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Repeated Nursing Home Negligence Leads to Multiple Lawsuits

The nursing facility Britthaven of Chapel Hill is embroiled in a series of legal actions after several separate incidents of negligent and abusive care that occurred at the facility reports the News Observer.

A nurse at the facility, Angela Almore will head to court tomorrow in second-degree murder and patient abuse charges following the death of resident Rachel Holliday and the hospitalization of six other residents at the facility. The situation has been dubbed an “Angel of Death” case, as Ms. Almore is charged with giving Ms. Holliday and the six others extreme doses of morphine. None of the patients had been prescribed any morphine at all. The state health regulation department is still investigating the nursing home’s own involvement with those incidents
The unlawful morphine poisonings are just one of several negligent and abusive incidents uncovered at the facility this year. One resident, former medical professor and Nobel Prize nominee Marian Orlowski went to the facility following advancing dementia and need for close monitored care. However, the nursing home staff at Britthaven failed to provide proper supervision (or even a bed with rails), resulting in Mr. Orlowski failing and suffering sever physical injury, including a broken hip.

Earlier, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services had fined Britthaven $216, 400 stemming from an incident involving 95-year old resident Mary Lou Barthazon. Both of Ms. Barthazon’s thighs were broken when a nursing assistant dropped her while trying to lift her into bed. The care plan for Mary Lou called for the use of a mechanical lift to perform those movements, but the nursing assistant ignored it.

Even worse, in order to hide her negligence, the nursing home aide failed to report the incident. Ultimately, Mary Lou was forced to sit untreated with two broken thighs for two weeks before her daughter noticed the problem and demanded she be sent to the emergency room. She died at the hospital four days later.

Previously, the nursing home had attempted to get out of a trial on Ms. Barthazon’s lawsuit because of an arbitration clause it inserted into the admission contract. The clause essentially attempts to force anyone with claims against the nursing home to go through an arbitrator (often a costly and unreasonable proceeding) instead of the regular civil lawsuit process. However, the judge in the case declared the contract with that requirement to be unconscionable. An unconscionable contract is one where one side of the deal was unfairly disadvantaged both during the process of signing it and in relation to the terms agreed to by each side of the contract.

Each of these incidents has placed Britthaven of Chapel Hill on a list designating them a “special focus facility” for homes with a pattern of inadequate care. However, it is unclear what specific repercussions, if any, will results from these repeated examples of elder abuse at the facility.

Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti are continually outraged by the nursing homes that repeatedly provided care that leads to painful injury and death for many vulnerable seniors. Our attorneys have been involved in “Angel of Death” cases and many examples of severe injuries caused by negligent care and unsupervised patients. Even one suffering senior is too many. Help stop these forms of elder abuse by reporting any incident caused by negligent and abusive medical care.