October 4, 2015

Neglect is a Type of Nursing Home Abuse

by Levin & Perconti

When most people think of abuse, they envision someone hitting, pushing, or hurting someone else. Rarely do they consider neglect. Yet, neglect is a very common occurrence, especially in nursing homes. Nursing home care may not be physically abuse in the traditional sense. But neglect is often the cause of harm to elderly patients and other living in assisted living facilities. Neglect and abuse are similar in many ways, and require immediate attention.

What is Neglect?

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October 1, 2015

Nursing Home Falls Are Frequent and Dangerous

by Levin & Perconti

About 5% of U.S. senior citizens reside in nursing homes and this number is likely to continue to increase. Those over the age of 65 are more likely to require care that can be provided by a nursing home or other care facility. Unfortunately, a disproportionate number of deaths occur each year due to falls. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), as many as 20% of deaths from falls in this age group (over 65 years old) occur at nursing homes.

This indicates that nursing homes may be responsible for some falls that could have been prevented. Nursing home falls are often the result of abuse or care neglect.

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September 29, 2015

Dementia Patients at Greater Risk for Nursing Home Abuse

by Levin & Perconti

Dementia patients and those with Alzheimer’s are a growing segment of the population. In fact, as many as 5.1 million U.S. citizens over age 65 have some form of dementia. That number grows to more than half the population of people over age 85. According to the NCEA (National Center on Elder Abuse) people with dementia are at a higher risk for elder abuse than others. Much of the abuse that occurs to the elderly happens at nursing homes or other long term care facilities. Patients with reduced mental capacity are much more likely to be abused than those with full faculties.

Elder Abuse Risks

The elderly may face abuse at an alarming rate. Abuse may be verbal, physical, or mental. Those patients with a disability or who are mentally debilitated are obviously at greater risk because they generally are not able to properly report the problem. Additionally, they may not even realize that they are being abused. Victims of nursing home abuse have an increased incidence of health problems, which may be related to the mistreatment. While they face immediate harm, which may include bruises or broken bones, they also have raised occurrence of digestive disorders, depression, anxiety, pain, high blood pressure, and heart ailments.

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September 26, 2015

Care Worker Charged with Alleged Nursing Home Abuse

by Levin & Perconti

A Minnesota nursing home worker was criminally charged with both neglect and disorderly conduct after an incident of alleged abuse against an Alzheimer’s patient. Two aides working with the woman observed the defendant hurting the elderly patient and using aggressive behavior and language while providing care. The abuse is a criminal misdemeanor and the woman faces up to two years in jail and fines of up to $6,000 if convicted.

Much Elder Abuse Goes Unreported

In this case, the other nursing home workers observed the abuse and reported it to the nursing home manager. In many instances, this does not happen. Often, the abuse occurs when there is nobody else present. All too many times, the patient is vulnerable and unable to make a report of the problem, so the crime goes unpunished. In addition to criminal charges, patients and their families have the right to seek damages from the nursing home because of the abuse. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), greater than 50% of nursing home staff said they had mistreated older patients, including physical violence, mental abuse, and neglect during the past year.

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September 24, 2015

When Nursing Home Patients Go Missing

by Levin & Perconti

The Elkhart Truth recently reported that a man went missing from a Wisconsin nursing home. The man simply walked away from the facility and has not been located. Unfortunately, situations such as this happen all too frequently, in nursing homes across the country. As children or relatives of the elderly, we trust that the care facility where our parent lives will be diligent in providing high quality care. Sometimes, proper elder care is not provided. If a patient is able to walk out of the door, the nursing home is responsible for the situation. Neglect is a form of abuse.

Nursing Home Problems

Nursing homes are often large facilities with many patients that require varying types of care. Nursing home patients may be in a range of states of failing health, both mental and physical. The facility must provide proper care for each patient, regardless of their situation. Some patients may be more prone to trying to leave than others. However, once a patient is able to “escape” from the home his or her fate may not be good. Minor problems are likely to happen at any type of hospital. However, if a patient goes missing from the location it is an extreme problem that requires immediate attention.

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September 20, 2015

Nursing Home Lawsuits - Understanding Discovery - Part 3

by Levin & Perconti

Things to Remember About Discovery

Discovery is the process that allows legal disputes to be resolved fairly. This is important to keep in mind when engaged in this sometimes contentious process. Remember that whether you like it or not, the facts tend to come out during discovery. You have to be honest do not try to hide anything or fool anyone. The violations related to discovery abuse can be severe. Sometimes discovery is able to narrow the issues between the parties such that mediation or some other resolution method is better than trial. In other cases, discovery is little more than a lengthy, expensive, invasive, and infuriating precursor to trial. If you are represented with an attorney, be up front with them, it will assist them in doing their job correctly. Not everything has to be given during discovery, but your attorney is the best person to decide what, if any, information is not legally discoverable.

