PPACA – What Does it Mean for Nursing Home Abuse Victims in Illinois?

Lately health care has been a hot topic of discussion. But beyond having effects on the private health insurance market, it has far-reaching consequences that could potentially affect you or a loved one if you are planning to file an Illinois nursing home negligence lawsuit.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is part of the 2010 health care reform signed into law by President Barack Obama, and with the rise in nursing home abuse cases in Illinois it could not have come at a better time.

Recent federal reports show that more than 30% of Illinois nursing homes have been cited for abuse. The scariest part is that nursing home abuse statistics show that most cases of nursing home abuse are never even reported. Although many nursing homes do better than others to ensure the well-being of their residents, the truth is that our Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys see hundreds of cases a year involving death, sepsis, malnutrition, dehydration, and other potentially avoidable injuries resulting from improper medical care.

Because there are so many horrifying and devastating cases of nursing home negligence in Illinois and all over the country, recent health care reforms had to take a stand. PPACA put into law a number of rules that nursing homes that have been forced to close must follow, and they may affect your rights as a victim.

As per PPACA, if a nursing home is forced to close:
1. The Administrator must notify legal representatives (and other responsible parties) of the residents of the facility’s closure, in writing.
2. After the notification deadline, the nursing home may not accept any new residents or patients.
3. The nursing home must take steps to review each resident’s file, and included with the written notification of the facility’s closure must be an individualized appropriate plan for transfer and relocation of each resident.
4. Finally, if the nursing home administrator does not fulfill the terms of the transfer plan and notification, he or she may be fined up to $100,000, and be banned from participation in Medicare and Medicaid programs.

So what does this mean to you?

If you or a loved one are or have been a resident of a facility that has been forced to close and you have not been appropriately notified or given a plan for relocation to another care facility, you may have a valid claim. A Chicago nursing home attorney may be able to help you.

The elderly are a cherished and valued part of our community. Fortunately the laws are taking steps to protect their health and dignity.

Nursing Home Death Spurs Calls to Change Lift Procedures

Many Illinois nursing home accidents involve patient have severe mobility problems. For these particularly vulnerable residents it is a challenge just to move from a bed to a wheelchair. To aid in this process many facilities use slings to lift patients from the bed to the traveling device. This procedure can be risky, as any mistakes could lead to the resident falling. It is not an exaggeration to say that for some seniors a nursing home fall could be fatal.

A tragic story explained by the Calgary Herald yesterday emphasizes the consequences of these nursing home actions and the potential changes needed to improve safety. An 89-year old resident at a senior center was being transferred from his bed to a wheelchair using a device known as a LIKO Universal Sling. The device has two “loops”: one was meant to be used in the transfer and the other was a “faux loop” only created when the straps are crossed over one another.

Unfortunately, the man’s caregivers attached the sling to the “faux loop” which was not designed to hold a patient’s weight. At one point during the transfer the stitching on the loop gave way and the man crashed to the floor. The senior’s injuries from the fall were severe and he died a week later.

In an inquiry following the incident a judge explained that “the most obvious way of preventing deaths in similar circumstances is through educating staff member about the proper way to use the LIKO sling.” In addition a recommendation was made to modify the sling design to eliminate the dangerous loop.

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Nursing Home Abuse Caught on Hidden Camera

Another egregious example of nursing home abuse was caught on a hidden video camera. Monitoring the treatment of loved ones at these facilities via camera is becoming a more common occurrence. Last week we reported on the nursing home neglect lawsuit that was filed by a family after mistreatment was discovered on hidden camera. This latest case is strikingly similar.

WKYC News reports that a man became frustrated that his concerns about his mother being abused were not taken seriously by the facility in which she lived. He explains: the employees of the nursing home “said I was taking things out of context and taking it too far. They made me out to be the troublemaker, the complainer, the bad guy…The administrator at one point told me accidents happen and mistakes are made.”

Taking matters into his own hands, in April the man installed a video camera in the room of his 78-year old mother who suffers from Alzheimers. The footage revealed a string of mistreatment by several care workers. One nurse physically hit the elderly senior in the face, violently threw the woman into her bed and wheelchair, and shoved the victim’s face into the wall. Other footage shows a continuing series of ill-treatment. At one point a different nurse hit the woman again while a co-worker looked on without doing anything.

Two nurses have subsequently been fired because of their conduct. One of them has already been charged with criminal felony assault. Amazingly the man had put up a sign in the room warning that he had installed a camera in the room. Yet, the abuse continued even with these clear warning.

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New Website Aimed At Helping Families with Illinois Nursing Home Choices

The News-Gazette reported today on a new University of Illinois Extension website aimed at helping individuals prepare for future long-term care. The interactive site is called “Long-Term Care: Talking, Deciding, Taking Action” and geared toward the nearly 10,000 baby boomers who turn 65 each and every day.

