Suspicious Illinois nursing home deaths subject of probe

The Chicago Tribune recently reported that the family of a 78 year-old McHenry County nursing home resident were not suspicious of her death at an Illinois nursing home until police investigators began asking questions of a possible morphine overdose. Last week, authorities exhumed the body of a 78 year-old woman as part of an investigation into six suspicious deaths at an Illinois nursing home.

Steven Levin of Levin & Perconti represents the family and stated that this death underscores the importance of an Illinois law that has been slow in implementation that is intended to flag suspicious nursing home deaths. Levin stated that although the experience is gut-wrenching for the family, “they were willing to go through it” for any light it would shed on the cause of the 78 year-old woman’s death.

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Ohio issues Type A citation for nursing home that neglected to feed resident for four days

A nursing home resident went for four days without food or water last month before someone noticed that his feeding tube bottle had not been changed. The Type A citation is the harshest the state can issue in response to nursing home abuse and neglect.

For the full article.

Authorities exhume body in Illinois nursing home abuse investigation

Rockford’s WREX recently reported that Illinois authorities began an investigation into the death of a former Illinois nursing home resident whose body was exhumed for an autopsy this week. The death certificate reports that the 78 year-old woman died of pneumonia and heart disease. However, the current investigation accompanies allegations that a former nursing home employee who gave several residents fatal doses of morphine. Steven Levin of Levin & Perconti represents the family and states that while the family is not jumping to conclusions, they are suspicious of what happened.

For the full article.

Stricter insurance company regulation needed to deter elder abuse

In a follow up to the New York times article exposing how insurance companies exploit elder Americans, a recent article endorses stricter federal regulation of the insurance industry. A poignant deeper question the article raised is whether America can afford to continue putting decisions about necessary care and medical treatment into the hands of an industry that profits most when care is denied.

For the full article.

Supreme Court to hear arguments on wages of in-home elder care aides

On April 16, the Supreme Court of the United States is scheduled to hear oral arguments in a case in which Ms. Coke, a 73-year old immigrant from Jamaica, is the sole plaintiff. She is challenging Labor Department regulations that say in-home elder care attendants are not covered by federal minimum-wage and overtime laws. Ms. Coke, who for 20 years cared for clients in their homes, states that she loved her work, but the money was not good at all. She often worked three or four 24-hour days, hardly ever receiving time-and-a-half for overtime.

The stakes in this case are considerable because in-home care is one of the nation’s fastest growing occupations. The elderly population continues to grow and in-home care provides an alternative to nursing homes, where costs can be high and nursing home abuse and neglect occurs.

For the full article.

Elderly Americans denied care by their insurers

Insurance premiums have soared for older Americans, but do older Americans actually get to use their insurance? Sometimes no. Elderly Americans are being faced with a huge hurdle when trying to use their long-term care that they saved for; that hurdle is their insurance company. The New York Times this week published a piece on long-term care denial by insurance companies for elderly Americans. The article featured Mary Rose Derks, who scraped together $100 each month for an insurance company that promised to eventually pay for an assisted living home.

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Urge your Senators and Representatives to support HB1798

A bill is in the Illinois House right now attempting to undo some of the damage that “tort reform” has caused. As we know, “tort reform” legislation has been passed throughout the country attempting to limit the justice that victims of medical malpractice can receive. If passed, HB 1798 would amend the Wrongful Death Act so that juries may provide award damages for grief, sorrow, and mental suffering to surviving spouses and next of kin. It also deletes the language that limits the amount of damages.

For more information on the bill.

To find your Representative.
To find your Senator.

Nursing home neglect lawsuit alleges low staff levels

Two California nursing homes are accused of nursing home neglect due to their low staff levels. Between September 2004 and November 2006, one of the homes received 31 “notices of deficiencies” by state regulators. The second nursing home received 23 similar notices of nursing home abuse and neglect over the same time period. The lawsuit filed last week alleges that the nursing homes maintained low staff levels even though they knew of the substandard care to maximize their profits. The lawsuit further states that staffing levels at many nursing homes are well below the minimum staffing requirements to ensure that each of the facilities’ residents receive the necessary care and services.

For the full article.

