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It’s estimated that 60 percent of all people with dementia will wander – and a significant number of nursing home patients suffer some form of dementia. It’s a serious problem because oftentimes, these individuals may not remember their name or address or become disoriented – even in a familiar place. Sometimes, it’s one of the issues that led loved ones to seek long-term skilled nursing care. These facilities know this is a problem they are likely to face, and they owe a duty of care to put in place strong measures to ensure patients are protected. Usually that means there are locks and alarms on all potential exits. It means patients themselves may be equipped with some type of electronic monitoring. It means there are enough staffers to keep a watchful eye on patients.nursing home wrongful death

Not long ago in Ohio, a 56-year-old man with dementia and a history of attempted escapes slipped out of a nursing home where he’d lived for three years after a heart-attach that induced cognitive decline. He was stopped by police about two hours later. The nursing home had not reported him missing by that time. The officers took him to the city limit the next community over after he told them he was trying to get there to his home. Two days later, he was found dead, likely due to exposure (temperatures had dipped below freezing, and he was found curled up on the ground next to a dumpster in a gas station parking lot).

A spokesperson for the facility would later say decedent used an elevator security code to walk out right behind a patient visitor. A staff member of the nursing home ushered them both out. The family’s attorney told The Canton Repository the man was a known risk, which was why he was in this secured unit. His elopement should never have happened to begin with, but even if they had at least reported it before police encountered him, law enforcement would have been able to secure and return him. Continue reading →

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Injuries resulting from falls are the reason for almost 40 percent of all preventable hospital visits by nursing home residents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Too many of these falls go underreported. Even when they are reported, there is a false assumption that it’s simply a part of normal aging. It’s not. The risk of falls in nursing homes can and should be substantially minimized with proper policy and procedure, adequate staffing, the right equipment and appropriate supervision. fall injury attorney

But the numbers tell us far too many nursing homes are failing when it comes to fall prevention.

Just recently, a Massachusetts nurse whom state health officials cited for failure to properly attend a nursing home patient who suffered a fatal fall agreed to surrender his license for three years (after which time he could re-apply for it). However, The Worcester Telegram reports the nurse failed to sign off on the resolution prior to the deadline, so now it’s unclear if he’s still holding his license. Part of the agreement was that he would concede that while working as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at a nursing home, he did not properly assess a patient who had fallen and he also failed to document or report the fall. This admission would have been acknowledgment that his conduct was not aligned with standards set forth by the state board of nursing.  Continue reading →

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A nursing home in California is facing an injury lawsuit after one of its patient, a man who is 55 and suffers mental impairment, suffered severe burns after he was allegedly given a cigarette and a lighter – and discovered a short time later engulfed in flames. Prior to the incident, the man was partially paralyzed and was only mobile with the use of a wheelchair. nursing home neglect lawyer

The nursing home injury lawsuit filed on his behalf, according to The San Luis Obispo Tribune, alleges abuse, neglect, negligence and violations of the patient’s rights resulting in injury. His father asserts he should have never been given his own lighter nor left alone unsupervised in a designated smoking area. The nursing home has yet to file its response in court, though a statement released to media shortly after the incident indicated the facility worked hard to balance the safety of residents with their desire to be independent and continue lifelong habits.

But the issue, plaintiff says, is not that the facility allowed his son to smoke. The issue was that the staff had a duty of care to provide plaintiff with appropriate supervision and protection. Specifically in this instance, plaintiff says, his son should have been provided with a fire-retardant gown. He should not have been left with a lighter in his possession. There should have been staffers there to supervise him. Plaintiff’s injury lawyer says that while a fair amount of nursing home negligence cases involve some allegation of medical malpractice, this issue was one of “basic common sense” and ordinary negligence. (It’s an important distinction in terms of notice and expert witness requirements).  Continue reading →

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A new analysis of data culled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics paints a bleak picture for the workers we entrust with the care of some of our most vulnerable citizens, and in turn raises questions about how their care might be impacted. nursing home injury