The new tool is an important addition to the arsenal that area seniors and their families can use to make appropriate decisions about how to plan for their twilight years. With Illinois nursing home neglect occurring with startling frequency, it remains vital for families to pay close attention to the decisions they make about long-term care. It is particularly crucial to have an independent analysis of the decision, considering that so many other groups providing information in these matters have a financial stake in the outcome.

As a professor at the university explained, “There’s not much that doesn’t kind of have a commercial axe to grind. There’s a lot of money at stake, especially on the insurance side…We’re trying to approach this from the consumer, from the family’s point of view.”

Specifically, the new website provides information on housing, family dynamics, care giving, and financing. It is intended to be a comprehensive resource that shares information on a wide-range of topics related to long-term care. For example, the site discusses what families should look for in a nursing home, including the proximity to friends, visiting hours, use of personal furniture, and similar issues.

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Son Convicted of Beating His 91-Year Old Mother

Intentional acts of Illinois nursing home abuse are always shocking to learn about because it involves taking advantage of the very individuals who one is paid to protect. Along the same lines, news of family members abusing their very own elderly relatives seems to stir the soul. Yet both forms of senior abuse occur with alarming frequency.

Late last week Houma Today reported on the arrest of a 48-year-old man for the abuse of his 91-year-old mother. The police officers indicated that the man pulled out a large chunk of the woman’s hair in an altercation.

It is unclear was specifically caused his angry outburst. Apparently the violence stemmed from a drunken night out. The attacker has proven incapable of control his anger while intoxicated. He was also charged with abusing his girlfriend on the same evening. In fact, the man was actually on probation for a previous attack on his mother from two years ago. Over the past ten years he has been convicted of physically harming his elderly mother on seven different occasions.

The latest charges led to a revocation of his probation. He will therefore be required to serve out the remainder of his six-year sentence for the earlier attack and may face an additional ten years for the latest abuse.

Stories of repeated physical abuse of vulnerable family members shock the conscience. There is never any justification for acts of cruelty, particularly against those who are often incapable of defending themselves.

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Background Checks Important to Limit Illinois Home Health Care Abuse

Those who follow the reports of Illinois nursing home abuse are likely aware of efforts by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to make local nursing homes safer by rooting out potential criminals within the homes. The surprise raids have uncovered a variety of individuals with criminal backgrounds living in these facilities. Laws also require proper background checks on nursing home employees. However, it is important to note that this also stands true for unlicensed individuals who work for licensed home healthcare care companies, including home healthcare aides.

A national study by the AARP Public Policy Institute explained the sporadic manner in which many states seek to protect seniors from elder abuse by home care workers. In Illinois, all unlicensed individuals employed as home healthcare aides must undergo the same background checks as those performed for nursing aides in nursing homes, according to the Illinois HomeCare & Hospice Council and the Health Care Worker Registry page of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website.

Those behind the AARP's research effort suggest that nationwide changes need to be made to protect these vulnerable at-home seniors. For example, they believe that multiple screening tools need be used to check on the utility of applicants for these positions beyond mere criminal background checks. According to the report, while 46 states mandate some form of background checks on these employees, there remains no uniform policy for screening and disqualifying candidates.

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Nursing Home Death Linked to Medication Error

A clear example of Illinois nursing home negligence occurs when a resident is not given proper medication. One of the most basic tasks with which nursing home staff members are charged is ensuring that resident receive the necessary and routine medical treatment that they require to stay alive. Unfortunately, even that basic task is often neglected, occasionally leading to severe consequences like death.

That type of nursing home mistake was apparently at the heart of a resident’s death that was recently reported in the Star Tribune. The paper explained how state health department officials released information this week on the unacceptable nursing home error.

The report notes how the victim entered the facility early last year after being diagnosed with congestive heart failure and low potassium. The condition necessitated that she receive three two-tablet doses of potassium every day. As with many elderly residents in poor health, the proper administration of that medication was actually a matter of life and death.

Unfortunately, the nursing home did not take its responsibility seriously. Over the course of only eight days the victim missed a startling twenty six doses. Obviously the nursing home medication error had severe consequences on the health of the vulnerable resident. Only two weeks after arriving at the home she was rushed to a nearby emergency room after being found unresponsive in her room. She suffered from an abnormal heart rhythm and died that very day.

The home was eventually cited for causing the death with inadequate medication administration. Following the woman’s death the facility noted that a “transcription error” led to the failure to properly give the women her needed medication.

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Nursing Home Lawsuit Filed After “Granny Cam” Catches Abuse

Virtually all experts agree that the total number of claims made alleging Illinois nursing home abuse pale in comparison to the total number of actual acts of such abuse. So many residents are voiceless in their fight against negligent, reckless, and intentionally abusive treatment. However, technology improvements may offer a way for others to monitor the treatment provided to their loved ones and help curb the poor care.

Evidence on video cameras is being credited with catching the mistreatment of one nursing home resident that ultimately led to her death. The Examiner discussed the case in an article yesterday. The victim was an 87-year old nursing home resident who was partially paralyzed and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Concerned relatives thought that the woman was being physically abused so they set up a camera in the room to watch how staff members treated her outside the eyes of observers.

