State seeks to close nursing home where patient escaped in June

The state of California is suing to revoke the license of Paragon Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care, part of a chain of 210 homes operated by Sunwest Management Inc. The violations stem from allegations of six injured clients and one death at the home due to insufficient care. Another man has been missing from the home since June and police say he may be dead. These allegations of abuse and neglect have led the state to take action against the home.

The state is seeking to revoke the license of the home and bar seven of the home’s management team including its president, from ever working in the residential care facility industry in California.

Other allegations include the home admitting patients that are too sick for the home to care for. For example, the home is a residential care home that does not provide full-time nursing care and is not licensed to accept patients with open wounds, severe disabilities or those who are terminally ill, unless a special waiver is obtained. However, the state alleges the home has admitted patients with these severe injuries while employing a staff that gave lackluster care and was prone to literally “sleeping on the job.”

For the full article.

Former nursing home administrator convicted of fraud and sentenced to prison

A former Pennsylvania nursing home administrator was sentenced to 5 years in federal prison for defrauding Medicare and Medicaid. Her nursing home neglected residents while she ran up $88,000 in charges on nursing home credit cards. From 1998 to 2003, the administrator and nursing home defrauded Medicare and Medicaid out of $8 billion.

For the full article.

Elderly Illinois Citizens Beware: Deeds Scams

The office of Cook County Record of Deeds Eugene Moore has issued alerts to attorneys who represent elderly clients to be on the lookout for two scams.

The first scam is a “Have You Seen Your Deed?” letter being circulated to arouse fear in senior citizens. The letter requests $150 to receive a certified copy of a deed. In reality, an electronic copy of your client’s deed may be obtained from the Recorder of Deeds office for 50 cents.

The second scan involves filing quitclaim deeds to convey title to residences usually in situations where relatives or caretakers are financially abusing the elderly. One way the Recorder of Deeds office is combating this scam is to notify a grantor when a quitclaim deed is filed to ensure the owner of the deed was not defrauded.

The Recorder of Deeds office requests that attorneys or clients report suspicious behavior by calling their office at (312) 603-5050. The Recorder’s website is also a resource whereby homeowners can search for recordings against title to properties:

Research statistics show what we already know: nursing home deaths are often preventable

Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia recently found that preventable errors were the most common cause of death in nursing homes. An assistant professor of nursing at the college believes that the solution to nursing home abuse and neglect is to create a culture of safety and address the current problems in a visible fashion.

For the full article.

Vermont nursing home fined for allowing charge nurse to work while intoxicated

A Vermont nursing home was fined almost $9,000 and faces Medicare and Medicaid contract termination following an incident regarding an intoxicated on-duty charge nurse. In August of this year, a night charge nurse arrived at work an hour late reeking of alcohol. The nurse manager was informed and spoke to the aides and the nurse from the other unit, but never went to evaluate the intoxicated nurse. After speaking with those on duty, she turned off her phone. The evening continued and the intoxicated nurse failed to administer pain medications to a resident, despite two requests and a request from an aide on duty. The intoxicated nurse was responsible for a unit of 40 residents. The nursing home is in the process of correcting other problems uncovered during the investigation into this nursing home neglect.

For the full article.

NJ malpractice directory meets consumers’ needs

Public Citizen, a national patient advocacy group, recently ranked New Jersey’s online state directory of physicians’ malpractice and disciplinary histories top in the nation. NJ’s website provides profiles of NJ’s nearly 30,000 licensed physicians and contains detailed information on medical malpractice lawsuits and payments, hospital disciplinary actions, and conviction information. Hopefully more states will be soon to follow the creation of adequately thorough physician directories.

For the full article.

Fire safety: More product recalls

1. Fire Suppression System Pumps: ITT Water Technology has voluntarily recalled about 3,000 Goulds Pumps, Bell & Gossett and Red Jacket Water Products Brand Pumps for Fire Suppression Systems. A mechanical part on these pumps was not fully secured, which can lead to the pump failing during use and an increased risk of fire damage. For more information.
2. Notebook Computer Batteries: Sony Energy Devices Corp has voluntarily recalled about 340,000 batteries. These lithium ion batteries can overheat, posing a fire hazard. For more information.
3. Mattress Covers: Dux Interiors, Inc. has voluntarily recalled about 37,000 Protective Mattress Covers. The terry cloth covers, which were made to fit over the Dux top pads, do not meet federal standards for flammability under the Flammable Fabrics Act. For more information.

Two former nursing home owners indicted for fraud

Two Massachusetts brothers and former owners of 5 nursing homes were recently indicted for nursing home neglect, Medicaid fraud, theft of nursing home patients’ personal funds, conspiracy to steal those funds, embezzlement of employee wage deductions intended for funding 401(k) retirement contributions, and embezzlement of life and disability insurance premiums. The facilities owned by the two brothers experienced frequent shortages of food, medicine, linens, and personal hygiene items, interruption of pest control services, and accumulation of medical waste due to nonpayment of vendors. At the same time, the brothers used nursing home assets to fund personal expenditures such as horse racing activities and luxury boat payments. The complaint alleges that the former owners owe more than $200,000 for back premiums and from $6 million to $12.5 million in federal taxes.

For the full article.

Retired NYPD detective dies due to persistent nursing home abuse and neglect

A retired NYPD detective died after months of persistent bed sores and infections. The 87 year-old died at a medical center after a series of hospitalizations for large ulcers that covered his body. After suffering a stroke in the mid-1990’s, the 87 year-old began living in a nursing home. Beginning in March 2003, the nursing home persistently neglected him, failing to prevent massive bedsores from developing. At one point, the nursing home even put a shoe on the man to hide a foot ulcer! During a stay at a hospital, the 87 year-old also was a victim of medical malpractice when a doctor gave him an overdose of a blood thinner, which required a blood transfusion. The victim’s daughter is suing the nursing home for its nursing home abuse and neglect and has also filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital .

For the full article.

Medical abbreviations on the “Do-not-use” list

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has placed certain medical abbreviations on the “do-not-use” list because of their probability of misinterpretation, leading to dosing errors and serious medical malpractice. For exam, “IU” is often used by physicians or others in the medical field to mean “international unit.” However, it is often mistaken for “IV” (intravenous) or the number 10, which could lead to serious mistakes in administering medicine. The Official “Do Not Use” list applies, at a minimum, to all orders and all medication-related documentation that is handwritten or on pre-printed forms. Unfortunately, the medical field is not sufficiently complying: failure to substantially eliminate the use of such abbreviations is one of the most frequent non-compliance findings during Joint Commission reviews.

For the Official “Do Not Use” List.

Jury awards Staten Island man $3.9 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit

A jury recently decided that the two Brooklyn doctors that performed surgery on the Staten Island man to correct his ailment only made it worse and awarded the Staten Island man $3.9 million. The victim suffered from arcuate ligament syndrome and underwent surgery in 2002 to alleviate his discomfort. The surgery made his pains worse. Later surgeons were unable to get to his artery and fix his pain because the scar tissue from the botched surgery was so dense. The victim had to undergo 4 more surgeries after the medical malpractice and is currently unable to work because of his ailments.

