Levin & Perconti Nursing Home Lawsuits Against ManorCare at South Holland Settle for $1.75 Million

This week our Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys at Levin & Perconti announced the conclusion of two separate Illinois nursing home neglect cases against ManorCare at South Holland. Both lawsuits were settled with the facility without the need to go to trial—the latest being approved by the judge in the case just last week. The first settlement was for $1 million while the facility will pay the second family $750,000 for their actions.

Our Illinois nursing home attorneys Steven M. Levin, Margaret P. Battersby, and Tina Dave represented the families in these cases. In both cases the residents developed serious pressure sores which should have been prevented. The pressure sores caused the vulnerable seniors’ health conditions to deteriorate quickly and led to untold suffering for the residents. As Attorney Levin explained, “the victims’ families filed lawsuits to draw attention to the problems at Manor Care South Holland, with the hopes of preventing this from happening to future residents. Our clients’ cases illustrate that there were serious systematic issues at the facility.”

The first case involved an 80-year-old resident who developed several infected stage IV pressure sores during her five month stay at the facility. In this case the victim ultimately died from complications of those sores. Stage IV represents the most serious versions of these ulcers. These sores are virtually always preventable if proper care is provided to seniors who are at risk of developing them. The second Manorcare nursing home settlement was reached with the family of an 82-year-old resident. The victim was only planning to stay at the facility for rehabilitation purposes and then returning home. Unfortunately, that plan did not hold true. Instead, during her six week stay at the home, the victim developed a necrotic State IV pressure sore that required surgery and did not fully heal for two years. In addition, she was malnourished and became immobile while living in the nursing home. The family moved her out of the home when they discovered the mistreatment, but she never fully recovered from the injuries which developed at the facility.

As is often the case when many residents develop painful pressure sores, investigations revealed that cut corners at the facility led to the mistreatment of the seniors at the home. One former nurse at ManorCare at South Holland testified that during her time at the home, the facility was chronically understaffed, making them unable to provide the care the residents needed. When these homes do not have the employees required to provide necessary services, then the development of things like pressure sores are just a matter of time. As Attorney Levin explained the “wound care nurse testified to witnessing many residents lying in their own urine or feces and residents with pressure sores not being turned or repositioned.”

This sort of mistreatment should never be tolerated. It is important for all local families to stand up to this neglect and make their voices heard. It is only with vocal advocates for victimized seniors that changes are usually made to ensure future victims are spared.

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Employee Pleads Guilty to Criminal Charges of Nursing Home Abuse

When nursing home abuse and neglect occurs two types of legal actions can arise: criminal and civil. In general, civil lawsuits are likely more common than criminal cases. There are no “common law” crimes, which means that an individual can only face criminal sanctions if they violate a specific criminal statute passed by either state or federal lawmakers. Conversely, civil lawsuits can be rooted in either a statute (such as the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act) or in the basic “common law” claim of negligence.

Common law negligence claims exist based upon centuries of law built up since the nation’s founding. The law sets up general rules of conduct that society members can expect from one another and provides an avenue for those hurt by the misconduct of others to recover. Civil cases are brought by victims themselves who seek to hold their wrongdoer accountable. Our Illinois nursing home abuse lawyers help victims with these cases. Criminal cases are brought by public representatives (State’s Attorney’s Office) without the specific intervention of the victim. The sanctions available in each case is different as well. Civil cases generally only involve financial contributions that must be paid to the victim, while criminal cases can lead to actual loss of liberty—jail time.

While criminal sanctions are less frequent than civil ones, charges are still filed on a regular basis for abusive conduct at nursing homes. For example, last week Tri Cities News reported on the conclusion of a criminal case against a former nursing home employee related to the poor care she provided to residents. The employee eventually pled guilty to four counts of willful abuse or neglect of an adult. She was arrested last March after investigators uncovered evidence of her abuse of various residents at the nursing home where she was employed.

Reports are scarce regarding the specific abuse involved, but the resident was charged with hurting residents both physically and mentally. Prosecutors accused the woman of twisting one man’s hand and bending back another man’s hand. The daughter of one of the victim’s explained that the care provider was particularly cruel to residents. She explained that the employee seemed to abuse her position by using mean words to make vulnerable senior residents—including her mother—break down into tears.

It is unclear how long the woman will have to serve in jail as a result of her conduct. The maximum sentence is 15 months in jail, but those familiar with the case believe that she will likely serve five months of that sentence. The daughter of one victim explained that she would like to push for tougher laws for those charged with elder abuse. As it currently stands in the state, the penalty for this abuse is roughly the same as writing a bad check.

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$500,000 Punitive Damages Awarded in Nursing Home Case

Many victims of nursing home neglect and their families use the legal process to hold those who caused them harm accountable for their conduct. A large part of the motivation which spurs the effort is a belief that no other resident at the facility (or their family) should have to suffer because of inadequate nursing home care. Unfortunately, forcing the wrongdoers to understand the consequences of their actions in monetary terms is one of the few ways that usually gets their attention enough to take the matter seriously. When nursing home administrators realize that losing residents because of preventable nursing home neglect ultimately affects their bottom line, then necessary changes are often made to prevent other residents from suffering.

One form of damage that a victim can seek from a court is targeted specifically at this “punishment” aspect of the legal system. Known as punitive damages, these awards can be given by a jury in order to specifically send a message to the offender—and other nursing homes in the same position—about the real consequences of their actions. In the end, punitive damages are the civil legal system’s supreme deterrent device used in the hope of sparing other residents and their families from future hardship.

Punitive damages are not awarded in all or even most cases. However, they remain one of several tools that plaintiff’s can us to try to ensure proper accountability for particularly damaging conduct on the part of nursing home employees and administrators. For example, the Pennsylvania Record reported last week on the culmination of the damages phase of a nursing home abuse trial that resulted in punitive damages.

The case involved a man who sued on behalf of his father. The former nursing home resident had passed away after receiving inadequate care at a nursing home. The man died as a result of pressure ulcers and other preventable injuries at the nursing home. Earlier this year a jury awarded the victim roughly $2.3 million for his compensatory losses. Then, during a separate phase of the proceedings last week, the jury felt that punitive damages were also necessary to ensure that the corporate supervisors of the negligent facility understood the consequences of their actions. They ultimately returned a verdict for $600,000 in punitive damages.

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Illinois Nursing Home Lawsuit Filed For Faulty Furnace

Perhaps one of the reasons that Illinois nursing home neglect is particularly prevalent is the fact that many care workers fail to understand just how much their actions affect every aspect of a senior’s life. From ensuring that that immobile residents are repositioned to prevent bed sores to guaranteeing that all residents have eat the proper foods, everything about a resident’s life is often dictated by the conduct of their caregivers. When those caregivers act inappropriately, cut corners, or otherwise fail to consider how their actions affect a resident, then consequences may be severe. Our Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys have worked in this field for decades and understand the various forms in which the abuse commonly occurs. We also know that no two cases are identical, as new forms of injury are caused all the time because of inadequate and negligent actions at these facilities.

For example, just last week a new Illinois nursing home lawsuit was filed alleging that a faulty furnace had severe health consequences for one resident. According to a story in the Madison-St. Clair Record, a resident at the Eden Village Care Center claims that she suffered a heat stroke in her room as a result of the poor building condition at the facility. The victim had lived at the home since the Spring of 2009. She claims that during her time there the furnace in her room had a variety of problems. She recalls it having a stuck heat sequencer and a broken control board.

However, one night last October the furnace problem got worse. The victim claims that the furnace malfunctioned and heated the room in which she was staying up to a temperature of 110 degrees. Obviously those temperatures can be unsafe for anyone, but they are particularly harmful to elderly residents who are already facing health issues. The victim in this case claims that the condition of the room eventually caused her to suffer a heat stroke. She was allegedly found the next morning by staff members on the floor of her room. According to the complaint filed in the case, the woman was unconscious at the time and near death from heat exposure.

The woman filed this Illinois nursing home lawsuit alleging that the facility owed a duty to keep the home in proper condition to avoid danger to residents. Her complaint names both the facility and the heating and cooling company charged with maintaining the furnace as defendants. She is asking for a variety of damages for her suffering and medical costs.

