Trial date set in nursing home wrongful death case against Manorcare in Illinois

A July 31st trial date has been set in case involving a 57 year old woman who died as a result of understaffing and improper training of staff at Manorcare nursing home in Illinois. Levin & Perconti represents the daughter of the deceased nursing home neglect victim.

The woman’s daughter is suing the home for neglect after her 57 year old mother died after only 6 days in residence at the home. The woman was admitted to Manorcare with a breathing tube because successful radiation for laryngeal cancer left scars that made her own breathing tube too narrow. The woman was admitted to the home for reconditioning and so the staff could familiarize her with the breathing tube. The home was supposed to clean and suction the tube regularly and as needed until the resident could return to her home.

Instead, the staff irregularly medicated the woman and failed to properly and regularly clean and suction her breathing tube. The woman’s daughter complained several times that the home was understaffed and inattentive to her mother’s needs. On the sixth day of her mother’s stay, her daughter was on her way to take her mother home where she could receive the care she needed with the help of a home health nurse.

When she called the home, she was told her mother had been hospitalized. The tracheotomy tube had become obstructed by a mucus plug because it wasn’t cleaned properly. As a result, her mother died. The employees of the home have admitted they were understaffed and untrained in providing the trach care she required.

This story made local and national headlines when it first broke and the woman’s daughter testified on capitol hill during senate hearings on aging. This case is only another illustration of how understaffing and poor training of staff at Illinois nursing homes results in neglect and continues to plague the innocent elderly.

Miscommunication between doctors leads to failure to diagnose bladder cancer and death of a 59 year old woman

Levin & Perconti has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit in Cook County against Advocate Health Care Systems and various doctors for failure to diagnose bladder cancer in a 59 year old woman.

The failure was due to poor communication between the woman’s primary care physicians and a specialist. This poor communication resulted in the woman not having a crucial cystoscopy that would have diagnosed her cancer at a time when the cancer would have been treatable. Instead, the test was given to the woman when it was too late – the cancer had spread to her bowel, colon and eventually throughout her abdomen.

The primary care physicians misunderstood the woman’s symptoms and their significance and failed to inform the patient that failure to have a cystoscopy could be fatal. The woman’s symptoms included blood in her urine, and painful and frequent urination.

The woman’s family is suing the hospital and the doctors for wrongful death in failing to diagnose and treat bladder cancer.

Hospital’s failure to monitor patient results in severe, permanent brain damage

Levin & Perconti has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County against nurses and doctors the University of Illinois at Chicago Hospital.

The basis of the lawsuit is that while the patient was in the hospital, suffering from injuries due to a brain hemorrhage, the hospital staff failed to monitor the pressure building up inside the patient’s brain. As a result, this pressure increased and the skull pressed the brain down into the patient’s spinal cord, resulting in a brain stem herniation. The patient is now severely brain damaged due to the hospital’s negligence.

Hospital loses crucial X-ray after emergency room patient dies of heart failure

A lawsuit will be filed later this month in Lake County against Condell Medical Center in a case involving a woman who died of heart failure, leaving 2 children aged 9 and 14. The woman visited the emergency room and was given an X-ray and released. Two hours later when the woman returned, she had fluid in the sack around her heart. The hospital now claims that the x-ray taken before her death is missing.

The patient’s family is suing the hospital for medical malpractice, spoliation of records and wrongful death claiming that the family’s ability to successfully proceed with the lawsuit is substantially impaired because of the missing X-ray.

Illinois has a law called the X-ray retention act that mandates hospitals retain all X-ray records for 5 years after the records are taken. To view the law: 210 ILCS 90/1, click here.

The law firm of Levin & Perconti is representing the family.

Washington D.C. is the latest city to join in the fight against Medicaid reforms that would hurt nursing home patients

Joining Chicago’s anti-poverty groups and citizens, Bread for the City, a Washington D.C. charitable organization, along with 11 D.C. citizens, has filed a lawsuit against the District of Columbia to stop the city’s most vulnerable Medicaid recipients from receiving benefits.

The new Medicaid law, effective tomorrow, July 1, 2006, will require proof of citizenship from those eligible for Medicaid benefits in the form of a birth certificate or passport. This requirement puts the city’s most helpless, nursing home residents and the physically and mentally disabled, at risk for losing their benefits if they can’t find the necessary documentation.

While the law is part of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 and intended to preclude non-U.S. citizens from falsely identifying themselves as such on Medicaid applications, the effects of the law’s enactment are far reaching. Those unable to gather the necessary documentation in time and those who have misplaced these identification items will also be cut off from Medicaid support by the new law.

For the full article.

Lack of staffing, training to blame in lawsuit filed in pressure ulcer nursing home death case in West Virginia

A Marshall County woman filed a lawsuit on behalf of her deceased mother against Cameron Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in West Virginia. The suit alleges that the home failed to provide the proper care to prevent, assess, treat and manage pain when her mother developed pressure sores. The facilities were unequipped to deal with her mother’s condition and failed to provide adequate staffing.

The lawsuit requests compensatory and punitive damages for pain and suffering of the nursing home neglect victim and sorrow and mental anguish for her family members.