The federal agency’s newest release of non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private employers indicated approximately 2.9 million workers were injured annually in 2016, which represents a rate of 2.9 cases for every 100 full-time employers. State-operated nursing and residential care facilities had a rate of workplace injuries and illnesses that, on average, was about 13.7 cases per 100 full-time workers. That’s an increase from 12 per 100 just a year earlier. Privately-owned skilled nursing facilities, meanwhile, as well as those operated by local governments reported injury rates that were 6.5 and 6.1, respectively. In total, skilled nursing facilities in all three categories reported nearly 260,000 work-related injuries and illnesses that year, with nearly 112,000 of those workers requiring days away from work, job transfers or job restrictions on the kind of work they could do. This reflects research released in 2012 by RTI International that 60 percent of nursing assistants in nursing homes incur some type of occupational injuries, ranging from back injuries to black eyes to bites and physical violence.

That raises substantial questions about not only what needs to be done to ensure these workers are healthy, but about the quality of care patients are receiving. For instance, many nursing homes are already understaffed as it is, and the problem is worsening as the population ages. When a worker is forced to take leave or work on restricted duty because of an injury, it means there is even less staff to care for patients’ day-to-day needs.  Continue reading →

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Anti-psychotic drug abuse in nursing homes remains a major problem, according to a new report released by U.S. non-profit Long-Term Care Community Coalition to the United Nations and the Human Rights Council. This analysis was a mid-term update of an earlier report submitted in 2015 concerning the inappropriate use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes, which essentially amounts to a “chemical restraint,” intended not for the benefit of the patient, but for the convenience of the staff, usually to keep patients docile. It’s also sometimes used a form of discipline. nursing home abuse attorney

Excessive control of behavior through medication has proven dangerous to patients, particularly those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (those to whom it is most often prescribed). The medications in question are intended to treat conditions like schizophrenia. But in the majority of cases where these drugs are being prescribed in nursing homes, these are not patients who suffer from psychosis. Their symptoms are not alleviated with the use of these medications. Further, overuse of such drugs erodes a person’s autonomy, as they may not think clearly or might exhibit less interest in self-care. As noted by researchers at Marquette University, they may be at increased risk for:

  • Agitation
  • Falls/ gait disturbances
  • Withdrawal
  • Functional decline
  • Movement disorders
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Death

Note that federal law requires each nursing home resident’s drug regimen should be free from unnecessary use of drugs. Continue reading →

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An employee at an Illinois nursing home was criminally charged with neglect after reportedly failing to perform CPR on an elderly patient who later died at the facility. Local news outlets, citing state health department statistics, indicated this particular facility had been the subject of 44 complaints in a span of seven years. Earlier this year, the facility was named in a nursing home neglect lawsuit in connection with the death of another patient, whose family alleged her death was the result of malnutrition, weigh loss, sepsis and physical injury – all of which contributed to her death. Plaintiffs allege the facility failed to provide decedent with appropriate medical and nursing care or develop and implement an appropriate care plan.nursing home abuse lawyer

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a life-saving emergency procedure that is a combination of chest compression and artificial ventilation conducted when the heart stops beating. It helps manually preserve one’s brain function until further help can arrive. The American Heart Association reports it can double and sometimes triple the chances of survival after one suffers cardiac arrest.

In some cases when elderly patients are very sick, they will request an advance directive that indicates they decline CPR or other life-saving measures, sometimes referred to as “do not resuscitate” or “DNR.” Unfortunately, a lot of these orders may be tucked in a storage drawer or on file with a family doctor – and not quickly available for fast referral in emergency situations. Still, it is the responsibility of the nursing home to make sure that such records are readily available and that staffers are adequately trained. As noted in an article published by The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, nursing facilities have a responsibility to implement policies that provide for immediate CPR intervention for residents who don’t have a current DNR order in place.  Continue reading →

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Nursing home abuse is often characterized as mistreatment of a vulnerable, elderly resident at the hands of caregivers and other staffers. However, about one in five nursing home abuse incidents involve other residents. One study published in 2016 revealed verbal taunts, physical assaults and sexual assaults were all part of the abuse those residents suffered at the hands of other residents.nursing home abuse

We saw it recently here in Florida, when The Gainesville Sun reported one facility was forced to halt admissions after two fatal incidents, one a fall and another the brutal beating of an 86-year-old resident by a 52-year-old resident with a traumatic brain injury. The younger man reportedly knocked the older man to the ground – twice – and over a two-minute stretch, while no staffers were anywhere in sight, the younger man pummeled the older victim no fewer than 56 times. The catalyst for the fight, according to news reports, was that the younger man believed the older resident had eaten his cupcake.

