch the gruesome video, it depicts a caretaker whipping a defenseless, disabled resident with a belt, kicking her in the stomach, and dragging her across the floor by her hair. The employee is no longer working at the home and has since been arrested.

This story may be tough to accept as true, but it serves as a sad reminder that this type of abuse does happen in our world. If you notice signs of nursing home abuse or neglect please refer to this helpful guide for information on how to proceed.

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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On Saturday, July 28, 2012, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed several new laws to protect senior citizens in Illinois. Governor Quinn has long been committed to protecting Illinois seniors and the signing of these new laws in just an extension of that commitment. The laws signed on Saturday “will promote safety, increase oversight and accountability for caregivers and help authorities identify and respond to reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation.” http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/latest-local/35152-governor-quinn-signs-new-laws-to-protect-illinois-seniors-.html.

Some highlights of the laws include giving law enforcement and fire departments access to reports of elder abuse, neglect, financial exploitation or self-neglect compiled by senior service providers, allowing the Illinois Department on Aging to receive reports of elder abuse or neglect for senior service providers via the internet and requiring nursing home residents’ identification wristlets to include their facility’s telephone number so that those residents who are found outside of their facility can be returned safely.

Each of the new laws seeks to address an area in which elder care has been deficient. These laws will help reduce instances of abuse, neglect and nursing home injuries, as well as facilitate more efficient communication to more efficiently and effectively address the needs of Illinois’ senior citizens.

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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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.

http://www.kmov.com/news/local/Another-family-alleges-relative-was-victim-of-abuse-at-St-Louis-County-nursing-home-158639165.html

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Advocates for the elderly and disabled are disappointed with the lack of input they had concerning legislation on minimum staffing levels in nursing homes passed by the Illinois General Assembly. An Illinois State Senator, Jacqueline Collins, and other advocates for patients were urging for a 20 percent minimum RN level in nursing home facilities. Advocates urged that the 20 percent care level was supported by research and that it would lead to a reduction in neglect of nursing home residents. Collins, in particular supported the 20 percent RN level in nursing homes because the lack of RNs is a particular problem at Chicago-area nursing homes. Despite concerns and research brought forth by Advocates, the Illinois General Assembly did not pass a 20 percent RN minimum care level as part of the legislation.

The resulting agreement reached after group meetings on the language of the legislation and negotiations resulted in SB 2840 and includes $70 million in Medicaid cuts – 2.7 percent cut rather than the 15 percent cut that nursing homes feared. In addition, the agreement included Health Care Council of Illinois’ preference for 10 percent RN staffing levels. This agreed upon 10 percent falls very short of what Advocates urge is a necessary level of care to provide appropriate staffing and individualized nursing and personal care to nursing home residents. Advocates contend that people are going to be neglected as a result of the staffing reductions. Collins was upset, not simply because the lack of RNs is a particular problem in her district, but because she was assured by Michael Gelder, Governor Quinn’s senior health-care policy advisor, that the RN staffing issue would be resolved in negotiations after the state budget was passed by the General Assembly. It seems that, despite these assurances, the staffing issue was resolved through closed-door meetings and budget-related deals with the powerful nursing home industry – which happens to be one of the State’s largest sources of political campaign contributions.

SB 2840 and its 10 percent RN care level has disappointed a lot of advocates for the elderly and disabled who feel left out of the process that ultimately decided their fate. RN care at a level of 10 percent is not enough to see meaningful improvements in the level of care required at Illinois nursing home 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.

http://www.pjstar.com/news/x345281011/Advocates-criticize-bill-to-reform-nursing-home-staffing-levels

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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.

http://www.pro8news.com/news/local/Nursing-Home-Addresses-Claims-of-Neglect-157114775.html.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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: http://www.idph.state.il.us/healthca/nhregulate.htm