For the full article.

Vermont nurse charged with stealing medication from nursing home patients

A registered nurse from Vermont faces a series of criminal charges stemming from theft of narcotics from nursing home patients. If convicted of all charges, she faces potential penalties totaling five years imprisonment and $11,000 in fines. Unfortunately, severe staffing shortages nationwide have affected the quality of employees which nursing homes are able to hire.

For the full article.

Texas sues nursing home for neglect

The state of Texas has recently commenced a lawsuit against a nursing home for failing to properly treat a patient who died as the result of an untreated urinary tract infection in 2004. The lawsuit seeks damages of $1,000 to $20,000 for each violation that threatened a patient’s safety and health. Inspections dating back to December 2003 found incidents of nursing home abuse and neglect that caused residents harm or immediate jeopardy.

For the full article.

Hawaiian judge awards $16.5 million in medical malpractice lawsuit

The victim is almost two years old and each passing week continues to be another milestone in his life. The victim’s mother said that the doctors initially said he would live two days, then two weeks, then two months. When the child was born, his doctor committed medical malpractice by giving him carbon dioxide instead of oxygen. This malpractice permanently damaged the child’s brain. He cannot speak, move, eat, or even breathe on his own due to the birth injury. Taking care of him costs $450,000 a year. For those costs, a federal judge awarded the child’s family $16.5 million – the largest damage verdict ever ruled in Hawaii for a single person.

The Medical Center has a long history of medical malpractice. Between January 1995 and July 2005, there were 331 malpractice claims against the Center. Although the Medical Center has accepted responsibility, no disciplinary action has been taken against the Center.

For the full article.

Kalamazoo nursing home closed after long list of violations surfaces

The Michigan Department of Community Health recently released more than 80 pages outlining the Kalamazoo nursing home’s violations. The October inspection found that residents of one unit were continuously exposed to a urine odor. Inspectors also found that the nursing home showed a pattern of failing to implement safety measures to protect residents, resulting in at least one resident becoming wedged between the rails in his bed . Additionally, the facility failed to check criminal histories on at least two employees. The eighty pages of incidents of nursing home abuse and neglect led to the Michigan Department of Community Health’s closing of the nursing home.

For the full article.

Alabama cancer doctor misdiagnosed and mistreated 20 patients

A medical malpractice lawsuit was recently filed against a cancer doctor who told a 65 year-old woman that her breast cancer had returned and prescribed chemotherapy for treatment. A second opinion told the 65 year-old that she had no evidence of recurrent breast cancer. Alabama regulators have found 19 other patients allegedly mistreated or misdiagnosed by the cancer specialist. The state claims that the patients were needlessly or excessively exposed to toxic cancer-fighting agents that endangered their health. For now, the doctor is still practicing! A January hearing before the Alabama Medical Licensure Commission will issue the final authority over the validity of the doctor’s license.

For the full article.

NY nursing home fined for endangering the lives of its residents

A New York nursing home was recently fined more than $108,000 for nursing home neglect. Health Department records showed that no qualified staff members were on duty to perform basic life support in the event of cardiac arrest on at least two occasions. Staffing issues are a recurring problem in the nursing home industry and contribute to the recurrence of nursing home abuse incidents.

For the full article.

Administration plans to cut Medicaid funding for nursing home care

A Minnesota article recently reported that the Bush administration plans to cut Medicaid funding for nursing home care by $1.5 billion per year. Unless the U.S. Congress takes blocking action, the administration intends to issue regulations that would cut in half an established Medicaid funding mechanism, from 6% to 3%. Since the government does not currently provide enough funding to employ optimal staffing levels, this funding cut could be detrimental. Staffing shortages contribute to a great number of nursing home abuse and neglect incidents.

For the full article.

End-of-life health care costs drastically vary from state to state

A program at Dartmouth Medical School recently analyzed Medicare data on patients with chronic illnesses. The statistics developed showed that it was much more expensive to die in some parts of the countries than in others. The question that remains is: did the additional hospitalizations, tests, and doctor visits result in better care or better quality of life? The most expensive city is Manhattan, at a cost of $35,838 for the last six months of care; the least expensive is Wichita Falls, Texas at $10,913 for the last six months of care. In Illinois, the average cost for the last six months of care is $17,799.93, which varies throughout the state. About 27% of Medicare’s annual $327 billion budget goes to care for patients in their final year of life.

For the full article.

Medical abbreviations: more harmful then helpful

Medical shortcuts used in internal communications, telephone and verbal prescriptions, labels, medical administration records, and pharmacy entry screens can lead to serious medical malpractice in harmful medication errors. The Institute for Safe Medical Practices has released the most frequently misinterpreted abbreviations and dose designations. The list was compiled from the Medication Error Reporting Program. Certain abbreviations have been so error-prone that they have been put on the “do-not-use list” by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.

For the list of abbreviations to avoid in the medical field.

“Your Way”: a guide for staying in charge of your health care

H.E.L.P. has published a plain-language guide to help older adults stay in charge of the health care they receive, even if they cannot speak for themselves. The guide, entitled “Your Way,” can be used by individuals, families and friends, attorneys, care managers, or other professionals to help their clients.

To order your free copy of “Your Way.”

Energy nursing home fails to provide adequate supervision of a resident

The Illinois Department of Health recently released information about an Energy nursing home that was cited for a type “A” violation of the Nursing Home Care Act. An “A” violation is the most serious licensure violation imposed by the state and pertains to a condition in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious mental or physical harm will result. The Energy facility has been fined $5,000 for its nursing home abuse and neglect. The nursing home failed to supervise a resident who left the facility without the staff knowing. The resident was later found by police asleep, lying face down in the grass outside a house nearby the facility in 55-degree weather.

For the full release of violations cited.

H.E.L.P. releases Aging Preparedness Kit and Elder Law Lingo bulletin

H.E.L.P. is a non-profit education and counseling center devoted to providing older adults and their families with information on legal, government program and care-related issues, and services for Older Adults. They recently released a guide on aging preparedness, equipped with a bulletin entitled “Elder Law Lingo.”

To access the guide.

To learn more about H.E.L.P.

San Francisco nursing home residents file suit demanding community-based care

Residents of a San Francisco nursing home recently brought a lawsuit challenging their unnecessary continuing confinement. The nursing home is owned and operated by the city. The resident’s complaint asks the court to require the city to offer and provide services in alternative community settings. The city’s own assessment stated that the residents were capable of living in their own homes or in community programs.

For the full article.

3 Chicago nursing homes cited for type “A” violations

Three Chicago nursing homes were recently cited for type “A” violations of the Nursing Home Care Act. The Chicago facilities have been fined a combined total of $35,000 for the nursing home abuse and neglect that occurred. Two of the facilities were cited for failing to ensure a safe environment for the residents. The third failed to monitor and provide supervision for a resident who displayed aggressive and harmful behavior toward staff and residents. The resident attacked and severely injured another resident, resulting in multiple fractures and impaired vision.

