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Nursing Home Abuse Reports Scoured By Media Nationwide

When ProPublica announced its updated version of Nursing Home Inspect 2.0, media outlets across the country took full advantage of the massive amount of data that had been compiled from the Freedom of Information Act release.

Our Oakland Park nursing home abuse attorneys understand that local media in Missouri, Tennessee, New Jersey and Ohio have been combing through the federal nursing home inspection reports to learn how facilities in their area stack up. They aren’t coming up empty-handed.

The information was culled from inspection reports collected by the Department of Health and Human Services for Medicaid and Medicare Services. As we reportedly recently in our nursing home blog, the ProPublica database not only lists the number of deficiencies cited in each report, it also lists the amount of money penalized nursing homes were made to pay.

Reporters in St. Louis found that more than 500 nursing homes across the state had been fined nearly $700,000 since 2009 for deficiencies,while nearby Illinois racked up nearly 775 fines topping $2.3 million.

Among those deficiencies was a patient who died after suffering 12 hours of chest pain, during which nursing home staff failed to provide him his blood pressure medication or inform the attending physician of the situation. Another report detailed an incident in which a dementia patient was able to wander off during breakfast, and wasn’t found until the next day – in the nearby creek, where he had drowned. There were also reports of staffers launching into verbal tirades against patients, calling them “retarded” and other workers who said they had to be “treated like children.” Additionally, there were substantiated allegations of sexual assaults on at least six patients at a single facility by a worker who was hired shortly after his release from federal prison.

In New Jersey, the data revealed nursing homes where dispensing medications which weren’t properly documented, and patients were demeaned with verbal abuse and moldy, outdated food was served to residents.

In Nashville, reporters learned a single nursing home was fined nearly a quarter of a million dollars following the death of a patient whose rapid decline, including symptoms of high fever, swelling, abnormal breathing and paleness, weren’t reported to the on-staff doctor. That patient died the next day.

In Mansfield, Ohio, a nurse was fired and a nursing home fined after she reportedly restrained an elderly patient in his bed by tucking him in tightly in the sheets, even though he had indicated he couldn’t breathe. He had refused oxygen, and she reportedly taunted the man by asking if he was “getting hot under there.” Luckily, he survived.

In Pennsylvania, reporters discovered that an 83-year-old man who was taken to a nursing home for two weeks of rehabilitation following heart surgery went from being active and playing golf to dying a few months later. His death was largely attributed to the fact that while in the nursing home, he was restrained to his wheelchair, the call bells he used to signal for help were routinely disconnected. Rather than walk him to the restroom, they made him wear diapers that they failed to frequently change, causing sores and rashes. He eventually developed pneumonia as a result and died soon after.

ProPublica is to be applauded for its efforts to reveal these kind of widespread instances of abuse, neglect and negligence, and we hope other media outlets will join in the effort to spread awareness.

Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
Documents Outline Deficiencies At Local Nursing Homes, January 11, 2013, By Justin Wingerter and Allison Blood, CBS Local St. Louis

More Blog Entries:
ProPublica Launches Updated Nursing Home Abuse Inspection Site, Jan. 12, 2013, Oakland Park Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

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