Published on:

The misuse of anti-psychotic medications in nursing homes across America has fallen from about 24 percent down to 16 percent in the last seven years, but remains a serious problem, according to a recent investigation of federal CMS data by Human Rights Watch. The 157-page report details the fact that an estimated 180,000 residents in nursing homes are dosed with anti-psychotic drugs, even though:

  1. The patient has no diagnosis that warrants its use;
  2. Studies have shown these medications can be harmful in older patients (it can double the risk of death among older patients with dementia);
  3. Facilities often don’t first obtain informed consent of the patient and/ or relatives.medication misuse

The report notes that while any decrease is welcome, there is concern that nursing homes might have found other drugs that can be used to pacify and sedate patients with conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The title of the report begins with a quote from a nursing home industry insider pertaining to this misuse of medications: “They want docile.” Another term for this is “chemical restraints.”

Nursing homes are concerned with profits. People with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease require additional care and resources. That amounts to higher staffing levels – and less profits. Nursing homes combat this by sedating these patients, which in turn means they use less of the facility’s resources. Staffers may interpret expressions of distress or pain to be a willful act of disruptive behavior that needs to be suppressed. But using medication for staff convenience or as a means to discipline people is against federal law. Continue reading →

Published on:

A new state report blames a nurse and a nursing home for a medication error that proved deadly to a 53-year-old short-term resident. The Star Tribune in Minnesota reports the patient received a dose of powerful pain medication that was 20 times too potent, resulting in his death. nursing home medication errors

After receiving the wrong dose of the medication one evening before bed, he probably died shortly thereafter. However, paramedics weren’t called until the following morning, which would seem to indicate that the issue wasn’t discovered until that time. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Although the nurse who delivered the fatal dose of oxycodone was first on the state health department’s list of those responsible, investigators also pointed the finger at the facility, which reportedly did not have a system that would track changes in the way powerful, high-risk medications – including painkillers – would be given to patients. The facility was fined a sum the state hasn’t disclosed, but has been allowed to remain open after adopting new medication protocol.  Continue reading →

Published on:

A Broward County Medical Examiner’s pathologist testified recently in county court that nursing home staffers at a Hollywood Hills nursing home had opportunity after opportunity to save patients from heat stroke in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Yet, staffers and administrators failed to seize those opportunities, instead never increasing their services to meet the enhanced needs of patients who were succumbing to unbearably hot summer temperatures with little respite. When it was all over, 12 patients lost their lives. nursing home abuse lawyer

The Sun Sentinel reports the pathologist’s testimony examined whether there were available remedies to help prevent heat stroke among the vulnerable adults at the Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Center. What she discovered was that staffers weren’t doing anything really above and beyond their typical duties – even though they had totally lost function of their air conditioning units in blazing heat.

She relayed to the court there were no records that staffers sought to provide even rudimentary measures of relief, such as cold compresses, ice chips or cold water that would help lower patients’ temperatures to a safe level. This nursing home had “a real opportunity to save some lives here,” the pathologist was quoted as saying. Yet, they didn’t. Continue reading →

Published on:

Financial exploitation of the elderly is a serious and growing problem in Florida, where the aging population is expanding and there are increasingly fewer resources to help protect them. A new bill being considered by both state and house representatives (SB 1562/ CS/HB 1059) has been winding its way through various committees, so far gaining unanimous support. elderly financial abuse attorney

The bill is called Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult (as it protects primarily but not only the elderly) and would establish a cause of action for injunction for protection of adults vulnerable to exploitation, and establishes penalties for willful violations. It seems to protect vulnerable adults over 18 who are impaired in performing daily activities or in their ability to care for or protect themselves due to mental, emotional, sensory, long-term physical or developmental disabilities or dysfunctions, brain damage or infirmity due to aging.

There are currently a few existing laws that outline protections against financial abuse of the elderly. For instance, current statute gives the Florida Department of Children and Families authority to initiate investigation of abuse, neglect or exploitation reports. Further, F.S. 415.111 allows for civil remedy (a lawsuit) for vulnerable adults who have been abused, neglected or exploited to pursue litigation against any perpetrator to recover both actual and punitive damages. Guardians or a personal representative acting on behalf of the individual can also pursue such a claim. Parties who prevail may be entitled to also be compensated for attorney’s fees, costs of the action and damages. Continue reading →

Published on:

The administrator of a Florida nursing home in Ocala has been suspended from his post and arrested on neglect charges after he allegedly failed to notify a nurse of a resident’s deteriorating health. nursing home neglect

The Gainesville Sun reports the nurse who was supervising the patient’s care reportedly told the 31-year-old administrator to let her know right away if there were any changes to the patient’s condition, following an outpatient surgical procedure. Despite this request, the on-duty staff reportedly contacted the administrator twice throughout the weekend to tell him the resident’s health was declining rapidly. He did not provide them with instructions for her care, nor did he contact the nurse.