New Hampshire nursing home residents surprised to learn jail inmates working inside facility

Some residents and family members of residents in a New Hampshire nursing home were shocked to learn that jail inmates were used to perform labor at the facility. County officials stated that they needed quick ceiling and lighting repairs so inmates from the jail next door were used to perform work inside the county-run nursing home. The use of jail labor was suspended after a group of family members complained. Because recent nursing home abuse and neglect has been committed by parolees and sex offenders working in nursing homes, it is understandable that residents and family members would be concerned.

For the full article.

Call your representative and ask them to support SB1296

SB 1296 entered the House for debate. The bill, which passed in the Senate, would amend the Civil Procedure Code in Illinois so that the apportionment of fault under the joint liability Section only would apply to the parties remaining in the case at the time a final determination is made by the trier of fact and would not apply to defendants that have been dismissed or settled.

For more information on the bill.
To find your representative.

Nursing home employee to serve 60-day sentence for nursing home abuse

While nursing homes are supposed to be safe havens for their vulnerable residents, the residents sometimes suffer from abuse and neglect at the hands of those who are responsible for caring for the residents. A Wisconsin nursing home employee will serve 60 days in jail for the nursing home abuse of a resident. The 26 year-old employee pleaded no contest to a felony abuse charge. The employee was charged with hitting the patient in the head with a hair pick. The victim-resident, who has a diminished mental capacity, had several trauma marks on her scalp. A nurse who witnessed the incident called police to the scene.

For the full article.

Conference offers coaching on personalizing nursing home care

A Minnesota conference this week aims at advising on how to personalize nursing home care. One St. Paul nursing home has aspired to look like “home”: complete with a kitchenette, hundreds of books, breakfast cooked to order, and a cat named Flicka. A 92 year-old resident stated that while she’d rather not be in a nursing home at all, she would choose the St. Paul personalized home over any other.

The conference comes at a time when state agencies and the good nursing homes are seeking to oust bad nursing homes guilty of nursing home abuse and neglect from the industry. The conference seeks to push a “culture change” in the industry to help families who often feel frustrated with the institutionalized care their loved ones receive.

For the full article.

8 myths about falling

As we know, the death rate from falling has risen sharply since the 1990’s. There are several popular myths about falling that have been debunked.
1. Facts aren’t a big deal: Actually, one in three people age 65+ experience a fall serious enough to require medical attention.
2. Falls are just a part of growing older: Older bodies do change over time, but there is much you can do to protect against falling.
3. So long as I stick close to home, I can avoid falling: Over half of all falls take place right in the person’s home.
4. The best way to avoid falling is to stay seated and avoid physical activity: Inactivity actually increases the risk. Inactivity reduces the reserve of energy, muscle tone, and alertness.
5. Only balance exercises are effective for protecting against falling: Four types of exercise (aerobic, strengthening, balance, and flexibility) combine for an effective fall prevention exercise program.
6. Once lost, muscle strength and flexibility cannot be regained: Exercise can at least partially restore strength and flexibility.
7. Exercise must be strenuous to prevent against falls: Believe it or not, every little bit helps.
8. Medications cannot increase the risk of falling: The side effects of some medications can actually put us at a greater risk of falling, such as dizziness, fatigue, confusion, or weakness.

For more information.

Reminder: March 31 ITLA seminar

The March 31 seminar hosted by The Illinois Trial Lawyers Association Education Fund entitled “Top Ten Things Every Lawyer Should Know” is approaching. Steven M. Levin, of Levin & Perconti, will be presenting on skills and strategies in deposition-taking. Other topics include pre-trial litigation, medical malpractice lawsuits, jury consultants, and experts.

For more information, call 800-252-8501.
To register, call 217-789-0810.

The cost of caregiving

Did you know that U.S. businesses lose up to $33.6 billion a year in productivity due to the responsibilities of family caregivers? According to The MetLife Caregiving Costs Study: Productivity Losses to U.S. Business, the average caregiver costs an employer $2,110 per year. Additionally, the findings released the following statistics:

- Of the 2.4% of employees who leave the workforce entirely to be caregivers, the cost to replace them is $ 6.6 billion.
- Absenteeism costs $5 billion while partial absenteeism accounts for nearly $2 billion in losses.
- Workday interruptions (at least 1 hour per week per caregiver) cost $6.3 billion.