The case is a good example of the many forms in which these lawsuits often come. The basic common law is a flexible system that is designed to dispense justice and fairness regardless of the specific facts of a certain case. In other words, the law is built to accommodate all situations such that a court can determine whether compensation needs to be provided or not. At its most basic level, the law of negligence provides that when a duty is owed and breached causing injury to another, then redress should be provided sufficient to compensate the victim for that injury.

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Illinois Nursing Home Lawsuit Against ManorCare of Westmont Filed By Levin & Perconti

This week our Illinois nursing home attorney Susan Novosad officially submitted a complaint in a new Illinois nursing home neglect lawsuit against ManorCare of Westmont. The case stems from the death of a former resident at the facility. The victim was in her late 80s when she entered the facility in November of 2009; she died less than a year later. Unfortunately, the record indicates that in her time at the facility the resident did not receive the level of care to which she was entitled under Illinois law. This mistreatment ultimately helped precipitate the woman’s death.

Attorney Novosad filed the complaint this week against the facility and its parent company alleging statutory violations of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act as well as common law negligence and wrongful death claims. The neglect was evidenced most clearly by the fact that the resident developed multiple pressure sores during her time at the ManorCare nursing home. Of course, one of the main duties owed to resident of a long-term facility is the prevention of these sores. As blog readers are well aware, pressure sores are virtually always preventable skin problems. They develop only when the care provided to residents is inadequate.

In the case of this latest victim, she should have been identified as being at high risk for pressure sore development upon her admission to the facility. Knowing that she was likely to develop these painful, potentially-deadly conditions, the staff members at the facility should have enacted a protocol to ensure that she did not develop the problem. Sadly, the facility failed in that duty. As a result the victim developed multiple pressure ulcers which eventually became infected.

The injuries that the resident suffered as a result of this Illinois nursing home neglect were severe. Her overall physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being deteriorated following the problems. The multiple pressure sores were particularly painful—one of them included a stage IV sacral decubitus ulcer. The sores became infected, which eventually contributed to her death eleven months after she arrived at the home.

The common law claims against the facility similarly allege that the basic duty of care owed to the resident was breached in this case. The victim suffered a variety of injuries as a result of her not receiving the level of nursing home care to which she was reasonably entitled. That includes pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, medical expenses, and other losses. According to the state’s survival statute, the special administrator of the victim’s estate is entitled to receive compensation for those losses which are to be added to the woman’s estate.

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Illinois Nursing Home Care Violation: Alden Town Manor Rehab & Healthcare Center

Not all local nursing homes are created equal. The Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys at our firm have worked on these issues for decades and have come to appreciate the fact that there are often certain facilities that consistently provide inadequate care. The residents who end up at these facilities are usually much more likely to experience problems with their care or simply have tougher time maximizing their quality of life. It is important to keep the pressure on these facilities to ensure that they keep up the effort to enact the necessary changes to keep residents safe.

One way that our Illinois nursing home lawyers stays updated on the quality provided at local long-term care facilities is to examine reports issued by the Illinois Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services quarterly nursing home violators report. The report includes a list of facilities that have violated basic resident health, care, and safety laws. According to the report the Alden Town Manor Rehab and Healthcare Center, a nursing home in Cicero, recently received several Type “A” Violations and was fined $50,000. The violations were doled out as a result of problems of Illinois nursing home neglect, including failure to notify a physician of a resident’s change in condition, failure to prevent certain medical complications from developing, and other general care violations.

The citations stemmed from neglect suffered by a resident who was admitted to the facility last year with a history of urosepsis. A few weeks after arriving at the facility the woman developed a high temperature that continued to rise, and she eventually began having responsiveness problems. However, she was not further evaluated for another four hours. Upon the second check her condition had deteriorated further, but she was still not taken to a hospital.

Hospital records reveal that the victim was diagnosed with sepsis upon her arrival at the medical facility. She also had a fever and increased white blood cell count. Hospital staff members noticed that the resident was groaning in pain and unable to answer questions. The resident’s condition never fully recovered. She was eventually transferred to the hospital’s intensive care unit where she died of urosepsis and dehydration six days later.

Later the doctor in charge of the woman’s care questioned the actions of the nursing home staff members. He explained, “I had some concerns why it took so long for the facility to call me. I did not receive any calls regarding how her condition had deteriorated or I would have sent her out.”

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Illinois Nursing Home Lawsuit Filed Against Cedar Ridge Health & Rehab After Resident Death

Yet another Illinois nursing home lawsuit has been filed against a facility after allegations that inadequate care that it provided led to the death of a resident. According to information in the Madison St. Clair Record this week, the wife of the victim filed an Illinois wrongful death lawsuit against Covenant Care Midwest, which is the nursing home company which owns the Cedar Ridge Health & Rehab Center. As is common in cases such as this, a variety of other medical caregivers were also named in the suit for their own role in the mistreatment which led to the death.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff is alleging that Cedar Ridge provided inadequate care from the moment that he entered the facility in the summer of 2009. Specifically, the victim’s wife claims that it was clear to the staff members at the facility that her husband had blood issues. Therefore, it was incumbent that the employees of the facility closely monitor his condition to measure the time that it took for his blood to clot. However, the plaintiff believes that the facility failed in this duty. The pleading states that about a month after the victim moved into the home the 53-year old resident developed rectal bleeding. However, his wife believes that the home did not properly recognize or monitor his condition. This ultimately meant that the man slowly lost blood without receiving any treatment to correct the condition. The blood loss led to a heart attack which proved fatal.

After trying to piece together all of the components which led to her husband’s death the woman realized that she needed some assistance with the effort. She visited an Illinois nursing home neglect lawyer, shared her story, and learned about her legal options. Eventually she decided to go ahead with the lawsuit which alleges that the facility violated in the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act by providing negligent care which led to her husband’s death.

It remains tragic that family after family continues to find themselves in this position after losing a loved one earlier than necessary because of neglect and mistreatment. Our Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers have worked on cases just like this for decades. Unfortunately, it is usually only through the legal process that a victim ‘s family is capable of uncovering honest and accurate information about the treatment provided to their loved and a full understanding of what led to their passing.

Many of these cases involve circumstances of wrongful death. Some remain unclear about the difference between a “nursing home lawsuit” and a “wrongful death lawsuit.” These labels often overlap. A “nursing home lawsuit” is a somewhat generic term used to describe all types of suits alleging mistreatment at one of these long-term care facilities. However, a “wrongful death suit” includes all cases filed on behalf of surviving family members of a victim who has passed away because of another’s negligence. In a wrongful death lawsuit the harm that is sought to be compensated for is that suffered directly by the surviving family member—not the harm suffered by the individual who actually passed away.

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Crack Down Needed on Assisted Living Facilities

The Illinois nursing home neglect attorneys at our firm know that there are thousands and thousands of long-term care facilities across the country, and far too many of them tolerate low standards of care. With the overall population of the country aging and baby boomers beginning to retire, the need for additional facilities will undoubtedly boom. At this crucial juncture it is more important than ever to raise standards and remind those working in these areas of the requirement that proper caregiving standards be met. Without improvement, there is serious worry that the problem of nursing homes abuse may actually increase in the future.

As the Bellingham Herald reported this weekend, advocates in some states are calling for regulators to crack down on inadequate assisted living facilities to ensure that the problem does not get any worse. For example, a recent report by one state Senate called for widespread changes to the way that assisted living facilities are regulated, inspected, and evaluated. As one lawmaker succinctly explained, “the rotten apples need to be shut down, and we’re not doing it.” These remarks come after many observers have criticized lawmakers for allowing the worst facilities in the state to stay open, even those with dangerous conditions and a track record of inadequate care.

As was the case in our state following journalistic investigations into Illinois nursing home abuse, this latest state Senate resolution came amid investigatory reports which uncovered dozens of cases of abuse and neglect at these homes which were then allowed to continue to operate. One of the first steps that the group wants enacted are changes to the ways that these facilities are punished following incidents of neglect. Specifically, the lawmaking body is recommending that facilities lose the ability to “bargain down” their punishments after inspectors cite them for abuses that lead to serious injuries or death. In addition, recommendations have been made to impose more mandatory severe fines, ban new admissions to the worst facilities, and more quickly suspend the license of those facilities which are find to place resident health, safety, and welfare in jeopardy.

Overall, those who looked into the state’s assisted living oversight process found that there was a particularly high rate of problems at those facilities which cater to residents with chronic mental illness. In addition, wandering is a much more prevalent problem than most at first suspected. Investigators discovered that a large percentage of residents with severe forms of dementia—like Alzheimer’s—were at high risk of suffering injury because of poor supervision and safety protocols.

