Nursing Home Lawyers Discuss Study That Shows New Definitions for Malnutrition

A panel of nutrition experts has released new definitions for malnutrition that will be universally applicable. McKnights Long-Term Care News & Assisted Living is reporting that these new definitions will help clinicians and healthcare workers identify and treat malnutrition. Researchers had decided to develop new definitions because there was a lack of generally agreed upon terms for the numerous forms and causes of malnutrition. There are now three categories of adult nutrition: starvation-related, chronic disease-related or acute disease/injury-related. These categories can now include all the major causes of malnutrition. These are important clarifications considering a 2000 study found that between 25% and 85% of nursing home residents are considered malnourished. The new definitions were accumulated by ESPEN and ASPEN. They will be published in the journals Clinical Nutrition and JPEN. To read about the new definitions, please check out the link.

Malnutrition or dehydration can cause many problems in elderly residents. These health conditions include tooth decay, broken bones, anemia and low blood pressure. Severe cases can even lead to death. These ailments can oftentimes be easily prevented if the residents are properly fed and nourished. Many times residents who are suffering from depression will become malnourished. Some experts also believe that residents become malnourished due to a lack of adequately trained personnel. Poor staffing is often the root of most nursing home abuse problems. It is the duty of all nursing homes to ensure that not only they have a sufficient number of staff members, but that these staff members are properly trained to deal with the complexities of the elderly. If you believe that you or a loved one resides in a Chicago-area or Illinois nursing home with inadequate staffing, please confront the nursing home about this problem. If this poor level of staffing has lead to nursing home abuse, consult a nursing home lawyer.

Nursing Home Abuse Horror Story Shocks the Conscience

CBS news is reporting the horrific tale of a nursing home abuse caught on camera. This story involved a nurse, who was supposed to be caring for a patient, dump the elderly woman out of her wheelchair and onto the floor. This has led the state’s attorney general to file criminal charges against the nurse. This was an easy indictment considering the fact the entire video was recorded by a camera implemented to protect the patients. The video shows the employee pushing a medication cart. The employee then suddenly abandons the car and heads towards the elderly patient in the wheelchair. The employee then jerks the chair sharply to the left and the 85-year-old woman who suffers from dementia, goes flying to the ground. It is during this fall that she breaks her hip. The worst part of the story occurs next. While the elderly patient is flailing on the ground with a broken hip, the employee simply walks right by the patient. After walking by twice and not offering any assistance, the employee leaves the area. To check out this story of the nursing home abuse, please click the link.

An expert in nursing home care was absolutely startled by the speed in which the employee grabbed and spun the chair. He also stated that these actions were clearly those of nursing home negligence. The elderly patient was not only in a great deal of pain but also quiet frightened. She lay on the floor for more than two minutes before another employee arrives on the scene. Even when another employee did come, he does nothing while the patient writhes on the floor for another minute. There was an extreme lack of urgency in the employee’s action. All nursing home employees should be screened so that this type of elder abuse does not occur. These egregious actions from both employees are proof that a stricter screening method is required for those whom we entrust with the lives of our elderly loved ones.

Antipsychotic Medications are Overused in Nursing Homes

Science Daily is reporting that a study shows that newly admitted elderly patients to nursing homes have a higher rate of being prescribed antipsychotic drugs than in previous years. This study found that in 2007, almost one-third of U.S. nursing home residents received antipsychotic drugs. The FDA has issued a warning that there is a great risk of death among older adults with dementia who are taking these agents to control behavioral symptoms. A recent clinical trial has concluded that the adverse effects of atypical antipsychotic drugs have outweighed the benefits of those with Alzheimer’s. This shows that many doctors are over prescribing these drugs, and it is having an adverse effect on patients.

The nursing home study found that about 30 percent of the residents in the study received at least one antipsychotic medication in 2006 and 32 percent of those did not have dementia or another indication that they needed to be on this medication. Some experts believe that the organizational culture of the nursing homes may encourage the prescribing of antipsychotic. Hopefully, the FDA warning and other studies will move the prescription statistics in the opposite direction. If not policies may have to target those nursing homes that have a high antipsychotic prescription rate so as to improve patient care. To read more about the nursing home study, please click the link.

