Senior Citizens Remain Targets of Con Artists

Much of this blog’s focus is on the care provided to Illinois nursing home residents and senior citizens. Far too often care providers make basic mistakes and give minimal effort to ensuring the safety and proper treatment of these vulnerable community members. Besides the negligent conduct of certain individuals, seniors also remain open to being taken advantage of willfully by criminal predators.

Elderly financial scams remain a prevalent problem in many parts of the country. Many criminals find it useful to target seniors who suspect to be easy to cheat out of financial savings in a variety of schemes. San Diego News reported recently on a set of scams targeting seniors that have police on alert.

Local crime stoppers and investigators are currently seeking assistance to get a handle of two suspects who have been involved in a variety of financial scams. In the latest ruse, the two con artists (one man and one woman) posed as roofing inspectors following heavy rains. The two contacted seniors, who often unsuspectingly invited them inside their home to inspect their roof.

After gaining access to the home, the two-person criminal team splits duties with one member distracting the senior while the other looks for valuables inside the home. Fortunately, the victims have yet to be physically harmed in the scams but many have lost a variety of possessions.

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Chicago Nursing Home Attorney to Speak at Upcoming Seminar

The Chicago Bar Association will soon host a seminar entitled “Tort law: The New Legal World We Live In.”

One speaker at the event will discuss an issue of importance to all those interested in Chicago nursing home lawsuits. At the seminar, nursing home lawyer Jordan Powell will give a presentation called “Developments in Nursing Home Cases.” It will likely prove informative and beneficial to many blog readers.

The seminar itself will be held in Chicago on March 3rd. It is sponsored by the Tort Litigation Committee, and further information can be found at the CBA’s website.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Nursing Home Resident Murdered By Fellow Dementia Patient

Mandatory Arbitration Should be Banned from Nursing Home Contracts

Illinois Nursing Home Lawsuits Have No Effect on Medical "Crisis"

The spreading of misinformation about tort reform continues unabated in public forums across the country. Things are no different in this part of the nation as some special interests continue to argue that certain types of legal cases, including Illinois nursing home lawsuits are causing a healthcare “crisis.” The only solution, say these proponents, is legislation that takes away the rights of negligence victims.

The truth, however, shows that not only do medical malpractice cases have nothing to do with the issue, but there is no actual “crisis” at all. A guest editorial in the Belleville News Democrat recently explained the actual state of affairs. One common claim is that doctors are fleeing the state because of the threat of lawsuits. In reality the number of doctors in the state has increased without exception for the last 45 years. In fact there remains an oversaturation of doctors in many of the most populous parts of the country.

One tort reform proponent attempted to claim that a doctor shortage in the town of Hillsboro was related to Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits. But even a cursory look at the facts would show that there was only a single such case filed in that county last year. It is hard to imagine a single lawsuit having anything to do with some claimed “crisis.”

Concern about misinformation of tort reform claimants doesn’t necessarily mean that no policy changes need be made. For one thing, insurance reform should be seriously considered to improve transparency of rate-setting practices and payouts. However, the public will never benefit from policy discussions that use proven falsehoods and distortions as their starting point.

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Jury Trial Remain Vital for Illinois Nursing Home Trials

The St. Louis Post published a story this morning that emphasizes the huge costs that would be incurred by average citizens if “tort reform” proposals become law. The debate typically involves some big interests making claims about the “problems” with nursing home lawsuits therefore necessitating these changes. Patient advocates continue to challenge the scope of the exaggerated problem.

Less frequently mentioned is the effect these changes would have on citizen rights. In other words, we advocate against tort reform not because it is unnecessary (though it is unnecessary), but because it would have dangerous effects on the rights of innocent victims.

All citizens have the constitutional right to a trial by a jury. That right inherently involves the option of having the jury hear the evidence in a case, decide upon liability, and evaluate the losses to determine an appropriate remedy. The point of having this right in constitutions (at both the federal and state level) is specifically because our founders did not want it violated by legislative action.

Alexander Hamilton once mentioned that while the nation’s early leaders often disagreed on certain principles, “if they agree in nothing else, [they] concur at least in the value they set upon the trial by jury.” It is vital that victims retain that right in current nursing home trials.