Our Illinois nursing home abuse lawyers are proud to play a role in ensuring that the worst nursing homes are held accountable for the conduct of their actions. Inadequate treatment of vulnerable seniors and mentally disabled residents in our state cannot be tolerated. Please do not sit by in silence as these individuals suffer day in and day out. If someone you know has been harmed by inadequate treatment, please consider contacting our office and learning about how we can help your family receive redress and hold the offending facility accountable.

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Look For Signs of Illinois Elder Abuse and Neglect

One of the tough tasks faced by our Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers is getting all those who have been victimized by negligent nursing home care to actually take steps to hold that facility accountable. As we often explain, elder abuse remains a largely hidden problem. Every day many seniors are hurt physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially because of poor treatment. It is only a very small fraction of those victims who will ever come forward, explain the wrongdoing, and hold the wrongdoers accountable for their conduct. As difficult as it sometimes is to speak up against this treatment, it is only with awareness and advocacy that neglect can be corrected and lives can be saved.

Many seniors themselves are unable to do anything about the mistreatment that they experience. The most seriously disabled—such as Alzheimer’s patients or those suffering other forms of dementia—are physically and mentally unable to stand up for themselves. For others, there remains a shroud of fear and embarrassment about their care. Pride, self-esteem, and self-worth remain bruised when an elderly community member is mistreated. Many of those victims wish to simply hide the abuse so as to not bring attention to their own vulnerabilities. As a result of this inability and unwillingness to speak up, most of these individuals continue to be neglected day in and day out. The only way that they are ever saved is when others speak up on their behalf and demand accountability.

It is vital that all community members be aware of the warning signs of elder abuse. In that way, we can all act as the eyes and ears of the victims, ready to stand up and put an end to the suffering if necessary. Recenty, U.S. News and World Report discussed the frailty of many seniors and the need for loved ones to keep an eye out for mistreatment. Referencing information provided by the U.S. Administration on Aging, the report mentions of the clearest warning signs of elder abuse.

For one thing, any clear physical problems, such as bruises, fractures, burns or skin marks, should be investigated at all times. In addition, personality changes in the senior should be noted. If the elder suddenly withdraws from interaction with others, seems depressed, or is less alert, they may be experiencing some form of neglect. Unexplained weight loss, bed sores, and hygiene problems are also big red flags of improper care. It is helpful to pay attention to the interaction between the senior and their caregiver—frequent fights and arguing may be an indicator of a problematic relationship.

The Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers at our firm know that mistreatment remains a prevalent problem throughout area long-term care facilities. Not all nursing homes are created equal. However, no facility can be excused from failing to provide the basic level of care and protection demanded by residents to keep them safe, healthy, and retaining the ability to pursue their own happiness. Please be sure to keep an eye out for the signs of nursing home neglect so that you can speak up for a vulnerable loved one if necessary.

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Nursing Home Abuse Caught on Tape

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Cameras Being Used More Frequently to Catch Elder Abuse

Technology changes have altered virtually every area of our lives—from how we communicate to how we travel. Interestingly, it is also playing an increasingly important role in catching nursing home abuse and neglect. Our Illinois nursing home lawyers have previously reported on cases of neglect—and even intentional physical abuse—that have been caught on cameras in long-term care facilities. An increasing number of families are reverted to the technology in an effort to ensure that their loved ones are receiving the care to which they are entitled.

The Star Tribune recently reported on the increase in popularity of the oversight tool. It was explained how the use of surveillance technology was initially a tool used by family members, but it is now being integrated into the procedures of some facility managers and law enforcement officials. The paper notes that at least two specific cases of abuse in that state were uncovered because of the use of these so-called “granny cams.” For example, this spring a son placed a hidden camera in a desk fan and ultimately caught two nursing home workers abusing and physically hitting his 78-year old mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. In another state, officials used cameras to monitor reported instances of nursing home abuse. They eventually arrested 22 different workers after their misconduct was caught on tape.

As one prominent elder care advocate explained, the use of cameras in growing in popularity to catch a wide range of misconduct, from shoplifting to traffic violations. It is only natural for that use to expand to other areas. Some states are adopted the technology more than others. For example, Minnesota recently approved a law that allows foster care facilities to install cameras for overnight monitoring of vulnerable residents. However, while at least 15 states have proposed laws on the topic, only three has so far specifically addressed the issue.

There is disagreement about whether residents and their families have the right to videotape their care regardless of whether legislation has been passed addressing the issue or not. In most cases where laws have specifically allowed the practice, notice must generally be given to care workers that the device is installed. Still most involved in the process believe that the cameras only encourage proper care. One ombudsman noted, “I really do think it is a deterrent…I think it does have the potential to influence the way someone behaves and cares for you in the privacy of your room.”

Our Illinois nursing home abuse attorneys believe that most cases of abuse on the elderly are never reported. It remains a constant battle to have the victims come forward. It seems logical for technology improvements to be used to aid in that effort and ultimately root out abuse and neglect. Lives literally depend on proper accountability of this care. As always, our lawyers remind families that help is available if they believe that their loved one is or has been a victim of unsatisfactory nursing home care. Please get in touch with our office and share your story to how we might be able to help.

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Resident Dies After Fight with Roommate

The duty owed to local residents by their caregivers at long-term care by their caregivers to prevent Illinois nursing home neglect is a more comprehensive one than many might at first believe. The proper treatment includes basic medical tasks, ensuring seniors do not accidentally hurt themselves, and even involves protecting seniors from potential harm from other residents. The resident-on-resident harm that continues to affect individuals throughout our area is an often overlooked problem that needs more attention. Allowing vulnerable residents to be hurt by other residents without taking preventative measures is a form of Illinois nursing home abuse that needs to be rooted out.

Tragically, deaths can result from this form of violence. For example, this weekend the Chicago Tribune reported on the death of a 30-year old disabled man who was killed after a fight with his roommate last month at a group home. The victim passed away after suffering chest compression injuries following the assault. The official cause of death was ruled a homicide from compressional asphyxia—the restriction of air flow to the lungs through the restriction of chest movement.

Bolingbroook Police had been called to the home for mentally disabled adults the week before. Apparently the victim and his roommate had been in a fight and was the victim of a battery. Authorities have yet to reveal specifically how the injuries were accrued in the scuffle, but the victim was seemingly in critical condition when emergency responders arrived. He was initially taken to a local hospital and then transferred to a facility in Chicago.

This tragedy is reminder of the perilous situation of many vulnerable residents—both seniors and those with mental disabilities—and the need for their caregivers to protect them from all reasonable dangers. Our Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers know that far too often there are warning signs ahead of time and steps that should have been taken to prevent violent resident-on-resident outbursts. The consequences of these attacks can clearly be deadly. Nursing home caregivers must be cognizant of the social disputes and potential violent tendencies of those in its homes. If one resident is deemed capable of harming another or if a personal disagreement seems to have gotten out of hand, steps must be taken to minimize potential harmful outbursts.

Tragically, any local nursing home attorney with experience in this area likely knows that these facilities are often unwilling to admit their mistakes following these accidents. It unfortunately often takes serious investigations and forced release of information before the truth about the events leading up to these attacks are understood and accountability is had. The legal process is one of the only tools that most family members of these victims have to force the facility to share certain information about the attack and to demand changes be made to spare future victims. By filing a lawsuit seeking redress, the victim’s loved one in these cases is often able to force the administrative powers-that-be to listen to their concerns and provide answers. In an ideal world these suits would not be necessary and these attacks would not occur. However, we are not yet at that point and, until then, victims should not be afraid of taking advantage of their legal rights.

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Illinois Nursing Home Neglect Lawsuit Filed Against Willowcreek Rehabilitation

For decades our Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys have worked with families across the state that suspect that their loved one is not receiving or did not receive the level of care to which they were entitled at a long-term care facility. Making the decision to seek out professional help is a difficult decision for many families, but unfortunately it remains an all too common necessity. Poor communication problems plague many of these negligent Illinois nursing homes. Inadequate care, dangerous accidents, and other problems are swept under the rug and ignored if not pressed. That is why many families who ask questions about certain problems developed by their loved ones do not receive any adequate answers.