For the full article.

Which states have the highest percentage of adults over age 65?

The U.S. Census Bureau and National Council on Aging reports:
1. Florida: 16.8%
2. West Virginia: 15.3%
3. Pennsylvania: 15.3%
4. North Dakota: 14.7%
5. Iowa: 14.7%

New options and new risks in elder care

A recent New York Times article explored a new option for at-home elder care that lies in the so-called “gray market,” an over-the-back-fence network of women who are hired through personal recommendation. This new option is an alternative to both home health agency aides and nursing homes. Agency aides, although bonded, insured, and certified, are costly and often not covered by government assistance. Nursing homes have been criticized for being a place of nursing home abuse and neglect.

The gray market of aides are usually untrained, unscreened and unsupervised. However, they are much more affordable. Although these aides are hired through word-of-mouth without criminal background checks, many of their employers cite their loyalty and ability to work unfettered by agency regulations.

For the full article.

Illinois nursing home abuse lawsuit filed in Champaign

An Illinois nursing home abuse and Illinois wrongful death lawsuit was filed against a Champaign County nursing home earlier this week. The deceased resident died from kidney failure in March 2006, just 8 days after entering the nursing home. The victim, who had diabetes, kidney disease and hypertension, was quoted as having a high risk of developing bed sores or pressure ulcers. To remedy this, the resident required repositioning every 2 hours. However, the nursing home failed to do this and often left her sitting upright in a chair for up to four hours for dialysis treatment without relief.

For the full article.

State settles lawsuit in nursing home neglect death for $87.5K

The largest Wisconsin state-run nursing home for veterans recently paid $87,500 to settle a nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuit. The nursing home neglect lawsuit alleged that the Wisconsin Veterans Home had untrained and inadequate nursing staff, which led to the death of a patient in 2004. The lawsuit revolved around the death of a resident who had a history of serious falls prior to his admission at the nursing home. The nursing staff failed to transfer the alarm to his bed the evening of the resident’s injury. That night, he fell out of bed and fractured his hip. After his return to the nursing home, he was diagnosed with pneumonia and the nursing staff developed a plan to monitor and treat the condition. However, the nurses failed to follow the plan. He died less than a month later from the pneumonia with his fracture contributing.

For the full article.

Are delirium and dementia related?

Dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease) affects nearly 7 million Americans, leading to total loss of memory and the inability to function independently. Delirium is a serious state of confusion, commonly experienced by elder Americans following surgery or serious illness. It complicates hospital stays for more than 2.5 million elder Americans yearly.

The two diseases have mostly been viewed as separate and distinct conditions; however, a recent Medical Sciences journal examines how they may be related. Recent studies suggest that delirium may cause permanent injury to the brain and result in a higher likelihood of dementia.

For the full article.

Nursing home residents at risk of neglect, abuse and assault because of lax oversight and troubled facilities

A recent article exposed the files of PA’s nursing home industry catalogued a system of horrors. Since 2000, at least 55 nursing home residents have died across the state under circumstances that raise questions about whether they were cared for properly or whether their deaths could have been prevented. Uncounted others were subject to nursing home abuse and neglect and at least 5 were raped.

Despite these statistics, state politicians have placed more emphasis on satisfying the concerns of the nursing home industry than on protecting vulnerable nursing home residents. The state regulator stated that regulators are lacking sufficient staff to fix the nursing home industry which has so many systemic problems that have gone unnoticed, unchecked, and unregulated for over a decade.

For the full article.

Dutch researchers developing eyeglasses/hearing aid combination

Many seniors resist wearing hearing aides, but do not mind eye glasses. One company from the Netherlands has sought to avoid the resistance by developing a combination “hearing-glasses.” The eyeglass frames house rechargeable batteries in the ends of the arms, which help hide the batteries behind the ears when worn.

For the full article.

3 Illinois nursing homes cited with Illinois nursing home abuse

Three southern Illinois nursing homes are facing serious violations from the Illinois Department of Public Health. One home was fined $5,000 after accusations of Illinois nursing home neglect after it allowed a resident to leave the facility. A second home was fined $30,000 for Illinois nursing home abuse after an investigation determined that it failed to implement policies to prevent abuse. A third home was fined $10,000 for Illinois nursing home neglect in failing to prevent a resident from leaving the facility without staff knowledge.

