American Medical Directors Association Submits Resolution on Use of Atypical Antipsychotic Medication

Our Illinois personal injury lawyers know that mistreatment in long-term care facilities frequently involves small, systematic abuses that have cumulatively harmful effects on residents. These daily mistreatments are actually much more common than dramatic, one-time instances of neglect which most often grab newspaper headlines. For example, misuse of medications occurs consistently at assisted living facilities of all stripes with serious ramifications on the well-being of senior residents. Fortunately, over the past few months there has been more and more attention draw to the nursing home medication problems, particularly the troubling excessive use atypical antipsychotics.

Last week the American Medical Directors’ Association (AMDA) submitted a resolution to the American Medical Association’s (AMA) House of Delegates on that very topic. The group’s statement was entitled “Long Term Care Prescribing of Atypical Antipsychotic Medications,” and it urged the body to more closely look into the concerns about the dangers of these medications when given to seniors for off-label purposes. Specifically, the medical group’s resolution suggests that the AMA conduct a wide range of alternative activities besides medications to manage behavioral and psychological problems of nursing home residents. The AMDA further urges the body to support more research into medication alternatives and to collaborate with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on relevant educational tools and programs. Considering the scope of the misuse of these drugs in long-term care facilities in our area, our Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys fully support this latest call to action.

Increased attention being focused on this issue is a long-time coming. These drugs have very real effects on the quality of life of nursing home resident who receive them. Many local residents and their families are likely familiar with those effects. Residents are often left sluggish, inactive, and unable to meaningfully interact with those around them. Antipsychotic drugs may make residents a bit easier to handle for the nursing home staff members, but they have serious detrimental consequences on the quality of life of the residents who receive them. In many ways they are “chemical restraints” that inhibit the lives of seniors similar to actual restraints.

This resolution is part of a larger effort on the part of the AMDA to educate physicians about these senior citizen medication issues. Earlier this year the group released an educational manual which shared information with practitioners in the nursing home settings on ways to improve medication management and reduce the prevalence of medication errors. Part of that new manual was a lesson in the prescription of psychoactive agents, including guidance on the clinical and regulatory documentation involved in those prescriptions. Far too often, seniors receive these drugs in unregulated amounts and in excessive quantities.

If you or a loved one has concerned about the misuse of medication in a long-term care facility—or any other potential nursing home abuse issue—be sure to get in touch with a legal professional and share your story. A nursing home neglect lawyer will be able to explain a few legal issues related to nursing home care and can guide you in your pursuit of accountability and justice.

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New Report Questions Sincerity of U.S. Chamber of Commerce Tort Reform Advocates

When most people hear the words “tort reform” or “damage caps” they usually associate it with medical malpractices lawsuits. It is true that many medical interests and medical insurers are working hard to take away certain legal rights of medical victims so that they do not have to pay for the consequences of their actions. However, many are going well beyond calling for changes in the medical malpractice context, and pushing for curtailing the rights of victims of all kinds of neglect—including the rights of Illinois nursing home abuse victims.

Building on their apparent “success” in protecting themselves from accountability from those that they harm, many of the nation’s biggest and most powerful interests have expanded their advocacy efforts to as many areas as possible. It is safe to say that the rights of no negligence victim are completely secure from the efforts of some groups to unjustly protect themselves from basic legal exposure.

This sad attempt to curtail the rights of all citizens in the name of increased profit margins should be enough to incense most community members. However, it is justifiable to get even more upset when reading the latest American Association of Justice Report on the hypocrisy of some of the largest corporate interests who actively use the justice system to protect their own interests while working tirelessly to take away those same rights for ordinary people. The new report, entitled “Do As I Say, Not As I Sue” is aimed at better understanding the ways that the ten members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “Institute for Legal Reform” (ILR).

For example, the report explains how one board member, Honeywell International, takes its own competitors to court, year after year, to protect what it considers its own legal interests. However, at the same time the corporation wants to change the law so that regular consumers don’t have the same rights to bring them to court when they are careless—such as when they distribute defective body armor to police officers or downplay asbestos consequences. After losing a case in Illinois for their dangerous conduct related to asbestos, the company used the opportunity to publically ridicule the state for its judicial practices.

Continue reading "New Report Questions Sincerity of U.S. Chamber of Commerce Tort Reform Advocates" »

$91.5 Million Nursing Home Verdict Upheld By Judge

Earlier this year our Chicago personal injury attorneys reported on a highly-publicized jury verdict in a nursing home abuse lawsuit in which the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff for $91.5 million. According to the West Virginia Gazette, the suit had been filed by a man after his mother was killed while staying at a skilled nursing facility in the area. The 87-year old victim had died after living at the home for only three weeks. She had been living with her son before that, and was capable of walking and speaking normally when she first arrived at the home. The victim had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease along with a few other ailments, but was only suppose to live at the facility in question for a short time while waiting for room to open at a different facility.