For the full release of violations cited.

Changes proposed to the Skilled Nursing and Intermediate Care Facilities Code

The Illinois Department of Health has recently proposed changes to five parts of the “Skilled Nursing and Intermediate Care Facilities Code.” The amendments propose the following modifications: changes to documentation requirements, applicant qualifications, charity care policy, ownership commitment, and project completion.

For the full article.

Hazel Crest nursing home fined for vengefully neglecting its resident

A Hazel Crest nursing home was cited for type “A” violations of the Nursing Home Care Act and fined $20,000 for its nursing home abuse and neglect. It neglected a resident for approximately 14 hours because the resident had demonstrated animosity toward staff members. The resident was found behind a barricaded room door, dead on the floor.

For the full release of violations cited.

Health care facilities to perform background checks on hospital employees

One step in protecting residents against nursing home abuse and neglect could rest in the rigorous performance of background checks on employees. Facilities that do not have implemented safeguards or protections are vulnerable to exploitation of residents. The Illinois Department of Public Health has recently proposed amendments that would require all facilities to comply with the Health Care Worker Background Check Code. The Code requires health care employees to refrain from knowingly employing a person in a direct care position if the person was convicted of committing or attempting to commit any offense specified in the statute.

For the full article.

Naperville nursing home fined for failing to supervise its resident

A Naperville nursing home was recently cited for a type “A” violation of the Nursing Home Care Act. An “A” violation is the most serious licensure violation imposed by the state and pertains to a condition in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious mental or physical harm will result. The Naperville facility has been fined $5,000 for its nursing home neglect. The facility failed to supervise a resident. Because of its neglect, the nursing home resident was able to leave the facility without the knowledge of staff and was found in the parking lot at 4:30 a.m. by pharmacy staff.

For the full release of violations cited.

Illinois Department of Public Health tells long-term care facilities to report resident sex offenders

As previously reported in a recent entry, sex offenders and parolees are a growing problem in long-term care facilities. The Department of Public Health has responded by recently adopting amendments to the Illinois Administrative Code that requires certain long-term care facilities to notify local law enforcement and residents once an identified sex offender is admitted to the facility. The facilities are also required to develop emergency contingency plans to be routinely renewed. Additionally, the amendments require that all employees who have contact with patients undergo a criminal background check. These new amendments apply to supportive living facilities, skilled nursing and intermediate care facilities, sheltered care facilities, Illinois Veterans’ homes, intermediate care for the developmentally disabled facilities, and long-term care for under age 22 facilities.

To read the Amendments.

Centralia nursing home cited for failing to properly supervise its resident

The Illinois Department of Health recently released information about a Centralia nursing home that was cited for a type “A” violation of the Nursing Home Care Act. The Centralia facility has been fined $5,000 for its nursing home neglect. The facility failed to provide adequate supervision for a cognitively impaired resident when a resident left the facility without staff knowledge.

For the full release of violations cited.

Illinois Department of Aging expands required training and education for Elder Rights

The Department of Aging recently adopted amendments to the Illinois Administrative Code for Elder Rights, expanding the current training and education requirements. The program aims to reduce elder abuse, including nursing home abuse and neglect, by making more information available to the public, tightening enforcement of current anti-abuse laws, and providing follow-up services provided to an abused, neglected, or exploited victim.

To read the Code on Elder Abuse and Neglect.

Adloff Place – Springfield, Illinois – 10/25/06

In a case of nursing home abuse and neglect, residents at Adloff Place in Springfield, Illinois suffered injuries, such as cuts and bruises, and those incidents were not properly processed by staff. Residents also suffered poor hygiene due to neglect.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators. To access the website click here.

Orchard Court – Jonesboro, Illinois – 10/25/06

In a case of nursing home abuse and neglect, the facility failed to develop and implement plans of care for residents and failed to have enough staff supervision. As a result, one resident experienced five episodes of non-responsiveness in two months and another fell numerous times from a wheelchair.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators. To access the website click here.

3 Rockford nursing homes cited for type “A” violations

The Illinois Department of Health recently released information about 3 Rockford nursing homes that were cited for type “A” violations of the Nursing Home Care Act. An “A” violation is the most serious licensure violation imposed by the state and pertains to a condition in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious mental or physical harm will result.

Continue reading "3 Rockford nursing homes cited for type “A” violations" »

HealthGrades releases 2007 Hospital Quality Study and Ratings

In preparation for the 2007 Hospital Quality Study and Ratings report, HealthGrades examined 40.6 million Medicare hospitalization records. The results showcased the widening gap between the best and worst performing hospitals. For example, there is a 60% lower chance of dying at one of the nation’s 5-star rated hospitals than at one of the 1-star rated hospitals. If all hospitals performed at the level of a 5-star hospital across 18 of the procedures and diagnoses studies, 302,403 Medicare lives could have potentially been saved from 2003 through 2005. 50% of the potentially preventable deaths were associated with 4 diagnoses: Heart Failure, Community Acquired Pneumonia, Sepsis, and Respiratory Failure.

To read the Press Release.
To access the HealthGrades report and website which also has a free hospital rating checker.

Chrisman nursing home cited for failing to monitor its new resident

The Illinois Department of Health recently released information about a Chrisman nursing home that was cited for a type “A” violation of the Nursing Home Care Act. An “A” violation is the most serious licensure violation imposed by the state and pertains to a condition in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious mental or physical harm will result. The Chrisman facility has been fined $5,000 for its nursing home neglect. The facility failed to monitor a new resident who left the unit without the staff’s knowledge. The nursing home resident traveled one and a half blocks to the home of friends.

For the full release of violations cited.

Tips for finding the right nursing home facility

With increasing reports of nursing home abuse and neglect, finding an assisted living center for a loved one is a tricky and difficult task. Realize that finding the right home is a long-term project. Experts suggest visiting as many as five prospective locations prior to deciding. Advocates also recommend not being lured by the facilities with the prettiest landscapes or most furnished public rooms; rather, they suggest focusing on the training of staff members who deliver the care to residents.

For the full article.

For a helpful FAQ on assisted living, please visit the Consumer Consortium on Assisted Living or the Assisted Living Federation of America.

55 year-old man found dead after assisted living facility fails to monitor him

The 55 year-old North Carolina man was admitted to an assisted living facility due to difficulties associated with his schizophrenia. On April 19, 2004, he was discovered missing from his assisted living facility. Although the staff was aware that the man was a “wanderer,” they had no idea when he had actually disappeared because his medication sessions were logged even after April 19. A week later, the man was found drowned in a lake a mile away. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect similar to this incident is not uncommon. In the past three years, North Carolina reports on numerous incidents of violence, neglect, and filth in this home and other homes run by the same management company.

For the full article.