Once physical restraints were banned from most nursing homes, it appears that doctors began using antipsychotic medications to chemically restrain patients. Oftentimes this leaves patients feeling lethargic and they are not themselves. If you believe that your loved one is being prescribed antipsychotic, please approach the nursing home doctor and inquire why they are being prescribed. If you learn that they are being over prescribed so as to chemically restrain the patient, consult a Chicago nursing home lawyer.

Illinois Nursing Home Sweep Finds Violations

The State Journal-Register is reporting that the Illinois Attorney General’s office has conducted a sweep at the Golden Moments Senior Care Center in Jacksonville, Illinois. This was the 11th sweep of an Illinois nursing home in the past several months. There were five former sex offenders living in the nursing home. The nursing home was targeted because it had not complied with risk assessments for three of these five residents. Although the felons are placed in their own separate rooms, the attorney general’s office believes that this puts the other residents at risk for being abused by the felons. These risk assessments are mandated by state law. To learn more about this Illinois nursing home raid, please check out the link.

This is not the first time that Golden Moments Senior Care Center has been under attack. In February of this year, they were fined for $50,000 for nursing home abuse after the wrongful death of a 74-year-old resident. In this case, the resident choked on food despite staffer’s awareness that he had a risk of choking on food. In 2009, the nursing home was fined $20,000 after the home was accused of failing to keep residents from being mentally, verbally and physically abused. Staff members were causing residents to cry and were slapped in the face.

Nursing homes that have a history of elderly abuse and neglect must be closely watched by government entities. This Jacksonville nursing home has several documented cases of abuse that have spanned a great deal of time. The type of violations that the nursing home has been guilty of has varied a great deal. This shows that the nursing home has difficulties not only keeping track of residents, but their employees as well. If you or a family member have been injured as a result of negligence at Golden Moments or any Illinois nursing home, please consult a Chicago nursing home attorney to discuss your potential claim.

Chicago Nursing Home Lawyers Settle Neglect Case

Chicago nursing home attorney Susan Novosad of Levin & Perconti helped a victim of nursing home negligence settle a lawsuit against Manorcare Health Services, Inc. in Libertyville, Illinois. HRC Manor Care at Libertyville settled the nursing home lawsuit for $650,000 with the former nursing home resident. The victim was first admitted to the nursing home in April 2007 for rehabilitation after spinal surgery. While the staff did develop a care plan, they failed to include any individualized approaches to prevent pressure ulcers. About a month after her admission to the nursing home, employees discovered a very large necrotic sacral pressure ulcer and she had to be transferred to a local hospital for treatment. The nursing home victim home injuries included an infected pressure ulcers and osteomyelitis which resulted in surgery and a prolonged long-term care stay.

Residents in nursing homes are susceptible to developing pressure ulcers because many are in wheelchairs or are immobile. If nursing home staff fails to turn or reposition residents on a regular basis, residents may develop pressures ulcers. Staff must also frequently check the skin condition of residents who are at risk for pressure sores to ensure that sores are not forming. Prevention is the key, as they are very difficult to treat. If a nursing home does everything they can to prevent pressure sores and a sore forms, the home has a duty to treat the injury to try to prevent it from worsening. To learn more, visit the Mayo Clinic's page on pressure sore prevention.

Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

According to a report on KOMU.com , one Missouri nursing home admits sex offenders but does not inform the families of the other elderly residents who reside there. There are currently 18 registered sex offenders that live at the nursing home, with sex offenses ranging from child molestation to rape. The owner notes that elderly residents are separated from the sex offenders and that staff is also trained on how to deal with those patients who have psychiatric issues and therefore management does not view this as a security threat. According to the report, there is no legal responsibility of the nursing home management to inform other residents and their families about the background of their residents, so the nursing home does not feel the need to disclose the information.

Sexual abuse in nursing homes is an important issue to address in Illinois nursing homes. Family members want to feel secure when placing a loved one in a nursing home. Elderly nursing home residents are targets of sexual predators because they are often weak and defenseless. They might have dementia or might not be able to speak to report the assault. All nursing home residents are protected from abuse and neglect under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act and homes have a duty to protect residents from predators. Many times, cases of sexual abuse fall at the hands of other residents, who are able to bypass security measures. In other instances, staff members are to blame. Nursing homes must operate with sufficient staff in order to properly monitor sexual offenders and elderly residents. Nursing homes must also investigate and report sexual abuse when it occurs. When a nursing home fails to protect the residents under its care and they are injured or killed, ownership and staff must be held responsible for their negligence. To learn more about the Illinois laws that protect nursing home residents from abuse and neglect, follow the link.

