Articles Tagged with nursing home negligence

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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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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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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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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 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 →

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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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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 →

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