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Federal authorities are suing a nursing home system alleging the company committed fraud by filing false claims to both Medicare and the state-based TennCare (in Tennessee) on behalf of senior residents. Even as these facilities were being compensated for a litany of specialized services, they were not extending even the most basic level of care to residents, authorities say. oldwomanwheelchair

The Tennessean reports residents suffered a host of injuries, ailments and injustices, including:

  • Pressure ulcers (also known as bed sores)
  • Falls
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Improper feeding

The lawsuit alleges these incidents were systemic and occurred in at least six different facilities throughout Tennessee, in Murfreesboro, Nashville, Shelbyville, Madison, Manchester and Memphis.  Continue reading →

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A Florida nursing home has lost its bid to compel arbitration in the case of a woman who alleges her husband suffered injury as a result of nursing home negligence while a patient there. Although the trial court had ruled the case should go to arbitration, Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeal reversed, finding the claims raised by the estate of the decedent resident were not within the scope of the arbitration agreement. The reason? It had been signed with a different company entirely. gavel211

That’s right. Defendant was attempting to use the arbitration agreement decedent had signed with his assisted living facility provider to require the complainant to resolve her allegation of negligence against the nursing home before an arbitrator rather than a court. The primary reason the trial court had Ok’d this was because the nursing home and the assisted living facility were owned by the same company. Further, there was a provision in the assisted living facility arbitration agreement in which it was stated that the agreement would remain in place, regardless of whether the patient was transferred to and from the facility. Upon readmission, that agreement would still remain in effect. It was to be understood the arbitration agreement was applicable to all future admissions.

Trial court had relied on this provision in granting defense motion to compel arbitration. However, the 2nd DCA reviewing Olson v. Florida Living Options reversed.  Continue reading →

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A New York man has filed a nursing home negligence lawsuit against the facility where his mother died late last year after choking on a grilled cheese sandwich.grilledcheese

According to Syracuse.com, the woman was just 63-years-old, yet suffered from dementia. For this reason, she had to wear dentures to bite and chew solid foods. Despite this, in December, the staffer fed her a sandwich during a meal at which she did not have her dentures in. Patient unsurprisingly choked on the sandwich, aspirated and stopped breathing. She was rushed to a nearby hospital, where she died a week later from complications caused by the choking and aspiration of her food.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed by her son, the administrator of her estate, alleges the nursing home staff was negligent, careless and reckless in feeding his mother solid food without her dentures. As a result, his mother suffered conscious pain and suffering, as well as incurred medical expenses. He is seeking compensation for these violations of her rights, as well as punitive damages and attorneys fees.  Continue reading →

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Residents at a nursing home in North Dakota have settled with a hospital system following the largest outbreak of hepatitis C in recent U.S. history. However, the ongoing legal battle between the hospital and the nursing home where most of those involved were sickened will press on.needle1

Courthouse News Service reports that the confidential settlement, which is still pending approval from the judge, stems from the outbreak in August 2013 in which 52 people were sickened. Of those, 48 were residents or former residents of a nursing home. It was the biggest outbreak of hepatitis C in more than a dozen years, according to data with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As for what caused it, that’s still in dispute. The 21 victims who were plaintiffs in this lawsuit allege that a hospital employee of an outpatient laboratory service reused needles and failed to follow infection control practices. State and federal authorities never exactly pinpointed the source, but they did say they suspected the nursing home residents were infected in connection with blood services.  Continue reading →

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Jurors overhearing a recent nursing home neglect case were so horrified by the details, they awarded $30 million in damages – $28 million of that being punitive damages against the nursing home, its two owners and related companies. gavel6

Such damage awards aren’t necessarily the norm. In fact, most nursing home neglect lawsuits are settled prior to trial. However, plaintiffs are increasingly becoming emboldened to take action against staffers and facilities that fail to provide proper care to them and their loved ones. The clear message is that substandard care of our most vulnerable citizens is unacceptable, and nursing homes that try to cut corners with reductions in staff and poor training are ultimately going to pay for it.