Crystal Lake, Illinois Nursing Home Employee Steals Drugs from Patient

The Northwest Herald and the Chicago Sun-Times are reporting that a former nursing assistant has been jailed after he was caught on video poking holes in a resident with Alzheimer’s disease's medication patch. The nursing assistant then licked the painkiller off his finger to administer the medication to himself. The 25-year-old male was charged with the crime of aggravated battery to an elderly person. This nursing home abuse occurred at the Fair Oaks Health Care Center in Crystal Lake, Illinois.

After the incident, the CNA was arrested and the nursing home fired him. He was caught after other nursing home staff members noticed that the 92-year-old victim’s patch had some discoloration. After this observation, the staff set up video surveillance in the woman’s room and this led to the CNA's arrest. The victim's family was notified of the incident.

The Crystal Lake Police Chief noted that it was quite desperate that the nursing assistant needed to drain Fentanyl from an elderly woman’s patch. The defendant allegedly would roll the woman on her side and poke holes in her mediation patch using a safety pin. He would then remove the Fentanyl, squeezing the patch four or five times to obtain the narcotic. In order to work as a nursing assistant in an Illinois nursing home, nursing homes must do a thorough background check on each prospective CNA. This is an important step to hiring nursing home employees, allowing the homes to screen applicants in order to help reduce the risk of nursing home abuse and neglect. This history must have no administrative finding of elder abuse, neglect or misappropriated property in Illinois. A certified nursing assistant may not begin working until they meet all training requirements.

Although these measures are put into place to protect residents, abuse and neglect still occur. In this situation, the nursing home staff acted appropriately when they suspected that someone was altering the resident's painkiller patch. To read more about this incident of Illinois nursing home abuse, please click the link.

Financial Exploitation of the Elderly an Ever-growing Problem in Illinois

Financial exploitation of the elderly has become a large problem within the elderly community. The State Journal-Register is reporting that a Hillsboro, Illinois man was arrested for his involvement in the financial exploitation of an elderly person. The thirty year old man reportedly had an arrangement with an elderly person in the area to do miscellaneous work. This person then became a victim when the defendant was given blank signed checks to buy materials for the projects. The man then used the blank checks to buy more than $300 worth of personal items. Deputies were able to uncover several items purchased by the defendant with the victim’s money while executing a search warrant in his residence. To read more about this specific case of the financial exploitation of the elderly, please click the link.

Illinois has a specific statute that prohibits the financial exploitation of an elderly person. Under 720 ILCS 5/15-1.3 a person commits the offense of financial exploitation of an elderly person when they “stand in a position of trust or confidence with the elderly person and by deception or intimidation controls over the property of an elderly person or uses the assets of that person." This is a class 4 felony if the property is less than $300, a class 3 felony if less than $5,000 but more than $300 and a class 2 felony if in between $5,000 and $10,000. Finally, if a person exploits an elderly or disabled person out of more than $10,000 it is a class one felony. All felonies are punishable with jail time. If you believe you or a loved one is a victim of financial exploitation of the elderly we recommend that you contact your local law enforcement. If this exploitation occurred in an Illinois nursing home, you may also have a case for nursing home abuse. Please consult a Chicago nursing home attorney to further discuss your case and your legal options.

Cahokia, Illinois Nursing Home Resident Suffers Injury as a Result of Employee Error

The Madison Record is reporting a case of serious Illinois nursing home abuse. A Cahokia woman is claiming that nursing home employees at St. Paul's Home in Belleville, IL allowed her to sustain numerous injuries while she was a resident. The victim filed the nursing home lawsuit in St. Clair County Circuit Court on April 29. The suit claims that the while the victim lived at the nursing home, nursing home employees violated her rights as a resident through multiple acts. Employees failed to elevate the woman’s feet to offer the proper treatment and care for her edema, or swelling. The negligence suit also claims that they failed to assist her to the shower which resulted in a fall where she suffered injuries to her ankle and her leg. Finally, the nursing home lawsuit claims that the victim had a contusion to her leg due after nursing home employees hit her with a motorized wheelchair. She is seeking a judgment of more than $30,000 plus other costs.

