Articles Tagged with nursing home abuse lawyer

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Adult children making the difficult choice to place their elderly parents in a Florida nursing home often turn to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) when it comes to deciding on a facility. The federal agency has established a Five-Star Quality Rating System to assist consumers, their families and caregivers in order to compare nursing homes and help them more easily identify potential problems. Those with the highest ratings are considered to be top quality, while those at the lower end may have been cited for repeated deficiencies and issues that place residents in direct harm.nursing home abuse attorney Orlando

However, as a recent story out of Illinois shows, even those scores don’t necessarily tell the whole story. The Des Moines Register reported that despite a proposed fine $30,000 by the state for nursing home conditions allegedly leading to the death of an 87-year-old resident, CMS still gave the facility a five-star rating in terms of quality of resident care. It’s overall rating was two stars, which is considered below average.

The woman reportedly died after suffering from dehydration and severe pain. State authorities opined she may not have had water for several days. Yet the fine hasn’t actually been imposed, which would allow CMS to take over the case. It’s not the first time the nursing home has come under fire. Last year, the state fined the facility for physical and verbal abuse of the residents. The fact that it still has a five-star rating for care has many wondering the measures by which CMS decides one’s ranking and whether they are truly reliable, particularly considering they are based in part on data self-reported by the nursing homes and not verified by state officials.  Continue reading →

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The admissions paperwork required of a new nursing home patient is substantial and sometimes overwhelming. There are reams of medical forms, releases of information and waivers. It’s a stressful time, so many new patients and/ or family members go through the motions of just getting through it all. What many might not realize is that tucked in there somewhere is probably a form known as an arbitration agreement. By signing that agreement the patient and/or patient representatives agree to forego the right to a jury trial if a dispute later arises between the patient/ representatives and the nursing home. This includes disputes regarding allegations of nursing home abuse, neglect or negligence. nursing home arbitration agreement

Signing over that right is a big deal because arbitration is usually less favorable to patients on many fronts. That’s why so many nursing home abuse attorneys will vehemently argue that even if there is an arbitration agreement, it’s not enforceable for one reason or another. It requires an injury lawyer or wrongful death attorney who is also well-versed in contract law. These are questions you need to ask of any lawyer with whom you’re consulting and considering to hire.

In a recent case out of West Virginia, the state supreme court ruled in AMFM LLC v. Shanklin that an arbitration agreement signed by the daughter of a patient could be enforced – despite daughter’s protests that she did not have actual authority to enter into the agreement because she held only the alternate durable power of attorney for her mother; her brother was actually the one with primary durable powers of attorney. Although the trial court denied the nursing home’s motion to dismiss on these grounds, the state supreme court reversed.  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 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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The number of for-profit corporate nursing homes (as opposed to non-profit facilities) has risen sharply over the last several decades, complicating efforts to hold facilities accountable for substandard care. Worse yet, these centers have a higher rate of poor care because they tend to value profits over the vulnerable people in their charge. Beyond that, owners of these corporate nursing homes often have a stake in other companies contracted to provide goods and services to the patients – everything from physical therapy to drugs to management to staffers. nursing home abuse

A recent analysis by Kaiser Health News and The New York Times explored how these “corporate webs” not only lessen the quality of care, but also make it more difficult for those seeking compensation for nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect.

Almost three-quarters of nursing homes in the U.S. have this kind of business arrangement, referred to as related party transactions. In some instances, facilities will contract out very basic functions, such as management of the facility or rent from their property. Those who run these organizations say it’s a means of simplifying operations and reducing corporate taxes. But of course, there is more to it. The owners of these facilities can score contracts they might not otherwise be able to land in a market that is more competitive, and from there, they can reap more profits that aren’t recorded in the nursing home’s financial records. While a typical non-profit nursing home might take home a profit somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 to 4 percent, owners of facilities with these related party transaction arrangements take home a profit margin of around 28 percent.  Continue reading →

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Increasingly, relatives of Florida nursing home residents are installing cameras inside the rooms of their loved ones to ensure they are receiving quality care. Fears of inadequate nursing home care and even nursing home abuse are certainly founded, as the Government Accountability Office reports a quarter of U.S. nursing homes have deficiencies that cause actual harm or have the potential to inflict serious injury or death. Further, a survey of more than a dozen states found state and federal complaint procedures lacking, meaning at-risk patients suffered abuse and neglect in silence for months. nursing home abuse lawyer

The idea of hidden cameras in nursing homes isn’t brand new, but it’s garnering renewed attention from Florida lawmakers. ABC-10 News in Broward County reports that family members of a nursing home resident in Pompano Beach installed a camera inside the room of their 94-year-old patriarch, who suffers from dementia. They were horrified at the images that returned.