Lung disease plagues people who helped in the aftermath of 9/11

As introduced in a previous article, workers who assisted in the aftermath of September 11 have experienced severe lung problems. The LA Times recently interviewed a janitor who spent six months cleaning dusts from office buildings around Ground Zero after the World Trade Center attack. 5 years later, his lungs are packed with severe scars and densities, possibly a sign of disease that can cause lung tissue to stop functioning. He speaks occasionally in whispery puffs and for some periods he is unable to speak at all.

Unfortunately, the heroes who helped in the aftermath of September 11 will continue to experience respiratory conditions due to the caustic pulverized concrete, trillions of microscopic fibers of glass, and particles of lead, mercury, and arsenic in addition to carcinogens like asbestos and dioxin that surrounded the aftermath. The number of New Yorkers coming forward to describe the symptoms is increasing. It includes not only the first responders, but also the volunteers who visited the scene and students at a nearby school who returned to classes while acrid fires burned nearby.

For the full article.

Consumer Reports investigation: Reasons for difficulty in finding an assisted-living facility

A three-month Consumer Reports investigation found that finding an appropriate assisted living facility is extremely difficult for the following reasons. First, most facilities are operated by small private companies that do not provide information needed to make a well-informed decision. Neither size, décor, nor amenities necessarily determines the quality of care available at a facility. Also, there is no standard for care that must be provided and no clear guideline to indicate what types of residents belong in assisted living. The nearly 1 million people currently living in assisted living residences have become frailer, raising concerns about their safety and care. Additionally, states regulate assisted living but provide little oversight or protection for residents. At a time where abuse and neglect are rampant in assisted living residences, the information needed to make a proper decision is of vast importance.

For the full article.

Fire safety: More product recalls

1. Bicycle Light Batteries: Light & Motion of Monterey, California has voluntarily recalled about 1,700 ARC Lithium Ion Bicycle Light Batteries. The battery may overheat, posing a fire or burn hazard. For more information.
2. Coffee Brewers: Starbucks Coffee has voluntarily recalled about 73,000 Starbucks Barista Aroma Stainless Steel 8-cup coffee brewers. The brewer has defective electrical wiring that can result in overheating, smoking, burning, and a possible fire hazard. For more information.
3. Tents & Canopies: Decathlon USA has voluntarily recalled about 22,000 2006 Quechua Brand Tents and Canopies. The tents may fail to meet the industry’s flame resistant standard, posing a fire hazard. For more information.

Expensive new nerve test stirs controversy

A company called Neurometrix recently introduced a system that checks patients for nerve disease and has targeted the system for use by general practitioners. Its introduction to the market has not been painless.

Continue reading "Expensive new nerve test stirs controversy " »

Reminder: NCCNHR Hosts 31st Annual Conference October 22-24 in Arlington, Virginia

The National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR) is hosting its annual conference on ensuring quality in long-term care. The NCCNHR is an advocate in the fight against nursing home abuse and neglect. Its conference features interactive and educational sessions, networking opportunities, and presentations by nationally recognized experts, including Erin Brockovich.

To register.

Facts you should know about pharmaceutical companies

Before digging in one’s pocket and paying a great deal on pharmaceuticals, consumers must research about the drugs they are prescribed because they could be ineffective. Or, they may be prescribed only because the prescribing physician made a deal with the pharmaceutical company. Here are some shocking statistics about the nature of the pharmaceutical industry:

1. Drug companies spend more than twice as much money on marketing than they do on research!
2. From 1998 to 2003, 487 new drugs came into the market, but only one-third of them contained new ingredients!
3. In 2001, drug companies paid for 60 percent of doctors’ continuing education costs.

Facts you should know before seeing your physician

1. The average doctor spends 40 percent of his time acquiring information, 40 percent disseminating it, and only 20 percent actually practicing medicine.
2. Only 1 in 5 patients obtain a second opinion. Of those who do, one-third of them have a significant change in treatment.
3. Patients in private hospital rooms are 45 percent less likely to contract hospital-acquired infections.
4. There are 2 million hospital-acquired infections per year, resulting in 92,000 deaths.
5. The four most typical entry points of infection in a hospital are: surgical wound, ventilator, IV, or urinary catheter.
6. About 42 percent of all heart attack patients receive overdoses of blood-thining medicines that can lead to fatal bleeding.
7. About 40 percent of bariatric weight loss patients experience a complication within six months of surgery. Even with this startling statistic, there is no law requiring bariatric weight loss surgeons to have special training for the surgery!
8. About 75 percent of hospital bills have overcharges. The average overcharge is $1000!

For more information about what hospitals do not tell you.

First responders at Ground Zero experiencing dramatically aged lungs

Recent reports released from lung specialists state that some of the people who first responded at Ground Zero following the World Trade Center collapse have experienced a severe decrease in lung function. Within the first year after the attack, the lung function decrease of the first responders was similar to 12 years of age-related decline and is a result of their exposure to pulverized concrete.

For the full article.

National surveillance system omits may work-related injuries and illnesses

A recent study investigated the national surveillance system maintained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The study indicated that the BLS’s estimates of work-related injuries and illnesses were greatly lower than the actual number of cases, failing to include 61 percent of reported injuries.

For the full article.

Public Citizen report: Most state medical board websites withhold valuable information

State medical boards have the responsibility to discipline physician misconduct, including physician medical malpractice. Historically, boards have been reluctant to publicize disciplinary actions, but now almost all states provide some form of information online. However, Public Citizen discovered that most medical board websites are not completely forthcoming!

Continue reading "Public Citizen report: Most state medical board websites withhold valuable information" »

Short supply of physicians specializing in elder care

As we are well aware, elder care specialists are in short supply and high demand in nursing homes. The frightening shortage also persists in the physician specialty field of geriatrics. Geriatricians are in short supply and according to a recent New York Times article, it appears as though the trend will continue. Medical students are not willing to fill the demand in that specialty because of the relatively poor pay and the lack of high-tech medicine used in the field.

In 2005, there was one geriatrician for every 5,000 Americans 65 and older and experts expect this ratio to worsen. Only 9 medical schools in the U.S. have a department of geriatrics and few schools require geriatric courses.

For the full article.

300 Millionth American Born

According to the census bureau, an American is born every 7 seconds, one dies every 13 seconds, and the nation gains an immigrant from abroad every 31 seconds. At 7:46 a.m. Eastern time this morning, the Census Bureau estimates that America’s population reached 300 Million. The U.S. is now one of three countries with more than 300 million people, behind China and India.

For the full article.

The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Committee (NPUAC)

The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Committee (NPUAC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating patients and medical personnel on pressure ulcer prevention and care, and advancing research in the field.

The NPUAC’s website provides helpful information including definitions of common pressure ulcer terms, and pressure ulcer prevention tips.

To visit the NPUAC’s website.

For definitions of common pressure ulcer terms.

For prevention tips.

FDA Releases Guidance on Wound Treatments

The FDA released a guide and recommendations for products that will treat chronic cutaneous ulcer and burn wounds. The guide also applies to pressure ulcers, a common symptom suffered by nursing home patients who have victims of nursing home abuse and neglect.