When loved ones develop suspicious injuries or complications while living at one of these facilities without adequate explanation, it remains important for families to do what is necessary to receive an explanation. Not only does the well-being of the relative hang in the balance, but the proper treatment of all the vulnerable seniors who live at the home hinges on whether outsiders step up and do something. Unfortunately, on many occasions those on the outside remain silent and Illinois nursing home neglect continues unabated.

Fortunately, there remain some families that do come forward and press for accountability and answers. For example, last week the Madison-St. Clair Record reported on a new Illinois nursing home lawsuit filed by a southern Illinois man who they died because of inadequate treatment at the Willowcreek Rehabilitation and Nursing Center last year. The family claims that the victim lived at the home for a short time—from September to October of last year. However, they do not believe that he received the care that he deserved during that time.

In the complaint filed by the family initiating the suit, they claim that their loved one died at the end of his stay—October of last year—because of that poor care. Before his death the victim became severely dehydrated, developed a blood bacterial infection, and had a perforated colon. This combination of health problems led to the man’s death, and his family believe that he would not have suffered from these problems if he had only received the care that he deserved while living at the nursing home.

In order to get better answers and seek accountability for the suffering of their family member, the victim visited local legal professionals to explain their situations and see what could be done. As often happens in these situations, the Illinois nursing home abuse attorney explained that the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act provides specific legal rights to the surviving family members of those killed because of poor care at long-term care facilities. The family filed suit recently and will begin the legal process to hold the facility accountable for the death of their loved one.

Now that the suit has been initiated, the victim’s attorney will work to collect more information about the care that the man received and the circumstances leading up to his passing. Once a lawsuit is file the discovery process allows plaintiffs the opportunity to have access to documents and records that often shed light on the treatment received by residents. Unfortunately, it is usually only after taking legal action that these facilities open up this information and share it with residents. In addition, in more extreme cases some facilities have even gone so far as to create fraudulent records to make it seem as if care was more thorough than it actually was. The complications inherent in rooting out the truth in these matters makes the assistance of experienced professionals in this exact area a necessity.

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State Prepares for Influx of Elder Abuse Calls Following Service Cuts

Through the years our Illinois nursing home neglect attorneys have come to understand the important way that state budget decisions affect the care provided to our state’s most vulnerable residents. It is likely fair to say that the total scope of the Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect problem is influenced every year by the choices that our lawmakers decide upon when allocated state resources for services to those who need it most. Understanding this dynamic is why we advocate on behalf of common sense budget policies that take the effects of service cuts on these community members into proper account.

The consequences of the often proposed draconian cuts are severe. For example, the Daily Breeze this week discussed massive service cuts that are expected to hit California soon. Many officials believe that the total number of elder abuse claims, 911 calls, nursing home placements, and emergency room visits will rise dramatically after proposed cuts take effect that take away assistance for those who need it most. In order to save money the state is cutting aid to roughly 23,000 seniors and low-income adults who have physical and mental disabilities.

Service cuts on this level had virtually never been seen, and those involved are essentially taking a “wait and see” attitude. As one elder care expert explained, “cuts to this degree have never been done before. Nobody really knows what will happen to people when these services are terminated.” However, almost all agree that these changes will mean that thousands of the area community members will simply be left to fend for themselves while trying to get by each day.

The changes are already affecting many seniors. That state has begun closing adult day-care services, where many elders attended during business hours and received basic supervision, physical therapy help, nutrition tips, exercise, and socialization. The care was helpful for those who needed a place to go when family members or caretakers were at work. With these centers set to close, it is unclear what these seniors will do. However, the day care closings were just the beginning. In the next three months massive service cuts will take effect that will place many seniors in incredibly difficult situations. They will literally go from having assistance with basic tasks one day to being completely on their own the next.

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Nursing Home Bedsore Lawsuit Filed By Family

Illinois nursing home neglect far too often involves the development of bed sores. Perhaps more than any other single forms of injury caused by inadequate long-term care in our area, local residents develop Illinois bed sores develop on a near daily basis. Bed sores are painful skin issues that are caused by constant pressure on the bony prominences of the body which decrease blood flow. Frequently these sores are found on the sacrum and the tailbone, though they can develop elsewhere.

What is always particularly tragic about bed sores (also known as pressure sores, pressure ulcers, or decubitus ulcers) is that are virtually always preventable. In other words, there remains no reason why a resident who is properly cared for should ever face one of these lesions. It is incumbent upon all nursing homes to identify those residents who are most at risk for developing these sores—such as seniors with mobility problems or diabetes—and put a plan in place to ensure the prevention of the lesions. That plan usually would involve the proper turning and repositioning of residents to relieve the pressure on areas where the sores are most likely to develop. That repositioning should be combined with proper nutrition and hydration, proper bathing, and the use of special pressure relieving devices like tailored mattresses or heel protectors.

While prevention is possible, far too many nursing homes do not take the time to do what is necessary to keep residents press sore free. Facilities that fail in this regard rightly find themselves involved in nursing home neglect lawsuits. In fact, one of the main ways that these facilities are moved to enact policy changes that prevent sores is by victimized residents and their families who come forward and demand accountability.

Demanding justice is at the heart of a recent nursing home bed sore lawsuit that was reported by WPTV News. According to the report, the family which filed the suit claims that their 74-year old mother was found with multiple bed sores all over her body. The victim’s daughter visited her mother at the home every day, but it wasn’t until the resident was rushed to the hospital that the poor care she was receiving was discovered. A nurse at the hospital discovered that the senior had bed sores all over her body, often the size of grapefruits. The family claims that the sores contributed to the woman’s untimely death.

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Advocates Call for Improvement in State Nursing Home Care

Through the years our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers have watched as state and federal lawmakers’ interest in preventing Illinois nursing home abuse has waxed and waned. While policymakers have not always prioritized actions that encourage the best nursing home care, there are usually always some advocates who work hard year after year fighting for the rights of our vulnerable senior community members.

While it is incumbent upon individual friends and family members of these residents to provide close watch to ensure proper care, state and federal lawmakers also play a vital role in keeping these residents safe. Unfortunately, many of the largest nursing home companies will only take action to improve standards when they are forced to do so by changing legal standards. Without those altered requirements, care at the worst facilities often remains unchanged. That is why it is important for advocates across the country to keep pressure on policymakers so that they do not forget they role they play in helping nursing home residents maintain an adequate standard of living.

For example, Kentucky News reported this week on how advocates in that state are urging its governor to enact new legislation which seeking to prevent what they consider systematic nursing home neglect. The founder of a large nursing home reform group is calling on the state’s General Assembly to be called into emergency session to enact legislation that would establish minimum staff-to-resident ratios. The advocate is urging the requirements to be enacted immediately and to apply to all long-term care facilities, including nursing homes and personal care facilities.

The call for special legislation was spurred by the tragic death o a 32-year-old resident of a personal care home. The man disappeared from the home and was found dead a month later. The man had a brain injury and was in need of special care. The facility where he lived was supposed to help those who did not need as much care as that provided in a regular nursing home.

Those looking into the tragic situation uncovered alarming information about the care provided at the facility. For example, the victim’s sister explained that when she visited the home immediately after her brother’s disappearance, there was only one staff member overseeing at least twenty four mentally ill residents. Following that revelation, one lawmaker that represents the area explained that he will likely file legislation to address the staff-to-resident ratios. As it now stands nursing homes have no requirement regarding the staff to resident ratio—leading many homes to provide the bare minimum oversight in order to cut costs.

State lawmakers must never forget the role that they play in ensuring the most vulnerable community members among us—including the elderly and mentally disabled—are provided a basic standard of care. The Illinois nursing home neglect attorneys at our firm are well aware of the countless cases where that standard is not met. Hopefully, we will one day reach a point where inadequate care is a thing of the past. Until that day comes we encourage friends and family members of vulnerable residents to keep a close eye on their treatment.

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Levin & Perconti Settlement Approved For $975,000 After Falling Accident

Besides working with victims of Illinois nursing home abuse, our Chicago neglect attorneys help a variety of victims throughout the state seek redress and accountability after suffering often catastrophic losses. Unfortunately, day in and day out in our city, individuals, businesses, and organizations act in negligent and reckless ways that cause harm to others. Whether the misconduct occurs in a nursing home, on the road, at someone’s home, or anywhere else, the law is consistent in providing those victimized a process by which they can seek recovery for their losses. The basic legal premise is simple. When one person owes a duty of care to another and that care is breached causing harm, then a negligence lawsuit can be brought. The basic elements needed to be proven in these cases are generally the same.