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Tai Chi May Help Prevent Illinois Nursing Home Falls

Falling is one of the biggest risks facing seniors in many Illinois nursing homes. The vulnerability of elder bodies means that even a single fall can have deadly consequences. It is important for all care givers to take steps to minimize the prevalence of nursing home falls.

Last week the New York Times posted a story providing advice on how falls can be prevented. Interestingly, one tip involves the use of tai chi—the ancient Chinese slow motion exercise. The movement technique has been found to help seniors with balance. The ability of seniors to remain as comfortable with shifts in weight as possible may mean the difference between staying on one’s feet and falling in certain circumstances.

In addition, the confidence instilled in residents after regular tai chi practice has been shown to limit the chance of falls. Recent reports have shown that the mere fear of falling in some seniors has the effect of increase the likelihood that a fall will occur. Therefore, any technique that can lessen that mental fear will have the effect of limiting nursing home falls.

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Pilot Program May Affect Care of Illinois Nursing Home Residents

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care recently announced the beginning of new pilot projects seeking to improve nursing home care at many facilities across the country. The new programs will be tested for the next three years in a variety of areas with a specific focus on improving the care received by those in non-nursing home settings. The project was conceived because there remains a need for stronger advocacy and coordination with home and community-based care services.

The programs will join with partner organization to identify current barriers to effective non-nursing home care. Working with state officials, the Consumer Voice will seek to develop communication strategies so that potential consumers of this care are educated on their options. In addition, the program involves coordination with national groups to implement health reform, understand the consumer perspective of these issues, and make far reaching policy recommendations.

The director of the organization explains that “this initiative allows us to use [our] valuable experience and advance consumer advocacy in all care settings.”

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Illinois Nursing Home Lawsuits May be Hurt By Advancing Federal Legislation

We have recently paid close attention to the status of a tort reform bill introduced last month in Congress known as H.R. 5. The legislation represents a dangerous combination of legal changes that would severely curtail the rights of innocent victims of negligence. The misconceptions and falsehoods used to promote this unnecessary legislation has been frequently debunked on this blog over the past few months.

The bill is particularly troubling because of its large scope—it applies to nursing home claims, medical malpractice claims, and wrongful death lawsuits. It includes arbitrary caps on non-economic damages, and shortens the statute of limitations on many acts of negligence. It also eliminates joint and several liability and raises pleading standards.

These changes would essentially make it harder for victims to win cases and, even once they’ve been won, harder to collect the entire damage award reached by the jury. Many of these changes preempt state law, meaning that the federal government would be overriding the will of many states, forcing these unfair rules upon them.

Unfortunately, the American Association for Justice reported this weekend that H.R. 5 recently passed its first legislative hurdle after being approved by the House Judiciary Committee. The legislation will next be considered by the entire House of Representatives as early as next month.

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Illinois Nursing Home Nearly Lost Medicare Participation For Poor Resident Care

An Illinois nursing home in Alton—the Eunice C. Smith Nursing Home—was on the cusp of losing all federal payments following repeated examples of bad nursing home care.

The Telegraph reported on the news last week. According to the story the facility was first at risk for losing its ability to participate in the federal Medicare program after it failed a site visit last September. Both Illinois and federal investigators determined that the quality of care being provided by the nursing home was inadequate. The facility was given a set amount of time to correct the problems. However, a second visit to the site in December revealed that many problems persisted.

At that point, the facility was given only two months to comply, with failure to result in loss of Medicare participation—a virtual requirement for any successful nursing home. The investigators were specifically concerned with the facility’s treatment and prevention of pressure sores as well as its daily activities for dependent residents.

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Illinois Nursing Home Lawsuits: First Hand Look At Tort Reform

The Center for a Just Society recently posted a detailed essay about tort reform written by an experienced attorney who has worked on all sides of the legal system. The author explains that his opinion on the merit (or lacking thereof) of tort reform was rooted in his experiences as both defense and plaintiff’s attorney in nursing home lawsuits.