Nursing home staffing levels greatly affect resident well-being and care. When homes do not employ enough staff members to properly care for residents, there is an increased chance for residents to be injured or killed due to nursing home abuse and neglect. If you or a loved one is injured or killed in a nursing home with insufficient staffing levels, you may be able to seek compensation. Please consult a Chicago nursing home lawyer to learn more about your legal options. To read more about this nursing home neglect lawsuit please click the link.

Jury Finds Nursing Home Negligence and Grants $28 Million in Punitive Damages

A jury has determined that a nursing home needs to pay $28 million in punitive damages after being found responsible for a woman’s death. The jury found that both the nursing home company and their parent company were guilty of elder abuse in the death of a 79-year-old resident. The jury was presented with testimony concerning the corporation’s finances before awarding the punitive damages. They also awarded $1.1 million in pain and suffering damages and loss of companionship. The state has threatened to revoke the license, but instead has reached an agreement to stay open.

It is obvious that this nursing home conglomerate put profits over patient care. The jurors decided that the home’s conduct was “malicious and oppressive” which allowed them to grant punitive damages. The victim was suffering from mild dementia when she moved into the home. Seven months after she moved in she suffered a fall that resulted in a broken hip. This coupled with an infected bedsore caused her death. Jurors heard testimony concerning the understaffing of the home and the poor medical documentation that helped cause her death. While understaffing allows nursing home owners to maximize profits, it has been proven to lead to nursing home neglect. The founder of the advocacy group Foundation Aiding the Elderly stated that this was a monumental verdict.

If you believe that a loved one resides in a nursing home that is understaffed and has suffered serious injury or death as a result, please consult a Chicago injury lawyer. To read more about this case of nursing home abuse, please click the link.

Nursing Home Neglect Forces Changes in Facility

Go San Angelo Standard-Times is reporting that an assisted living facility has been cited in relation to a nursing home neglect incident where a resident froze to death outside the building. The 89-year-old resident wrongfully died of hypothermia. The nursing home failed to adequately supervise the resident, jeopardizing her safety. The woman was found outside, dead on the sidewalk in the early morning. Her body was covered in ice and she had a light jacket.

According to a staff member, the resident was supposedly in her room at 4 a.m. She told authorities that she “thought” she saw the resident in her bed. This particular resident had an assessment that stated she “wanders frequently and indiscriminately.” Wandering and elopement are serious issues in nursing homes that must be addressed and monitored. The nursing home report showed that this particular patient had eloped from the facility at least five times. While the facility did have an alarm system, staff members stated that it was common knowledge that the pager system wasn’t working. To read more about this case of elopement, please click the link.

The Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti have seen wandering and elopement in the past. In C.B. v American Baptist Homes of the Midwest, they helped the victim reach a $950,000 nursing home negligence lawsuit. This also involved a patient who wandered from the home and froze to death. This pattern of nursing home negligence was again seen in the case of C.T., special administrator of the estate of D.F. v. Manorcare Health Services, Inc. et al. In this specific case the nursing home lawyers helped secure a $825,000 for the death of resident.

Nursing Home Reform Bill sent to Illinois Governor

The Illinois Senate has given an overwhelming amount of support to Illinois nursing home legislation that will overhaul the standards for care and safety in Illinois troubled nursing homes. This new legislation was written after a Chicago Tribune investigation that revealed a great number of attacks, rapes and murders in nursing homes that mixed elderly residents with convicted felons.

The Illinois nursing home bill was approved by the Senate with a vote of 46-8. It will require nursing homes to increase staffing levels. Many studies have shown that those nursing homes with a higher resident to staff member ratio tend to have a lower rate of nursing home abuse. The nursing home legislation will also ensure that those residents in nursing homes will have a higher standard to meet upon admittance if they have a serious mental illness. Illinois has the highest number of mentally ill residents living amongst elderly residents of all the states. Finally the nursing home legislation will segregate the most dangerous residents in secure units where intensive monitoring and treatment will be ushered by employees. This will help decrease the amount of attacks that occur between mentally ill residents and the general population.

State senator Heather Steans of Chicago stated that this was long overdue legislation in Illinois. The legislation reflects some of the 38 recommendations given by Governor Quinn’s Nursing Home Safety Task Force. The Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti applaud the efforts of the Illinois Senate to decrease nursing home abuse. To read more about the nursing home legislation, please click the link.