The newspaper reports it’s not clear why the staff didn’t contact the nurse – or other qualified medical professionals – to intervene instead when it became clear the patient was doing so poorly. It’s also not exactly clear why it was the job of the facility administrator to contact the nurse when he was not the one on site caring for her. The administrator reportedly only relayed the message about the patient’s declining health when he returned to work on Monday. The nurse at that time told him to call 911 right away and have the resident taken to a nearby hospital via ambulance.

Police were contacted, and the administrator was subsequently suspended and then arrested on a charge of neglect of the elderly.  Continue reading →

Published on:

Financial abuse of nursing home patients, also referred to as financial exploitation, occurs when someone illegally or improperly uses an elderly person’s funds, assets or property. In some cases, this is a nursing home employee. In other instances, it involves a person from whom the nursing home had a duty to protect the patient. elder financial abuse

It’s well-established that nursing home residents are in a unique and vulnerable position to be victims of financial abuse. They may have considerable assets, but they are often especially vulnerable to deception. Residents are often not even aware that the financial exploitation is taking place. That’s why there is so seldom accountability.

One exception to this occurred recently in Missouri, where local news outlets reported a nursing home employee was sentenced to 10 years in prison for financial abuse that included stealing Medicaid checks and other property.  Continue reading →

Published on:

One of the greatest impediments to preventing nursing home abuse is the culture of secrecy in which so many facilities operate. An increasing number are for-profit ventures, too often concerned more about their bottom line than the health and well-being of the patients they serve. Reports or solid evidence of abuse has the potential to threaten those profits, giving administrators an incentive to quiet these reports before they surface. nursing home abuse

We see evidence of this in employment action lawsuits that have arisen in recent years. A recent example was reported in Illinois, where McKnights Long Term Care News reports a nurse was awarded $5.2 million after her termination from a nursing home, shortly following her reporting of alleged patient abuse.

Plaintiff in that case was a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at a nursing home in late 2012 when she was fired by her employer, a for-profit nursing home company that operates nearly 55 facilities. She alleged she was terminated because she refused to follow orders by the director of the nursing home to “drop a pill,” which was understood to mean give a double dose of anti-anxiety medications to patients who were agitated. The LPN also alleged she had refused to omit or delete any records that contained suspicious injuries incurred by residents.  Continue reading →

Published on:

Nursing home negligence – taking forms of both neglect and abuse – is not new, but it is something that has been increasingly drawn into the light in recent years.  Still, some advocates have expressed frustration with the seemingly snail-paced progress when it comes to protections for nursing home residents. There is of course the possibility of filing a negligence lawsuit against the nursing home following the physical or emotional abuse or neglect of a loved one, but advocates are hoping to get changes made to prevent these all too frequent incidents before they occur.

nursing home abuse lawyerThese advocates have been hoping the wide-spread outcry to reports of nursing home deaths following hurricane Irma can add fire to their cause, as are the new reports pertaining to these needless deaths in one Florida nursing home that has been making headlines. According to a recent news article from Claims Journal, an insurance company trade publication, the temperature at the nursing home at which 12 residents died was 99 degrees Fahrenheit when they died. Continue reading →

Published on:

When older adults get to the point when it becomes impractical to remain in the home, or the same happens to younger people with serious medical conditions, a nursing home may be the best option. When we take our loved ones to a nursing home, we expect they will be well-cared for by professionals and given the dignity and respect they deserve.

Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Unfortunately, this is not always the case in nursing homes that are sometimes more interested in making money than properly caring for residents who are in much need of care.  According to a recent news article from the Sun Sentinel, lawmakers are not happy with current regulations following some highly-published deaths that occurred following hurricane Irma. Many urge more must be done to protect Florida nursing home residents, not only in times of crisis, but year-round.  Continue reading →

Published on:

A report recently released by a state health department revealed the death of a prominent Pennsylvania businessman in a nursing home in September was caused by strangulation as a result of his bed rails. The nursing home was cited by the health department for safety deficiencies related to the death. Investigators with the department determined the facility failed to identify the hazard created by using the side rails that ultimately resulted in this man’s death. He reportedly suffered from the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease and was largely immobile too. He was discovered by a nursing assistant around 11:30 p.m. one night, not breathing, with his body on the floor and his neck between the mattress and the side rail of the bed. nursing home abuse lawyer

The health department took note of the fact that side rails are only supposed to be used to assist in helping a patient re-position himself when no other reasonable alternatives are identified. Even then, facilities are supposed to use reasonable precautions when they are being used. The facility removed all bed rails it had been using at the time shortly after decedent was discovered.

This is not a new problem. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has long been tracking injuries and deaths related to bed rail entrapment and strangulation in nursing homes. The agency reports that even when bed rails are properly designed to lower the potential risk of falls or entrapment, they still present a danger to certain people, namely those with some form of dementia (as they are at greater risk of a fall when they try to get out of bed, despite something being in their way). The agency reported that between 1985 and 2013 (the most recent period for which it conducted the analysis), there were 531 rail-related deaths.  Continue reading →

Contact Information