Articles Tagged with Nursing home neglect

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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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Nursing home neglect occurs when elderly and/ or vulnerable residents of a long-term care facility receive substandard care. Caregivers who fail to ensure patients basic needs, personal hygiene or medical care is up to appropriate standards face potential civil liability for any harm that results. In some cases, it may also lead to criminal charges. You should know that the criminal justice system has a higher proof burden and the two cases are handled completely separate, which means regardless of whether a criminal case results from your loved one’s nursing home neglect, you may still have grounds to pursue civil litigation against the assistants, nurses, doctors and facility administrators.nursing home neglect attorney

One recent alleged case of nursing home neglect in Georgia made national headlines, with plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit saying the 89-year-old WWII veteran died desperately begging for help that never came.

According to The Washington Post, the family placed a hidden camera in the room because they were anxious about him living in the nursing home. The man’s son later said his father was aware the camera had been installed in his room, but staffers were not. Now, it has become a key piece of evidence in the criminal case against two nurses and an aide who have been indicted on several charges, including murder and neglect. Continue reading →

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A recent in-depth analysis by South Florida journalists reveals dozens of nursing homes in Florida with a long history of failure to provide adequate care remain open and operational, putting current and future patients at serious risk.nursing home abuse

The News-Press in Fort Myers reports that in the last five years, the 55 lowest-scoring nursing homes in the state for the last 14 of previous 18 quarters racked up more than 100 – or more – violations that threatened resident health and safety. The bottom 46 of those have been sued in nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuits alleging mistreatment or poor care. Nursing home owners denied those claims, but nonetheless settled 87 of them. The remaining 104 are still pending.

Unfortunately, it’s not as if nursing home fines for these violations are much of a motivator for change. On average, fines for serious violations are about $5,000, but often less. Now stack that up against the millions of dollars these facilities receive for taxpayer-funded Medicaid and Medicare programs. Although the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, the state center responsible for licensing and regulating nursing homes, very seldom uses the biggest weapons in its arsenal to address these issues. That’s why in the last five years, only two nursing homes have been shut down and three were blocked from receiving further admissions. Continue reading →

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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 →

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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 →

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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 →

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Florida is known to have some of the broadest public records laws in the country. That extended to nursing home abuse and neglect records, kept by state health regulators. However, as The Miami Herald recently reported, those records have been wiped from the state’s online database, in what appears to be an erosion in public records access. nursing home abuse

Approximately three months ago, The Herald reported, the state scrubbed its website, which previously made readily accessible reports of nursing home violations that put residents in immediate jeopardy. It’s not that the records themselves are no longer public. Anyone can contact the Agency for Health Care Administration and ask for it. However, you have to know exactly what you’re looking for and whom to ask. You will most likely be required to wait and you’ll probably have to pay – something that was not required previously under the state’s online system.

On the pages that previously provided such information for free, the AHCA now directs the public to a different site run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That site fails to provide as much detail as the AHCA had before (though all reports had been screened and redacted for medical privacy). And while the AHCA does offer basic spreadsheets that rank nursing homes on a host of criteria, providing families with some basis on which to compare, but these reports are scant on details and lack transparency. Continue reading →

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A nursing home choking death has resulted in an $875,000 settlement recently, following allegations the nursing home failed to comply with his doctor’s diet orders, feeding the resident solid food as opposed to the mechanical soft-only food he was supposed to have. nursing home negligence

As noted by researchers with The University of Michigan’s School of Medicine, mechanical soft diets are recommended for people who have trouble with chewing. It generally means food is soft or cooked until tender and then blended in a blender or food processor or else is pureed. The goal is to provide a balanced diet with adequate amounts of protein and calories for people who have problems with chewing. Individuals on mechanical soft diets are often instructed to eat six smaller meals a day, rather than three larger ones.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over a recent three-year period, some 2,200 people over 65 died in choking incidents in the U.S. Individuals with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and pneumonitis were more vulnerable, and choking deaths appear to be on the rise in nursing homes and health care settings.  Continue reading →

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The death of an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease has prompted her son to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home. He alleges his mother was forgotten in her bath, where she was found the next morning. nursing home negligence

According to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the woman’s routine had involved taking a nightly soak in a whirlpool bath she dubbed her “boat,” where she would wash herself before being helped to bed by a nursing aid. The woman reportedly started her bath one evening in March 2016, but her help never returned. Hours later, shortly before 5 a.m., a nursing assistant suddenly recalled she had taken the woman to the shower room but had not returned to get her. The woman’s body was discovered there in a tub of cold water, the jets of the whirlpool still on full blast.

Her son alleges the nursing home was negligent in causing his mother to suffer and die, specifically by under-staffing its nursing home, which is home to 240 people.  Continue reading →

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As our population is steadily aging, the quality of long-term nursing home care must be a top priority for the health care industry and our elected leaders. Unfortunately, one area that seems to be lagging – and which will only exacerbate if not addressed – is the shortage of nursing home aides.old man

These are the individuals who interact most closely with residents on a daily basis, helping them with basic daily tasks and functions, such as eating, toileting, bathing and teeth brushing. Yet, the lack of individuals in this field has meant that many nursing home residents aren’t receiving the quality of care to which they are entitled.

A recent report by Kaiser Health News reports shortages of home health aides and nursing assistants is threatening care for people with serious disabilities and vulnerable, elderly adults. In some cases, facilities have denied admission to people because they did not have the proper essential staff in order to provide a minimum level of care for them. It’s been the experience of our Orlando nursing home neglect attorneys, however, that some facilities will continue to accept patients, despite not having the essential number of staffers. What’s more, in some cases, the failure to fill these positions has less to do sometimes with availability of workers and more to do with the fact that for-profit facilities are looking for avenues to cut corners.  Continue reading →

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