Illinois Advocates for Nursing Home Industry Debate Changes

Currently nursing home operators and advocates for seniors are debating the amount of change needed to fix the much troubled Illinois nursing home industry. The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the nursing home industry is balking at the Nursing Home Safety Task Force and their recommendations for legislative action. The nursing home operators are objecting to the idea of raising minimum staffing levels. They also are not keen on the idea to increase fines and penalties for unsafe and poorly run facility and raising fees to help pay for these new safety implementations.

Also, some senior advocates are in opposition to the task force recommendation that separate wings or facilities become licensed so as to not mix them with vulnerable nursing home residents. They believe that the separate units do not solve the problem that is currently plaguing the mentally ill. The problems associated with the mentally ill and felons in nursing homes are what prompted the safety task force in the first place. Since then state officials, elder advocates and industry representatives are now meeting in smaller “working groups” to determine the best cause of action to solve these problems.

The task force’s report has an ambitious plan to move thousands of mentally disabled people from nursing homes into smaller residential programs. These programs will provide intensive therapy and supervision for those who require it. This appears to be one of many problems plaguing Illinois nursing homes. The AARP’s associative state director believes that many Illinois nursing homes fail to reach the minimum standards of quality of care and safety. To read more about the nursing home proposals, please click the link.

Clinton, Illinois Nursing Home Cited by the Department of Public Health

Manor Court of Clinton, a Clinton, Illinois nursing home, has not only been cited for deficiencies but its administrator has been replaced. This comes after many complaints and an inspection by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). Pantagraph.com is reporting that the IDPH discovered that the nursing home was not in compliance with several federal regulations. Manor Court will now receive a daily fine of $400 from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services until it is back in compliance. The IDPH is instrumental in investigating cases of nursing home negligence throughout the state of Illinois.

The home was cited for failure to maintain hot water and failing to relieve residents’ pressure sores. The negligent nursing home was also unable to prevent a resident from falling and was found to have insufficient nursing staffing. These issues may have led to an inability to administer and monitor resident medications. A regional long-term care ombudsmen with the East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging , Tami Wacker, said her office has investigated many complaints with the Manor Court administrator. They found that when their complaints were voiced, there was an obvious lack of cooperation from the nursing home administration.

The Nursing Home Compare website does not give favorable ratings to Manor Court. The overall rating is one out of five stars and they only give the home one star for nursing home staffing. The compare website is a helpful tool in choosing a nursing home. If you or a loved one has experienced nursing home negligence at Manor Court of Clinton, please consult an Illinois nursing home attorney. To read more about the Illinois nursing home inspections, please click the link.

Illinois Nursing Home Violation: Evergreen Health Care Center

Evergreen Health Care Center in Evergreen Park, Illinois has received a Type “A” Violation and a fine in the amount of $25,000 after inspectors found that the nursing home was negligent when it failed to notify the patient’s physicians after significant changes in the resident’s health. Inspectors also found that there were problems with patient’s catheters.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators throught Illinois. To access the Illinois nursing home , violation website please click the link.

Elder Justice Act will Help Illinois Nursing Homes

On Tuesday President Obama singed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. These pills contain the Nursing Home transparency and Improvement Act and the Elder Justice Act. They also will create a national program of criminal background checks on long-term care workers. The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care has outlined many of the wonderful aspects of this legislation that was introduced by Illinois Representative Jan Schakowsky.

The Nursing Home Transparency and Improvement act will ensure that there is a public disclosure of nursing home owners and will establish internal procedures by nursing homes to reduce civil and criminal violations. By adding training programs for dementia care and abuse prevention, this legislation will help reduce nursing home negligence. It will also find ways to introduce technology into nursing homes. The nursing home legislation will also require a sixty-day advance notification of facility closure and authorization to continue Medicaid payments pending relocation of all residents. This portion of the legislation will be extremely applicable to Illinois due to the many recent nursing home closures.

The Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act will create a national program of criminal background checks on employees of long-term care providers. This legislation is long overdue and will help ensure that those with a felonious background will not be employed by a nursing home. Also the Elder Justice Act will help combat the growing problem of elder abuse. This act too was introduced by Representative Schakowsky. To learn more about the new nursing home legislation, please visit the NCCNHR’s homepage.

Case Law Update: Nursing Home Care Act

Childs v. Pinnacle Health Care, No. 2-09-0648 (3-17-10) reversed a decision that found that a nursing home lawsuit filed for wrongful death and negligence against nursing home corporation and its director of nursing; trial court dismissed with prejudice counts against director of nursing, holding that these allegations were premised on Nursing Home Care Act, to which only licensees and owners of nursing homes can be held liable. Dismissal improper, as counts against director of nursing include allegations of negligent acts or omissions as to medical judgment, thus sounding in healing art malpractice and within realm of her professional nursing responsibilities, and they are independent of and not proscribed by Nursing Home Care Act. This case will have a large impact on nursing home law in Illinois.

Picking a Nursing Home For a Loved One in Illinois

A New York Times article has laid out many times for helping those dealing with the stressful task of choosing a nursing home. Chief executive of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging states that you can find a nursing home with a safe, engaging and pleasant environment if you “know what to look for and how to search.” The first step is to start with the data by looking at a nursing home’s health inspection data, staffing and quality measures. You may obtain this information by going to the Medicare website and using the “nursing home compare” tool. The next helpful step is to visit the nursing home numerous times. Ask to speak with the executive director, lead physician and head nurse. Take notice as to whether staff members are being friendly with the patients. When speaking with nursing home representatives make sure to ask the nursing homes if they engage in “person-centered care” as well as “consistent assignment” These homes will allow patients to generally manage their own schedules and choose when they wake up. Finally, make sure to inquire about the staff turnover. Countless studies have found that nursing home staffs with high turnover rates are more likely to commit nursing home negligence.

There are many helpful sources for choosing a nursing home in Illinois. The Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti recommend visiting the Illinois Department of Health’s Website to examine information on each nursing home in Illinois. The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program at the Illinois Department of Aging is another helpful resource for families choosing a nursing home for a loved one. They run a Senior Helpline that you may access by calling 1-800-252-8966.

Elder Justice Bill: Helping to Protect Illinois Residents from Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

As part of the new health care system plan, Congress and President Obama have approved the Elder Justice Act and the Patient Safety Abuse Prevention Act. This will include Adult Protective Services (APS) funding that will provide $400 million in first-time dedicated funding for adult protection services. It will also provide $100 million in state demonstration grants in order to test many different methods that will improve APS.

The bill will provide $32.5 million in grants to support long-term care ombudsman programs. Ombudsman are vital to nursing homes because they are many times the first responders to nursing home abuse and neglect . For instance, the Illinois Long-Term Care Ombudsmen program helps to protect the safety and well-being of nursing home residents in Illinois by investigating complaints on behalf of residents and their families and also educating these groups on residents' rights. There will also be an additional $40 million given to training programs for national organizations and State long-term ombudsmen programs.

The Elder Justice Bill will establish what is being referred to as the Elder Justice Coordinating Council that will make recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on the coordination of activities of federal, state, local and private agencies. They will also work with entities who relate in elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. Recently, this country has seen a great rise in the amount of elder financial exploitation cases.

The Patient Safety Abuse Prevention Act will help keep nursing home patients from abusive employees. It creates a national program of criminal background checks for those seeking to work in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers of Levin & Perconti are extremely pleased with the passage of this legislation and believe that it will go a long way to combat nursing home abuse. To learn more about how the two nursing home bills will affect the elderly, please visit the National Center on Elder Abuse.

Illinois Nursing Home Violation: Wheaton Care Center

Wheaton Care Center in Wheaton, Illinois has received a Type “A” Violation and a fine in the amount of $12,000 after inspectors found that the nursing home was negligent when it did not ensure that the nursing home environment was free from accidental hazards. Inspectors also found that resident’s were physically abusing each other without proper supervision and monitoring. This nursing home is owned by Eric Rothner, LP whose nursing homes have recently been investigated by the IDPH and by the media for alleged nursing home abuse and neglect.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators. To access the IDPH nursing home website, please click the link.