Unfortunately, she would never make it to that other facility in livable condition. She soon became severely dehydrated and became confined to a wheelchair while under the negligent care of the defendant-nursing home. She died mere hours after being transferred to the new facility. Her heart-broken son filed the nursing home neglect lawsuit after her passing, seeking to hold the facility accountable for the mistreatment that led to her swift deterioration. After hearing all of the evidence in the case, the jury believed that the plaintiff and returned a verdict holding the facility accountable for a variety of losses, totaling $91.5 million.

Of course, many victims are not automatically guaranteed to receive the awards provided by a jury, because many facilities continue to use legal maneuvering to block attempts to collect the jury award. In this case, lawyers for the nursing home chain involved claimed that the award in question was subject to the state’s medical malpractice damage cap. If the judge agreed with this argument, then the award would have been cut twentyfold. Fortunately, the court did not buy this attempt to avoid liability bestowed fairly by the jury.

Instead, the judge in this case found that only $1 million of the total award was subject to the medical malpractice caps. This was reached based on specifics of the jury verdict where they listed what they found to be the percentage of medical neglect and what percentage was ordinary neglect. The caps in the state apply strictly to medical neglect. Therefore, only a portion of the overall award was subject to the cap, which ultimately only meant lowering the amount by roughly $400,000. The bulk of the award was left in place. However, this is not the end of the fight. The large nursing home company has vowed to fight the decision up to the state’s Supreme Court.

The Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers at our firm respect the nursing home’s legal right to appeal decisions if they so choose. However, it is important for the judiciary not to buy into the desperate attempts of firms in these situations to apply cap laws that don’t apply to lowering these awards. Jury verdict reached fairly with specific details about the reason for the awards need to be respected and upheld in a court of law.

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Jury Finds For Victim in Nursing Home Fall From While in the Hallway

Nursing home falls are some of the most damaging injuries that occur at long-term care facilities, because a single incident often leads to death or permanently disability for the victim. Most seniors in skilled nursing facilities already have significant health problems that have serious effects on their quality of life. However, after they experience a fall, if they survive, they rarely can return to their former quality of life.

Of course, the risk of a senior falling in one of these facilities is high and well-known. That is why every single new resident who enters a long-term care facility must be evaluated for their fall risk, with a personalized plan created in conjunction with the resident and their family to help prevent falls from occurring. When a facility fails to properly plan for a potential fall or is negligent in allowing a fall to occur, then the civil justice system provides an avenue by which the family can hold the facility accountable for their conduct.

That appears to be exactly what happened according to a new story in the Lexington Herald-Leader following a jury verdict in a nursing home fall lawsuit. The victim in the case was a female resident in her 80s who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. The woman was walking down the facility’s hallways using a “Merry Walker”—a walking aid that includes a seat. While walking she suffered a fall, which caused serious injury. By the time she was found she had broken bones in her face, had a 4 centimeter cut on her foreheads, a split lip, a swollen eye, and significant bleeding on the brain.

The family of the victim filing a nursing home neglect lawsuit, claiming that the facility did not provide the close care that the resident deserved which would have prevented the injury. The jury agreed with the plaintiff that the fall could and should have been prevented. They therefore returned a verdict in their favor, awarding $1 million for the medical costs, physical pain, suffering, and mental anguish. The incident had previously spurred a state Health and Family Services investigation which found that the facility was negligent in its caregiving, unnecessarily exposing the senior to an extreme safety risk.

The main problem in this case was a lack of supervision. Many senior patients, particularly those with mental issues, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, need constant observation, because they often do not understand their own actions. The need for this close supervision is often the very reason that these seniors enter these homes to begin with. Therefore, when that supervision is not provided, it is often a clear case of neglect.

Continue reading "Jury Finds For Victim in Nursing Home Fall From While in the Hallway" »

Elder Care Advocates Must Tell Congress to Protect Long-Term Care Programs for Seniors

The fight to protect seniors from elder neglect and abuse requires a wide range of efforts on a variety of fronts. On one hand, our Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers work with individual victims to hold facilities that provide poor care accountable for their conduct. This case-by-case approach provides relief to families and often spurs changes at individual facilities. However, there are also system-wide efforts that must be undertaken to actually prevent abuse before it strikes.

Along those lines, the Consumer Voice released an “Action Alert” this week calling on all advocate to send a message to Congress so that they do not cut important programs for seniors. As many readers know, the “Super Committee” made up of a group of Congress members are currently meeting to discuss ways to trim the federal deficit. Many different proposals have been brought forward upon which the committee may act, usually involving a combination of tax increases, loophole closures, and spending reductions. Clearly, some changes need to be made by lawmakers to ensure long-term national financial stability. Yet, it is important that those changes not result in cuts to programs upon which seniors depend. If that happens, the “cut” may actually be counterproductive, because it will result in more social, financial, and medical problems for the seniors—ultimately costing taxpayers more money to treat.