Bus company settles lawsuit for $1.25 million after woman is struck by a bus

Earlier this month, Levin & Perconti settled a lawsuit for $1.25 million when a school bus driver ran over a 50 year old woman crossing the street in a cross walk at Argyle and Kenmore in Chicago. The bus driver from Alltown Bus Service, Inc. pled guilty in traffic court to failure to exercise due care and striking a pedestrian.

As the woman began crossing the street, in the crosswalk, the bus knocked her down and rolled over her. She suffered multiple pelvic fractures, rib fractures and spine fractures and will need a hip replacement due to arthritis in one of the hip fractures.

Record high $3 million nursing home settlement in Illinois

Last October, Levin & Perconti settled a nursing home abuse and neglect case for $3 million, a record verdict for nursing home cases in Illinois. A 65 year old woman was the victim of nursing home abuse and neglect at Renaissance Hillside in Hillside, IL. The woman developed 4 large pressure sore affecting her back, foot, heel and ankle when the employees of the home failed to monitor, assess and treat her bed sores. Bed sores like these develop when blood supply to the skin is cut off for long periods by pressure and movement.

The woman was admitted to the home for rehabilitation after a stroke. She trusted the home to provide the things she could not give herself after the stroke: nutrition, hydration and movement needed to prevent the development of pressure sores. The chronic understaffing and lack of care subsequently led to the development of pressure sores on parts of her body unaffected by the stroke she suffered and the reason for admittance to the home.

In depositions, the employees of the home admitted they were understaffed and unable to properly turn and reposition the woman to prevent the development of sores. Further, nurses at the home admitted to administering medicine to the woman that was not prescribed by a doctor.

The judge granted leave to plead a willful and wanton count and include a prayer punitive damages. However, no punitive damages were paid towards the settlement.

To see the press release.

Chicago anti-poverty groups file class action civil rights suit to challenge new Medicaid law that would hurt nursing home patients

John Bouman, a lawyer at the Shriver Center on Poverty Law in Chicago, filed a class action lawsuit in Federal District Court in Chicago on Wednesday on behalf of low income citizens and anti- poverty groups alleging the new Medicaid citizenship requirements are unconstitutional.

The new law requires proof of citizenship in the form of a birth certificate or passport in order to be eligible to receive Medicaid benefits. The group alleges this leaves many citizens who are in nursing homes or have mental and physical disabilities, and victims of natural disasters most at risk for denial of coverage even if they are legitimate citizens of the United States.

The theory behind the suit is that the law unconstitutionally violates the Fifth Amendment's due-process guarantee by arbitrarily requiring documents and imposing deadlines.

For the full article.

Another related article.

Website allows users to rank health information sites

Healthratings.org is a joint venture between Consumer Reports Web Watch and the Health Improvement Institute created for consumers to know which health information websites are the most reliable and credible.

The service is free and it ranks sites like WebMD, Yahoo! Health and MayoClinic.com

To try the service, click here.


Resources for Consumers on obtaining the best care at hospitals

After the Diagnosis -- How to Look Out for Yourself or a Loved One, by Donna L. Pikula
Patients need to do their homework. "They also need to learn to listen to their instinct -- that little voice inside them that tells them whether something seems right or not."

To purchase.

YOU: The Smart Patient : An Insider's Handbook for Getting the Best Treatment , by Michael F. Roizen, Mehmet C. Oz
A handbook to help everyone to get the best health care possible -- by making everyone into their own medical detective.

To purchase.

Helia Healthcare of Energy – Energy, IL – 6/26/2006

Helia Healthcare of Energy was fined $5,000 for failure to provide adequate supervision of a resident who left the facility without staff knowledge. The resident was later found by police, lying face down and asleep in the grass outside a house about 100 yards from the facility. The temperature was 55-degrees when the resident was found wearing a short-sleeved top, pants, and shoes with no socks.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators.

Patients are own best advocates against medical errors

Trust your instincts. This is the message being echoed by consumer health advocates nationwide as thousands of citizens die each year from medical errors. If you suspect you have been misdiagnoses or something is “not right,” speak up, or it may be too late by the time your physician realizes your condition has worsened.

To ensure you receive the appropriate medical care make sure you have a friend or family member at your bedside 24/7 to keep track of things and get what you need. These friends and family members can also serve to aid you after you determine you have been a victim of medical malpractice.

Other suggestions are to log all treatment, names of caregivers, and be assertive about pain relief. If you're having surgery, have the physician sign the site beforehand to be sure they work on the right area. Ask lots of questions at the doctor’s office and prepare questions ahead of time to address all the concerns you may have about your condition and the course of treatment prescribed.

With nursing shortages and overworked employees in hospitals nationwide, an additional responsibility has fallen on the consumer to question the treatments and care provided.

For the full article.

Nurses file class action lawsuit alleging conspiracy to keep wages low

Last week, Nurses throughout the nation filed a class action lawsuit against hospitals in Chicago, Memphis, San Antonio and Albany alleging violations of anti-trust laws.

The nurses allege the hospitals conspired to set a wage ceiling for nurses by exchanging salary information with each other and colluding not to raise wages past a certain point. Low wages are to blame for the shortage of nurses nationwide as nurses are flocking to more lucrative industries with better working conditions.

The suit alleges that as a result of the collusion nurses were underpaid by the following amounts annually in each respective city:

Memphis $14,000
Albany $6,200
Chicago $5,400
San Antonio $1,300

For the full article.