Illinois Nursing Home Neglect Lawsuit filed against South Elgin Home

According to a report in the Courier News , a South Elgin nursing home has been served with a nursing home neglect and abuse case on behalf of the family of a 54-year-old man diagnosed with spina bifida. The man required constant care and was assured by Tower Hill Healthcare Center that they “would provide a safe and comfortable house for him.” In July of 2005, the man was taken to the hospital with a high temperature. Upon arrival the hospital staff filed a report citing suspected abuse and neglect with the Illinois Department of Human Services. The report stated that the victim came to the emergency room with poor oral hygiene and poor skin care. He had a large amount of stool around him with a colostomy bag that had exploded. He also had several pressure ulcers that had been covered with a stool stained dressing. The nursing home had not even given him medication to combat his 107 degree temperature.

The nursing home lawsuit seeks $50,000 plus attorney fees and believes that the neglect was a cause of the victim’s eventual death. The nursing home has also violated the Nursing Home Care Act. Under the Act, the nursing home has a “statutory obligation not to violate the rights of any resident, including the obligation not to abuse or neglect any resident.” The lawsuit focuses on the bedsores and failure to asses the man’s medical history. If you believe that a nursing home is violating the Nursing Home Care Act, please contact a Chicago nursing home lawyer. To read more about this Illinois nursing home lawsuit, please click the link.

Case Law Update: Mandatory Arbitration in Nursing Homes

Fosler v. Midwest Care Center, Il, Inc., No. 2-08-1005 (5-8-09) found that the Federal Arbitration Act preempts the provisions of the Nursing Home Care Act that purport to nullify resident's waiver of right to commence court action and to jury trial. A nursing home resident, whose daughter signed agreement for her nursing home admission, is barred from pursuing suit for injuries sustained there. Nursing home admission involved interstate commerce and is thus subject to FAA, and agreement provided that any disputes would be resolved through arbitration as governed by FAA. This case will have an unfortunate impact on nursing home law in Illinois.

Reports of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect in Facility Near Chicago

Recently the Northlake Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in northwest Indiana has found itself in some trouble. Residents and their facility members have filed complaints depicting horrors that sound unbelievable in today’s modern age. These include patients who have visible bedsores that have progressed to the need for amputation. The staff covered up the bedsores with bandages whenever the family visited so that they were unaware of the horrific nature. The Post Tribune reported that the Indiana Department of Health has gone so far as to suspend the nursing home’s license. The issue came to a height when the state issued an emergency closure for the home. The nursing home is owned by Eric Rothner and his Evanston, Illinois company, Extended Care Clinical. The company owns three other nursing homes in Indiana in addition to a number of Illinois nursing homes.

Many of the complaints and nursing home lawsuits point to a breakdown in patient care. They cite high employee turnover at all levels including the administrator a director of nursing. Countless studies have showed that nursing homes with high employee turnover oftentimes are culprits of nursing home negligence. Well-trained and sufficient nursing home staff should be the top priority for all owners. The article in the Post Tribune notes that one former employee believes that Rothner buys the failing nursing homes at low prices and then struggles to fill the homes with residents. This situation leads to the administrators being unselective in who comes into the homes and merely looking to fill the beds for profits. To read more about the nursing home closure or the reportednursing home abuse, please follow the links.

Punitive Damages Awarded In Nursing Home Pressure Sore Lawsuit

A Philadelphia jury issued a $5 million punitive damage claim against Jeanes Hospital and a Wyncote nursing home in the death of a man who suffered from fatal bedsores. According to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, this is only the second time a jury awarded punitive damages in a nursing home case in Philadelphia. Compensatory damages in nursing home cases are expected; punitive damages are awarded only when a jury finds that a facility had engaged in "outrageous and reckless conduct.” In this case, the plaintiff went to the nursing home after suffering weakness and confusion. The doctors failed to identify that he was suffering from a urinary tract infection. As a result, the infection worsened and left him susceptible to bedsores that ultimately killed him. Furthermore, workers at the nursing home and hospital allowed the pressure sores to fester and the patient to go malnourished to the point that he lost 28 pounds. This verdict will help the Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti spread the message that this type of negligent nursing home care is deplorable and will not be tolerated.