The camera allegedly caught acts of abuse including the completely unnecessary removal of the victim’s oxygen mask and physical hitting by nursing home care workers. The woman died not long after the abuse occurred.

Following the death the family members filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that the treatment of the aide and the poor follow-up by nursing home administrators helped cause the untimely death. The recently filed complaint states that the staff members at the home failed to safeguard the defenseless resident and violated law by failing to follow up with the family’s allegations of abuse.

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Nursing Home Aide Admits to Pinching, Hitting, and Kicking Dementia Patient

Work in a nursing home requires patience, care, and calm. It is undeniable that there are times when it takes resolve to comply with the necessary responsibilities to ensure the protection and safety of these vulnerable community members. The very reason why many of these residents are in the home is because the close care that they require cannot be provides by loved ones in other living arrangements.

However, the occasional challenge of this type of care is never an excuse for acts of abuse perpetrated on residents. A staff member should not be working at a facility if they lack the patience or understanding to work with residents, including those who may be suffering from mental ailments like dementia or Alzheimer’s. When employees can’t control their anger, nursing home abuse and neglect often results.

That is what happened in a recent case profiled by ABC News 27. A 93-year old resident was physically abused by one of her caregivers who had lost her temper. Apparently the care worker was assisting the resident who suffered from dementia when the resident pinched the care worker. The aide then retaliated by pinching the mentally ill senior back. The confused resident then apparently kicked the aide. The aide responded by slapping the resident and kicking her three times.

A concerned co-worker reported the abuse when she noticed that the resident’s arm was bleeding. At first the aide lied about the attack. However, after more questioning the abuser admitted to the violence. She explained that when she grew up if “someone hits you, you hit them back.”

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Nursing Home Resident Dies After 4 Hours Alone in the Heat

With the summer unofficially in full-swing, now is an important time to reiterate the dangers of tolerating nursing home wandering and elopement. Allowing residents with dementia and other vulnerabilities to roam in and around a facility without supervision constitutes a clear abrogation of duties. This conduct places residents at risk of potentially fatal injuries. The danger is even more pronounced when extreme weather is involved.

One tragic example of the consequences of this form of nursing home negligence was reported this month by the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel. The paper explained on the death of a 69-year old nursing home resident who was left outside all alone for over three hours in 97 degree heat. Reports indicate that the man asked to be taken outside to enjoy the weather around 2:45 p.m. Caretakers did so, but then forgot about him until over three hours later at 6 p.m.

When nursing home staff members finally found the man outside he was in clear distress and was not responsive. The victim’s body temperature was not taken until nearly two hours later—even then it was still 101.4 degrees

Everyone in the community was aware of the heat danger. Weather reports predicted the heat wave ahead of time. In fact, a Heat Advisory warning had been issued the day before specifically noting that extreme heat would hit the area between noon and 8 p.m.—the very window when the man was left alone outside.

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Nursing Home Lawsuit Filed In Resident Choking Death

An Illinois nursing home lawyer who has worked in the area for even a short time knows that one of the most frequent forms of preventable death at these facilities is related to resident choking deaths. Chewing and swallowing issues are common among vulnerable area residents who have medical conditions that affect their eating habits. Special diets and close observations are often required to account for those deficiencies and to keep residents safe at mealtimes. When that diet is not properly maintained or if supervision is lacking, then deadly accidents can result.

That appears to be at the heart of a recent nursing home choking death lawsuit reported by the Kentucky Herald-Leader. The victim in that case had been at the negligent nursing home for only 10 days before being left alone while eating. She began choking on her food, but no staff member was around to come to her aid. In fact, the complaint states that nearby nurses could actually hear her “gurgling,” but they still not did rush to her room to assist her. The nurse who was assigned to her care took between 15 to 20 minutes to clean a “suction” machine to help the victim recover. The victim died shortly after.

Our Chicago injury attorneys have worked with many victims of Illinois nursing home choking accidents. For example, we recently helped the families of victims in two separate cases who died in nursing homes after being given the wrong food and not being properly supervised. One 47-year old victim was in the facility only to recover from a stroke. His family expected him home within weeks. He had a few teeth extracted and was ordered on a soft foods diet. Yet, staff members ignored that order and served him a hot dog alone in his room. He subsequently choked on the meal and passed away.

In a separate case, one man who had a history of fast eating was also ordered on a pureed diet. One afternoon while eating the man began choking. He eventually died from the incident, but not before solid foods were discovered in his system. Clearly staff members at the home had failed to abide by clear orders regarding the man’s meal plan.

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Bedsore Lawsuit Leads to $5.4 Million Verdict for Victim

One form of Illinois nursing home lawsuit that occurs with disappointing frequency involves residents who develop bedsores at facilities that do not provide the oversight needed to or should reasonably expect. Bedsores (or pressure sores) are lesions on the skin resulting from constant pressure on the body—usually areas of bony prominence. The pressure on those areas leads to decreased blood flow and ultimately a variety of medical complications. In the most severe cases, pressure sores cause extensive damage to the muscles, bones, and tissues surrounding the sore.