Health court model is unconstitutional, denying victims of medical malpractice the right to a jury trial

In Senate hearings last week, legislators considered a senate bill that would test different proposals to reduce medical malpractice insurance costs. One of the proposals, the Health Court Model, meets strong opposition from the American Trial Lawyers Association (ATLA) and the American Bar Association (ABA) because the model denies those injured by a hospital’s negligence their access to the court system, constitutional due process rights and right to a jury trial.

Among many concerns, the Health Court model would be an administrative nightmare – a bureaucratic process run by political appointees charged with the impossible task of formulating a uniform system of compensation for victims of medical malpractice. Given the uniqueness of each individual citizen, their potential injuries from malpractice and their personal and family lives, this system would under compensate many victims and their loved ones who are victims of irreparable harm due to a hospital’s negligence.

In addition, those appointed to sit on health courts would not be unbiased jurors or judges, but rather self interested politically appointed individuals susceptible to influence by lobbying from special interest groups including insurance companies and health industry representatives – those groups who stand to benefit the most from the proposed reform.

The Health Court Model is also strongly opposed by former victims of medical malpractice and consumer groups, who have both issued strong statements in opposition of the model which can be found here:

Medical Malpractice Victims Letter

Consumer Groups Letter


In addition, the Center for Justice and Democracy has issued a working paper entitled “Why Health Courts are Unconstitutional,” which can be accessed here.

To view the press release.

AARP and Mississippi Attorney General partner to create “Friendly Nursing Home Visitors Program”

Last month, the AARP Mississippi and the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office kicked off the Friendly Nursing Home Visitors Program. The program recruits and trains AARP members to visit nursing homes to check up on the quality of care and cleanliness of the facilities. This is a great way for citizens to become involved with reporting instances of nursing home abuse and neglect.

To view the press release.

Stearns Nursing & Rehab Center – Granite City, IL – 6/26/2006

Stearns Nursing & Rehab Center was fined $5,000 for failure to provide adequate supervision of a resident who is considered at risk for trying to leave the facility. The resident was found laying in a grassy ditch next to a wheelchair about 110 feet from the rear service door of the facility about 2:20 a.m. No staff at the facility heard the door or was aware that the resident had left.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators.

Amberwood Nursing & Rehab Center – Rockford, IL – 6/26/2006

Amberwood Nursing & Rehab Center was fined $55,000 in connection with a resident’s death. The staff on duty failed to assess the resident’s change in condition which progressed to a full cardiopulmonary arrest. Staff also failed to initiate CPR when the resident was found un-responsive, without a pulse, and without respirations.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators.

Illinois nursing home abuse: staff member coerces resident to perform sexual favors in exchange for cigarettes

An aide at the Heather Health Care Center in Harvey Illinois used cigarettes to bait a mentally ill woman into having sex with a man he was taking care of. The home was fined $30,000 by the IDPH.

These incidents of sexual abuse and patient neglect are all too common at homes like Heather Health Care Center, which is a member of the troubled nursing home chain the Alden Group.

It is unclear whether the home, as required by state law, immediately reported the abuse to the local police department. A lawsuit has been filed in Cook County.

For the full article.

Lawsuit filed for wrongful death in medical malpractice case against Advocate Trinity Hospital in Illinois

Levin & Perconti filed a lawsuit earlier this month against Advocate Trinity Hospital in Illinois.

The suit alleges medical malpractice in the wrongful death of a 70 year old man who died when the hospital failed to observe, assess, evaluate and report the patient’s changing conditions to his doctor and family members. The man developed pressure ulcers which became infected due to inadequate care.

The hospital then failed to appropriately treat the infection and provide nutrition and hydration to the man. Eventually the man died of multiple infected pressure ulcers, malnutrition, dehydration and sepsis.

Center for Medicare & Medicaid services develops nursing home self audit tool for culture change

Last month the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the “Artifacts of Culture Change Tool,” which is designed to provide homes with quality of life indicators according to the consulting firm, Edu-Catering LLP, which worked with the long-term care culture-change consulting firm that worked with CMS to develop the tool.

The tool supports a reform movement where homes are trying to cater more to the employees and residents of nursing homes.

To view the tool.

Nursing home negligence may have been preventable at Rhode Island nursing home if not for diversion of Medicaid funds by executive

Antonio Giordano is a classic example of the fraudulent diversion of Medicaid funds that are to blame for the poor care at the nation’s nursing homes. Despite his nursing home being chronically under funded and indebted, Giordano siphoned Medicaid checks into an account held by his daughter’s company.

Giordano and his associate pled guilty in federal court on Thursday to diverting more than $780,000 in federal funding from Hillside Health Center in Providence, the former Coventry Health Center and Mount St. Francis Health Center in Woonsocket.

The fraud can be attributed to at least one wrongful death at the home. An 87-year-old patient died in 2004 due to neglected bedsores, the result of short staffing and inadequate Medicaid reimbursements.

Many states are being given incentives to pass whistleblower provisions in their false claims acts, mirroring the federal False Claims Act which protects those reporting Medicare or Medicaid fraud.

For the full article.

Nursing home neglect, understaffing alleged in lawsuit filed against Wisconsin nursing home

This week a family filed a lawsuit on behalf of an 85 year old woman who died at Willow Ridge Healthcare facility in Amery, Wisconsin.

