Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Nursing home residents who contract blood infections are at dire risk of life-threatening illnesses. One study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General found that septicemia, or sepsis, was by far the most common reason nursing home residents were moved to acute-care hospitals. Sepsis is a complication caused by the body’s life-threatening response to an infection, which can result in tissue damage, organ failure, and even death. The cause of sepsis is infection. The cost of those transfers as of six years ago was $3 billion for Medicare.needle

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimated that quality care problems at nursing homes – including failures to prevent infections – account for hundreds of thousands of cases annually. The agency asserted some 315,000 hospital admissions annually could be prevented among nursing home residents who receive Medicare and Medicaid if nursing homes provided better quality care. That’s the equivalent of three jumbo jets crashing and killing their passengers every single day. Many of those admissions are for sepsis, which most often occurs in people over the age of 65 who have weakened immune systems and chronic medical conditions. Globally, it’s estimated there are 15 million to 19 million cases a year.

Now, a physician in Virginia may have found a way to treat sepsis. His research, published in the journal Chest, reveals remarkable success treating individuals at high risk of sudden death due to sepsis.

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The U.S. Supreme Court recently weighed whether arbitration agreements for nursing homes should be valid, seemingly taking a critical stance on the practice, despite ruling in favor of arbitration agreements in several recent cases. supreme court

The matter before the court involves three consolidated cases of alleged nursing home abuse, naming as defendant Kindred Healthcare, a corporation which operates nursing homes and assisted living facilities throughout the country, including three in North Carolina. In each case, plaintiffs filed claims in the state court of Kentucky alleging violations of patients’ civil rights, and in each case, an attorney-in-fact for the resident signed an arbitration agreement. The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled those arbitration agreements aren’t valid. The question for the U.S. Supreme Court is whether a person with power of attorney can legally enter into a nursing home arbitration agreement on behalf of the resident.

Justice Samuel Alito noted that, “the context here seems different from arbitration cases we’ve had in recent years.” Specifically, these disputes are not about a discrepancy of something like a phone bill. Rather, these involve elderly persons who need care.  Continue reading

We have always known that sexual assault in nursing homes was an under-reported crime. Sexual assault in general isn’t reported nearly as often as it occurs, for a myriad of reasons, and abuse that occurs in nursing homes is even more hidden because victims often cannot explain what happened or even identify their attacker. But of course, this is part of the reason why it’s so pervasive.old woman

CNN Investigations recently launched an in-depth analysis, combing through thousands of reports and interviewing families, regulators, and nursing home administrators.

It was firstly noted that there have been 16,000 complaints of sexual assault or sexual abuse lodged against long-term care facilities (nursing homes and assisted living facilities) since 2000. But even federal regulators have known this figure doesn’t capture all of the complaints. It only involves those wherein a state’s long-term care ombudsman got involved. It also doesn’t factor in the reality that most assaults aren’t reported at all.

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The number of nursing home aides in a given facility is directly tied to the quality of care at that site. These are the staffers responsible for the day-to-day basic care needs, such as eating, bathing, dressing, and administering medications. Unfortunately, one of the most common ways nursing home administrators cut corners is by slashing the number of aides at any given time. old woman

In fact, if you look at nursing home facilities with high rates of nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect, one of the things you’ll find they likely have in common is low staffing numbers. Reduced staffing leads to higher demand on existing staff, which results in stress and lower job satisfaction. That can result in frustration that sometimes gets taken out on vulnerable patients. It also means there simply aren’t enough people on site to spend adequate time caring for each patient.

Some states are trying to bolster the minimum nursing home staffing level requirements. For example, in New Jersey, state lawmakers passed a measure that would raise minimum staffing levels for CNAs, or certified nursing assistants. The new law would mandate at least one nursing assistant for every eight patients on the day shift and every 10 patients on the late day shift and one for every 16 patients on the shift overnight.

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Chemical restraints involve the use of any type of drug for the purpose of restricting a person’s movement or freedom. A chemical restraint usually involves either a sedative, an anti-anxiety medication, or an anti-psychotic medication. In a nursing home setting, it’s illegal to use these drugs unless they are medically necessary to treat a specific medical condition or prevent the resident from causing immediate physical harm to themselves or others. wheelchair

Unfortunately, there are too many nursing homes that use these types of drugs on individuals for whom they are not medically necessary. Instead, it’s done for the convenience of the staff. For example, a dementia patient may have the propensity to wander, but that’s far less likely if they are sedated. The facility will drug the person rather than invest the time and money needed to provide proper supervision of the patient. But that’s a form of nursing home abuse. This can be a confusing matter for the family, especially since facility administrators are unlikely to refer to these drugs as “restraints.”

Recently in Virginia, a family filed a nursing home abuse lawsuit against a facility that had been in charge of caring for an 84-year-old matriarch. According to The Virginian-Pilot, staffers at the nursing home not only bound her to her wheelchair with bed sheets but also injected her with a powerful sedative in order to “silence” her.