The frequency of sore development is surprising considering that they are almost always preventable. Immobility, poor nutrition, inadequate hydration, diabetes, and other risk factors can be identified and accounted for to prevent the development of bedsores. A nursing home’s failure to conduct adequate check on residents, reposition, ensure proper eating and drinking, and similar actions is never excusable.

SI Live recently shared the story of one man who develop severe bedsores because of the negligence of his caretakers at a hospital and a nursing home. That ill-treatment led to the development of a hip infection (among other problems) that put him in a wheelchair with uncertainty around whether he will ever be able to walk again.

The victim in this case was first brought to the hospital after suffering a bizarre episode that doctors later diagnosed as encephalopathy or brain dysfunction. But the man’s real problems began after a few days at the facility when he developed bedsores. The conditions of the sores worsened and it wasn’t long before medical complications developed. He was shuffled between the hospital and nursing homes in the interim as infections spread around his body—including on his hip which lead to the wheelchair use.

Eventually the victim filed a lawsuit against the facilities that caused his bedsores, both the hospital and a nursing home. A trial commenced last week and the jury returned a verdict in favor of the man. They found that both his hospital and a nursing home that he attended were responsible for poor care and were required to pay $5.4 million for their conduct.

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Developmentally Disabled Residents Can Now Move Into Community Settings

WJBC News reported this week on a settlement reached in that state that may have far reaching consequences for all those who live in Illinois nursing homes. The suit filed in 2005 argued that the rights of local developmentally disabled residents were violated if they were forced to be segregated into larger institutions.

Previously, these individuals had no option but to live in larger institutions, like nursing homes, without any choice to living in community settings. The executive director of the group responsible for advocating on behalf of the affected individuals explained the benefit of the settlement noting, “what you’re doing is going from a regime that tells you when to go to bed, what you’re going to eat, offers you few choices and options—that’s the nursing home model, it’s a medical model—the group home model is all about living in the community, your own choices, choosing what you want to eat, who you want to live with, and in a much smaller setting.”

This change is a welcome benefit for all involved—the nearly 6,000 developmentally disabled Illinoisans as well as those seniors currently needing nursing home care. Prior to this, many nursing homes began taking these younger residents with different needs in order to maximize their profits. However, most facilities did not add more staff or properly train them to work with these new residents. As a result, care was diluted for all at the facilities.

By opening the door to community settings, older nursing home residents may receive the closer care that they need. In addition, the risk of these senior residents being victimized by younger individuals with mental disabilities will be lessened.

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Lake County Nursing Home—Winchester House—May Be Privatized

Lake County Board members engaged in often barbed debate this week before voting on whether or not to move ahead with plans to privatize the Winchester House nursing home.

The Daily Herald reported on the developments in the situation. In a party-line 13-10 vote, the Board agreed on Friday to seek bids from private companies to run the long-term care facility. For the last several decades the Libertyville nursing home has been run by the county, but many community members believe that the public body is no longer the best group to operate the home.

Many other raised concerns that this was an inappropriate way for the country to conduct financial management. They questioned the effect the change would have on the unionized workers at the home as well as the potential decrease in the quality of care provided to residents.

We have often discussed the potential pitfalls that exist in private nursing homes when there is often a conflict between the quality of care provided and the profit-incentive of those who run the home. However, there is no guarantee that publicly run facilities will provide superior care. It all comes down to the specific individuals who manage the nursing home and the commitment they make to limiting the prevalence of Illinois nursing home abuse.

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Poor Supervision Leads to Fatal Nursing Home Fall

State officials have recently cited a nursing home for poor treatment of a resident leading to his death. The Star Tribune reported on the details of the situation. State officials released information on the citation it issued this week against the facility whose negligence contributed to the death of a resident who died after hitting his head in the nursing home fall out his wheelchair.

Upon giving out the sanction state investigators with the state’s Office of Health Facilities Complaints reported that the facility, “did not assess, monitor, and treat [the resident] in a timely manner” following the fall in March of this year. The man slipped out of his wheelchair early in the morning and was found on the floor. He was aided back into his chair. However, following the fall he was not checked-up on by staff members at nearly the timeliness required by accepted nursing practices.

Safe practices require intensive monitoring of fall victims, particularly in the first few hours after the accident. With elderly victims, even seemingly innocuous accidents could post life-threatening dangers. That is why close observation is required to account for even the slightest change in condition. Unfortunately, that proper monitoring was absent in the case.

As a result, the man’s condition deteriorated quickly. He was eventually taken to the hospital to receive treatment for his wounds, but it was too late. He died two days later from a massive intracranial hemorrhage. The fall caused bleeding around his head which put pressure on his brain and ultimately deprived him of oxygen.