Negligence is alleged as the home failed to prevent a fall that broke the woman’s hip. The complaint also alleges the woman was given morphine in her applesauce and caused the women to choke. Understaffing may be to blame.

States aim to encourage capable nursing home residents to live on their own as they become well

Washington State, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are amongst the states making efforts to transfer people out of nursing homes when they become capable of living on their own. For example, in Washington, nobody is in a state nursing home for more than seven days before a case manager speaks to the resident to discuss options and discharge planning.

The story of a Philadelphia man, who with the help of a social worker referred by the Pennsylvania long term care ombudsmen program was successfully placed in an affordable and handicapped friendly efficiency apartment, illustrates the success of these programs. Even those who don’t have family members to care for them can be successfully discharged and placed.

Not only do these types of programs present autonomy and individuality for the elderly, but they also provide the state with a cost-cutting opportunity. It costs Pennsylvania under Medicaid $144 a day for a nursing home bed compared with caring for someone at home at a cost of $56 a day.

For the full article.

Hospitals cut lethal error rates by implementing preventative measures

June 14, 2006 marked the deadline set 18 months ago by Dr. Donald Berwick, a Harvard professor who organized a campaign to prevent infections and mistakes in the nation’s hospitals.

Berwick challenged participating hospitals, who promised to implement at least some of 6 suggested steps to improve care as well as report mortality rates. The results show that an estimated 122,300 lives were saved at about 3,100 participating hospitals.

Some of the steps implemented included deploying rapid response teams to patients whose vitals drop rapidly, giving patients antibiotics before surgery to prevent infections, and encouraging lower ranking employees to call for help at the sign of trouble.

For the full article.

Medicaid recipients will need to show proof of citizenship staring July 1

Starting July 1, 2006, all Medicaid recipients will have to show their U.S. passports or birth certificates to obtain healthcare through their state Medicaid programs. The move is an attempt to eliminate illegal immigrants who are receiving health care paid for by the government. Many health analysts are afraid this requirement will negatively impact some citizens and render many eligible Medicaid recipients without coverage. In Particular, citizens with serious mental illness may not have kept the best records and may not be able to furnish the requisite documents in time to meet the deadline.

Although exceptions might be made, you should make sure that you or your loved ones have the required documentation so that you can continue your eligibility for Medicaid benefits.

For the full article.


For more information on the documentation required.

Long-term care facilities preparedness for pandemic influenza

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed a checklist to help long-term care facilities and nursing homes for responding to pandemic influenza.

The checklist is a starting point for homes to develop a plan tailored to their individual home and residents’ needs and can be found here.

Insurance companies drive up costs for doctors by raising premiums

Over the past five years, premiums at Medical Mutual Insurance Company of North Carolina have rose 45%, more proof that insurance companies, not lawyers, increase insurance costs for doctors. The increased premiums have raised margins at the company and resulted in large bonuses for executives at the company.

There are currently four medical malpractice bills pending in the legislature in North Carolina. One bill would require lawyers to report their earnings.

These increases in premiums may be unwarranted given that nationally medical malpractice costs have been trending downward over the last year.

For the full article.

Philly nursing employee resigns from official township post after sexual abuse charges surface

The chairman of the Bedminster Township Board of Supervisors resigned this week after he was charged with sexually assaulting a 92-year-old woman in the dementia unit of a nursing home where he worked as a groundskeeper. Employees at Pine Run Community Health Care Center came forward to allege he fondled the woman on May 5, 2006. The employee insisted the relationship was confidential but because the woman suffers from dementia, she can not give consent.

For the full article.

Fraud and substandard care alleged as California nursing home chain is named in class-action lawsuit

A class-action lawsuit was filed against Horizon West HealthCare of Rocklin, California for fraudulent billing and substandard care in its 22 California nursing homes. The charges alleged include failing to meet California's minimum nurse-staffing ratios. The lawsuit also accuses the company of fraud, unlawful business practices and numerous health- and safety-code violations.

Earlier this month, separate lawsuits were filed in Los Angeles Superior Court accusing seven California hospital and nursing-home chains of charging Medicare to treat injuries and illnesses they helped cause through medical errors or neglect.

For the full article.

For another related article.

For another related article.


Social Security Administration releases report on income sources and amounts for population 55 and older

The Social Security Administration has released a report on income sources and amounts for population 55 and older. The report details the major sources and amounts of income, the importance of particular sources of income, proportions of the group below the poverty lined, and the varying economic status of the aged at varying levels of income and Social Security benefits.

For the report

NCCNHR provides free training calls for nursing home residents and their families on quality long-term care practices: June 29, 2006

The National Citizens’ Coalition on Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR) has started a series of training calls for nursing home residents and their families on quality long-term care practices. The next call is scheduled for June 29, 2006 at 3pm EST. The topic of this call is “Quality Care Practices Preclude Restraint Use.”

For more information on the call.

For a registration form.

For information about the project.

Nations' emergency rooms face major crisis

Three reports issued by the Institute for Medicine conclude that the nation’s emergency rooms are overcrowded and staff in the ER often don’t have the expertise to treat those seriously ill patients who arrive at the hospital.