Class-Action Lawsuit Orders Illinois to Help Residents Transfer Out of Institutions and Nursing Homes

A settlement in a class-action lawsuit has demanded that the state of Illinois must help thousands of residents move out of large mental institutions. The state must also provide those residents with support services. The Chicago Sun Times has reported that the state will have five years to help those residents make a transition to small homes and apartments. The residents will be overseen by a court-appointed monitor.

The negligence lawsuit was filed by the ACLU and claimed that Illinois has violated the rights of 4,500 mentally ill people by forcing them to live with large groups of others who have mental illnesses in under-funded facilities. By doing this, the ACLU argued that Illinois had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. One 51-year-old victim resided in the Chicago nursing home of Columbus Manor for nearly 10 years. He wants to move out and get a job and believes that he can manage his own medications with some help. He feels that the state has been too slow to help him with this transition. Illinois has 25 nursing homes that will be subject to this settlement.

Another nursing home lawsuit has been filed that involves those mentally ill residents who live in nursing homes with the elderly. More than 13,000 mentally ill people live in nursing homes throughout Illinois that also house senior residents. It is imperative that Illinois address these problems for the sake of both the mentally ill and the elderly. The Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti believe this is a positive step towards nursing home reformation. To learn more about the Illinois settlement, please click the link.

Kickbacks made with Chicago Nursing Home Operators

Illinois state authorities are declining to pursue civil allegations made by whistle-blowers that said one of the nation’s largest pharmacy companies, Ominicare Inc., paid a multimillion-dollar kickback to Chicago nursing home operators. There has been a civil lawsuit filed by two health care industry insiders. This lawsuit claims that Omnicare Inc was allegedly inflating the purchase price it paid for a pharmacy company that was controlled by the Chicago nursing home operators Phillip Esformes and Morris Esformes. These lawsuits were brought under the federal False Claims Act which allows private citizens to file fraud actions on behalf of the government and recover those funds on the government’s behalf.

In 2004 Omicare paid $32 million for Total Pharmacy which included millions of dollars that are alleged to be a kickback to secure long-term pharmacy contracts with the Esformes family’s nursing homes. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office and the U.S. Justice Department declined to intervene for lack of a burden of proof. However, the civil nursing home lawsuit against the owners will continue. The Chicago Tribune reported that the father and son due are listed as part-owners of 28 nursing homes in Illinois and Florida. These cases include a cluster of whistle-blower lawsuits that Omnicare recently settled by paying $98 million. Through these kickbacks Omincare has secured the use of their pharmaceuticals in nursing homes throughout the country. This drives up prices of the drugs and ultimately the cost of patient care. To read more about the nursing home lawsuits, please click the link.

Chicago, Illinois Nursing Home Attorneys Warn Against Bedrail Entrapment

The New York Times recently published an expose that questions whether beds in nursing homes are safe for nursing home residents. They discussed the death of one patient who found with his neck entrapped between the mattress and the bedrail. The patient wrongfully died from asphyxiation. The family filed a nursing home neglect lawsuit against the hospice organization, the manufacturer of the bed and the medical equipment vendor.

While bedrails are supposed to be safety devices, experts believe that they oftentimes create more problems than they solve. Rails decrease a patient’s risk of falling by 10 to 15 percent, yet they increase the risk of injury by about 20 percent. This happens when confused or demented patients who try to climb over the rails fall from a lower level and land on their knees or legs. These patients are then apt to fall further and strike their heads. However, the biggest danger is entrapment. Nursing home residents can get stuck within the rails or between the rail and the mattress. The FDA had tallied 480 deaths and 138 injuries from nursing home bedrail entrapment incidents. A resident can roll into the slot next to the rail, which slides the mattress to the opposite side. The patient will drop to the gap causing the mattress to press against his/her chest making it impossible to breathe.

The Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti recently reached a settlement in a nursing home bedrail entrapment death. The victim’s family was awarded $570,000 in the case. To read about this incident of nursing home neglect in Chicago follow the hyperlink.

Nursing Home Residents Are Entitled to Enjoy Their Life

In a recent New York Times article, Dr. Marc Agronin draws our attention to society’s misguided perception of aging. He comments that we too often “imagine the pains of late-life ailments but not the joys of new pursuits; we recoil at the losses and loneliness and fail to embrace the wisdom and meaning that only age can bring.” The author who has worked in a nursing home for fifteen years recounts his imagined sadness upon meeting a 93 year old woman who entered the nursing home upon losing her husband of 73 years. The doctor asked the woman how she was coping, and, to his surprise, she responded that she was in “heaven” after enduring decades in an unhappy marriage with a verbally abusive man. The author also recounts the story of a woman who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease who had fallen in love with another nursing home resident and how they enjoy a “newfound innocence that perhaps only their memory loss restored.” These nursing home residents were enjoying her life in the nursing home, trying new activities and experiencing new relationships. Too often we envision life ending upon entering the nursing home with nursing home residents experiencing a loveless and lonely life with death hovering close by. After representing thousands of nursing home residents over the years, the Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti are well aware of this misperception and constantly strive to make sure that residents at nursing homes receive the care they deserve and enjoy the life they are entitled to, free of nursing abuse and neglect, as they enter a nursing home.

Hope for New Alzheimer Drug Lost - New Study for another Treatment Provides Promise

According to an article in the New York Times, hopes were recently crushed crushed when an Alzheimer drug failed in its first late-stage clinical trial. The companies working on the drug, a start-up in San Francisco called Medivation and the world’s largest drug company, Pfizer, said that the drug, called Dimebon, “had shown virtually no effect after six months in treating the cognitive decline or behavioral problems associated with Alzheimer’s when compared with a placebo.” The companies are now determining whether they will abandon other trials for Dimebon or whether Pfizer, which has been paying a majority of the costs, pulls out.

On a more positive note, researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago have found that people who view life with a sense of purpose and who set goals are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease or dementia. These findings could provide new treatment interventions for elderly adults. The report appears in the March issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti represent a number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. As such, the attorneys at Levin and Perconti remain up to date on the latest ways they can best assist clients suffering from Alzheimer's both inside and outside the courtroom.

Chicago and Illinois Move to Reduce Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Illinois and Chicago officials are looking towards new legislative proposals to improve nursing home safety. 48th Ward Alderman Mary Ann Smith has introduced ordinance amendments which will hopefully strengthen the current city of Chicago inspections of nursing facilities. Additionally, the nursing home legislation will increase enforcement and penalties for incidents of nursing home abuse. Under the new legislation nursing homes will be required to make the details of their financial and safety records more accessible to the public.

While this new city legislation is being debated, Governor Quinn’s office is planning to introduce legislation that will implement the recommendations of the recently formed Nursing Home Safety Task Force. This task force was formed immediately after the Chicago Tribune reported the grave conditions that take place at area Chicago nursing homes. These incidents included rapes, attacks and murders in those facilities that house the elderly with the mentally ill. The task force has recommended tightening criminal background checks on new residents, increasing nursing staffing and bolstering sanctions against facilities whom chronically breach safety regulations.

The Chicago nursing home lawyers of Levin and Perconti support the recent efforts to improve nursing home safety. We recognize that legislative action may decrease the number of incidents of nursing home abuse throughout the state of Illinois. Many other organizations are supporting the legislation such as the AARP, Illinois Citizens for Better Care and the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association. The crafters of the bill believe that the great amount of support they are receiving will help the nursing home bill pass through the legislative channels. To learn more about the recent proposals, read the Chicago Tribune article on Illinois nursing home legislation.

IDPH to Close Chicago, Illinois Nursing Home

According to the Chicago Tribune, Somerset Place in Chicago will officially close on Friday, and the state must transfer Somerset's remaining residents. The closure comes after Medicaid funding was cut off and the Illinois Department of Public Health revoked Somerset's funding after inspections revealed rampant nursing home abuse and neglect. Somerset Place nursing home has received attention in the media due to an investigation by the Tribune into alleged abuse and neglect at the nursing home. The population at Somerset Place is entirely made up of residents suffering from mental illnesses.