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World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – June 15th

Today marks the 6th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day sponsored by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA). The event represents an important time for all advocates across the globe to come together and raise awareness of the mistreatment of their senior community members.

Local residents are urged to wear something purple today to show support for the cause. In addition, many communities and municipalities will make proclamations in honor of the day. For example, White House officials have already commented on the occasion, noting that today represents an important time to recommit to ending elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

They explained how up to 84% of all cases of elder abuse are never even reported—meaning that so many of these vulnerable individuals continue to suffer in silence. The abuse comes in a variety of forms including physical assault, neglect of basic needs, sexual violence, and financial exploitation. One need only follow the heartbreaking stories of mistreatment reported on this blog to become familiar with the scope of the problem.

This state of affairs cannot be tolerated. Today (and every day) is a great time to share support for the proper treatment of seniors and call for accountability for all those who exploit others. As explained in their proclamation supporting World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, one encouraging step taken by the current Administration in support of improvements in this area is the Elder Justice Act. The legislation allocated federal resources to test the best methods of identifying and responding to cases of senior abuse.

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Mysterious Illinois Nursing Home Death Spurs Calls for Autopsy

The Galesburg Register-Mail reported this week on a bizarre Illinois nursing home death involving an 82-year old resident at Heartland Healthcare in Galesburg.

According to initial police reports, the man was found dead in his room by a nursing assistance at 10:30 in the evening. The nursing assistant who discovered his body immediately knew something was afoul, because the victim had an oxygen tube and electrical cord wrapped around his neck and tied to a lever that was suspended over his bed.

Several staff members rushed to the area to provide some emergency resuscitation measures, but little could be done. Emergency responders were called and the coroner eventually pronounced the man dead at the scene shortly after. The suspicious death has shaken up many in the community who are wondering what went wrong.

The Knox County coroner explained that they are not able “to determine if it was something that [the victim] did intentionally, or it was simply an accident. He may have been trying to get out of bed. He was found halfway in and halfway out of the bed with the cord wrapped around his neck. We don’t have any exact reason to believe it was suicide.”

Whatever the case may be, the nursing home where this tragedy took place must conduct a thorough review of the event to determine how it was allowed to occur. If the man accidentally became ensnared in the cords, than its clear the facility was negligent in allowing the man’s room to be kept in such a dangerous fashion.

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Illinois Elder Neglect Lawsuit Filed Against Nursing Home & Transportation Agency

Illinois elder abuse and neglect occurs in many ways on a daily basis. We most often discuss it in the nursing home context, when caregivers fail to treat residents up to a reasonable standard of care. It often strikes at a senior’s home when their at-home caregiver (often a relative) abuses and mistreats the individual. In addition, the negligence can occur when a company hired to perform a specific service—like transport the senior—fails to act responsibly.

That appears to be what happened to one southern Illinois woman. As reported in the Madison-St. Clair Record a new Illinois elder neglect lawsuit was filed by the woman’s surviving family members against Helping Hands—a senior assistance transportation company. According to documents filed in the case, the victim was being transported from the nursing home where she lived—the Calvin Johnson Care Center—to a dialysis center to receive treatment. However, the employees assisting the woman with the move were negligent in their efforts.

The woman was put onto the bus in her wheelchair and was improperly secured. As a result, her wheelchair was able to move while the bus was in motion. This caused the woman to hit her head leading to severe injury. The injury caused her to suffer a subdural hematoma (bleeding on the brain) and a concussion. Following that injury her nursing home failed to immediately transport her to the hospital. Instead, she did not receive any care until two days later. As a result she drifting into a coma and died a few weeks later.

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Medication Errors Pose Particularly Serious Risk to Seniors

For all age brackets, there is likely not a single more prevalent form of medical treatment related error than medication mistakes. Obviously not everyone has complex surgical procedures often or has cancerous growths that doctors fail to catch. But virtually everyone takes some form of medication on a daily or weekly basis. The prevalent use of various drugs increases the chance of mistakes. With so many seniors, both at home and in nursing homes, being particularly dependent on medications, they represent the age group that most suffers from medication errors. In our area, Illinois nursing home neglect often takes the form of facility employees who make these types of mistakes.

Medicine Net News recently discussed the problem, emphasizing the need for improvements. The National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention explains how 1.3 million people are harmed across the country every year because of medication errors. That figure accounts for a wide-range of errors including “any preventable event which may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patients, or consumer.”

The Food and Drug Administration explained how fatal medication errors most often involve improper dosages given to patients. When a patient receives more mediation that the body can handle at one time serious consequences often arise. Those whose bodies are perhaps most vulnerable—the oldest and youngest citizens—are most likely to suffer problems.

The FDA data indicates that of all groups of citizens, the elderly are most at risk. Virtually half of all medication errors that result in the death of a patient occur in those who are over the age of 60, including many nursing home residents. The physical weakness of many seniors and the extent to which they depend on drugs on a daily basis are the likely reason for their vulnerability. On the other end of the spectrum, young children, particularly infants and newborns, often suffer deadly complications when their medical providers give their small bodies more foreign substances than it can handle.