Nursing Home is Closed After Numerous Acts of Negligence are Discovered

NBC news is reporting that surprise inspections by a state’s investigators found deplorable living conditions at a nursing home. This nursing home is now closing its doors to all residents. These surprise inspections found 37 pages of nursing home violations. Reports show that patients were left in beds that were unmade and had soled sheets. These linens were worn thin and were colored brown. Some residents’ hair were found to be greasy and unkempt.

The nursing home investigator also found that the facility did not ensure medications were administered correctly. The medical records were also in boxes that had been soaked in pooling water. Shockingly, one nurse cleaned an open pressure ulcer with a fecal smeared washcloth that she had earlier used to clean the patient. Currently, 79 patients reside in the nursing home that has been riddled with nursing home negligence. Also, 90 nursing home employees will be out of jobs once the facility is closed.

In Illinois, the Illinois Department of Health requires that nursing homes maintain the dignity of residents by keeping each home clean. This includes having staff ensure that nursing home residents are not sitting in urine or feces and that rooms and beds are properly cared for. If you believe that a nursing home is committing health violations, please consult a Chicago nursing home lawyer and the Illinois Department of Health. It is important to keep the IDPH informed of any violations that are witnessed. To read more about this specific case of nursing home abuse, please click the link.

Celebrate National Nursing Home Week Next Week

May 9-15 has been declared National Nursing Home Week by the American Health Care Association. This is an important week because every year thousands of nursing home residents become victims of elderly abuse and neglect. This week is a good week to reflect on what everyone can do to better protect these vulnerable residents. The Chicago nursing home lawyers of Levin & Perconti have handled nursing home cases since 1992. We believe that it is essential for people to understand the exact meaning of nursing home abuse and neglect and what can be done if they suspect their loved one is a victim.

There are many signs of nursing home abuse and neglect. They not only affect an elderly resident’s physical well-being but their mental and emotional spirit as well. Some signs to watch for with nursing home neglect include:

- Falls
- Pressure ulcers
- Malnutrition and/or dehydration
- Over-medication
- Cuts, bruises or broken bones
- Poor hygiene
- An unclean environment and/or smells
- Weight loss
- Changes in demeanor
- Wandering or elopement
- Medication errors

Try talking to a long-term-care ombudsmen or voice your concerns to the Illinois Department of Public Health if you have noticed one of these signs in a loved one. If you or a loved one has fallen victim to nursing home abuse, please contact a Chicago nursing home lawyer. Taking legal action will not only compensate the victim, but it sends a harsh message that nursing home owners must be held accountable for the actions. This way they will improve the conditions and quality care for nursing home residents.

Case Law Update: Nursing Home Arbitration

Carter v. SSC Odin Operating Company, No. 106511 (4-15-10) found that the public policy underlying antiwaiver provisions of Nursing Home Care Act are not "grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any contract" within meaning of Section 2 of Federal Arbitration Act. Thus, public policy of Nursing Home Care Act is not a valid contract defense to FAA preemption. This Illinois Supreme Court case will have a negative impact on nursing home law.

Fourth Lawsuit Filed Against LaSalle County Nursing Home

MyWebtimes.com is reporting that a fourth lawsuit has been filed against LaSalle County Nursing Home for nursing home abuse. The nursing home sexual abuse lawsuit was brought on behalf of a 90-year-old former resident of the home and claims that she was sexually assaulted by a male resident at the facility. The suit claims that not only did this man sexually assault about a dozen residents; he also had a history of such abuse. The Illinois nursing home lawsuit is asking for $50,000 in damages for the nursing home abuse because the facility failed to protect the resident from the physical, mental and physiological injuries that she endured.

The nursing home lawsuit also states that the staff members at LaSalle County Nursing Home did nothing to protect the woman from the sexual abuse at the hands of her fellow resident. Recently, three top administrators at the nursing home have resigned and the suspect has been moved to a psychiatric facility. The Illinois nursing home has also been fined for their inaction. To read more about this nursing home lawsuit, please click the link.

This is a perfect example of how a lack of nursing home staffing can make it hard for direct care workers to provide both supervision and attention to each individual resident. Countless studies have shown that a lack in supervision can lead to serious problems with nursing home residents. These problems include injuries from falls, resident elopement and medication errors. Also, as seen in recent Illinois nursing homes, a lack of sufficient staff can lead to physical and sexual abuse amongst residents.