Discovery Problems

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September 16, 2015

Nursing Home Lawsuits - Understanding Discovery - Part 2

by Levin & Perconti

In Part 1 of this series we discussed the first of four discovery tools, the deposition. Here are the other three processes used to collect evidence to prepare for a nursing home neglect cases.

Requests for Production of Evidence

Another very common method of discovery is a request for documents. In these requests for production, one party asks the other for physical evidence, in the form of documents or related materials, that have a bearing on the dispute. These requests can be extensive, asking for all manner of documents such as billing statements, real estate closing documentation, employment and other contracts, even pictures or other documentary evidence. This may even be a physical investigation of objects. An expert may be called in by either side to inspect something pertinent to the dispute.

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September 12, 2015

Nursing Home Lawsuits - Understanding Discovery - Part 1

by Levin & Perconti

Discovery is the process by which parties to a legal dispute gather information. It is a basic principle of our legal system that legal proceedings are fair. One way to ensure this fairness is to develop a process that facilitates the exchange of information between the parties such that one is not blind-sided by information the other side knew but kept hidden. This process is called the discovery process, and it is critical in nursing home neglect cases.

After the parties have filed a lawsuit and moved beyond the initial filing, serving, and answering part of the legal process, then the next step is discovery. How do the parties actually procure the information they seek? What happens when the other side refuses to give them information?

How Discovery Works

In discovery each party seeks information from the other party or third parties. To do this, there are four types of formal discovery tools that are frequently used in lawsuits. They are:


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September 9, 2015

Deadly Outbreak of Legionnaires’ at Illinois Veterans Home

by Levin & Perconti

Many of our veterans eventually find themselves living in a nursing home. When these men and women retire to these facilities we hope that the care they receive and the companionship of those with whom they share the experience of service will provide them with a high quality of life. Unfortunately sometimes veterans homes can play host to outbreaks of deadly diseases. This is currently the case in one such home in Quincy, Illinois.

Death Toll in Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak Climbs

CNN reports that seven residents of the veterans home in Quincy, Illinois have died as a result of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. ABC News reports that an eighth person in Quincy who is not a resident of the facility has died of the disease in a seemingly separate outbreak. All eight of the people who have died in Quincy were elderly and had underlying serious medical problems. Both of these characteristics put individuals at a higher risk of contracting the airborne disease. The CDC is on site at the home assisting in the investigation into what caused the outbreak. The disease is usually contracted by inhaling bacteria that lives in warm water. As of September 8 new cases are still being diagnosed. The last death in this outbreak occurred on September 1.

What is Legionnaire’s Disease?

Legionnaire’s disease is a very serious type of pneumonia that is caused by a bacteria called legionella. If the disease goes untreated or the patient is elderly or otherwise ill the disease can be fatal. For most patients if they receive antibiotic treatment quickly they can make a full recovery.

How to Avoid Legionnaire’s Outbreaks

There are ways that outbreaks of Legionnaire’s disease can be prevented. According to the Mayo Clinic prevention requires meticulous cleaning and disinfection of water systems, pools,a and spas. While many outbreaks have been blamed on problems with cooling towers, U.S. News & World Report reported last month that government figures show that nursing home showers are actually a main culprit. This means that the investigation into what caused the outbreak and whether it was caused by negligence on the part of the facility should start by looking at all of the water systems. Since there is not much an individual nursing home or veterans home resident can do to control water quality, there is not much he or she can do to prevent exposure to the disease. However, avoiding smoking can decrease the risk that a person will develop the disease after exposure.

Not the First Nursing Home With Such an Outbreak

The Illinois home is not the first with one of these outbreaks. A retirement community in Jacksonville Florida had an outbreak earlier this year. Legionella bacteria was found at a nursing home in the Bronx earlier this summer. According to the CDC the proportion of illness due to contaminated drinking water has increased from 15 percent of cases in 2009-10 to 52 percent of cases in 2011-12.

See Related Posts:

More Claims of Veterans Administration Abuses

Quincy, Illinois elder services officer investigates abuse and protects elderly

September 6, 2015

Government Accountability Office Reviewing Nursing Home Rating System

by Levin & Perconti

Nursing home abuse and neglect is an ongoing serious problem across the United States. Everyday vulnerable senior citizens are being abused physically, emotionally, sexually, and financially. Families place their loved ones in these facilities believing that they will receive the care and respect they deserve. There is supposed to be meaningful oversight to prevent abuse. But the abuse happens anyway. Fortunately a government agency is finally taking a look at the way these facilities are rated to see if the system can be improved.