To view the guide.

Hidden camera in Montreal nursing home captures patient being dragged across floor

A woman fearing for her father’s care installed a hidden camera in his nursing home room. The camera revealed the staff at the home was abusing the 78-year old Alzheimer’s patient. Once the woman caught the staff on tape she complained to the facility, but was met with cold treatment and resent. She reinstalled the cameras and was able to catch the staff abusing her father again. The video revealed her father being dragged across the floor by an orderly, staff not cleaning her father’s diapers, and staff not properly feeding her father.

For the full article.

CEO of St. Louis Nursing Home Chain Pleads Guilty to Fraud

Robert Wachter, the former CEO of American Healthcare Management, St. Louis, a now-defunct nursing home chain, pleaded guilty to criminal charges of healthcare fraud and conspiracy and failure to care for residents. The charges alleged Medicare and Medicaid fraud, and Wachter was named because he ordered cost cutting measures at the nursing homes. Three of the other 11 homes in the chain pleaded guilty. The homes were understaffed and unsanitary. The residents at the homes were suffering from dehydration, malnutrition and pressure ulcers, or bed sores, and did not receive adequate care.

From Modern Healthcare.

PBS Series: Remaking American Medicine, Thursdays in October

The PBS Series, Remaking American Medicine explores the quality crisis in the medical industry. The four programs air on PBS Thursdays, October 5-26, 2006, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET (check local listings). Peabody Award and Emmy Award-winner John Hockenberry, formerly of NBC and NPR, hosts.

The Line-up:

PROGRAM 1 - SILENT KILLER profiles individuals who are committed to fixing a health care system that is estimated to kill up to 98,000 people a year.

PROGRAM 2 - FIRST DO NO HARM focuses on efforts to eliminate hospital-acquired infections and medication errors.

PROGRAM 3 - THE STEALTH EPIDEMIC looks at groundbreaking efforts to create effective chronic disease management programs.

PROGRAM 4 - HAND IN HAND shows how a unique partnership between patients, families and providers is transforming a teaching hospital.

For more information.

Another excerpt from “The Medical Malpractice Myth,” by Tom Baker

Tom Baker’s book, The Medical Malpractice Myth, released last November, illustrates why claims of frivolous lawsuits are overblown and over hyped.

To view the excerpt.

Firefighters hand out free smoke detectors at Mexican consulate in Chicago to avoid another tragedy like the Rogers Park fire

In an effort to create awareness about smoke detector safety, the Chicago Fire Department began a program this week to hand out smoke detectors at the Mexican Consulate. The Department’s goal, to educate the city’s largest immigrant population about fire safety comes quickly after September’s tragic Roger’s Park fire that killed six children of Mexican immigrants.

Not only will fire detectors be available at the Mexican Consulate, but the Fire Department will begin holding weekly classes to instruct people how to use the smoke detectors.

For the full article.
For more information on smoke detector safety.

Doctor’s failure to perform sonogram leads to birth trauma and permanent paralysis of baby’s left arm

Levin & Perconti has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Evanston Northwestern Healthcare in Chicago, Illinois alleging the negligent delivery of a baby. The lawsuit alleges that during the birth, the doctors failed to perform a sonogram which would have revealed that the baby was macrosomic, or of higher fetal weight than anticipated. As a result, the doctors failed to recommend a Caesarean section delivery which would have been appropriate given the mother’s pre-existing history of gestational diabetes and the baby’s size.

Instead, the baby developed a condition called shoulder dystocia which results when one or both of the shoulders do not properly enter the pelvis during delivery. The baby suffered injury to her left brachial plexus during the delivery process, resulting in her having Erb's palsy and left arm paralysis. The doctors failed to utilize appropriate disimpaction maneuvers which would have freed the trapped shoulder.

Baby suffers brain damage during negligent delivery at Lutheran General

On behalf of a mother whose child suffered brain damage during labor and delivery, Levin & Perconti filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Lutheran General Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. The lawsuit alleges that the nursing staff failed to inform the mother of prolonged labor and of the baby’s failure to descend after observing fetal bradycardia. Fetal bradycardia occurs when a fetus’ heart rate drops during the birthing process.

The suit also alleges that the physicians failed to timely perform the delivery of the baby after she failed to progress during the prolonged second stage of labor. Because of the negligent acts of the personnel at Lutheran General, the baby suffered hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, a form of brain damage.

Chicago Ridge Nursing Center – Chicago Ridge, Illinois – 10/11/06

In a case of nursing home abuse and neglect, staff at Chicago Ridge Nursing Center failed to follow a diet order that resulted in the choking death of a resident.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators. To access the website click here.

Pleasant Hill Village – Girard, Illinois – 10/11/06

In a case of nursing home abuse and neglect, the facility failed to assess, monitor and develop interventions for a resident identified as a risk for abusing other residents. One resident was sent to the hospital after attack by this resident.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators. To access the website click here.

Reminder: Register to vote in midterm elections

Today (10/10) is the last day you are able to register to vote in the midterm elections.

To register now!

An explanation of the Pension Protection Act of 2006

As the number of Americans in need of long-term care is expected to double from 13 million in 2000 to 27 million in 2050, it is essential to save wisely for elder years. The Pension Protection Act of 2006 may provide the government assistance needed to ensure that people actively prepare for retirement.

On August 17, 2006, The Pension Protection Act of 2006 was enacted. This is the most significant pension legislation since the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (known as ERISA). Its purposes are to make many retirement savings incentives permanent, toughen the regulations that govern traditional pension plans, and authorize 401(k) plans to provide investment advice and automatic enrollment of participants. If implemented properly, these changes can have a very positive effect on retirement income security.

For a thorough explanation of the Act.

Jury awards Illinois medical malpractice victim $2.1 million

An Illinois woman was awarded $2.1 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit against a hospital whose substandard medical care caused her to suffer a stroke. The doctors could have prevented her stroke by administering a clot-busting drug when the woman entered the emergency room.

For the full article.

New York Medical Examiner rules nursing home death a homicide

The Monroe County Medical Examiner recently ruled that the death of a 94 year-old woman was a homicide. The victim was pulled out of bed in May 2005 causing numerous injuries, including a broken femur. She died from complications resulting from the injuries. The victim’s family has brought a nursing home negligence lawsuit against the facility and states that the facility should have protected the 94 year-old from the person who caused the injuries.

For the full article.

Medication shows signs of success for dementia patients

Researchers at a Florida university have been studying the impact of inhibitor medication that treats symptoms of dementia. Specifically, the researchers have focused on the need for nursing home admission after taking the medication. The results have been positive. None of the participants in the study were in a nursing home at the beginning of the research. The participants' use of the inhibitor medication delayed the need for nursing home admission by three months or more. Any form of delay for the need for a nursing home admission likely increases the quality of life for dementia patients.

For the full article.