Surprisingly, the same injuries are often seen time and again affecting those hurt by others negligence. For example, we have often shared information on Illinois nursing home falls and the harm that they cause to senior residents in our area. It remains imperative that all nursing home owners, operators, and staff members do everything in their power to prevent these accidents. Similarly, those in charge of keeping apartment buildings safe and other managing other living spaces must ensure that their premises do not pose risks to those who use the spaces from accidents like falls.

The Chicago nursing home attorneys at our firm are all too familiar with the often fatal consequences of these falls, both when they occur in a nursing home and elsewhere. This week a judge recently approved a case that we settled on behalf of one victim of an apartment complex porch fall. The 24-year old victim in that case was at his girlfriend’s apartment several summers ago when he fell over the railing onto the concrete below. The young man suffered considerable injuries from which he ultimately passed away seven months later.

Following the tragedy the man’s mother filed an Illinois wrongful death lawsuit seeking to hold those in charge of the area accountable. It was eventually learned that railings on the porch were 10 inches lower than the 42 inches required by the Chicago Building Code. Had those rails been the appropriate height, it is likely that the victim would still be alive today. Our lawyers were eventually able to work with the management company involved and settle the case out of court. The victim will receive $975,000 in the settlement that was approved by the Circuit Court of Cook County judge this week.

Two of our attorneys represented the victim in the suit, Steven m. Levin & Michael F. Bonamarte. Attorney Levin explained following the settlement that “in light of the catastrophic events that have occurred in Chicago where young people have died because of unsafe porches, it is tragic that accidents like this continue to happen.” He went on to explain that hopefully this “case will set an example for other landlords in Chicago and will motivate them to maintain their properties in accordance with the City Code to prevent future accidents.”

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Alzheimer’s Patient Dies in Nursing Home Fall

Nursing Home Lawsuit Alleges Negligence Lead to Resident Fall

Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit Filed For Drugging

The Illinois elder abuse attorneys at our firm have seemingly seen every form of mistreatment of the elderly. From senior financial exploitation and nursing home falls to physical and sexual abuse, it seems that not a day goes by without news breaking of another innocent, vulnerable victim. However, while many of the same types of misconduct arise again and again, it is important not to forget the very real, individual faces behind each and every one of of these misdeeds. Every nursing home resident has a slightly different story about what brought them to their facility, what led to their abuse, and how it has affected them.

It is only when observers understand the actual individual lives behind each case of nursing home mistreatment that the true damage done can be understood. For example, late last month the OC Register discussed a new nursing home abuse lawsuit filed by a retired preschool teacher. The 68-year old teacher was forced to live in a retirement home after suffering medical setbacks and needing close care. The victim suffered from diabetes, and shortly before her arrival at the nursing home she collapsed at her home and spent ten days in the hospital. However, she got much more than she bargained for when she finally arrived at the facility, where she lived for three months.

According to documents filed in the lawsuit, the woman claims that the facility forcible medicated her with psychotropic drugs. This “chemical restraint” occurred without her knowledge or consent. The court papers explain that staff members at the home told the woman that she suffered from a “cognitive impairment” after medicating her to the point of disorientation. The facility then attempted to collect the woman’s Social Security funds. It was only after a friend of the woman intervened that the medication stopped. She slowly returned to her normal self, and she was transferred to a different nursing home where she currently lives.

The woman’s attorney explained that a state investigation was conducted following the mistreatment. In a report issued following that investigation the officials found that the woman had been improperly medicated. State code specifically forbids use of these dangerous drugs for “patient discipline or staff convenience.” As a result the state demanded that the nursing home officials submit a corrective plan to ensure that the mistake is not repeated with other patients.

In fact, the facility’s own policy states that these drugs should not be used with patients if their only symptom is anxiety. Yet, there appears to be a difference between having a policy in place and actually abiding by that policy. In this case, the victim’s doctor specifically ordered that she stop being given the drug, which is intended to treat dementia. But the medicating continued after that stop order was given.

Our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers are well aware of the widespread problem of antipsychotic drug use in nursing homes. The total number of residents who receive these drugs is shocking, and in most cases they are for “off label” uses. Not only does this overmedication severely diminish the resident’s quality of life, but it also may be dangerous. These drugging practices must be rooted out whenever they are found with the violating facilities held responsible for their misconduct.

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Independent Observers Needed to Prevent Nursing Home Abuse

Through the years our Illinois nursing home abuse attorneys have become very aware of the importance of having outside inspectors and regulators involved in helping to prevent nursing home neglect in our area. Last week we reported on the unfortunate controversy in one state where the long-term care ombudsman was forced out of his position by the state’s governor who wanted to install a more “facility friendly” individual in that capacity. It is a clear reminder of the way that political interference can become prioritized over the proper treatment of our elderly friends and family members.

This weekend an editorial in the St. Petersburg Times discussed the situation and explained the need for the political interference to be removed from the process. It was explained how, besides placing the safety of residents at risk, the Governor’s actions may also have violated federal law in meddling with the advocacy program. A federal probe was begun as part of the matter, and the state’s long-term care ombudsman program was found to be filled with undue political influence and conflicts of interest. The federal report which was created following the probe directed the state to change its ombudsman policy. It was explained how the current policy raises troubling concerns about the current advocates ability to advocate on behalf of these residents. This troubling situation exists in large part because of the governor’s willing to prioritize support from assisted living facility insiders over guaranteeing adequate treatment for these vulnerable residents.

The federal investigation had been largely spurred by the forced removal of the independent ombudsman. The ombudsman is charged with supervising hundreds of investigative volunteers who visit statewide nursing homes to investigate and resolve complaints made by residents and their friends and family. The ombudsman had helmed the post with rave reviews for eight years. However, in a recently filed federal suit, he claims that he lost favor with the local political powers when he complained about how nursing home industry lobbyists were trying to influence his work.

The news of this political interference is even more disheartening in light of recent journalistic investigations which found tragic levels of nursing home abuse and neglect at state facilities. One investigation discovered that assisted living facilities in the state had been responsible for at least 70 deaths since 2002. A task force was created to respond to the problem. However, advocates note that the grouping is heavily weighted with industry representatives, and the impartiality of the task force has been questioned.

Our Illinois nursing home lawyers firmly believe that there is no place for politics in the investigatory process for long-term care facilities. All those who are charged with ensuring that our seniors receive the care to which they are entitled must be free to do their work without worry about how powerful interests may seek to derail their efforts. We encourage all those involved in this process to maintain their independence and focus on the task at hand: providing proper care to these community members.

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Most Nursing Homes Employ At Least One Criminal

More Thorough Background Checks Proposed for Illinois Nursing Home Employees

Thousands of Fines Doled Out for Nursing Home Neglect

The Des Moines Register reported yesterday on at least five different facilities that each have been fined thousands of dollars because of reported nursing home neglect. The penalties were handed out to the homes for a wide variety of reported of problematic cases, each of which caused significant injury and sometimes death to the involved nursing home residents. The fines were ultimately levied by state officials after investigations into nursing home neglect charges found credible information to prove the claims.

One home involved was fined $24,500 following a series of problems affecting more than one residents. In on case state inspectors found that the employees of the home identified a blister on one resident’s leg last Christmas. The staff members then watched as the blister grew in size, turned black, and emitted odor. However, even though they were well aware of the condition, staff members did little to nothing to cure the problem. In fact, the resident was the one who had to insist on being taken to the doctor to have the problem examined. It was then confirmed that the resident had gangrene and a bone infection. The victim was ultimately required to have the leg amputated above the knee.

The same negligent nursing home was also fined for its conduct that led to another resident falling out of mechanical lift. This spring the residents fell while on the lift. The staff members involved stayed with her for a short time before leaving. When the resident’s daughter came to visit about a half hour later, she found her mother alone on her room floor while bleeding from the head. She stayed with her mother for half an hour before an ambulance was called. The daughter reports that in that time not a single staff member came over to help or check on her loved one.

Other facilities also faced fines for inadequate care being provided. For example, one facility was given a $15,000 fine after a resident was killed following a series of falls. According to reports by inspectors, the resident fell at the home this March, April, and May. Then in June, the victim was found on the floor of the facility and taken to the emergency room. She suffered a fractured skull and had bleeding on the brain. She died about a week later. The inspectors believe that the nursing home failed to properly supervise the resident who was clearly at risk for suffering from these nursing home falls.