The essay explains how the vast majority of nursing home cases that are actually accepted by attorneys are those with merit. Most attorneys take dozens of calls from potential clients in cases in which it is clear that there is a mix-up between negligence and an undesired result. Attorneys are well aware of the difference and explain that difference to disgruntled residents and their families. Even with the patients whose cases are clearly meritorious, claims require thousands of dollars in upfront attorney investment time and costs just to get the case started.

Only then are potential experts consulted who can explain the actions that a reasonably competent medical professional should have taken. By this point after upwards of $15,000 have already been invested by many lawyers, and it is only then that an attorney is truly aware if their case has the potential to win in court. That huge initial investment means that almost no attorneys are willing to take on “frivolous” lawsuits. It remains prohibitively costly for any reasonable attorney to waste time with those unnecessary cases.

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Nursing Home Resident Murdered By Fellow Dementia Patient

The American Bar Association Journal reported this week on a tragic nursing home death. Police are continuing to investigate the murder of a 70-year old resident at the Cambria Care Center after an attack by a fellow resident.

According to reports, the nursing home victim was found in a pool of blood on the floor of the facility. The 78-year old aggressor was another resident at the nursing home—he suffers from dementia. Nursing home employees discovered the attacker standing over the bleeding man slamming a door into the victim’s head. They pulled the man away and called for emergency medical help. However, there was little that could be done and the victim was pronounced dead shortly after.

The attacker may be charged with murder following the incident. Mental health professionals are still evaluating the man to determine if he is competent to stand trials for his actions. One factor in the decision is the fact that a murder charge would qualify the man to enter a long-term mental health facility for more close treatment.

The attack has only recently occurred, so it is unclear if the family of the victim plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The steps that could or should have been taken by the nursing home to prevent the attack are as yet unknown.

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Defending Illinois Nursing Home Victims Requires Year-Round Advocacy

This blog is consistently filled with information on the latest developments in the public debate around tort reform. Nursing home law is seemingly always in the news as insurance companies and other big business interests continue to pressure lawmakers to enact statutes taking away rights of legal victims. Fortunately, there remains a cadre of advocates, who fight for the rights of negligence victims by countering the mistaken assertions made by these special interests.

Recently the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA) published a report that summarized the recent letters sent by the President of the ITLA to local newspapers. These letters, many of which were reported on this blog, made factual and logical assertions debunking many of the false claims made in support of so-called “tort reform.”

For example, some letters have pointed out that, contrary to certain claims, there is an oversaturation of doctors in the Chicago-area. This means that there are more doctors here than would otherwise be needed based on the population. The doctors who leave the area typically do so to find work in places where there is less saturation. Besides that, most other new doctors who leave do so because they never planned on practicing in Illinois from the start. Nursing home lawsuits have nothing to do with it.

Other letters have spread accurate information about a wide range of topics from defensive medicine to the constitutional foundations of right to jury trials.

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Nursing Home Lawsuits Ends with $1 Million Verdict

Ohio.com reported late last month on the conclusion of a nursing home trial. The suit was filed by the family of a nursing home resident killed by the negligent conduct of her caregivers.

The initial nursing home lawsuit was filed against the Heather Knoll Retirement Village after the death of a 69-year old resident from a falling accident. The victim was sent to the nursing home following back surgery. She intended only to have the facility assist with the recuperation before returning home to her husband of thirty years and two adult children. However, she would never make it out of the facility alive.

Suffering from anemia and a urinary tract infection, the woman had difficulty with movement and needed close care by the medical assistants at the facility. However, on one occasion that help did not arrive. As a result, the woman fell while attempting to get out of bed to go to the restroom. She struck her head and broke her wrist in the fall. She died from the injuries only a week later.

Staff members knew that the victim was at risk for a fall, but they still failed to implement an alarm system that would have made them aware of her leaving bed. If that step would have been the taken, the victim may never have fallen.

The victim had signed an arbitration agreement when being admitted to the facility. Fortunately, however, the jury in this case found the agreement to be over-reaching and therefore unenforceable. Many Illinois nursing home victims have to deal with similar technical legal issues before proceeding with lawsuits against negligent facilities.