At the time of the incident, no staff member was attending to residents in that unit and there was no one in charge of monitoring video surveillance for that unit. By the time the staff finally got there, the beating was over. That particular 45-bed facility has a long history of resident safety violations over the last five years. Two administrators were arrested in late 2015 in separate incidents reportedly involving patient neglect. After the beating and the fatal fall, an administrator reportedly broke down while being interviewed by police, telling investigators she was “overwhelmed,” had a short staff and the employees she did have were poorly trained.  Continue reading →

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State investigators have cited a nursing home for neglect in two fatal fall cases that occurred at the Minnesota facility just five months apart – one attributed to a faulty mechanical lift and another to a negligent aide. nursing home injury

The Star Tribune reports the first incident involved a resident who fell while being assisted in the bathroom by a nurse’s aide who reportedly failed to use a gait belt (also known as a transfer belt) on her walker as she made her way to the bathroom. When the woman left the bathroom, she fell and struck her head on a wall, dying from brain hemorrhaging several days later.  The aide later explained she didn’t use the belt because she had forgotten it in another resident’s room. An investigation by the state concluded it was the aide’s fault for not properly using the equipment. She was disciplined with a five-day suspension from work and staffers were retrained on why using the gait belt is necessary.

Then a few months later, another resident suffered a fatal fall after slipping from a mechanical lift – one that nursing home staffers knew had a defective part. In that instance, the state did find the mechanical defect was the problem, but cited the nursing home anyway because there was evidence staffers were aware of those problems and used it anyway. The resident had been placed into the lift, but soon after fell onto the floor when one of the safety tabs popped off, resulting in the harness disengaging, dropping her. She suffered a broken leg, but died days later due to complications. An investigative report indicated the facility did not maintain the machine according to the instructions by the manufacturer. In fact, three of the four lifts in use at the facility reportedly had rubber safety tabs that often cracked or loosened, rendering the machines unsafe. The facility reportedly had no procedure through which to monitor this danger to residents. Continue reading →

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A significant number of elderly and disabled Americans rely on caregivers who are immigrants from varying backgrounds who entered the U.S. under a range of circumstances. Now, tougher enforcement of immigration policies – including deportations of those who entered or stayed unlawfully and an end to programs like the Temporary Protected Status – have many fearing what this will mean for so many of the elderly who rely on these workers for their care. nursing home neglect

Some caregivers are hired by temp agencies to provide in-home care and assistance. Others work in skilled care or assisted living facilities. They are especially prevalent in large cities like Miami, Orlando and others.

For instance, there are approximately 59,000 Haitians living in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) which was granted following a devastating earthquake in that country in 2010. Many of those workers are now employed in low-wage positions, many in health care and a significant portion as home health aides or nursing assistants. However, the Trump administration has announced it will end TPS for these workers by July of 2019. That means people in the program must either leave the country of their own accord or face deportation. Continue reading →

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The Government Accountability Office issued a report recently that addressed instances of abuse, neglect, exploitation and other types of harm that occurred by Medicaid-funded assisted living facilities. nursing home injury lawyer

The report, “Medicaid Assisted Living Services: Improved Federal Oversight of Beneficiary Health and Welfare is Needed,” the GAO indicated that both federal and state Medicaid agencies are failing in endeavors of effective monitoring of assisted living facilities – meaning residents are more vulnerable to abuse and neglect. This 52-page report was long-anticipated, and it underscores the lack of enforcement when it comes to baseline standards expected of assisted living facilities and their care of older residents.

The first problem that more than half of state Medicaid service agencies were unable to reveal the nature or number of “critical incidents” that occurred in these facilities. Three of them aren’t even monitoring deaths that are unexplained or unexpected. Eight states don’t track suspected criminal activity by nursing home staffers, seven don’t track medication errors and five don’t track injuries that result in hospitalization.  Continue reading →

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