GAO is Reviewing the System

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is responsible for the review according to a report by the Republican Herald. The decision comes after two senators and a congressperson sent a written request to the agency. The rating system in question is Medicare’s “Five-star Quality Rating” used by the “Nursing Home Compare Tool.” The lawmakers initially requested the review because of reports of incidents of misconduct occurring at well rated facilities.

What is the Five-Star Quality Rating System?

The Five Star Nursing Home Quality Rating System is a government rating of facility performance based on health inspections, quality measures, and hours of care provided per resident. The theory behind the rating system is that potential nursing home patients or their families should be able to use them as a tool in comparing nursing home options. It involves individual ratings for health inspection results, quality measures, and staffing. It also includes an overall rating. The overall rating system works as follows:

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September 4, 2015

Wandering and Elopement Can Have Catastrophic Consequences

by Levin & Perconti

The decision to have a loved one spend his or her final years in a nursing home is a difficult one to make. The primary reason many families make this decision is that the family is unable to provide the quality of care to their loved one that they believe will be available in in a professional setting. This is particularly true when the older family member is living with dementia. Unfortunately some of these nursing homes act negligently, and that negligence can result in wandering or elopement. As a recent story from Washington shows, the effects of wandering and elopement can be catastrophic.

What are Wandering and Elopement?

Wandering and elopement are two separate but related phenomena. Elopement refers to a nursing home resident to leave the nursing home unsupervised and unnoticed and the resident is put in danger as a result. The term “wandering” applies to situations where residents are allowed to move aimlessly throughout the nursing home and the residents are put in danger because, due to their medical conditions, they lack an ability to appreciate danger. Both of these problems stem from a facility’s failure to properly supervise and care for its residents.

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September 1, 2015

Illinois Law Passed to Allow Nursing Home Residents to Install Cameras

by Levin & Perconti

Governor Rauner and the Illinois legislature have come together to pass a vitally important piece of legislation that will help to protect seniors against nursing home abuse and that will make it easier for victims to prove their cases where abuse does occur. This landmark piece of legislation will help deter physical and sexual abuse, make a record of neglect, and document negligent treatment that occurs in a patient’s room. The way this new law achieves all of these goals is by allowing nursing home residents to install cameras in their rooms.

Governor Signs Bill that Allows Nursing Home Residents to Install Cameras

The Chicago Tribune reports that Governor Rauner signed a bill that will allow nursing home residents to install cameras in their rooms so long as they pay for them. If a patient has a roommate, everyone living in the room has to agree before a camera can be installed. If a roommate refuses to allow a camera, but one patient wants one, then the nursing home has to give the resident an opportunity to move to another room so that he or she can use a camera. If a doctor determines that a resident is not mentally capable of consenting to the use a camera, then the resident’s legal guardian or family members are allowed to give or refuse consent. The law specifically states that the footage produced by these cameras can be used in court proceedings.

Why are Cameras Necessary?

Many Americans including many elderly Americans bristle at the thought of more cameras in our society. As red light cameras, security cameras, and cell phone cameras take over our society it can feel like privacy no longer exists. This is why it was important that the bill allow roommates to refuse a camera in their room. But nursing home abuse has become such a widespread and severe problem in our society that given seniors and family who want to prevent and prosecute it the tools to do so was vitally important. ABC News reported early this year that more than 25 percent of nursing homes are so substandard that they are a threat to their residents’ health.

The president of the American Health Care Association, a nursing home industry group, complained that laws like the one that has just passed in Illinois damage the trust between caregivers and patients. This criticism ignores the real cause of the erosion of trust between residents and caregivers: too many caregivers have committed horrible acts of abuse or neglect, and too many nursing homes have refused to give good caregivers the resources they need to do their jobs well. Resident health should be the paramount concern.

How Cameras Will Help Residents

There are two main ways in which these cameras will help residents. They are actually much like security cameras in the a convenience store in that regard. The first way they will help is through deterrence. Just as a store uses cameras to deter shoplifters, the hope is that caregivers who may otherwise abuse patients will not do so if they know the abuse will be caught on camera. The other way the cameras will help seniors is by helping to prove claims against facilities that neglect or abuse residents despite cameras. Just like a footage of a theft can convince a jury to convict, footage of abuse or neglect happening will be extremely persuasive in convincing a jury to hold a nursing home liable for abuse. Because this video footage is such strong evidence, it may also lead more nursing homes to be willing to settle claims without forcing residents or their families to go to court.

See Related Posts:

Resident Abuse Caught on Camera

Illinois Close to Making Cameras Permissible in Nursing Homes