Long waits for treatment are common and ambulances sometimes wait hours to unload patients who have called for help. Further, ERs in the United States lack the capabilities and capacity to respond to large disasters or epidemics.

While the population and number of ER visits in the United States are increasing, emergency rooms are closing and hospitals are decreasing the number of beds available to treat patients.

For the full article.

Saline Care Center – Harrisburg, IL – 6/14/2006

Saline Care Center was fined $5,000 for failure to provide adequate supervision of a resident who is cognitively impaired and wears an alarming device to prevent leaving the facility without staff knowledge. The resident left the facility and was later found by police. The resident was looking for a ride to his hometown, which is approximately 67 miles from the facility.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators.

Rosewood Care Center of Rockford – Rockford, IL – 6/14/2006

Rosewood Care Center of Rockford was fined $20,000 for giving a resident the wrong medications, which resulted in a drop in the resident's blood sugar levels. Staff mistakenly gave the resident medications prescribed to another resident. This resulted in the resident being taken to the local emergency room for treatment. The resident was admitted to the intensive care unit a blood sugar level of 59 and altered mental status.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators.

Pleasant Meadows Christian Village – Chrisman, IL – 6/14/2006

Pleasant Meadows Christian Village was fined $5,000 for failure to monitor a newly admitted cognitively impaired resident on the facility's secure Alzheimer's unit. The resident left the unit without the knowledge of staff and traveled one and a half blocks to the home of friends. The friends contacted his family, who alerted the facility of his whereabouts.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators.

Meadowbrook Manor – Naperville, IL – 6/14/2006

Meadowbrook Manor was fined $5,000 for failure to supervise a cognitively impaired resident. The resident left the facility without the knowledge of staff. The resident was later found in the parking lot at 4:30am by pharmacy staff who was delivering emergency medications to the facility. The resident's body temperature was 95.4.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators.

Jackson Square Nursing and Rehab Center – Chicago, IL – 6/14/2006

Jackson Square Nursing and Rehab Center was fined $5,000 for failure to ensure the environmental safety of all residents by leaving a hazardous work area unsecured. Residents at the facility were at risk of falling into an elevator shaft, while the elevator was out of service and a repairman was working on the elevator.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators.

Boulevard Care Center – Chicago, IL – 6/14/2006

Boulevard Care Center was fined $10,000 for failure to ensure that staff implemented the abuse policy after an incident of verbal abuse by an employee toward a resident was witnessed by another staffer. The failure to act quickly and begin the abuse investigation put the resident and other residents at harm for further abuse by the employee.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators.

Alden Alma Nelson Manor – Rockford, IL – 6/14/2006

Alden Alma Nelson Manor was fined $75,000 for failure to start an IV and give fluids, as ordered by the doctor. As a result, the resident suffered dehydration which led to an abnormal heart rhythm. The resident was taken to the hospital and later died.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators.

Violations: 69 Illinois nursing home regulations violators during January - March 2006

The Illinois Department of Public Health has initiated action against the following facilities which have been determined to be in violation of the Nursing Home Care Act, or has recommended decertification to the Director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, or the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for violations in relation to patient care, pursuant to Titles XVIII and XIX of the Social Security Act.

For details on the violations.

Continue reading "Violations: 69 Illinois nursing home regulations violators during January - March 2006" »

Ladies Home Journal authors several pieces on nursing home abuse in June 2006 issue

In their June 2006 issue, the Ladies Home Journal discusses the alarmingly low quality of care in the nation’s nursing homes by illustrating the ill effects through personal interest stories. Specifically, one woman’s story discusses how she was banned from her mother’s nursing home for complaining about the inadequate care her mother received. The woman was only reunited with her mother for 2 months before her mother’s death when she was transferred to a hospital and on life support.

The article provides shocking statistics as well as helpful tips on the right way to complain, a petition citizens can sign to improve nursing home care, and a new concept for long term care developed by the Green House Project.

For the full article.

Shocking Statistics

The following statistics were disclosed in aLadies' Home Journal article from the June 2006 issue.
• From 2001 to 1005 nursing home safety and health violations rose 26.8%.
• Last year state health inspectors cited a full 91.7% of America’s 16,400 nursing homes for at least one deficiency.
• The country’s 85-and-over population is set to almost double by 2030.
• 65% of nursing home residents pay through Medicaid which only provides around half of the annual cost of care
• A private room in a nursing home costs on average, $70,912 a year.
• To reach optimal staffing levels, nursing homes would have to hire between 77,000 and 137,000 additional registered nurses.
• To reach optimal staffing levels, nursing homes would have to hire between 22,000 and 27,000 more licensed practical nurses.
• To reach optimal staffing levels, nursing homes would have to hire between 181,000 and 310,000 more nurse’s aides.
• Doctors in nursing homes are required by law only to see each patient once every 30 days for the first 90 days of admission and once every 60 days thereafter.
• The average home currently employs one aide per 12 patients and the optimal level of staffing is one aid per 5 patients.
• More than 9 out of 10 nursing homes are understaffed.
• Aides working in these homes often make approximately $8/hour.
• The average annual turnover rate for nurse’s aides in nursing homes is 71%.
• Federal law requires that aides only complete 75 hours of training for certification, making it likely that your manicurist had received the same hours of training as the nurse tending your mother.