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Alternatives to Damage Caps in Illinois Nursing Home Lawsuits

When we discuss tort “reform” on this blog we are typically referring to the attempts by some to limit the damage awards reached by impartial, unbiased juries. Damage caps are likely the most discussed part of these so-called reforms. As we’ve attempted to show repeatedly, those caps act as an arbitrary infringement upon the rights of a jury to make decisions in our legal system. The ramifications of efforts to handcuff juries will be seen in all Illinois nursing home cases.

One facet of the debate that receives less attention that it warrants is the alternatives to arbitrary damage caps. As an article in the Huffington Post points out, even if all the dubious assertions made by proponents of tort reform are true (unlikely), there still exists superior alternatives actions to random caps on the awards provided by juries.

For example, even if there are some frivolous lawsuits, why would that automatically mean that legitimate claims should be punished because of the frivolous? Turned on its head, the concept would mean that all doctors should receive lower Medicare payments because some doctors make fraudulent Medicare claims. The logic behind blanket restrictions on the rights of all victims fails.

Of course, there also remain other alternatives to solving this claimed crisis. Malpractice insurance premiums can be capped if some feel the rates are too high. There is no reason why the victims of the poor care should be the ones who are forced to suffer. The minimal discussion alternatives are telling, as insurance companies and other major interests are at least partially behind the effort to take away victim rights with damage caps. A clear motive behind the effort is less to reign in claimed excesses but to immunize certain sectors from the responsibility that comes with providing care to their community members.

Our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers at Levin & Perconti believe in an open assessment about all the issues surrounding the tort reform debate. The claims made about the need for these changes and the types of changes required are both overblown and misleading. Ensuring the preservation of justice for all ordinary citizens will require community members to stand up to this effort.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Illinois Medical Malpractice Watch: The Erosion of Our Liberty

Illinois Medical Malpractice Watch AAJ Patients’ Rights Report

Illinois Nursing Home Lawsuit Filed Against Cedar Ridge Health Care and Rehab Center

The Madison-St. Clair Record reported last week on a nursing home lawsuit filed by a daughter alleging problem with the care provided to her mother at a local facility. The Illinois nursing home lawsuit claims that Cedar Ridge Health Care and Rehab Center in Lebanon, Illinois failed to provide the resident with reasonable care, ultimately leading to the resident’s death.

The victim had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and entered the facility to receive the close care that she needed. Her deteriorating mental condition, inability to leave the bed, and other mobility issues made her an obvious risk for developing pressure ulcers, infection, and sepsis. The staff members were, or should have been well aware, that this physical deterioration required special medical care and treatment to prevent complications.

Unfortunately that necessary care was not provided. The bed sores symptoms were not recognized nor was she referred to a wound care specialist to receive more specific care. As a result, the nursing home resident developed pressure ulcers, infection and sepsis on her back, buttocks, legs, and feet. Her health deteriorated rapidly and she died shortly afterwards.

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Tort Reform Would Erode Juries in Illinois Nursing Home Lawsuits

Our Founding Fathers valued liberty and created our founding documents with an eye toward creating a system of individual rights and fair government procedures. Our civil justice system remains a unique American hallmark. Our Constitution, a document with few revisions over the last 230 years, specifically lists the importance of a jury trial as one of those enshrined liberties. The right of juries to hear evidence fairly presented by both sides and decide upon a judgment is a cornerstone of our national system. Changes will have drastic effects on all Illinois nursing home lawsuits.

That is why it is shocking when those who most often call for respecting the constitution have so little regard for this principle of justice. These claimed conservatives are often vocal supporters of “tort reform,” a misguided effort to undermine the jury trial in the country. As a recent editorial written by the Center for Just Society explained, it is similar to a politician calling for the right to vote to be taken away from citizens. The affront to liberty is similar in both cases.

Tort reform claims boil down to the fact that many big interests do not like the decisions reached by some juries and therefore seek to strip all juries of some of their power. It is a direct affront to the principle of a nation ruled by its citizens. Just as our elected officials are selected by the people, our judicial decisions are made by fellow community members. Tort reform is therefore simply a power grab from the people and toward specific interests. It is based on distrust of average citizens and fear of the choices made by community members. It is a disrespect to all those who value personal responsibility.