Our Illinois nursing home neglect attorneys know that many facilities throughout the country, and including in our area, provide substandard care on a daily basis that takes the lives of our friends and family members. There is simply no excuse for most of these facilities to allow some of these accidents to occur. These Illinois nursing home neglect problems usually originate at facilities that systematically cut corners in order to save money. When there are inadequate staff members or improper training, it is usually only a matter of time before the problem results in actual harm to the residents.

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Bedsore Lawsuit Leads to $5.4 Million for Victim

Nursing Home Lawsuit Ends in $9.5 Million Wrongful Death Verdict

Scorecard Shows Illinois Nursing Homes One of the Worst At Preventing Pressure Ulcers

Our Illinois nursing home neglect attorneys paid close attention to the release of a new report this week by AARP’s Public Policy Institute, The Commonwealth Fund, and the SCAN Foundation on state performance in providing long-term care services. The results indicate that certain parts of the country dramatically outperform others when it comes to providing quality services void of nursing home neglect or abuse. Unfortunately, even those states which performed the best on the quality of care measures identified in the survey have a long way to go before offering the highest-quality services.

The report examined four different areas of long-term services and support offered to adults, those with physical disabilities, and family caregivers. Those include: affordability and access, choice of setting and provider, quality of life and quality of care, and support for caregivers. Each state’s nursing home performance was measured on these variables as a whole and also on twenty five individual indicators.

The study’s authors explain that the research is intended to help the millions of older adults and the disabled who do not have the information they need to determine the best way to access high quality services. It is also helpful to local policymakers who are figuring out how to make logical choices to improve and encourage positive treatment in all aspects of long-term care.

The authors indicate that the data was clear in explaining how every state has a lot of improving to do before caregiving reaches a high level across the board. For example, if all states worked at the level of the highest performing states regarding unnecessary nursing home admissions then over 200,000 more individuals who were capable would be able to live on their own. Similarly, if unnecessary hospitalizations in all states were the same as that of the best states currently, then over 120,000 residents would be spared the trouble of hospitalization and over $1.3 billion would be saved. As it currently stands, nearly 30% of residents in the worst performing facilities are forced to receive costly hospitalizations whereas the rate at the best performing hospitals is only 10 percent. Clearly much work can be done to ensure that nursing home residents remain as healthy as possible without the need to be sent to the hospital after problems are allowed to fester.

One sad piece of data included in the report of relevance to local community members is the poor rate at which many local facilities prevent the development of Illinois pressure ulcers. Blog readers are likely well aware of these ulcers—frequently referred to as bed sores—which develop on bony prominences of immobile residents. According to data in the report, Illinois ranks in the bottom five states in the entire country when it comes to ensuring that residents do not develop these painful and often deadly sores.

The Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers at our firm have worked with hundreds of families in the area whose loved ones have developed pressure sores. There is usually no excuse for the development of these ulcers. Please get in touch with our office if you know of a local senior who has suffered after developing one of these preventable sores.

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Advocates Concerned About Inequality in Nursing Home Pressure Sore Rates

Signs & Symptoms of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Federal Regulators Say Ombudsman Issue Violated National Nursing Home Laws

In our area, it is clear that beyond the filing of an Illinois nursing home lawsuit, one of the important ways that local Illinois nursing home neglect is rooted is out is through the use of public inspections. While far from being a one-stop solution, it is very helpful to have at least some systematic inspection and review of the quality of care provided at various facilities by trained inspectors who understand the needs and risks associate with nursing home care. These inspections are similar across the country, as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid often pay for part of these inspections nationwide. This helps to ensure that the federal taxpayer dollars are not being spent on inadequate care to help these senior community members.

However, inspections are only worthwhile if the process by which they are undertaken is fair, impartial, consistent, and without undue influence. Unfortunately, it some states it remains unclear if those guidelines are being met. The Chronicle, reported this week on one state that federal regulators say violated the spirit of federal law—the U.S. Older Americans Act—by curtailing the independence of the state’s ombudsman. The ombudsman is intended to be an advocate for the state’s local nursing home residents.

A report was issued this week which explains how the state’s governor and elder affairs department inappropriately asked the former long-term care ombudsman to resign after severely limiting his duties. The former ombudsman, who know leads a senior care advocacy group, explained that the federal report is an unprecedented step that may lead to changes that affect all states. Specifically, the federal report explained that the federal nursing home law may have been violated when a department secretary was given final power to approve or dismiss the volunteers who play a crucial rule in monitor the state’s nursing homes. Previously the ombudsman had played this crucial role. In addition, the report explained that the state likely violated the same law by disallowing the ombudsman from lobbying lawmakers or speaking to the media.

Apparently the problems began when some interests in the state with ties to the nursing home lobby suggested a replacement to the current ombudsman. Before winning the governorship, the state’s chief executive who made the ombudsman resign had opposed plan by the ousted elder care advocate to collect information about nursing home ownership and directors throughout the state. The federal report issued following an investigation into this situation found that the ombudsman was removed for unjust reasons. It noted that while the state has the power to appoint and remove the individual in this position, it cannot use that authority in order to achieve what they cannot do otherwise under federal law. The federal report also explained that the situation has dealt blow to the agency’s ability to provide proper advocacy for local nursing home residents.

Our Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers understand well the need for impartial, fair investigations of local facilities. This important tool helps to keep these care centers in check, discouraging lackadaisical day-to-day care that may put residents at risk.

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Openness Needed to Help Consumers Prevent Nursing Home Abuse

The Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers at our firm spend much of our time learning about the specific circumstances surrounding the care provided to our clients that led to their harm. We work hard to conduct proper and thorough investigations and to use the available legal processes to collect information that is useful in court proceedings. In fact, it is often only through the legal process and the filing of a Illinois nursing home lawsuit that the families of these victims are able to learn specifically what happened to their loved one.

It is unfortunate that it takes this much for open and honest information to be shared about nursing home mistreatment. Unfortunately, many parts of the country experience the same struggles and influential nursing home interests work to keep information hidden and secretive. Even publically collected information is often kept hidden from those seeking to understand the quality of care provided at certain facilities.

For example, this week the Des Moines Register published a story about how the American Civil Liberties Union is getting involved in a dispute with a state agency seeking the disclosure of statistical information about nursing home inspections. Specifically, the ACLU is asking for clarification to determine the specific legal basis that the state’s office of inspections and appeals is using to deny access to inspection data. The state claims that the information—collected and maintained by state employees—cannot be released unless the federal government gives authorization. There is no clear legal justification for this unique claim.

The entire disagreement began after a journalistic investigation sought the department to provide information about the number of uninvestigated complaints about nursing home negligence, the total number of violations that have been issued by the state, and the total resources being spent on nursing home inspections. All of those clear requests for what should be public information were rebuffed.

The bizarre reason used to justify the denial of information was that the federal authorities owned the data—specifically the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Therefore, CMS approval was required before release of the information. However, CMS only pays for a portion of the costs associated with this data collection. The state pays for the rest, and so it is unclear why the information collected by agents paid by state taxpayers should be kept hidden from those taxpayers. As one advocate complained, “there seems to be something totally dysfunctional in the area of open government when a state agency can hide behind a federal agency in order to not disclose information about what they are doing.”

In our area, it is clear the open and honest information is an important factor in eliminating Illinois nursing home neglect. No facility that provides quality care should go extreme lengths to keep information away from the public or hide it from the family members of residents. All those who have loved ones in these homes should demand open and timely access to basic statistics about the quality of treatment at these homes.

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September is World Alzheimer’s Month

Through our many years of experience working with victims of local elder abuse, our Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers recognize the types of individuals who are most likely to be victimized by mistreatment. Unfortunately, the more vulnerable a certain individual is, the more likely he or she is to fall victim to the carelessness, recklessness, or the outright intentional misconduct of others. For example, those with particular mental deficiencies, such as sufferers of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are often the most vulnerable to mistreatment.

Those who face these problems are prime targets because they often require additional assistance, are frequently incapable of understanding the exact level of care to which they are entitled, and may be incapable of letting others know about their abuse. The mistreatment can come in a variety of forms. On one hand, these seniors may be prone to certain physical issues—such as becoming a victim of a nursing home fall. These seniors susceptibility make it important for caregivers at these facilities to have specific plans in place to account for these risks. Those plans might include actions that make it less likely for the senior to fall and ensure that the resident is not allow for periods of time or in areas where they may face certain obstacles.