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It’s not uncommon for hospital patients to transfer to a nursing home. Their medical needs may no longer be urgent or intensive, but they are still ongoing and require additional care. However, it’s becoming apparent that many patients who are transferred from hospitals to nursing homes often end up going to some of the most poorly rated. A recent report from Kaiser Health News explains why. nurses

As it turns out, many hospitals may be affiliated in some way with nursing homes in the region. Often, staffers are recommending these facilities to patients, without sharing information that is objective or their own personal knowledge about the quality.

This is deeply concerning when you consider what an important matter it is to choose the right nursing home. Nearly 40 percent of all licensed nursing home facilities nationally have been cited by federal health inspectors over the course of three years for conduct or operations that harm a patient or make certain injuries likely. Despite this, case managers at hospitals don’t share this information. They don’t tell patients or their families that there are better options. A recommendation from a doctor or nurse can be a powerful form of persuasion. This is why some nursing home abuse and neglect prevention advocates say even some of the worst facilities are practically overflowing, since hospitals just keep sending them new patients.

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An attorney for the family of a woman who died in a nursing home after being diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease has indicated a likely nursing home negligence lawsuit, asserting the facility didn’t do enough to prevent the spread of the deadly bacteria. laboratory

The 86-year-old patient at the New York nursing home reportedly died in late October, just days after her son was informed that she had contracted the Legionella bacteria. The decedent had endured several bouts of what health care workers thought was pneumonia. She was finally diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease by staffers at the hospital where she was transported when her condition worsened. Doctors released her from the hospital after several days, telling her son there was nothing more they could do for her. As the plaintiff would later learn, four others at that same nursing home had tested positive for the Legionella bacteria.

The Legionella bacteria causes infections that can result in either Legionnaires’ disease, which is a progressive pneumonia with a two- to 10-day incubation period, or Pontiac fever, which has a one- to two-day incubation period and causes a flu-like illness. It’s an aquatic organism, meaning it thrives in warm water and is spread into the respiratory system through contaminated droplets. Cases of the disease have been linked to cooling towers, showers and faucets, hot tubs, respiratory therapy equipment, room air humidifiers, and potable water systems. Nursing home residents are especially vulnerable not just to exposure to the disease, as a result of living in close quarters with shared water systems, but also to falling extremely ill from that exposure, due to weakened immune systems and co-morbidity. Those who are over the age of 50 in general have a high risk, as do those dealing with renal disease, blood cancers, and recent organ transplants.

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Following the largest outbreak of Hepatitis C in recent U.S. history, the hospital system and its primary health provider have agreed to a settlement with 21 of the victims – mostly nursing home residents – were infected. hospitalhallAttorneys for the health service, Trinity Health, asked a state judge in North Dakota to dismiss the pending lawsuit, asserting the defendant had reached a confidential settlement that resolved plaintiff’s claims. The health services defendant also asked for the judge to continue to allow the legal dispute between the hospital and ManorCare, the nursing home where most of the patients contracted the disease, to be resolved instead in state court. The court hasn’t yet ruled. 

Although the settlement still isn’t finalized, plaintiffs’ attorneys said an agreement had been reached “in principle.”  Continue reading

It’s a safe bet to say your grandmother probably isn’t on Snapchat. That’s especially true if she’s living in a nursing home. Meanwhile, the app is extremely popular among the younger cohort. It has also fast become known to those who advocate for protecting the elderly from nursing home abuse and exploitation. iphone6

Why? Because an increasing number of nursing home staffers have been caught taking photographs of elderly residents in demeaning or humiliating circumstances and then posting those images on the social media platform.

One case reported out of Wisconsin just recently involved an 87-year-old man suffering dementia who had just lost his wife of many years and his leg. His son placed him in a nursing home down the street, WGNTV reported, and he would wander the halls calling out for his wife. One day, he was particular agitated. A nurse aide, apparently frustrated, snapped a photo of him and shared it with her friends, captioning the image, “JERK!” His son later said an employee was kicking his father’s wheelchair and the Snapchat image showed him kicking back as other staffers laughed in the background.  Continue reading

One of the main things nursing home abuse, neglect and negligence victims and their families look for when it all comes to light is accountability.suittie

Our Winston-Salem personal injury attorneys fight to make that a reality. One of the challenges, however, is first identifying and then pursuing all entities involved. That’s because the way an increasing number of for-profit firms are structured is with the intent of separating those who profit from the facility (often by slashing staff levels and other resources to dangerous levels) from liability when something goes wrong.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported back in 2009 that, “Nursing homes can use complex management structures that might obscure the entities responsible for delivering care and hamper the ability of residents and families to seek recourse through litigation.” This ability to create a maze of companies and sub-companies and de-centralize ownership and separate real estate from operations – it can make for a very difficult time in properly identifying responsible parties and holding them accountable. That’s why it’s so important to have an experienced legal team on your side.  Continue reading

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