As is so often forgotten, jury trials represent a check on powerful government interests. Teddy Roosevelt explained that juries “protect us from the harsh hand of government.” We are at the edge of a dangerous precipice when we chose the arbitrary mass decisions of the government over the judgment of our own citizens.

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Company Waited Too Long To Issue DePuy Hip Recall

Many plaintiffs in new DePuy hip implant lawsuits are arguing that the company which manufactured and sold the products waited too long before recalling the devices. As we have frequently reported, many victims are elderly community members and senior citizens.

According to Lawyers and Settlements, claims made by victims of the defective implant are suggesting that the company was aware of problems with the devices long before they stopped giving them to patients. Hip implants are suppose to last up to 20 years, but a large number of patients with DePuy implants required revision surgery in less than 5 years.

As one advocate involved in the DePuy hip lawsuits explained, the recall “has come too late for thousands of Americans…who will now live with the consequences of these faulty devices for years, if not the rest of their lives.”

Overall, over 93,000 patients have undergone surgery using the problematic implants since 2004. The recall was issued in August after pressure built upon the manufacturers, Johnson & Johnson, over the much higher than average failure rates. Patients suffered a variety of maladies including bone fractures near the implant sight, implant dislocation, and metallosis. Metallosis is caused when fragment of metal break from the device and enter the body.

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New Comprehensive Report Could Help Improve Illinois Nursing Homes

The best Illinois nursing homes do not simply avoid catastrophic cases of nursing home abuse and neglect. Instead, they proactively seek ways to improve the lives of their residents at all times. All those who care about the treatment of elderly friends and family members at these facilities know residents remains vibrant, active, productive members of any community. The fact that these individuals require certain special care and live in nursing homes in no way diminishes the important ways they contribute to all of our lives.

In that vein, it is important for Illinois nursing homes to undergo constant self-evaluation to perfect the care they provide to residents. Doing so requires keeping up to date on the latest best practices in the industry. For example, a new report issued as part of the On-Time Quality Improvement Program represents strategies for improving the care provided at these facilities in a variety of ways.

One of the main focuses of the report is the prevention of pressure ulcers—also known as bed sores—which remain a common problem at too many nursing homes. Every year the ulcers affect more than one million nursing home patients, requiring over $355 million in treatment. They cause a range of problems from curtailing resident mobility to death. The report suggests a variety of ways that these bed sores can be prevented. The suggestions include better use of knowledge acquired by Certified Nursing Assistants, use of health information technology practices, establishing risk identification programs, and the use of continuing resident feedback.

Also, the guidelines established in the report on pressure ulcer prevention can be used for other important areas of nursing home care. The concepts can be extrapolated when dealing with fall prevention, inpatient hospital transfers, and similar issues.

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Illinois Nursing Home Rankings Help Residents Make Tough Choices

Reaching the decision to move into a nursing home is typically a difficult one for residents and their families. Following that step, there remains the challenge of determining what area nursing home offers the best environment out of the many options. For example, there are literally thousands of Illinois nursing homes, making it difficult for many local residents to narrow the list down and chose the best facility.

U.S. News is attempting to help by publishing a list of nursing home rankings with online tools to compare local facilities on different criteria. The ratings are created by information culled from a website run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). A variety of factors are involved in the analysis in an attempt to fairly judge the services and care provided by each facility.

First, reports from health inspections are investigated to determine any consistent problems. The inspections include residents’ complaints as well as on-site investigations looking into every aspect of the facility, from food preparation to infection control. Also, nursing staff levels play an important role in the rankings. The health of the residents is of the utmost concern. Having trained medical professionals ready to provided needed care at any moment is a vital part of a superior nursing home. Lastly, quality measures are added to the analysis to determine the specific health conditions at a facility. The number of residents who have experienced falls, suffered certain infections, and other indicators are helpful when assessing the safety of a facility.

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Recent Verdict Highlights Problems With Malpractice Damage Caps

We have frequently mentioned the arbitrary nature and illogical outcomes produced by damage caps imposed on medical malpractice and nursing home lawsuits. NBC 2 News reported on a medical malpractice lawsuit that highlights those damaging effects created when the victims of negligent care have rights ignored.