Besides the physical issues faced by these seniors, many dementia and Alzheimer’s patients are targeted by those seeking to financially profit from them. Elder financial abuse and exploitation remains a far too prevalent problem. It is hard for advocates to get a proper gauge for the total extent of the problem because many victims of this form of senior abuse never come forward, instead they suffer in silence. The mental problems associated with these diseases make it common for seniors suffering with mental issues to be targeted by the unscrupulous.

The many unique problems face by Alzheimer’s and dementia patients make it important that others be aware of the issues to step in and help if needed. As part of that awareness project the Alzheimer’s Association is participating in September’s designation as World Alzheimer’s Month. The project is intended to spread information about the disease, support those many families currently dealing with it, and inform advocates about ways that they can help fight the disease and fight the mistreatment faced by sufferers.

In particular, September 21st is a focal point of the project, with all advocates being urged to wear purple as part of Alzheimer’s Action Day. Others are also urged to turn their Facebook picture purple by using the organization’s “End Alz” logo. Certain items are also being sold to raise funds for Alzheimer’s related research.

The Illinois nursing home attorneys at our firm are well aware of the issues faced by seniors in the assisted-living context. Literally millions of people are living with dementia, and they often end up in long-term care facilities where their unique needs are supposed to be met. Many of those care workers do a great job providing for those needs. Unfortunately, there remain some less than thorough employees who allow mistreatment and neglect to injury and kill those who face these mental problems. That unacceptable treatment must be identified and rooted out whenever possible.

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Slow Medicare Process Disrupting Nursing Home Lawsuits

Our Illinois nursing home neglect attorneys understand that there are often many complexities involved in seeking recovery for mistreatment at a long-term care facility. Far from being a straightforward process whereby a victim shares their story and receive the recovery to which they are entitled, many victims must jump through many hoops before receiving justice. The already disheartening complications present in the system make all attempts to make it even harder for victims to recover particularly misguided.

Many community members fail to appreciate all that is involved in a nursing home abuse lawsuit. For example, as a new story posted at Fighting for Justice explained, red-tape at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) often resulting in problems for abuse victims. When a victim of mistreatment recovers damages, CMS is usually able to recoup expenses that it paid that victim for the care received. However, frequently CMS is slow to calculate the amount of money that they are owed because of an inefficient Medicare Secondary Payer process.

Following a successful trial or a fair settlement, a victim still must wait to receive their funds until the Medicare calculation process is complete. When CMS delays, a serious financial burden is often placed on those victims who are struggling to keep up with health care expenses and lost wages. Amazingly, in some cases CMS officials do not calculate a final amount until years after a judgment or settlement is reached. Nursing home abuse victims are left in the lurch that entire time.

The severe injustice and hardship that this creates has led many advocates to push for changes. Diverse groups from the American Association for Justice to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have called on CMS to streamline the process. These organizations explain how the inefficiency directly hurts society’s most vulnerable members, besides being incredibly wasteful of taxpayer money. In some cases the amounts of money that CMS demands as part of the repayment is so small that the processing costs are even larger than the amount collects. In these situations, the victims suffer all in a system that actually results in a net loss for taxpayers.

These advocates are throwing their support behind a new bill to fix the situation known as the Medicare Secondary Payer Enhancement Act. The bill would set a time limit on how long Medicare has to notify parties of the amount owed to the program. Medicare would lose its right to collect if it waited long. As it now stands, the program is not penalized for even the longest delays.

Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti work hard to provide fast, efficient, fair justice for all those injured by inadequate nursing home treatment. Our professionals are well aware of the various bureaucratic issues that stand in the way of victims receiving the funds to which we they are entitled. We support all efforts that improve the process so that victims do not face prolonged hardship that could be ended if government officials performed at a reasonable rate of speed. There is no excuse for the delay which only works to further injure those who have already been mistreated.

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Negligent Nursing Home Has Admission Suspension After Resident Privacy Violated

Proper care giving at long-term care facilities that is free of nursing home neglect means more than just the prevention of serious physical harm to the resident. Unfortunately, so many local residents forget that when an elderly loved one enters one of these facilities to receive additional care they continue to deserve to live in an environment that prioritizes their quality of life. These seniors still need social interaction, mental stimulation, creative outlets, and protection of their basic privacies and dignity. Our Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers know that many employees at these homes fail to understand this concept.

For example, Knox News reported late last week on actions by two caregivers which showed a clear disrespect for the residents who depended on them. Two certified nursing assistants at a home took pictures of one resident after a shower with undergarments on the individual’s head. The photo was then forwarded to several other staff members and the daughter of one other nursing assistant. This conduct was in clear violation of the dignity of the unsuspecting resident. State investigators fined the nursing home involved and temporarily blocked the home from having new admissions until policy changes are implemented which ensure that this conduct is prevented in the future.

Two years ago the same state had to deal without another home that was the site of the same form of nursing home neglect and mistreatment. In that case, two certified nursing assistants took many downright degrading photos of resident—some in partial states of undress. Those employees were also immediately fired. In addition, they were found guilty of several counts of elder neglect and sentenced to a variety of criminal sanctions. New admissions at that facility were also temporarily suspended until new inspections were undertaken which showed that all problems had been corrected and that residents were safe.

The same large nursing home company owned both of these negligent facilities. It is a sad example of how lax treatment of caregivers can create a culture at certain homes which gives these employees the impression that this type of conduct is tolerated. Ideally, it should not be nursing home regulators or private individuals who come forward to raise awareness of this mistreatment. Instead, the nursing home itself should be the one which catches all of these abuses of power and takes appropriate action. However, proper internal regulation is a rare occurrence at many of the worst nursing facilities.

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Nursing Home Neglect Leads to License Revocation

All states, including Illinois, require facilities to be licensed by a public body before opening their doors and accepting residents. This is a common sense regulation to ensure that these facilities are meeting basic safety requirements and have the resources necessary to provide residents with the quality of care to which they are reasonably entitled. In theory, this licensure requirement would work to limit the prevalence of nursing home neglect, because homes that were not capable of providing proper care or who failed to properly prevent repeated mistreatment would lose their license and be essentially shut down. Unfortunately, license requirements alone are insufficient to ensure that all of our area seniors in these facilities are properly cared for. There are various reasons for this. On one hand, the total number of facilities and the tight state budgets make it difficult for state inspectors to examine and investigate all facilities as routinely as they would like. Therefore, many of the worst facilities go unpunished because not enough involved individuals learn about the misconduct. In addition, even after misconduct has been found, there are often many avenues and legal tricks that these facilities use to postpone punishment and avoid it altogether.

The repeated examples of Illinois nursing home abuse that are still reported are a testament for the need for additional safeguards to help these vulnerable community members. Nursing home lawsuits are one of those safeguards. However, there are times when state inspectors and licensure requirements work specifically to spare seniors suffering.

For example, Independent News reported last week on how repeated instances of nursing home abuse and neglect led to the revocation of one facility’s operating license. The company that owns the particularly negligent facility was stripped of its license to operate after officials from the state’s Department of Public Health found “serious violations related to quality of care and actual harm to patients.” The investigators conducted their investigation amid rampant claims of abuse and neglect at the home in question.

The facility was placed under state control after the license revocation, but it has already been purchased by another large nursing home company. It remains to be seen whether the change in ownership will offer the change in care giving quality residents deserve. The facility has changed hands repeatedly over the last two decades. It seems few of the large companies which previously owned the facility were able to create a living environment that was void of neglect. Only three months into this year, the facility had already been cited 43 times for deficiencies. Several of those citations were related to serious instances which have the potential to cause serious harm to residents.

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Woman Claims She Was Fired After Reporting Illinois Nursing Home Neglect

The Madison-St. Clair Record published a story this week on a retaliatory discharge lawsuit that has connections to Illinois nursing home neglect. According to the report, a former employee of Maryville Manor is claiming that she was unfairly discharged after raising awareness of patient mistreatment of the facility. The nursing home provides services for the mentally and physically handicapped residents.

According to the former employee’s legal complaint, she noticed disturbing signs of nursing home neglect while working at the facility. For example, she claims that she saw other nursing home staff member try to hide information about the escape of a patient who later died. In a difference instance, the plaintiff in this employment lawsuit claims that she saw co-workers failing to help a resident who was having breathing difficulties—the individual later died as a result of the failure to aid. On other occasions the plaintiff noticed additional routine failure on the part of care workers to provide safe assistance to those at the home.