Experts say False Claims Act can root out nursing home abuse, fraud, and neglect

Indisputable evidence continues to surface showing that many nursing home residents are neglected and abused on a daily basis. Despite establishing requirements against nursing home abuse and neglect in 1987 Congressional legislation, the abuse persists.

By law, nursing homes cannot receive funding from public health care programs like Medicare or Medicaid unless the facility cares for its residents in a manner respecting “the quality of life of each resident.” It’s obvious from the prevalence of abuse reports, nursing homes are bypassing this requirement through fraudulent means.

Some experts believe that the key to ending nursing home abuse and neglect lies in using the False Claims Act. A provision in the Act allows persons with knowledge of fraudulent claims being submitted to federal programs like Medicare or Medicaid to bring a lawsuit against the facility on behalf of the government. Another provision in the Act acts as an incentive for nursing home staff to be vigilant, allowing whistleblowers to earn between 15 and 30 percent of money recovered from a nursing home that submits fraudulent claims for inadequate care or services never rendered.

For the full article.

Jury awards Virginia widow and children $2.2 million in medical malpractice lawsuit

A Virginia jury recently awarded a widow and her five children $2.2 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit accusing the treating physician and nurse of negligence in the death of the 34 year-old husband. The suit focused on the care received by the husband in the days preceding his untimely death. The man went to see his doctor after having chills, shortness of breath, a high temperature, and leg pain. He received painkillers and muscle relaxers. Three days later, he returned to the doctor’s office and again received no exam or lab analysis, returning home with painkillers. The following day the 34 year-old died of organ failure related to a strep infection. Unfortunately, Virginia law hinders justice and the award will be reduced to $1.7 million, the state cap for medical malpractice lawsuits.

For the full article.

FDA issues manufacturing guidance for pharmaceutical manufacturers

Consumers spend too much on pharmaceuticals and the FDA is attempting to ease that burden. The FDA recently issued its final guidance in a set of formalized practices to ensure the quality of pharmaceuticals in manufacturing. Although drug companies try to circumvent FDA regulations, this guidance strengthens the FDA’s requirements for ensuring manufacturing quality. The guidance also aims to improve efficiency, which should help lower costs for consumers and prevent shortages of medicine due to manufacturing failures.

For the full article.

Chicago jury awards $31 million against Walgreens in prescription mis-filling medical malpractice case

Last week, a Chicago jury awarded $31 million to the estate of a man who died as a result of receiving the wrong prescription from a Walgreen’s pharmacy. The award consisted of $25 million in punitive damages. The Cook County jury ruled that Walgreens showed "utter indifference" to people's safety by not keeping accurate track of its medications, thereby allowing a pharmacist to illegally steal and take drugs for eight years before incorrectly filling a Schaumburg man's prescription, leading to his death.

The 77-year-old man took a gout medication called Allopurinol, which he phoned into the Schaumburg Walgreens in January of 2001. The pharmacist James Wilmes filled the prescription with Glipizide, a diabetes medication. After the man took the pills for two days, he went into a diabetic coma, subsequent kidney failure and eventually died.
It was also revealed that Wilmes had signed a statement when he was fired admitting to taking uppers and other drugs - at a total theft of 86,000 pills over eight years.

Levin & Perconti is currently prosecuting a case involving a prescription mis-filling at a Walgreens pharmacy in Puerto Rico. A 59-year-old man underwent surgery for a liver transplant at the University of Chicago. Doctors prescribed an anti-organ rejection medication called Prograf, of which the patient was to take 5mg doses twice daily. The pharmacy mistakenly filled the prescription with 0.5mg, or one-tenth of the prescribed amount. The pharmacy made the same mistake a month later when the patient refilled his prescription, again giving him just one-tenth of the amount prescribed.

As a result of the sub therapeutic amount of medication, the Plaintiff rejected his transplanted liver and received a second liver transplant in order to survive. He has suffered a number of medical complications and hospitalizations ever since.

For the article on the $31 million jury verdict.

Levin & Perconti Introduces "Client Tell"

Levin & Perconti announces the first edition of "Client Tell," a newsletter for and about the people we serve. To view our most recent issue.

The archives:
September 2006

ITLA hosts Courtroom Technology Webcast Seminar

Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA) will be hosting a web seminar on 10/12/06 from 3:30-4:30 CST about courtroom technology, discussing the implementation of different computer programs to organize and present cases to a judge or jury.

To register.

Sharon Health Care Willows – Peoria, Illinois – 10/11/06

The facility neglectfully failed to supervise a resident identified at risk of leaving the building, and that resident left the building three times without the knowledge of the staff.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators. To access the website click here.

Amberwood Nursing Home and Rehab Center – Rockford, Illinois – 10/6/06

In a case of nursing home abuse and neglect, staff at Amberwood Nursing home failed to accurately assess signs of urinary tract infection and respiratory status, which led to the emergency hospitalization of two residents. The facility also failed to have a written hot weather emergency plan.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators. To access the website click here.

NCCNHR offers free conference call training for nursing home residents and their families on 10/11/2006

The National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR) is hosting a conference call training for nursing home residents and their family members. This call is part of NCCNHR’s consumer project entitled “Giving Voice to Quality: A Consumer Education Project to Equip Nursing Home Residents and Their Families.” Active family and resident involvement is essential to protect against nursing home abuse and neglect.

To register for the conference call or to learn more information, please e-mail

You can’t vote if you’re not registered!

Bad news: The deadline in Illinois to register to vote is October 10.
Good news: It’s now easier than ever to register! Answer a few simple questions, then print, sign, and drop the form in the mail.

To register now!

Texas medical malpractice caps do not increase patient care

Texas law limits damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit to $500,000. Despite this cap, doctors are still shying away from emergency on-call duty due to malpractice costs because their insurance has not declined and patients are feeling the effects.

For example, San Antonio is a city with outstanding medical resources and top ranked trauma centers. Yet they are consistently transferring their critically ill patients to smaller cities. At least two people have died as a result of delayed care! Hospitals routinely close their doors to medical emergencies, because of lack of intensive care beds or low staffing issues.

Once again, medical malpractice caps only really work to limit justice.

For the full article.

Illinois suspends dentist’s license calling his practices an imminent danger after death of 5 year-old girl

Illinois suspended the dental license of the dentist whose 5 year-old patient tragically died due to his improper administering of anesthesia. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation said that the dentist failed to monitor the 5 year-old girl’s blood pressure, pulse, and respiration during her visit. The dentist gave the 5 year-old multiple medications, including intravenous doses of Valium, but did not notice her comatose condition until the girl’s mother alerted him. The dentist’s records even state that the 5 year-old was “alert and responsive” when she was discharged. For his gross medical malpractice, the dentist also faces heavy fines.

For the full article.

NCCNHR Educational Conference Call on 10/11/2006

The National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR) is hosting its 5th Educational Conference Call. This call’s topic is “Eating with Dignity: Nutrition and Hydration.” The call begins at 2:00 p.m. CST and features expert speaker Jeanie Kayser-Jones, a professor of gerontological nursing and medical anthropology.