The video reveals a certified nursing assistant (CNA) who is impatiently and forcefully trying to get the man to move off the bed. She pulls him, and sends him falling into a chair. She then hits him on the head. In a separate clip, the same nursing home worker is witnessed pouring mouthwash on him. Aside from the obvious cruelty of the act, the family’s nursing home abuse attorney explained it was one that ultimately proved fatal. Alcohol is a drying agent. The man reportedly was already suffering from Stage 3 pressure ulcers. Ultimately, it was those ulcers that killed him, plaintiff attorney alleges.  Continue reading →

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Most residents of nursing homes, being over the age of 65, grew up in an era without computers, let alone cell phones or social media. Yet many are fast finding themselves confronted with the ugly underbelly of these technologies, as those entrusted with their care abuse their trust, snapping and posting inappropriate, embarrassing or abusive pictures of elderly patients. nursing home abuse

This can be sexual exploitation by a caretaker, particularly if the patient’s private parts are displayed – even if the images themselves aren’t necessarily intended to be of a sexual nature. Many of the images, as reported by NPR and ProPublica investigations, are by workers who may intend to “blow off steam” from being stressed and overworked. Nonetheless, it violates the patient’s rights, and may be actionable in civil court, particularly if there is evidence the nursing home may have been informed of it and failed to take action. ProPublica identified at least three dozen cases of this happening last year, the majority of those occurring on Snapchat.

Yet another incident was reported recently, this time in Illinois. According to local news source The Pantagraph, reports two certified nursing assistants (CNAs) who were a couple snapped and shared numerous residents in photos that were both unauthorized and “inappropriate.” The images included shots of elderly individuals who were dressing, bathing, toileting and resting in bed. All of these images, according to a recent nursing home lawsuit filed, were of the residents in situations that were embarrassing or humiliating.  Continue reading →

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A recent government audit blames Medicare for failure to enforce a federal law that requires immediate notification of nursing home abuse and neglect to police.nursing home abuse

Based on preliminary results from a large sample of cases over 33 states, the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services reported that while this is just early data, immediate action was required. The IOG investigates instances of waste, fraud and abuse within the health care system. This particular audit was part of a bigger investigation, which is ongoing, and additional results are expected in the coming months. The agency released an early alert memo regarding these initial findings, prompting the Senate Finance Committee to request additional information regarding elder abuse in nursing homes. Specifically, the committee chair has requested information on whether HHS intends to reevaluate its procedures to make sure nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect is not only identified but also reported.

It’s estimated approximately 1.4 million people live in nursing homes across the country. According tot he Florida Health Care Association, there are 683 licensed nursing homes in Florida and another 3,100 assisted living facilities. The IOG report revealed there were more than 130 cases wherein emergency room records showed possible abuse – physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect. This was over the course of a two-year-period. Of those, 28 percent – more than 1 in 4 – had no record of any report being made to local law enforcement. Continue reading →

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A class action lawsuit has been settled for $345,000 after dozens of patients and family members of patients allege they were given powerful drugs without due consideration for the harmful impact those drugs may have on patients. nursing home abuse

In one example, the son of a nursing home patient alleged he was explicit in explaining his mother’s wishes and directing doctors not to give her any painkillers except aspirin and no antipsychotic medications. Despite this, they gave her Restoril, an anti-anxiety medication, Norco (a pain medication with a high risk for addiction and dependency also known to cause respiratory distress) and Lexapro, an SSRI anti-depressant. Plaintiff alleged the nursing home signed a paper saying the doctor had received consent from patient and/ or health care power of attorney to administer the drugs, but no such permission had been given. Other patients/ families alleged they were given anitpsychotic medications to suppress certain symptoms of dementia – a practice known as “chemical restraints” that is not only largely ineffective, it can be harmful. It’s generally done more the convenience of staffers than for the benefit of the patient.

Although the amount of money to be awarded to each family is minimal, but plaintiffs say their larger goal was to compel changes at the facility. As part of the settlement agreement, the facility will be required to undergo random spot inspections of health records. The nursing home must enact clear standards explaining the benefits and risks of psycho-therapeutic drugs to residents and/ or legal representatives. Continue reading →

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