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Illinois Nursing Home Violation: Three Springs Lodge Nursing Home

Illinois officials recently released the latest Quarterly Violators report listing Illinois nursing homes that have violated basic resident health, care, and safety laws. The Three Springs Lodge Nursing Home from Chester, Illinois recently received several Type “A” Violations from the Illinois Department of Public Health and fined $12,500. The violations resulted from the facility’s failure to properly prevent and handle Illinois nursing home abuse involving the unacceptable conduct of one employee at the facility.

Investigations into conduct at the facility by state investigators revealed that several residents were abused at the home and the employees were negligent in their actions to prevent and account for the abuse.

Specifically, reports indicate that ne frustrated certified nurse’s aide threw a resident’s shoe at her, striking her in the chest was proclaiming, “Heres’s your shoe.” In addition, the same employee abused another resident. For reasons unknown the CNA cursed out the resident repeatedly. On one occasion while washing the resident’s underarms, the employee angrily let her arms drop without support, causing them to inappropriately slam against her wheelchair. The victimized elderly resident did not have any control over her arms because of an earlier cerebral vascular accident. The pain of the attack left the resident in tears.

Instead of immediately taking action against the abusive employee, the aggressive aid’s superior allowed her to finish work for the day. In fact, other employees who witnessed the abuse did not immediately report it as required. Later the abuser \ explained that she did what she did because the resident was not cooperating and the employee “did not have to put up with that.” The attacker’s co-workers eventually reported that employee was often verbally aggressive with the resident—curing at them often.

Confidential interviews revealed other instances of abuse by the employee. She intentionally scared other residents on certain occasions to the laughs of her co-workers. Others reported that this particular employee liked to “torment” certain residents.

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Nursing Home Employee Arrests For Physical Attack on Resident

The vast majority of nursing home residents live in these facilities specifically because they have physical and/or mental vulnerabilities. Obviously then it remains appalling when the very people paid to provide these individuals with extra care completely usurp that charge and intentionally injury these vulnerable community members. In our area this Illinois nursing home abuse occurs with more frequency than many are aware.

That appears to be what happened in a recent nursing home abuse case explained by KXAN News. An employee at the Georgetown Nursing Home was recently arrested by local authorities after physically harming a resident in her charge. The attacker was attempting to change an 88-year old male resident’s clothing when she became frustrated by the difficulty of helping the man in this way.

Apparently she was unable to control her anger. As a result she grabbed the man’s upper arms, and pushed him toward the toilet area in his bathroom. As other staff members watched on, they then saw the woman put the elderly man in a headlock and force him to sit down on the toilet while pushing down on his chest. The resident has suffered chest pains since the attack.

Authorities did not let the attack go unnoticed. The abuser was arrested on charged of injury to an elderly person and bond was set at $7,500.

Unfortunately, there remain many more cases of abuse of this sort that are never made public and go without punishment. Many residents suffer from mental problems, like dementia, and are therefore unable to convey the abuse that has occurred. The difficulty for residents to report honestly about their treatment means that it remains incredibly important for these facilities to conduct appropriate background checks on all employees.

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Illinois Nursing Home Neglect Lawsuit Filed Against Virgil Calvert Nursing Center

The Madison Record reported yesterday on nursing home abuse allegations that have recently led to the filing of an Illinois nursing home neglect lawsuit. Two plaintiffs are suing the Virgil Calvert Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in East St. Louis claiming that poor treatment of a resident led to her death.

The suit alleges that the victim suffered a variety of medical complications caused by the poor care she received in her three and a half month stay at the facility. The complaint includes allegations of neglect, failure to supervise, and failure to notify her physician of changes in her condition. The pleading also alleges that the home did not provide the resident medical services that she needed, did not ensure that the victim’s body weight was kept up, did not ensure that her had appropriate protein levels, and did not provide her with sufficient fluids.

On top of all of that the lawsuit also claims that employees at the facility did not provide the resident with the necessary treatment for her urinary tract infection. Her doctor allegedly did not order appropriate tests to diagnose her infection, meaning that she was not admitted to a hospital until too late, allowing complications to develop. The woman suffered increased disability because of the mistreatment, so that she was unable to function at her highest level possible.

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Negligent Nursing Home Seeking to Re-open

The Chicago Post-Tribune reported this afternoon on efforts by the Northlake Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to fight a previous ruling that had revoked its ablity to take part in Medicare and Medicaid programs. Most blog readers know that that vast majority of funds that all of these homes use to run come from the federal government in the form of Medicare and Medicaid payments.

Last May, the United States Department of Health and Human Services revoked Northlake’s ability to participate in the programs because of the facilities inability to meet appropriate standards of care. It was repeatedly on the list of the worst performing nursing homes in the entire country. Specifically, several surveys were conducted at the facility where a variety of large and small deficiencies were found.