NCCNHR is instrumental in the fight against nursing home abuse and neglect . For more information on NCCNHR.

To register for the conference call, please e-mail

Nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuit filed against ManorCare of Oak Lawn, Illinois

Susan L. Novosad of Levin & Perconti filed a nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuit today against ManorCare in Oak Lawn, Illinois on behalf of the family of a 74-year-old woman who, while staying at the nursing home, was transferred to the hospital for a minor medical issue when doctors discovered a serious pressure sore that resulted in the woman's death.

Florida Supreme Court approves waiver of medical malpractice fee caps

In 2004, Florida voters approved a cap limiting the fees lawyers could claim for suing doctors, hospitals and medical groups. Attorneys answered by asking their clients to waive the cap. Despite opposition from doctors and lawyers for some of the state’s largest industry groups, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that lawyers can bypass the cap in most cases without getting a trial judge’s approval first.

For the full article.

Survey highlights nursing assistant satisfaction in nursing home employment

Demand for nursing assistants in nursing homes is extremely high as the number of Americans in need of long-term care is expected to double from 13 million in 2000 to 27 million in 2050. To make matters worse, nursing assistant turnover is equally high in the nursing home industry, even reaching 100% in some organizations. Gaps in staffing at nursing home affect patient care directly, decreasing the quality of patient care and the attention the patients receive. Unfortunately, these staffing gaps can result in increased occurrences of nursing home neglect and abuse.

The National Center for Health Statistics and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation have collaborated to survey certified nursing assistants in nursing homes to explain why retention in the nursing home industry is dismal. The survey is designed to provide an evidence base for understanding what draws individuals to nursing assistant careers in nursing homes and what contributes to their satisfaction in their jobs.

For more information on the National Nursing Assistant Survey.

Series on Smoke Detector Safety

Based upon our experience in a recent case involving the tragic death of six children in an apartment fire, we have decided to provide an informational series on smoke detector safety.

Misleading statistics may be influencing your medicine purchases

Despite knowing a more accurate way to describe the effectiveness of medicine, drug companies insist on advertising a drug’s effects in terms of “relative risk.” This term inflates the drug’s value, leading consumers to frequently purchase and consume medicine that may not help them.

Continue reading "Misleading statistics may be influencing your medicine purchases" »

Fire Safety Facts and Figures

- 1 in every 3 smoke alarms in the United States is outdated!
- In 2 out of every 3 home fires, a child was injured or killed because a smoke alarm was not working properly.
- More than 800 children age 14 or younger die in home fires each year.
- A home fire doubles in size every 30 seconds.
- One a house fire has started, you have less than five minutes to get everyone in the house to safety.
- Most deadly fires in the United States occur during the night: between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
- Every year, home fires kill more Americans than all natural disasters combined.
- 1 in 5 alarms do not work because of dead or missing batteries.
- 1 in 3 fires occurred in homes with alarms that do not work because of dead or missing batteries.
- A home fire starts every 83 seconds.

Guide for Proper Use of System Smoke Detectors

Studies have shown that overall fire deaths are significantly reduced by the use of early warning fire and smoke detection systems. The sooner a fire is detected, the better the chances are for the survival of lives in danger. The National Electrical Manufacturing Association (NEMA) has released a Guide for Proper Use of System Smoke Detectors. Proper use can help reduce the risk of a fire-related death or injury.

To access the Guide.

Is your home safe?

First Alert suggests that consumers conduct a safety audit tour of their homes. The tour outline provides a checklist for the safety audit and safety recommendations for entries; living, dining, and family rooms; kitchens; baths; furnace rooms; bedrooms; and garages.

To conduct a room-by-room safety audit.

Home smoke alarms must be replaced after 10 years

Smoke alarms are subject to random failures. According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 10 years there is roughly a 30% probability of failure before replacement. After 15 years, there is more than a 50/50 chance that your alarm has failed. Replacing your alarm after 10 years protects against that high likelihood of alarm failure. Additionally, you must still test your alarm monthly to ensure that it is still working.

For more information on smoke alarm safety.

Is your building properly equipped with smoke alarms according to the National Fire Protection Agency?

The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) has set forth standards for smoke alarms in buildings. According to Standard 72, Section 2-, smoke alarms shall be installed outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms and on each additional story of the family living unit, including basements and excluding crawl spaces and unfinished attics. In new construction, a smoke alarm shall also be installed in each sleeping room. Additionally, in new construction where more than one smoke alarm is required by Section 2-2.1, alarms shall be arranged so that operation of any one shall cause operation of all within the dwelling.

To view the standards.

The reasons for smoke alarm problems

Smoke alarms often make noises when there is no fire, which may seem like a nuisance to consumers. However, their noise may be due to a valid reason. For example, a smoke alarm may chirp to alert the consumer that they must change the battery. Additionally, an alarm sound may alert the consumer that the alarm is improperly installed.

For more information on the reasons behind the noises your alarm makes.

Differentiating Between Types of Smoke Alarms

There are two types of popular smoke alarms: Ion (ionization) and Photo (photoelectric). Both must pass fire tests before entering the market and both are designed to provide consumers with warning in the case of a fire.

The differences between the two types of smoke alarms lie in the methods used to detect smoke. The Ion smoke alarms react to changes in ionized particles and are more sensitive to flaming fires whereas the Photo smoke alarms react to how smoke affects light and are more sensitive to smoldering fires.

It is impossible to determine which smoke alarm is better because they are designed to respond to different triggers which depend on what starts the fire and what burns. Consider installing both types of alarms or dual sensor smoke alarms on every level of your home and near every sleeping area.

For more information.

Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips

To help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, consumers should follow these steps:
1. Have a qualified technician inspect fuel-burning appliances at least once a year.

2. Be alert to the danger signs that signal a Carbon Monoxide problem: streaks of carbon or soot around the service door of fuel-burning appliances; the absence of a draft in your chimney; excessive rusting on flue pipes or appliance jackets; moisture collecting on windows and walls of furnace rooms; fallen soot from the fireplace; small amounts of water leaking from the base of the chimney, vent, or flue pipe; damaged or discolored bricks at the top of your chimney; rust on the portion of the vent pipe visible from outside of your home.

3. Be alert to flu-like symptoms that CO poisoning may be the cause of, such as: headaches, tightness of chest, dizziness, fatigue, confusion, and breathing difficulties.

4. Install a certified Carbon Monoxide alarm outside sleeping areas that is designed to sound an alarm before dangerous levels of Carbon Monoxide accumulate.

5. Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before installing a Carbon Monoxide alarm.

6. Do not place your alarm within five feet of household chemicals.

7. Test your unit often. If your alarm is wired into your home’s electrical system, you should test it monthly. If your alarm is powered by battery, test the alarm weekly and replace the battery at least once a year.