How to Complain the Right Way

Initial Steps
1. Talk to the staff in a non accusatory manner to let them know what the problem is.
2. Make sure not to antagonize them so they have no reasons to retaliate against you and label you a “danger,” which, in some states will ban you from the home.
3. Keep track of the conversation
4. If the situation is handled successfully, thank the staff members who helped out.

Next Steps
1. Complain in writing to the administrator of the home describing in detail the specific issues and your efforts thus far, maintaining an even handed and reasonable tone.
2. Keep all correspondence between you and the home
3. Involve your state ombudsman and request mediation from your ombudsman between you and the home.
4. Contact the state Department of Health to file a formal complaint. The Health Department will investigate.
5. If you are unsatisfied with the findings, you may need to hire an outside attorney and file a lawsuit.

Continuing the vigilance
1. Establish an independent family council with other resident’s relatives to voice your concerns collectively.
2. Continue to document the course of action the home follows and consult an independent advocate if you suspect retaliation.

For the Ladies' Home Journal article.

Insurance companies, not patients, are the only winners in tort reform

Tort reformers ignore real economic factors and skew the economics in favor of insurance companies to advocate for tort reform. This article provides a description of the lengthy and meticulous screening process by which a case become a legitimate malpractice case. In fact, many cases are screened out of the system before a jury even has a chance to consider the facts. If a case goes to jury, only one-third of plaintiffs prevail.

The economic reality is that even litigation will not adequately restore an individual to their previously healthy condition after a doctor's malpractice. The only solution available is to award monetary damages.

Tort reform allows potential wrongdoers to operate with immunity and without punishment. With tort reform, the quality of care would not increase, but decrease as wrongdoers are not deterred. Those who best stand to benefit from tort reform are the insurance companies and not the patients or even doctors.

For the full article.

Join NCCNHR and receive a free healthcare resource guide

The National Citizen's Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR) is currently offering a free ZivaGuide for NCCNHR members. ZivaGuide is a service that offers a personalized tool for finding health care resources and disease related information. The guide has a $45 value. If you are not already a member, you can Join Now!

Imperial of Hazel Crest – Hazel Crest, IL – 6/12/2006

Imperial of Hazel Crest was fined $20,000 for neglecting a resident when it failed to provide specific supervision, monitoring, treatment, and care. The staff had not checked on the resident for approximately 14 hours due to the resident's aggressive behavior toward staff. Eventually, the resident was found behind a barricaded room door, dead on the floor.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators.

Friendship House of Centralia – Centralia, IL – 6/12/2006

Friendship House of Centralia was fined $5,000 for failure to provide adequate supervision for a resident who is cognitively impaired and moderately impaired for making daily decisions. The resident left the facility without staff knowledge, as evidenced by staff leaving the unit unattended, by allowing a 15-second delay of an alarm, and by failing to have the kitchen exit door alarmed or continuously supervised.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators.

Belhaven Nursing Home – Chicago, IL – 6/12/2006

Belhaven Nursing Home was fined $20,000 for failure to implement, monitor, and provide supervision for a resident who displayed aggressive and harmful behavior toward staff and other residents during a two week period. The resident attacked another resident causing a fractured left jaw, a fracture of the sinus cavity, a fractured nose, and trauma to the eyes, impairing vision to the resident's eyes.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators.

Funeral director looted the burial trust funds of families

A funeral director in Augusta, Maine was sentenced to a year in jail after he was convicted of taking funds from funeral trusts set up by families in advance for their family members’ funerals.

For the full article.

Finding the right facility for your loved one can be difficult, no matter what your financial position

An article from the San Francisco Chronicle details the options consumers have for choosing a proper long term care facility for their loved ones. Even those who do not require public aid are faced with many alternatives and price levels, and are often charged for care they do not receive.

For the full article.

Fraud in nursing home industry leads to whistleblower friendly laws

The nursing home industry is rampant with fraud against Medicaid and Medicare as homes embellish the level of quality care provided to receive federal funds. The False Claims Act (FCA) aims to curb this fraud, specifically by including a provision in the Act allowing someone with evidence of fraud in federal programs or contracts to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the federal government. This provision entitles whistleblowers to 15–30% of monies recovered in the lawsuit.

For the full article:
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Major nursing home chain Beverly Enterprises is the model of nursing abuse, neglect and fraud

From criminal negligence charges to fraud charges, Beverly Enterprises has endured countless legal battles due to their poor care, abuse and neglect at nursing homes across the country.

For the full article:
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GOP loses battle to abolish estate tax in the senate

Republicans in the senate lost the battle to permanently abolish the federal estate tax in a partisan vote today. Supporters of the repeal needed 60 votes to end debate and schedule the issue for a vote and they only earned 57 votes. The repeal of the tax would apply to large inheritances.

For the full article.

Successful hospital negligence lawsuit may bring honesty in the medical industry

A jury awarded a $4 million verdict to a Washington hospital who sued a Louisiana hospital for fraud and negligent misrepresentation when two doctors from the hospital wrote glowing recommendations for a colleague who had a narcotics abuse problem.

In 2002, one of the doctor’s patients suffered severe brain damage during a routine procedure. A malpractice suit was settled for $8.5 million by the patient’s family. This marks the first time one hospital has successfully sued another for recommending an impaired or incompetent doctor, an all too common practice in the medical industry.