A family filed a lawsuit after a medical error caused severe injury to their young daughter. Three years ago a hospital negligently prescribed a dose of nutrients 100 times stronger than necessary. The little infant’s frail body could not handle the massive intake. The young girl suffered cardiac arrest—she is now blind and suffers from cerebral palsy.

After hearing all of the evidence about the error, the losses suffered by the family, and the future expenses that will be required, a jury found the hospital guilty of malpractice. The community members awarded the family $19.2 million dollars. However, because of liability malpractice caps, that award to pay for the young girls care may be cut by a staggering 90%. The joint decision of neutral community members on the appropriate remedy for the situation is virtually ignored at the expense of those caring for the young girl.

If recently proposed federal legislation known as H.R. 5 is approved, than many local victims, including those filing Illinois nursing home lawsuits, will suffer the same erosion of rights. It represents a misguided, unnecessary, illogical shift in power away from victims and toward negligent big interests. All those interested in justice must stand in opposition.

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Illinois Nursing Home Lawsuit Alleges Inadequate Treatment

Some of the most heart-breaking examples of Illinois nursing home abuse involve residents who are forced to sit in their suffering without receiving any treatment. There are various reasons for the repeatedly examples of this abuse, including understaffing at for-profit facilities and mistakes made by ill-trained, inexperienced care workers.

This weekend saw the filing of another nursing home lawsuit that alleges similar abuse and poor care. The Madison-St. Clair Record reported on the initial stages of the suit. The plaintiff is a Belleville woman who claims that her nursing home, Calvin Johnson Care Center, did not provide needed medical care while she was in pain. The victim specifically alleges she was forced to go without any treatment while suffering severe abdominal pain.


The woman notes that she was very clear with staff members about her problem. She asked to be transported to a hospital to receive relief from the pain. However, the nursing home employees failed to take action. They did not allow her an emergency medical visit. To make matters worse, when the woman finally saw her physician, nursing home staff didn’t mention anything about her seemingly chronic abdominal pain.

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Trial Begins in Federal Lawsuit Similar to Recent Illinois Nursing Home Settlement

TampaBay.com published a story this morning on a high profile federal nursing home lawsuit that questions state practices overemphasizing the use of nursing homes for injured and debilitated citizens.

Specifically, advocacy groups, including the AARP, filed suit alleging a state Medicaid program was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. They claim that state practices force certain injured people into nursing homes instead of providing services at the individual’s home. The federal act mandates that states integrate people into their communities—a duty that advocates claim is being ignored by the state.

Blog readers will recall that a settlement was reached in our state following a similar Illinois nursing home lawsuit. Disability rights activists had sought changes in the way certain disabled nursing home members were treated, and the group filed a class action lawsuit against the state in 2005 claiming that the state care of these individuals was lacking. The basis of the charge was the then inability of residents to live in an integrated living environment. The claim was rooted in the American with Disabilities Act and its rejection of undue segregation.

If approved by a judge, the agreement decree will allow much greater flexibility of living conditions for developmentally disabled residents. According to the agreement, all 6,000 residents of these special facilities are able to move out of the nursing home and into a small group home.

The agreement remains flexible in that only those individuals who chose to leave the larger facilities are able—instead of forcing all in the group to move to smaller group homes.

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Illinois Nursing Home Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Resident

The family of another nursing home resident has filed suit after negligent care provided by a facility led to the death of their loved one.

Last week the Madison-St. Clair Record reported on the Illinois nursing home lawsuit. The surviving estate of an elderly female resident initiated the action against the Lincoln Home after the woman’s death last January. The Belleville, Illinois nursing home is a long term care facility that houses about 150 residents in the area.

The woman in this case had lived at the facility for about a year and a half before her death. According to the complaint filed with the court, the family alleges that the victim was given improper care while at the Lincoln Home. They claim that this poor nursing home care caused the resident to suffer dehydration, sepsis, and hypoxia. The woman’s medical condition continued to grow worse, eventually leading to her death.