Eric Rothner owns a number of nursing homes throughout Illinois, including the management company Care Centers, Inc. Care Centers declared bankruptcy recently, but was managing Somerset up until bankruptcy was declared. Care Centers, Inc. is the subject of a number of nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuits, however it is questionable whether the victims will ever see compensation. The company still owes $400,000 to a former employee after a jury found that Care Centers denied her leave benefits.

Despite this debt, the Tribune reports that Rothner received payments of $900,000 from Care Centers, Inc. in the year before the management company filed for bankruptcy. A judge called this a "deliberate attempt to conceal and divert assets to avoid paying the judgment."

The Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys at Levin & Perconti have filed a number of lawsuits against Care Centers, Inc. If you suspect that your loved on has suffered injury or death as a result of nursing home abuse and neglect in a Care Centers home, please contact our office. We will be happy to discuss your legal options with you.

According to the IDPH's Nursing Homes in Ilinois website, Rothner owns a number of Illinois homes, including:
• Briar Place
• Bryn Mawr Care
• Concord Extended Care
• Countryside Nursing & Rehabilitation Center
• Hillcrest Nursing & Rehabilitation Center
• Bella Vista Care Center
• Avenue Care Nursing & Rehabilitation Center
• Prairie Village Healthcare Center
• Boulevard Care Nursing & Rehabilitation
• Park House Nursing & Rehabilitation Center
• Elmwood Care
• Rainbow Beach Care Center
• Westshire Nursing & Rehabilitation Center
• Wheaton Care Center
• Wilson Care
• South Suburban Rehabilitation Center

Legislation Introduced to Reduce Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect in Illinois

A group of elder advocate groups brought together by the AARP joined in Springfield to announce nursing home legislation that will reform the way nursing homes operate in Illinois. Senate Bill 685 was introduced by Heather Steans and Jacqueline Collins, both Democrats from Chicago. As been highlighted recently in the media, nursing home residents in Illinois have been victims of nursing home failures. Nursing home patients have been the victims of physical, mental and sexual abuse. They have been given the wrong diagnosis or wrong medications all at the hands of nursing home employees. This bill will go way beyond what has recently been proposed in the Governor’s task force. To read more reaction about the Illinois nursing home, legislation please click the link.

The new nursing home legislation will address many problems currently plaguing residents. The group's press release states that legislation will improve the quality of care for nursing home residents and create meaningful regulations for Illinois nursing homes. These include disincentives and penalties for facilities that provide inadequate care. Also, the legislation would provide regulations that promote resident safety and a safe environment for all older people in Illinois nursing homes. One of the most important provisions is that the legislation would require higher staff to patient ratios and better training for direct-care staff. This is extremely important because many studies have found that a home's employee to resident ratio is a vital part of a safe nursing home. The Chicago nursing home lawyers of Levin & Perconti support this legislation and ask that everyone contact their Illinois representatives to voice their support as well. The Illinois AARP set up a Nursing Home Reform Legislation Hotline. We encourage you to call 1-888-616-3322 to ask your Illinois legislators to support Senate Bill 685.

Press Conference to Announce Nursing Home Reform Legislation in Illinois

Today, lawmakers, the AARP, the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, the Illinois Citizens for Better Care, the Illinois Association of Long Term Care Ombudsmen and other senior and nursing home advocacy groups will hold a press conference to announce nursing home reform legislation that will be introduced in the Illinois Senate this week. The press conference will be held in Springfield at 1:00 p.m. CST.

As Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys who represent residents and their families, we are energized to see legislation aimed at improving safety and care for nursing home residents in Illinois. We commend the lawmakers and advocates who made this legislation possible. We will continue to post news updates surrounding the Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect reform legislation.