Most of the cases involve injury or death from falls, fractures, pressure sores, dehydration, malnutrition or a delayed response to certain infections. These are often very complex and challenging cases because usually the primary witness – the elderly victim – is either deceased or has diminished mental capacity. But when they are successful, plaintiffs are finding they can often result in substantial compensation. Still, most plaintiffs aren’t actually in it to recover money. Really what they are looking for is to prevent the same thing from happening to someone else. They don’t want someone else to endure what they and their loved one have.  Continue reading →

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State health officials in Massachusetts have issued a scathing report on the operations of a nursing home in Brockton, a suburb of Boston, following the death of a dementia patient in April. An initial inquiry into that patient’s death prompted investigation into another a month earlier, which opened the doors to a floodgate of problems at the facility – owned by a larger, troubled, for-profit company – that temporarily blocked the facility from taking on more patients or receiving federal reimbursement for patient care. elderwoman

Now, state investigators have released a 70-page report into the failures of the administrators and staffers at Braemoor Health Center which, according to The Boston Globe, hand’t properly trained its nurses or aides in how to revive a dementia patient who was suffering from a heart attack.

Further indignity occurred when nursing home staff didn’t even report the death to state health officials because, as nurses would later explain, the patient didn’t have any family. Investigators were later informed by a nursing home administrator that the clinical team at the center had actually made a conscious decision against reporting the death to officials, due to the negative press the facility’s parent company had received in recent months.  Continue reading →

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Nursing home employees who take and distribute demeaning photos or videos of patients on social media platforms should be forewarned: The feds are getting involved.iphones

These images, as our nursing home abuse lawyers have detailed, have included humiliating depictions of residents who are unclothed, covered in their own waste or even deceased. In some cases, the images show actual nursing home abuse. Most of the images are uploaded to a platform called Snapchat.

Following a journalism non-profit ProPublica series on the troubling issue, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal government agency responsible for oversight of nursing homes in the U.S., has issued a memorandum to state health departments indicating:

  • Ensuring all nursing homes have clear policies that forbid staffers from taking demeaning photos of residents;
  • Requiring state health officials to swiftly launch an investigation into any complaints of such treatment;
  • Calling on nursing homes to report any workers who violate these policies immediately to state officials or other licensing agencies.

It is the state agencies that typically enforce and mete out the discipline in these cases. The federal intervention is noteworthy because these are the agencies that pay for the majority of nursing home residents’ care. Failure to abide by these directives could be a breach of patients’ basic rights to dignity and quality treatment, which in turn could be grounds to deny federal payment.  Continue reading →

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An elaborate network of Florida nursing facilities reportedly were successful in scamming Medicare and Medicaid programs out of $1 billion over the last 14 years. handcuffs1

According to The New York Times, the case involves bribes to doctors in Miami, hush money paid to witnesses and gigantic sums paid to shell companies. The Medicare black market has reportedly ballooned in the last 10 years, creating an atmosphere in which nursing home residents were put at great risk by the fact that they were often shoved in and out of the system when it often wasn’t necessary and getting services they often did not need.

The Times reported that doctors, pharmacists and medical personnel got kickbacks and billed Medicaid and Medicare for expensive drugs, procedures and health equipment that patients either didn’t receive or didn’t need.  Continue reading →

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Despite forceful calls by House Democrats and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) for a ban on mandatory nursing home arbitration agreements earlier this year, the new proposed rule by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) doesn’t contain any such provision.

The agency has toyed with requiring such a measure in the past, but it’s most recent proposed rule, while acknowledging “concerns” about forced arbitration, doesn’t go so far as to ban it.

This move was sharply criticized by The New York Times’ Editorial Board in an opinion titled, “Nursing Home Residents Still Vulnerable to Abuse.” Continue reading →

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It was only recently that health officials in Iowa learned it was not illegal for someone to share photos of a nursing home resident covered in feces. cellphone2

This loophole in the law was only discovered when a certified nursing assistant shared one such humiliating photograph of an elderly patient on the social media platform Snapchat. They moved to take action, but realized there wasn’t much they could do. In this case, the state law crafted to protect elderly, dependent adults from exploitation and abuse was last updated eight years ago – well before some of the most popular apps existed.

While the statute does prohibit sexual exploitation of a person by a caretaker, this particular photo didn’t show any genitals, so the law was not applicable. So while the nurse was fired, neither state health officials nor the police were able to take any action.  Continue reading →

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