The family contends that the owners of the nursing home, Weiss Management Group LLC, failed to follow adequate rules of reasonable care. They further claim that the Illinois nursing Home Care Act was violated by the facility.

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Dementia Patient Missing From Chicago Nursing Home

The Chicago Tribune reported today on disturbing news out of a Chicago nursing home. Staff members at the Alshore Nursing Home recently explained that one of their elderly residents went missing from the facility on Friday morning.

The 79-year old female resident was last seen by nursing home staff members around 9 a.m. She was walking around with an unidentified man who appeared to be in his sixties. The resident told staff members that the man was her brother; she then left the facility with him. However, it was eventually discovered that the woman does not have a brother. It is unclear how the staff members could have failed to properly identify the stranger before he left with the woman.

Police are looking for help locating the woman. She stands 4-foot 9 inches, and has brown hair and eyes. The nursing home where she was last seen is located on the 2800 block of West Foster Avenue. She suffers from diabetes on is on medication to treat it. She also may be suffering from dementia.

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Conservative Reasons to Oppose Medical Malpractice “Reform”

Earlier this week we shared information from the 7th Amendment Advocate that put the debate about tort reform into a constitutional context. Respect for the Bill of Right demands that all of the guarantees promised by our Founders be understood and protected. That includes the 7th Amendment right to a jury trial in civil matters. Doing otherwise would undermine the important Constitutional mandate, increase the scope of the federal government power, and limit the rights of individual citizens—all things most conservatives work to reject.

The 7th Amendment Advocate created a laundry list of specific reasons that all constitutional conservatives should stand arm in arm against so-called malpractice reforms (like the recently introduced bill in Congress, H.R. 5). This legislation may prove to have troubling effects on Illinois nursing home lawsuits.

For example, the 10th Amendment specifically protects states’ rights. But that federalism principle is destroyed with blanket rules forced upon all states and individuals by Congress. In addition, the passage of this “reform” would simply require more government spending, because victims would be forced to seek public assistance to recover their losses. If the doctors and other professionals who negligently cause mistakes are not forced to pay for the losses caused than that duty will fall to the public at large through increased Medicare and Medicaid payments.

The fact remains that the undermining of victims rights provides a stepping stone to the curtailing of many other rights. Freedoms for religion, gun owners, and the like are all up for grabs if the guarantees of our Founders are treated as little more than suggestions to be taken away upon the whim of certain powerful interests.

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The Importance of Enforcing Illinois Nursing Home Laws

Laws requiring that nursing homes ensure that their facility is safe and secure are only of any worth if those laws are enforced. It isn’t the act of passing a law that improves resident lives, it is the actual steps then taken by the facilities to comply that improve the well-being of the elderly resident.

That is why we applaud efforts like Operation Guardian in Illinois that conducts surprise investigations at Illinois nursing homes to check the facility’s compliance with state law. In that way, facilities are further pushed to ensure that proper requirements are met. However, with thousands of nursing homes in Illinois, it is impossible for the state sweep to check on even a fraction of the facilities in the state. That is why the eyes and ears of residents and their families are important parts of the enforcement process.

An article published in the Des Moines Register explains how our neighbor state to the north is grappling with the same issues. The author calls on that state to step up the enforcement of law to ensure that nursing home care is at the level reasonable society members deem necessary.

The enforcement call stems from the non-existent care provided to one local nursing home resident. The 89-year old victim entered a nursing home only to recover from a broken leg suffered in a car accident. She planned to go back to her home after recouping. However, she continued to suffer excruciating pain and her leg never healed.

One day a physical-therapy aide who visited the facility noted that her leg smelled like “rotting meat” and noticed blood seeping through her stocking. The victim was rushed to a local hospital. Doctors there discovered that the woman’s bandages hadn’t been changed in a month. Literally no care was provided. The woman’s leg had to be amputated, and she died a few months later.

Amazingly, the owner of the for-profit facility that failed to provide even a modicum of care believes that the nursing home shouldn’t have been held responsible. Instead, the owner claims that “rouge” nursing home inspectors are at fault for “flogging” nursing home workers.