For the full article:
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AARP releases report on Lessons Learned for Protecting Older Persons in Disasters

Spurred in the wake of the tragedies endured by the elderly during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the AARP conducted a report to address the needs of the elderly in a disaster.

Specifically the report addresses:
• Planning and communication
• Identifying needs
• Evacuation procedures

For the report:
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Also of interest is the US Senate Special Committee on Aging committee report entitled:
Preparing Early, Acting Quickly: Meeting the Needs of Older Americans During a Disaster.

For the report:
http://www.gpo.gov/congress/senate/senate22sh109.html

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - A Study of Negotiated Risk Agreements in Assisted Living

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a report discussing the use of negotiated risk agreements (NRAs) in long-term care facilities in order to provide an appropriate balance between residents’ autonomy and safety.

The content of a typical NRA includes:
• the behavior or resident preference of concern to the provider
• the potential or actual risk
• the resident preferences and potential provider accommodations or suggested alternatives to the behavior that reduce risk while meeting resident preferences
• a negotiated resolution
• the resident’s acknowledgement and acceptance of the potential negative consequences of his or her actions

Over the past decade, many assisted living providers have adopted NRAs, and several states have regulatory provisions regarding their use.

For example, Illinois has the strongest statement of a resident’s right to assume risk, stating a resident has the right “to direct his or her own care and negotiate the terms of his or her own care,” and “to refuse services unless such services are court ordered or the health, safety, or welfare of other individuals is endangered by the refusal, and to be advised of the consequences of that refusal.”

The Illinois statute regarding NRAs provides that a “responsible party” may sign a risk agreement as a proxy for the resident.

The Illinois statute regulating the use of NRAs can be found here.


To view the report:
http://aspe.hhs.gov/daltcp/reports/2006/negrisk.htm

Nursing Home Enforcement - Application of Mandatory Remedies: A study from the Department of Health and Human Services - OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL

The goal of the recent study by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is to determine the extent to which the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) applied the statutorily required “mandatory remedies” for nursing homes not in compliance with Federal quality of care standards.

The findings include:
• Of the 55 cases requiring termination during 2000-2002, CMS did not apply the mandatory remedy as required in 30 cases (55 %).
• Of the 706 cases requiring DPNA remedies in 2002, 28 percent were never applied and 14 percent were applied late, largely due to late referral of cases by State survey agencies.

Download the report.

Kentucky nursing home verdict leads to proposed legislation to regulate staffing levels at homes

The family of an 84 year old man who died in a Frankfort, Kentucky nursing home as a result of inadequate staffing levels has joined forces with resident advocates to fight for a bill requiring a specific ratio of workers to residents.

The man, whose calls complaining of stomach pain went unanswered due to inadequate staffing, eventually died from a heart attack triggered by the stress of a severe, untreated bowel obstruction.

The family says the death highlights the need for Kentucky to enact a law that spells out how many staff members are required to be on duty for a given number of nursing home residents. Kentucky has no law requiring a specific ratio of workers to residents, although 33 states have adopted such requirements, according to a 2005 study.

Advocates in Kentucky have pushed for legislation in the past with the initial bills never making it past the House Health and Welfare Committee. Legislators say the state is hesitant to adopt a measure without the means to pay for it.

For the full article:
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Nursing home settlement to be split amongst Hawaiian Community

Hawaiian nursing-home residents and an educational institution, University of Hawaii, will be the beneficiaries of a $3.2 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit alleging that the Interstate Pharmacy Corp., sold recycled pills to Hawaiian nursing-home patients from the early 1990s through 2000. The settlement will provide an endowment to the University of Hawaii to implement programs that will benefit the elderly and the remainder will be split amongst 3,585 Hawaiian nursing home residents to compensate them for the recycled pills.

For the full article:
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How Illinois Citizens for Better Care (ICBC) can help you

The Illinois Citizens for Better Care (ICBC) is committed ensuring quality care for you and your loved ones in Illinois nursing homes. ICBC achieves results by advocating for residents through government and private action. ICBC is the only statewide organization dedicated to bringing all of the nursing home communities together including family members, residents, staff, ombudsman, attorneys and resident advocates. For more information on how ICBC can assist you in getting the quality long term care your family deserves, visit their website.

or view this informational brochure:
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How to and Why to build a family council

The Illinois Citizens for Better Care (ICBC) has developed an instructive guide on how and why to develop a family council in your nursing home. Topics of interest include:
• Community resources
• The advantages of a family council
• Steps to an effective family council
• Organization, membership and action
• Planning and taking action
• Keys to success

To view the guide:
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Illinois Family Council program

The Illinois Citizens for Better Care (ICBC) has recently received a grant from the National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR) to help launch a year-long project to educate family members on how to start family councils in their homes in order to advocate for their loved ones and fight nursing home abuse and neglect.

See the ICBC newsletter for details:
Download file

or visit their website.

What is a family council?

A family council is a group of family members with loved ones in nursing homes. The group is organized to empower and support residents and family members with loved ones in nursing homes, and to advocate for quality care in nursing homes. Ask your home administrator or local ombudsman if your home already has a family council.