The facility is arguing procedural violations by state officials in its bid to overturn the previous ruling. Essentially they are suggesting that they were not given an appropriate number of hearings to contest the matter.

According to the report, the owner of Northlake also runs other negligent Illinois nursing homes which have been cited by both state and federal official for improper treatment of residents. The company under which Northlake was part has its headquarters just north of Chicago in Evanston.

Our Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys at Levin & Perconti know that far too many facilities escape proper punishment for the poor care that they provide. We support efforts by federal and state regulators to uphold the law. No facility should be allowed to re-open unless there are no concerns at all about their commitment to providing a level of care to residents that meets appropriate standards.

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Pair Accused of Illinois Elder Abuse Will Remain in Jail

An Illinois judge recently decided that two resident charged in an egregious case of Illinois elder abuse will have to remain in jail. The story is enough to turn the stomach of most community members. According to reports in the Chicago Sun-Times, a mother and son were arrested in late May for elder abuse after sending their husband and father to the hospital in critical condition.

Apparently the father and son became angry at the man while they were helping him with his diaper. For reasons unknown they then began physically beating and restraining the elderly 74-year old victim. The attack included the pair using duct tape to secure the man to his bed. It also involved purposefully hitting the senior with a dose of pepper spray.

Authorities eventually arrested the two perpetrators of Illinois senior abuse on charges of aggravated battery and unlawful restraint. The father and mother were denied a bond reduction from the $50,000 level. Each could face between two and five years in prison on the battery charge and one to three more for the unlawful restraint. They will likely remain in custody until their next hearing in late June.

Neighbors of the family claim to have suspected abuse for quite some time. Their neighbors had actually cared for the elderly man for several years, watching him for 12 hours each day. However, eventually the father and mother claimed that they needed to take care of him, and so he began spending most of his time in the family home. No other direct physical altercations were witnessed, but shouting matches and name-calling were frequently heard.

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Steve Levin Interviewed For Story on Antipsychotic Drug Use in Nursing Homes

Earlier this week Trial Magazine published a story on the distressing news coming out of an investigation into the use of atypical antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes. Our Chicago nursing home abuse attorney Steve Levin was interviewed for the story, providing insight on the situation culled from his many years representing those who have received these drugs inappropriately.

Steve noted how many facilities use these drugs “because it’s easier to control the patient and requires fewer staff. However, nursing home should never use antipsychotic drugs for the purpose of convenience.”

These drugs often create unnecessary risks of injury and even death. That is why antipsychotic medication like Seroquel, Risperdal, and Zyprexa come with a specific black box warning that off-label uses may increase the risk of death in elderly patients with dementia.

Unfortunately, many nursing homes continue to feed residents these pills with little appreciation for the effect on the individual’s overall health and quality of life. As Steve notes, “Our anecdotal evidence suggests that when the resident is placed on these drugs, something bad happens. Attorneys should never ignore the role that these types of drugs might play in cases involving nursing home neglect.”

The investigation which spurred the story was conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services by looking at reimbursement claims submitted to Medicare. Overall, 76 percent of claims for these drugs were for off-label conditions and dementia.

Investigative information like this should rightly upset everyone who cares about safety for elderly community members and for honest use of federal resources. The General Inspector of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services noted how “Government, taxpayers, nursing home residents, as well as their families and caregivers should be outraged and seek solutions. It is of great concern that so many nursing home residents are prescribed these drugs in the first place.”

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Illinois Nursing Home Violation: Rockford Nursing and Rehab Center

The latest report of Illinois nursing homes that have violated basic resident health, care, and safety laws was recently released by state officials. The Rockford Nursing and Rehab Center recently received several Type “A” Violations from the Illinois Department of Public Health and fined $12,500. The violations resulted from the facility’s failure to properly prevent Illinois nursing home neglect ultimately resulting in residents developing preventable pressure sores.

According to the report by the state investigators, the facility did not have a wound management system in place. These systems are required so that staff members are properly trained in the prevention and control of wounds like pressure sores. The lack of proper preparation ultimately resulted in a resident developing painful, damaging sores.

A review of the situation revealed that the workers at the home did not regularly inspect the skin of certain resident to ensure that no problems existed. The failure to inspect meant that one resident who had developed a pressure sore did not receive the treatment that he needed.

Even when the wound was identified, the staff members mismanaged the treatment. For example, the resident had the vacuum dressing left on the wound for 18 hours without being connected to the negative pressure vacuum machine, resulting in the creation of a breeding ground for bacteria. Pressure ulcers developed and were allowed to fester as a result.

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New Way To Support Nursing Home Laws

On this blog we frequently keep readers appraised of proposed federal and state legislation that may affect Illinois nursing home abuse victims, and we sometimes encourage advocates to contact their representatives to make their voices heard. By sharing your opinion about specific pieces of legislation, individuals can make a difference on a big scale.