Illinois Nursing Homes Must Carry Insurance

The Clarion Ledger has recently posted an article discussing the needs of nursing homes to carry insurance. The article points out that many nursing homes do not carry enough liability insurance to cover damages caps if a nursing home abuse lawsuit is filed. Many nursing homes face lawsuits after physical and sexual abuse or nursing home neglect. Nursing homes should be required to carry enough insurance to cover a vulnerable person that is injured, mistreated or abused while a resident at the home.

In Mississippi, a current House Bill 536 would require non-government nursing homes to carry $500,000 in liability coverage which is equivalent to the amount that the government nursing homes must carry under the Tort Claims Act. While this out-of-state legislation may seem like an obvious need to those who believe in elderly rights, many insurance companies and nursing home lobbyists are working diligently to try to kill the bill before it reaches the Senate. Since nursing homes have received the damage caps they believe are so important, it is imperative that they carry insurance. The elderly need and deserve the accountability afforded to them with the passage of HB 536. To read more about the nursing home legislation, please check out the link.

Illinois is one of the states that does not require nursing homes to carry liability insurance. We hope that new Illinois nursing home reform legislation will require homes to operate with insurance. The Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys at Levin & Perconti encourage people to ask if a nursing home carries insurance before entrusting a loved one to the facility. Researching a nursing home’s insurance information is an important step to ensuring your family members rights in the event of an injury caused by negligence.

U.S. Supreme Courts Rules Nursing Home Resident has a Private Right of Action Under FNHRA

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied certioria in a case where the Third Circuit Court of Appeals said that a nursing home resident and Medicaid recipient may sue their facility under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of the Federal Nursing Home Reform Amendments (FNHRA). The plaintiff in the case was a nursing home resident and Medicaid recipient. After the victim wrongfully died her daughter filed a nursing home lawsuit against the facility under a §1983 action. The nursing home lawsuit claimed the facility violated the FNHRA by not providing proper care. The nursing home tried to commit the complaint by claiming that the FNHRA does not provide an enforceable right of action through §1983. They argued that FNHRA only sets forth requirements that a nursing facility must comply with in order to receive federal Medicaid funds. The district court did agree with the nursing home, and the victim appealed the ruling.

Luckily, the Third Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling and held that the FNHRA does give Medicaid recipients rights and remedies under §1983. Elder Law Answers reported that the appellate court reasoned that both as a nursing home resident and Medicaid recipient, the victim was an intended beneficiary of the FNHRA. The court believed that the language of the FNHRA laid out specific enforceable rights for victims of nursing home abuse. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the writ of certioria and rested on the Third Circuit’s ruling. They believe this will cause all nursing homes to rethink patient’s rights. The Chicago nursing home lawyers agree the rulings of both the Third Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court and thank them for their support of nursing home rights.

Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Steve Levin Quoted about “Angel of Death” Case

The Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers of Levin & Perconti filed an amended complaint in the McHenry County Circuit Court yesterday in a lawsuit against Woodstock Residence. Our attorneys represent the family of Virginia Cole in a civil lawsuit against the nursing home and two former employees. The original complaint alleges that the nursing home and named employees administered lethal doses of morphine that led to Cole’s death at the age of 78. The amended complaint adds the medical director at the time of Cole’s death as a defendant, alleging that the director was negligent in his care of Cole. The complaint alleges that the medical director diagnosed Cole incorrectly, neglected to determine if she was in pain before he ordered morphine and failed to make sure the nursing home was handling controlled substances, such as morphine, properly.

According to Illinois nursing home attorney Steve Levin, the lawsuit does not allege that the named medical director was aware that employees were giving Cole and other nursing home residents unneeded doses of morphine, a narcotic pain killer that is used to treat severe pain. The medical director was also named in a wrongful death suit that was filed on behalf of another Woodstock resident whose death is in question.

In addition to the civil wrongful death lawsuit, a criminal lawsuit has also been filed against the two former employees. We will continue to provide news and information on the “Angel of Death” case in McHenry County as it becomes available. To read the Northwest Herald’s coverage of the nursing home lawsuit, click on the hyperlink.