For information on organizing a family council in your loved one’s home:
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Illinois Nursing Home Honor Roll

Member of the Family provides a list of Illinois nursing homes who have made the "honor roll" by meeting the following criterion:

• Met the minimum government standards of care
• Been found deficiency-free in the last three surveys in the CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) database.
• No substantiated complaints against it

To view the list.

National Nursing Home Honor Roll

Member of the Family provides an honor roll of nursing homes who have met a certain standard of care. Only about 1.4% of all nursing homes qualify for the Nursing Home Honor Roll. To make it on the list, a home must have:
• Met the minimum government standards of care
• Been found deficiency-free in the last three surveys in the CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) database.
• No substantiated complaints against it

To view the list.

Illinois Nursing Home Watch List

Member of the Family provides a watch list of homes in Illinois recently cited for violations or with substantial complaints of abuse and neglect made against the home.

To view the list.

National Nursing Home Watchlist

Member of the Family provides a national watch list of homes recently cited for violations or with substantial complaints made against the home.

To view the list for your state.

Rochester New York: letter to the editor reveals inadequacies of Medicaid for nursing homes

A letter to the editor written by the CEO of Rochester health care network Unity Health System reveals that Medicaid reimbursement rates for nursing homes are set at levels established in 1983. Reforms are clearly needed and the Governor is only providing short-term fixes that will not help cure the defects in the system which affect those for which the aid is intended: the poor, disabled and elderly.

For the full article:
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Explaining the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act

The following posts explain the Nursing Home Care Act (NHCA) which is an Illinois law that encourages nursing home employees to report abuse and neglect in a nursing home and affords employees making such reports with protection against retaliation from the home.

To view the entire act.

Explaining the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act

The following posts explain the Nursing Home Care Act (NHCA) which is an Illinois law that encourages nursing home residents to contact attorneys and file lawsuits if they are abused or neglected in a nursing home.

To view the entire act.

For family members and residents - 3-601 - Nursing homes are accoutnable for abuse and neglect

Sec. 3-601
Under our law the owner of a nursing home is responsible and accountable in a court of law if you or your loved one is abused or neglected in a nursing home. Abuse and neglect often times results when a nursing home is understaffed. Abuse includes intentional misconduct like verbal, physical or sexual abuse. Neglect includes carelessness that causes injury, death or decline in physical or mental conditions.

For family members and residents - 3-602 - Contact a lawyer, they want to help you file a lawsuit against the nursing home

Sec. 3-602
Illinois law recognizes and encourages nursing home residents to file lawsuits if they are abused or neglected. Some people think lawyers may not be interested in cases involving nursing home residents because the residents are old, have many physical and mental problems, and are not wage earners. This is not true. Lawyers do represent nursing home residents whose quality of life, whatever it is, is diminished by abuse or neglect.

For family members and residents - 3-605 - Money you receive in a lawsuit does not affect public aid

Sec. 3-605
Don’t worry about money from lawsuits affecting your public aid funds or eligibility for continuing public aid. You will not have to pay back public aid from the money you receive in a lawsuit, nor will the money you receive in a lawsuit affect your eligibility to receive public aid.

For family members and residents - 3-606 - You can not waive your right to sue

Sec. 3-606
It is illegal for a nursing home to make you sign a contract waiving your right to sue. First, you do not have to sign a contract of this nature. Second, even if you sign a contract stating you will not bring a lawsuit against the nursing home, it will not hold up in court.

For family members and residents - 3-607 - You have a right to go to trial

Sec. 3-607
It is illegal for a nursing home to make you sign a contract waving your right to a jury trial. Even if you do sign a contract stating you will handle all disputes and issues with the home through arbitration, you are still legally entitled to file a lawsuit and have your case heard by a jury. Nursing homes are afraid of juries commenting on their care; they want disputes decided by special groups outside the jury system who are unlikely to reward large verdicts. The jury system is your protection. Don’t sign a waiver, even if you do; it’s unenforceable.

For families and residents - 3-608 - Protection after making a report

Sec. 3-608
Once you file a complaint or make a report or against the nursing home, it is illegal for the nursing home to evict, harass or transfer you or your loved one. Any retaliation by the nursing home against a resident for reporting a violation is illegal.

To file a complaint.

For employees - 3-608 - Protection after reporting abuse

Sec. 3-608
Once you make a report or file a complaint against the nursing home, it is illegal for the nursing home to fire, harass or transfer you. Any retaliation by the nursing home against an employee for reporting a violation is illegal.

To file a complaint.

For employees - 3-609 - Confidentiality

Sec. 3-609
If you file or make a report for a violation of the NHCA, you will not have violated any employee confidentiality agreements and will be free from punishment or action from the employer for making such a report.

For employees - 3-610 Duty to Report Violations

Sec. 3-610 - Duty to report violations
(a) As a nursing home employee, once you become aware of abuse or neglect of a resident, you must immediately report the abuse to the Department and to the facility administrator.

Once you tell a facility administrator about this abuse or neglect of a resident, the administrator must immediately report the abuse by telephone and in writing to the resident's representative, and to the Department.

(b) As a nursing home employee, if you know that another employee is stealing a resident's property, you must immediately report the theft to the facility administrator.

Once you tell a facility administrator about this theft the facility administrator must immediately report the theft by telephone and in writing to the resident's representative, to the Department, and to the local law enforcement agency.