For the full article.

Former nursing home director must reimburse state $4000 for receiving illegal kickbacks

A former New Jersey nursing home director was ordered by a judge to reimburse $4,320 she received in exchange for swaying residents to use a particular pharmacy. In October, the former nursing home director pleaded guilty to 4th degree theft for her nursing home abuse. Between January 2000 and February 2002, the former director accepted cash kickbacks from the pharmacy owner for directing residents to exclusively fill prescriptions at his location. The pharmacy owner was sentenced to 7 years in prison and ordered to pay $1.1 million in restitution.

For the full article.

Former nursing home aide found guilty in rape of 90 year-old resident

A jury convicted a 46 year-old former New York nursing home aide of three felonies: rape in the first degree, sexual abuse in the first degree, and endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person. When the former aid began working at the nursing home, the nursing home sought to perform a criminal background check, but the process was not completed before he committed the nursing home sexual abuse on the 90 year-old resident. A background check would have shown that the 46 year-old had previously been convicted of one felony drug offense and several misdemeanors. This demonstrates how nursing homes must be diligent in conducting criminal background checks on employees who will be working closely with vulnerable nursing home residents.

For the full article.

Medicare puts AL nursing home on notice after patient death

Medicare is threatening to revoke its contract with a Huntsville nursing home after an incident of nursing home neglect where a patient died after she fell from a shower bed that employees were not trained to use. The nursing home violated Medicare rules and is poised to lose its program eligibility March 11. The Medicare controversy stems from a January 30 death of a patient whose neck was fractured when she fell from the shower bed.

For the full article.

AARP report finds Family and Medical Leave Act “very important” to persons over age 50

A recent AARP survey explores the value of the Family and Medical Leave Act to workers over the age of 50. The survey reports findings of awareness very high with 88% of responses stating that the protections the Act provides are personally important. While 58% of those surveyed reported taking time off for family or medical needs during the previous five years, 15% of the leave-takers did so through the Act. Asked what they might have had to do without the Act, the leave-takers said that they would have quit or lost their jobs, taken less time off, or reduced their work schedules.

For the full article.

Fire safety: more product recalls

1. Remote controls: Best Buy Co. Inc. is voluntarily recalling about 10,000 remote control sold with Insignia 100W DVD Compact Shelf System. If the batteries are placed in the remotes backwards, overheating can occur and present a burn hazard. For more information.
2. M&A Global Technologies Inc. is voluntarily recalling about 1700 gel candles. The candles can have excessive flame height, posing a fire and burn hazard to consumers. For more information.

Whistleblower sues Manor Care for wrongful termination

A former employee of Manor Care in Virginia is suing the nursing home for wrongful termination. The employee was fired on Oct. 17 of last year, the day that state health department inspectors arrived at the nursing home. The report that resulted from the inspection cites the nursing home for more than a dozen violations of nursing home abuse and neglect. Among concerns, the report cited leaving infectious wounds untreated for days and purposefully ignoring a patient’s damaged feeding tubes until the patient had to visit the emergency room with dehydration. The former employee states that she alerted state health officials of the violations, acting as a whistleblower.

For the full article.

Fire safety: more product recalls

1. Sake warmers: Tap Machine Inc. has voluntarily recalled about 2,000 Sake warmers. They can unexpectedly spray hot sake on consumers, posing a serious burn risk. For more information.
2. Tankless water heaters: The Water Heating Division of Rheem Sales Company Inc. has voluntarily recalled about 42,200 Power Vent tankless water heaters. If the switch fails and the air filter door is out of place, the water heater could continue to operate and dust and lint could build up, posing a carbon monoxide poisoning hazard. For more information. For more information.

Widow sues nursing home for wrongful death

The widow of a 53-year old Wyoming man is suing a nursing home for nursing home neglect in the wrongful death of her husband. The complaint alleges that the victim received deep suctioning treatment on December 5 and 6 of 2004 for a mucus plug stuck in his windpipe. The victim was transferred to the nursing home on December 6 with physician orders for routine “trach care.” The nursing home performed no such procedure and the victim was pronounced dead at 3:30 a.m. on December 8.

For the full article.