Staffing Ratios in Illinois Nursing Homes Must be Mandated

It has been well documented that nursing home staffing ratios and quality of care go hand in hand. According to a recent article from My Elder Advocate, sufficient nursing home staff are needed to ensure that residents have proper nutrition, disease management and that they are turned and repositioned frequently to prevent pressure sores. A 1996 study from the Institute of Medicine found that staffing ratios have a great effect on the nutrition of nursing home residents. Understaffed nursing homes are more likely to have patients who suffer from dehydration, malnutrition and associated conditions.

It is time that nursing home legislation reflect the need for greater staffing. Since the over 65 population will increase by 60% between 2004 and 2030, this is the time to enact such legislation. Nursing home legislation should require ratios to patients in order to ensure that there is sufficient staff to care for our aging population. Unfortunately, nursing home legislation to require ratios has not passed nationally. This is because people argue that this would increase the cost of running a nursing home. Yet, how can you put a price on patient care?

Studies show that raising staffing ratios can cut down on operating costs. It has also been found that understaffing in nursing homes does not help the nursing shortage. Many nurses refuse to work in nursing homes because of the poor working conditions prevalent in understaffed homes. Many nurses have changed professions or gone to part-time due to the poor working conditions. Therefore, new nursing home legislation must be enacted to ensure that there is proper care in all nursing homes, regardless of their monetary position. To read more on nursing home staffing, follow the link.

Nursing Home Arbitration Clauses Disadvantage Residents and Contribute to Substandard Care

According to the Arizona Daily Star, for-profit nursing homes have less staffing, cut costs and are typically lower quality than their non-profit counterparts. One study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that for-profit nursing homes are 46.5 times more likely to have deficiencies than non-profit homes. Perhaps, most troubling, is that to cut costs on legal expenses, these nursing homes ask residents and their families to sign agreements which shelter the nursing homes from lawsuits. These agreements are part of the paperwork that residents and their families must fill out at the time they are entering the nursing home facility. Entering a nursing home is often an emotional and stressful time for families and yet the nursing homes are asking these families to sign away their right to sue the facility should the nursing home mistreat their loved one. The arbitration agreements provide for binding “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR) which takes disputes into a private rather than the public legal system, forces residents and their families to give up their right to a jury trial decided by their peers, and gives nursing homes alone the right to pick the person who will judge the substandard care given to its residents. Furthermore, these agreements prevent any of the nursing home's violations, no matter how egregious, from becoming public information. When families unknowingly sign away their right to sue the facility, they likely have no concept of the degree of harm a nursing home can cause their loved ones due to nursing home abuse or neglect. Federal legislation has been proposed to invalidate these unjust and detrimental arbitration clauses. The Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys at Levin and Perconti support the proposed federal legislation and are working hard to make sure that substandard care at Illinois nursing homes will not be tolerated.

Chicago Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers: Wandering and Elopement Causes Great Worries in Illinois Nursing Homes

Wandering and elopement has become a great problem in nursing homes throughout the country. When patients are not properly monitored they can leave the securities of their facilities and find themselves without guidance in the outside community.

The Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti have filed many lawsuits on behalf of the victims of wandering and elopement and have won favorable verdicts. For example, our attorneys helped a victim obtain a $950,000 settlement against the American Baptist Homes of the Midwest. This case involved an 85-year-old woman with dementia who was allowed to wander outside and freeze to death. This same fact pattern occurred in a case against Manorcare Health Services. In that case, Levin & Perconti helped the family of a 75-year-old victim receive an $825,000 settlement. Once again, the victim was wandering in the bitter cold and died of hypothermia. Wandering unfortunately has become all too common in nursing homes.

A nursing home can take measures to minimize elopement exposure. The first way is to establish a written elopement risk-management plan. They can also establish written screening criteria for identifying residents who may become potential elopers. By keeping normal exit alarms and making sure that all stairwells are alarmed, most nursing homes can help reduce wandering. Finally, the staff should be quick to investigate any activated door alarms. Nursing home staff should be trained to closely monitor the whereabouts of all of their patients. To learn all the ways that nursing homes can diminish wandering and elopement please click the link.