Articles Tagged with nursing home negligence

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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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Nursing home facilities have a responsibility to ensure that staffers are adequately screened, trained and supervised. It appears, at least according to a six-month investigation by journalists in Northern Texas, that hundreds of certified nursing assistants with serious or violent criminal histories have been hired to care for elderly and vulnerable patients in the region’s nursing homes.nursing home abuse lawyer

Further, the report by WFAA-8 revealed many of these individuals were working in the homes legally. There were, however, several instances in which the nursing assistants were convicted of certain offenses that should have made them ineligible to work in that capacity, yet they were hired anyway. All of this, advocates fear, is putting residents at risk of nursing home abuse.

Some of the crimes for which the CNAs were convicted included things like continuous violence against family, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated sexual contact with a child and injury to a child. Other crimes included offenses that involved theft, like burglary and aggravated robbery. The analysis also indicated Texas’ rate of nursing home abuse was four times that of the national average. Still, to assume this problem is isolated to Texas would be erroneous.  Continue reading →

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Numerous nursing homes in Florida are still non-compliant with a new rule that requires facilities to prove they can run generators for four days without power and keep inside temperatures at 80 degrees or less. It required that nursing homes submit their plans to the state by Oct. 31st and be in compliance with the rule by Nov. 15th, or else begin incurring a $1,000-a-day fine. nursing home negligence

Emergency Rule 59AER17-1 is under legal challenge, but the rule is intended to prevent nursing home deaths like more than a dozen that occurred in the wake of Hurricane Irma, when facilities were without power. Those residents all died of heat-related causes when the facility in which they were housed did not have a working generator to keep the residents safe from the South Florida swelter.

As of Nov. 8th, there were still 18 facilities that had yet to offer up proof of compliance with the rule.  Continue reading →

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A pair of emergency rules requiring Florida assisted living facilities and nursing homes to be equipped with generators to effectively cool and fuel buildings for 96 hours has been struck down by an Administrative Law Judge. Gov. Rick Scott promised to appeal the court order immediately.nursing home wrongful death

The judge handed down a 66-page ruling, wherein he stated the state had failed to establish it was necessary to increase the self-sufficiency of nursing homes and assisted living facility sites in the event of an emergency.

The judge went on to explain in the order that the remedy for this emergency deficit cannot reasonably be enacted by the deadline of Nov. 15th. Scott railed against the order, saying the judge’s legal reasoning was short-sighted. He vowed to appeal the order and continue working to make the rules permanent. Continue reading →

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Several families are pursuing litigation against a South Florida nursing home after a disastrous post-hurricane evacuation resulted in more than a dozen deaths. However, in order to do so, they will face significant legal hurdles.nursing home abuse attorney

Nursing home abuse attorneys in West Palm Beach recognize that these cases are difficult, but not impossible. Although most civil injury and wrongful death cases are settled prior to trial, having an experienced litigator and trial attorney is necessary. Preparation, skill and experience are critical.

At this juncture, Bloomberg Law reports at least 10 lawsuits have been filed against the Hollywood Hills nursing home that evacuated in September, days after Hurricane Irma cut off power to the air conditioning system at the facility. Fourteen residents died. However, holding the owners of the facility responsible could prove difficult. There are several reasons for this. Continue reading →

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As Hurricane Irma loomed off the coast of Florida in the first week of September, state officials warned the public to be ready. Now, a South Florida nursing home is accused of failing to do just that, and also of a serious breach in patient care that led to the deaths of 10 elderly, vulnerable residents who went days without power in the sweltering heat. Several of those who died had body temperatures between 107 and 109 degrees. nursing home neglect

The deaths have sparked outrage, a criminal investigation and at least a handful of lawsuits from victims or relatives of those who died, alleging negligence.

According to The Miami Herald, plaintiffs allege their loved ones were victims of a facility that not only failed to prepare for the possibility of no power, but also of not evacuating when conditions became more serious. The nursing home lacked power for three whole days, and administrators said they repeatedly tried calling the governor’s office for help. But meanwhile, directly across the street, was a fully-functional, air conditioned hospital.  Continue reading →

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