8. Never leave your vehicle running in an enclosed garage, even to “warm up” your car on a cold morning.

9. Never use charcoal grills inside a home, tent, camper, or unventilated garage.

10. If your alarm sounds, immediately operate the reset/silence button and call your emergency services (fire department or 911). Account for all household occupants. Never reenter the premises until emergency services have arrived and the premises have been sufficiently ventilated.

For more information.

Carbon Monoxide: The Silent Killer

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that results from the incomplete combustion of fuels such as natural or liquefied petroleum gas, oil, wood, and coal. It’s often called the “silent killer” because it cannot be detected by sight or scent. Hundreds of people die each year from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning. These deaths can be prevented.

In order to detect carbon monoxide, every home should have a carbon monoxide alarm in the hallway near the bedrooms and all sleeping areas. Batteries should be checked monthly and replaced annually. Consumers should check to make certain that the carbon monoxide detector that they purchase is reliable, meeting one of the following standards: Canadian Standards Association 6.19-01.2001; Underwriters Laboratories Inc. 2034, 2nd ED: March 2005; or International Approval Services 696, 2nd ED: June 1, 1998.

For more information.

Replacement Battery Recommendation

BRK Brands, Inc. recommends that when consumers replace the batteries in their battery back-up smoke alarms, they use replacement batteries that are of the same brand as those provided with the alarm upon purchase. Using a replacement battery that is the same brand as the original battery will ensure the optimal performance of both the smoke alarm and the battery.

GE Interlogix recalls 14,000 smoke detector units

GE Interlogix (GE) announced a recall of the ESL Smoke Detectors with the following model numbers located on the back of the detectors: 521NB, 521NCSXT, 541NB, 541NCSXT, 541NCXTE, 521NBXT, 521NCSRXT, 541NBXT, 541NCSRH, 541NCSXTE, 521NCRXT, 541NCRXT, and 541NCSRXT. The recalled smoke detectors also contain the manufacturing date code of 0223 through 0323.

The above-mentioned detectors may fail to work properly upon installation or if there is an extended loss of power. Consumers should contact the company to receive a free installation of a replacement smoke detector.

For more information.

Replace SensorPacks on Certain Models of BRK Brands, Family Gard, and First Alert Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Consumers who have purchased or installed any of the following carbon monoxide alarm models manufactured by BRK Brands, Inc. must immediately replace the SensorPack: BRKCO, BRKDCO, CO1000B, CO1120B, FACO, FCD1, FCD1AC, NICO, NICOAC. These models may have reached the end of their service life and may fail to operate as required.

These alarms are identifiable by their round shape and sliding drawer containing the SensorPack. The model code is printed on the back of the alarm. Please contact BRK Brands, Inc. directly at 1-800-323-9005 for assistance on obtaining a replacement.

For more information.

ONELINK Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Recall Information

First Alert, BRK Brands, and Consumer Product Safety Commission have announced that some First Alert ONELINK battery powered smoke and combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarms may experience a premature low battery condition. The defects may cause the batteries to drain in less than 6 weeks instead of the 1-year the batteries are supposed to last. Consumers will be notified of the low battery condition by a chirping sound that the unit will make. This is a voluntary recall. The following units may be included in the Recall: First Alert Models # SA500 and SCO500 with date codes prior to March 2006.

If you have any of these alarms, call 1-800-323-9005 to receive a free replacement alarm. Do not remove your alarm until you have received a replacement.

For more information.

The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Nursing Home Care

Eric Carlson and Katharine Hsiao, attorneys with the National Senior Citizens Law Center (NSCLC) have published a book on nursing home information for consumers. The book includes advice on:

- Finding a good nursing home
- What Medicare will pay
- Medicare eligibility (including recent changes in law)
- Getting the best possible quality of care
- Residents’ right to choose meals and schedules
- Combating illegal terms in admissions agreements
- Avoiding evictions

To purchase the book.

National Senior Citizens Law Center publishes 20 Common Nursing Home Problems – and how to resolve them

The National Senior Citizens Law Center (NSCLC) has published a guide for nursing home residents, their family members, and community senior advocates. The guide discusses the most common problems found in the nation’s nursing homes, how to take action if your loved one is a victim of one of these problems, and the remedy the law affords to combat theses problems if your concerns go unanswered.

To order the book.

Nursing Home Fact or Fiction?

The National Senior Citizens Law Center (NSCLC) provides the answers to common misconceptions about nursing homes:

True or False?
1. A nursing home resident’s family can visit at any time.
2. Once a resident fails to make progress in therapy, Medicare cannot pay for nursing home care.
3. If a nursing home resident is hospitalized, the nursing home must readmit him at the end of his hospitalization.

For the answers.

California Governor approves bills aimed at curtailing financial elder abuse

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed four bills that will overhaul the conservatorship system serving thousands of California's elderly residents.

SB 1550 will create a bureau within the state Department of Consumer Affairs to test and license conservators, enforce continuing education requirements and impose sanctions.

AB 1363 mandates creation of uniform standards for conservators, requires courts to annually review conservatorships, orders additional case monitoring by investigators, and tightens requirements on fees, bonding and the appointment of temporary conservators.

SB 1116 increases court oversight over the sale of a conservatee's home.

SB 1716 allows courts to consider informal reports of abuse or neglect, and requires that court investigators, when reviewing a conservatorship, consider the appropriateness of living quarters, the quality of care, and any physical or mental treatment provided.

The bills are certain to positively impact nursing home residents, who are often victims of financial elder abuse.

For the full article.

Whistleblower employees sue nursing home who wrongfully fired them for reporting suspicious deaths

Two employees were fired from a Fayetteville, Arkansas long-term care hospital for reporting what they believed to be suspicious deaths last April. The suits seek damages for emotional distress, defamation of character and breach of employment contracts.

Both women were fired in retaliation for going to authorities to report a suspicious nursing home death where a nurse negligently moved a resident whose tracheostomy tube became dislodged. As a result, the woman was unable to breath, went into cardiac arrest, and died. One of the women, a registered nurse, went to the director of nursing and told her that the death should be reported to the Arkansas State Nursing Board. The director refused to say whether she would report the death. The nurse said that it was her duty to report the death under the Arkansas Nurse Practices Act and that--if the director would not report it, she would. Shortly thereafter, the nurse was fired.

The second woman, a certified nursing assistant, was named as a witness to the act alleged by the registered nurse. After speaking to police, the woman was told by the home that she was to be suspended indefinitely.

Many states have protections for whistleblower employees at nursing homes relating to Medicare fraud which provide for the recovery of a specified percentage of damages if the whistleblowers come forward.

Not only that, but many states also have legislation requiring employees to report instances of suspicious deaths, abuse and neglect, or face a penalty under the law. For example, in Illinois, under an amendment to the Nursing Home Care Act (NHCA) passed this summer, employees of nursing homes have a duty to report abuse or neglect. If they fail to report these instances they are guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

For the full article.

Violations: 52 Illinois nursing home regulations violators during July - September 2006

The Illinois Department of Public Health has initiated action, as indicated, 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: 52 Illinois nursing home regulations violators during July - September 2006" »