The woman mentions in the complaint that she went to her supervisors after witnessing the problems. She did not want to remain silent about the mistreatment that she saw around her. However, shortly thereafter the woman was fired from her job at the home. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act has specific prohibitions against mistreatment in these facilities. The lawsuit states how state public policy considerations prohibit employers from discharging employments simply because of their reporting violations of this important state law. The lawsuit seeks damages for the lost wages and other injuries suffered as a result of the wrongful termination.

These are serious allegations, and a sad reminder of the challenges faced by those seeking to hold wrongdoers responsible for Illinois nursing home abuse. Our Chicago nursing home lawyers know that , unfortunately, misinformation is spread and evidence is covered up after residents are injured at many of these homes. Far too many nursing home owners and operators are willing to do everything in their power to cover up their misdeeds. In many cases the employees who may have been involved in possible mistreatment are willing to deceive in order to make themselves look better. When an employee comes forward with questions about systematic abuse, some operators seek to punish the honest employee instead of the negligent ones. It is easier for some operators to simply ignore problems and silence critics instead of dealing with the underlying issues of inadequate caregiving.

Many local families have dealt with the frustrating lack of information often provided by area nursing homes. When a loved one suffers injury while in the home, many families have suspicions of mistreatment. However, it is often difficult for the family to get more information about the specific actions which may have led to the problems. The stonewalling that often occurs in these situations is why it is vital for local families to receive professional help getting to the root of these problems. It usually takes unique investigation by experienced attorneys to collect information which honestly explains the treatment that victimized nursing home residents experienced.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

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Class-Action Illinois Nursing Home Settlement Gets Preliminary Approval From Judge

Earlier this week we mentioned the much-heralded settlement reached in the Illinois nursing home lawsuit involving disabled resident rights. The agreement arose following a long-standing class-action suit which sought to make state officials provide alternative living options for Illinois residents with disabilities who had previously been forced to live in local nursing homes. Those calling for changes believe that these individuals should not be forced to live in often negligent Illinois nursing homes with the most restrictive living condition and instead should have been given opportunities to live on their own.

The 2007 lawsuit was filed on behalf of local residents who were capable of living in community settings with at-home aid but were not allowed to do so while receiving state assistance. For example, one local resident was forced to receive state aid to help after suffering a stroke which forced him out of his job as a delivery truck. He had to move into a nursing home with three roommates in a single room, little privacy, and a curfew. This was all required even though he could have received the aid he needed while in his own home or apartment.

Observers believe that recent reports highlighting the prevalence of Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect may have played a role in a resolution finally being reached in this case. A settlement was finally reached this week with state officials to provide these individuals with more living options. More than 20,000 low-income individuals with physical disabilities living in local nursing homes could be affected by this decision. Proponents of the settlement explain that it will both improve the quality of life of thousands of disabled residents while saving the state money at the same time. If approved the agreement will proceed with phased changes to the current system. In the first phase, the state would provide at least $10 million to help over a thousand residents move out into houses or apartments in the community. That would be followed by a similar second phase with more individuals being helped.

A local federal judge recently gave her preliminary approval to the plan, and it will now progress to a late December hearing where comments and objections can be provided. At that point the judge will decide whether or not to give a final approval to the agreement which will likely then become law.

This agreement was actually one of three closely related class-action suits involving the care and housing of mental ill and disabled Illinois adults. Similar agreements have been reached in those cases involved the living situation of at least 13,000 local residents.

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Arbitration Agreements Continue to Unfairly Limit Rights of Nursing Home Neglect Victims

Our Illinois nursing
home neglect attorneys
have come to understand the variety of tricks that many of the largest nursing home conglomerates use to avoid paying compensation after causing injury to residents. One of those strategies involves the use of arbitration agreements. These agreements are usually clauses found in contracts signed by nursing homes residents and their families when they seek to enter one of these facilities. These agreements are often hidden in the usually overwhelming stack of paperwork that must be signed upon entrance.

Many of those who advocate on behalf of nursing home neglect victims have raised awareness about the injustice of these agreements. What unsuspecting family members do not know is that these agreement may act as a sever limitation on their legal rights. Arbitration agreements seek to force victims of abuse into a separate legal process outside of the regular court system to decide issues of potential liability and punishment. These arbitration hearings are often costly and come without many of the usual rights and privileges found in regular legal proceedings.

Unfortunately, nursing homes are increasing using these misguided agreements. A new article published by the John Marshall Law School Journal explained this expanded use. New research found that the health care industry had historically been reluctant to use these pre-dispute binding arbitration agreements. However, nursing homes seem to be bucking that trend, as new data indicates that at least 43% of nursing homes now incorporate these required clauses into their admission contracts. All of the major nursing home chains use them and a growing number of smaller operators are adding them to their regular routines.

These agreements come in various forms. The research found that the largest chains usually use a form of the model arbitration agreement drafted by the American Health Care Association. These include a 30-day rescission and language stating that it is not a precondition to admission. However, very few residents and their families are made aware that the provision are not required. In normal practice these individuals are given the impression that they have no choice but to sign all that comes before them.

Other forms of arbitration agreements require the arbitration to be conducted at the actual nursing home if no other location is found—a particularly unfair provision. Some others include limits on damages, discovery, and punitive losses. In all its forms, however, the clear purpose of these agreements is to make it harder for victims of negligent nursing home care to receive compensation for their losses and to hold wrongdoers accountable for their conduct.

Pre-dispute binding arbitration clauses are something about which our Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers have long fought. Far too many innocent victims have unknowingly been forced to give up fundamental rights. The prevalence of nursing home neglect and the need for clear incentives to press these home to make improvements makes it vital for these homes to be held accountable every time that their neglect causes harm. Arbitration agreements essentially immunize certain facilities from responsibility for their poor care. All community members are urged to be on the lookout for these agreements and avoid signing them at all costs.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

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

Standing Up For Seniors Report: Forced Arbitration

Trouble History for Negligent Nursing Home Charged with Medicaid Fraud

Our Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers have previously shared information on the out-of-state facility which is now facing federal Medicare and Medicaid fraud charges. The facility is accused of billing federal coffers for more than $16 million in services that government officials have deemed “worthless.” In an unprecedented move, federal officials filed the fraud suit after investigators uncovered care at the facility that they considered grossly deficient. If found guilty of the fraud, the company would face stiff financial penalties. For one thing, each individual count of fraud comes a fine totaling anywhere from $5,500 to $11,000. In addition, the company would be required to repay Medicare and Medicaid three times the amount of the government’s loss. This tripling of damages is intended to act a penalty to discourage facilities from assuming that there is nothing to risk from billing more than legally allowed.

These federal charge are not the first legal challenges faced by these assisted-living operators. This week NKY News reported that the negligent nursing home operators have settled at least three other cases in the past after wrongful death lawsuits were filed against the parent company which owns the facility. Wrongful death lawsuits are claims brought by surviving family members alleging that negligent or abusive care was at least partially at fault for the death of their loved one.

The most recent settlement involved the care provided to an 88-year old resident of one of the facilities owned by the nursing home conglomerate. The woman had a history of falls and was suffering from dementia. The complaint filed in the case explained that the woman experienced several nursing home falls before eventually breaking her hip. She was sent to a nearby hospital after the fracture, and she died at the medical facility from complications shortly thereafter.

The federal lawsuit stemming from systematic nursing home neglect is a testimony to the unfortunate trend for instances of mistreatment to occur repeatedly in the same nursing homes or groups of facilities run by the same nursing home ownership conglomerates. This is the case because accidents that often lead to lawsuits usually arise not as the product of fluke occurrences but as inevitable consequences of cut corners and inadequate safety protocols.

Far too many nursing homes seek to maximize their profits at the expense of providing the best care possible for the residents who count on them. For example, many of these for-profit institutions cut back on staff members, meaning that at any given time there are fewer nurses and nurses’ assistants in the halls of these homes checking on residents and attending to their needs. This means that many vulnerable residents—particularly ones with mental illnesses or prone to falls—are frequently left alone and improperly monitored. Lack of oversight then increases the odds significantly that residents will be injured in a fall, develop pressure sores, or have other care needs go unfulfilled.

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