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Documentary “Hot Coffee” Sets the Record Straight on Tort Reform Debate

Misinformation abounds when it comes to tort reform. Public relations teams with insurance companies and other big business have been working for years to manufacture the idea that “frivolous” lawsuits are causing nationwide problems. As we have pointed out repeatedly, the assertions made by proponents of this “reform” are often completely wrong and virtually always overblown.

One filmmaker took to the screen to set the record straight about tort reform with stories about the real lives involved in these lawsuits. Reuters recently discussed the wide support the film—known as “Hot Coffee”—has received from those who’ve seen it. Audiences continue to give it great reviews since its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

In it the filmmaker takes a look at the actual individuals behind many of the cases that would be affected by laws limiting victim rights. She explores the infamous McDonalds coffee case, showing the horrific pelvic injuries the elderly victim suffered when a cup of nearly boiling coffee was spilled into her lap. The document reveals how the victim initially only asked the mega-company to pay for her medical bills but was rebuffed by the arrogant corporate giant.

The movie also examines a problem that our Illinois nursing home lawyers know well—the widespread use of mandated arbitration clauses. These legal requirements are buried in the fine print of all sorts of agreements (from nursing home admissions to employment contracts). These clauses are used to take away a victim’s right to sue, forcing all disagreement into arbitration hearings. Those hearings are typically skewed toward the big interests, with unique rules and requirements that often work against the victim.

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Illinois DePuy Lawsuits Likely Involved in Nearly $1 Billion in Projected Settlements

About Lawsuits reported on the latest developments related to the DePuy hip recall lawsuits. Johnson & Johnson, the company that owns the orthopedic business that created the defective hips, recently released financial information that sets aside money it expects to pay because of the problematic medical devices.

Specifically, the business set aside nearly $1 billion to cover costs related to the defective hip implants. It is yet unclear what percentage of that figure is expected to be spent on litigation defense, payouts to victims and other costs.

Experts admit that the overall total cost to the business will rise well above $1billion. Frequent blog readers are aware of the growing number of lawsuits filed on behalf of the many victims (including Illinois nursing home residents). Thousands of lawsuits are expected to be filed, with more victims stepping forward every day. Many of these victims have suffered a variety of severe complications because of their receipt of hip implants that failed at an unacceptable rate.

Initially the fail rate was revealed to be a high 12-13% of all implants. The continued monitoring of patients has led many doctors to believe the total fail rate will ultimately prove to be much higher.

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The Conservative Case Against Malpractice "Reform"

Many nursing home residents and their advocates may not be aware that discussion about medical malpractice rules often affects nursing home lawsuits. The limits imposed by these proposals often include cases against negligent nursing home employees. For example, last week we discussed proposed Illinois nursing home law changes that would weaken the rights of residents and their families to hold a bad nursing home accountable for conduct that injured residents.

Because of the connection, it is important for all those who care about the treatment of our vulnerable seniors to work to stop all government efforts to "reform" malpractice rules.

The 7th Amendment Advocate recently explained an overlooked concept in the debate about medical malpractice “reform.” Self-defined “conservatives” are usually the ones calling the loudest for rule changes that would cut away at victim’s right to a jury trial. These same individuals often extol the virtue of limited government, promoting policy concepts that keep decision-making power with states and individuals.

Baffling is how these same conservatives fail to recognize the hypocrisy of advocating for medical malpractice “reform” that does nothing more than create blanket rules at the federal life at the expense of states and individual citizens.

As we have repeatedly emphasized on this blog, the 7th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is clear in enshrining the unfettered guarantee of a jury trial in essentially all civil trials. It would be logical for all those who respect the freedoms guaranteed by our Founders to fight against any erosion of those freedoms.

The inconsistent principles advocated by these “reformers” are disturbing, suggesting ulterior motives are behind the claims. The situation is all the more unfortunate because the practical consequences of most malpractice legislation is little more than a money grab by the big medical lobby and insurance interests. For example, the current proposal known as H.R. 5 would do nothing to limit medical malpractice; it would impose arbitrary damage awards, change liability rules, and make it much more difficult for injured victims to seek redress from those who harm them carelessly.

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