Along those lines, the Washington Post recently reported on a new system that is attempting to make it easier for the public to connect with their Congressional representatives. The new site is called Popvox, and it claims to offer the best way yet for area residents to become involved in the political process for certain proposed legislation. The company mission is to provide a more streamlined, user-friendly way to gather information about how constituents actually feel about issues and give that information to the policymakers who will decide the matter—politicians, staff members, and others involved in the process. The site claims that it is not a discussion form, but a place for action.

To participate in the site members of the general public can visit and select the bill that they want to comment on or browse bills on certain topics. The user can then choose to support or oppose the measure and have the option of writing a message about the bill to be sent to their Congressional representative. The founders suggest that the site is a more direct way to ask your legislator to take specific action on proposed bills.

Also, besides the convenience, the group claims that Popvox information is likely to be taken more seriously by your member of Congress, because the message is sent to the representative with your real name and address. As a result, the elected official will known specifically that you are in fact their constituent and you opinion should be duly considered before he or she votes on the measure. Conveniently, the site aggregates all of the support for and against the measure and provides the information to interested groups, like the media, advocacy organizations, and others.

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Widespread Abuse of Antipsychotic Drugs in Nursing Homes

Yesterday Trial News highlighted the results of a new investigation into the use of atypical antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes. As we have frequently reported on these pages, the use of these drugs often creates a large, unnecessary risk when given to certain elderly patients. Specifically, drugs like Seroquel, Risperdal, and Zyprexa come with a specific black box warning that off-label uses may increase the risk of death in elderly patients with dementia. Yet, despite these undeniable dangers, far too many facilities continue to use the drugs in just that way.

“Atypical” drugs refer to a newer type of antipsychotic medication or “second generation” pharmaceutical. Federal investigators with the Department of Health and Human Services analyzed the use of these drugs by looking at reimbursement claims submitted to Medicare. The results indicated that 76 percent of claims for these drugs were for off-label conditions and dementia. This was the case even though the drugs carry the specific warning that they are not approved for dementia-related treatments. In our area the use opens the door to many unnecessary Illinois nursing home injuries

The General Inspector of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services expressed the sentiments of many upon hearing this news. He explained, “Government, taxpayers, nursing home residents, as well as their families and caregivers should be outraged and seek solutions. It is of great concern that so many nursing home residents are prescribed these drugs in the first place.”

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U.S. Senate Arbitration Fairness Act Would Provide Fairness for Nursing Home Abuse Victims

We have occasionally mentioned one way in which large nursing home chains seek to handcuff the rights of Illinois nursing home abuse victims: arbitration clauses. Many nursing home residents and their loved ones are forced to sign detailed contracts when they seek admittance to a facility. Often hidden within that contract is a clause that requires parties to go to an arbitrator as an alternative to a regular courtroom to settle disputes.

Most consumers sign these documents without much thought, but the clauses often have debilitating effects on the legal rights of victimized nursing home residents. When a nursing home commits egregious errors that harm residents, the victims usually have a right to sue in court to seek compensation for their losses. But with an arbitration clause the victim cannot go to regular court but must instead seek arbitration. Arbitration is an often costly, lengthy, and unfair process that leaves victims without adequate redress for their injuries.

Recently several United States Senators have introduced a bill which would seek to prevent various big interests, such as nursing home conglomerates, from having virtual immunity from certain kinds of abuse through the use of forced arbitration clauses. The legislation led by Senators Al Franken and Richard Blumenthal would eliminate forced arbitration clauses in employment, consumer, and civil rights cases. The ban would include nursing home admission forms. Without this measure, many large companies are able to de-fraud large numbers of consumers without any real consequence because arbitration clauses essentially ban certain class action measures.

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Illinois Nursing Home Violation: Albany Care Center

The latest report of Illinois nursing homes that have violated basic resident health, care, and safety laws was recently released by state officials covering abuses in the first half of 2011. The Albany Care Center from Evanston was on the list and received several Type “A” Violations from the Illinois Department of Public Health and fined $12,500. The violations resulted from the facility’s failure to conduct proper safety evaluations of offenders at the home, which resulted in increased risk of Illinois nursing home abuse.

The facility was required to conduct a risk assessment and social evaluation plan for residents of the facility which showed a propensity for violent behavior. Investigations into conduct at the home discovered that one particularly aggressive resident had physically abused another, ulatimtely resulting in the victim being sent to the hospital with three fractured ribs, a fractured vertebrae, and a collapsed lung.

Subsequent inquiries into the cause of the violent outburst and ways that it could have been prevented showed that the facility was negligent in its handling of the residents involved. Specifically, the home did not has an assessment in place to understand the triggers for the violent resident’s behavior. The resident in question was known to have a severe mental illness. Because of the facility’s failure to properly understand the resident’s particular risks, he may not have been receiving the rehabilitative services he needed to address his aggressive behavior.

On top of all that, the aggressive resident was not properly supervised, ultimately allowing the violent outburst to occur. Even after it did happen, the facility staff failed to have a proper policy in place to notify local authorities about the injury of the resident.

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