The Super Committee has been charged with coming forward with a deficit reduction plan by November 23rd. They must essentially cut $1.5 trillion, and so a wide range of essential program that seniors depend on are at risk. All senior advocacy groups are urging seniors and their loved ones to take time to contact members of this committee and urge them to take fair and reasonable steps to reduce the deficit that does not place the lives of our most vulnerable community at risk. There are many ways in which advocates can make their voices heard. The Consumer Voice has an online letter than can be signed urging the Super Committee not to force seniors and the disabled for carrying an unfair share of the deficit burden. In addition, everyone can contact these members on their own via postal mail, email, fax, or phone call. It is particularly important for those people who live in the districts of Super Committee members to take the time to contact their representative and urge fairness in the process.

Our Illinois personal injury lawyers understand how millions of seniors across the country depend on a variety of federal programs to receive the healthcare they need to survive and other basic services. There remains interconnectivity between this sort of aid and the ultimate care provided to seniors throughout the country. Cuts to these programs may mean that fewer senior may be able to live on their own. As a result assisted living facilities may be forced to take on more residents that they have capacity for or for which they can provide reasonable care. As a result nursing home neglect and its attendant consequences may rise.

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Resident Sexually Assaulted By Nursing Assistant at Crystal Pines Rehabilitation and Health Care Center

The Chicago Tribune reported yesterday on a shocking new case of alleged Illinois nursing home abuse at an area skilled nursing facility. According to reports that have just been released, the alleged attacker was a 22-year old certified nursing assistant who perpetrated the abuse in late September. The victim was a 93-year old female disabled resident who lived at the Crystal Pines Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Crystal Lake.

Police reports indicate that the woman claims that she was assaulted on September 25th while she was sleeping in her room at the facility. The attacker apparently went into the victim’s room around 4 a.m. on the night in question. He was a midnight shift certified nursing assistant at the home. While the woman was in bed, the man apparently began inappropriately touching her. The woman became aware of the attack and reported it to authorities. Medical professionals at a local hospital examined the woman following the attack. After police interviewed the victim, an arrest warrant was served on the alleged attacker on Monday. He was released on bond, but will be due in court in mid-November. He has been charged with felony criminal sexual assault.

All allegations of Illinois nursing home sexual abuse likely shock the conscience of local residents. It is difficult to imagine how anyone would be capable of taking advantage of these vulnerable community members in any way, let alone in a sexual capacity. Yet, time and again similar stories make clear that there are some individuals who target this community specifically because they are unable to fight back and depend on others for basic assistance. The victim in this case was disabled, and likely unable to properly defend herself against the aggressions of the young male attacker.

It goes without saying that this conduct can never be tolerated. Beyond ensuring that the attacker faces appropriate criminal sanction if found guilty, it is also important to better understand how someone capable of such conduct could end up as an employee at one these facilities. Our Illinois nursing home abuse attorneys help victims throughout the country hold long-term care facilities accountable for the actions of their employees. It is a basic legal principle that employers are responsible for the actions of their employees when those employees are operating in the scope of the employment. For instance, in this case, the attacker was apparently on duty at the time of the attack and working in his capacity as a certified nursing assistant when the attack occurred. Therefore, there is a good chance that the facility in question would be found vicariously liable for the conduct of those in their employ.

We encourage all those involved in this incident to ensure that steps are taken to prevent similar attacks from occurring. Visiting with an Illinois elder sexual abuse lawyer in the area that has experience with these cases is a good starting point to learn what can be done. The attorney will be able to provide advice on the ways that the facility can be held accountable and redress can be provided to the victim

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Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Trial Proceeds Involving Suppository Prank

Late last week the News Tribune reported on developments in the criminal trial that is underway connected to a shocking case of Illinois nursing home abuse. A nurse at the local Veterans Home where the attack took place testified last week at the criminal trial of two former employees on trial for misdemeanor battery for the nursing home prank. Every Chicago nursing home abuse attorney who heard the story last year was disgusted to find out that a group of at least five employees at the home, including nurses, and nurses assistants, gave a nursing home resident an unnecessary suppository. According to reports, several workers held down the fighting resident and then inserted the medical device

The nurse who testified last week explained that the she found out about the attacks after she saw them laughing after leaving the victim’s room. Eventually the attackers told her what they had done. Apparently they gave the suppository just minutes before the shift change as a way of playing a prank on the next group of employees who would need to take care of the man who had been given the suppository. The two former employees on trial in this latest bench trial face up to a year in jail if they are found guilty of the crimes from which they are charged.

At the heart of the criminal case is whether or not the victim actually needed the suppository in question. As far as criminal charges are concerned, fining guilt of the crime likely requires proof that the employees provide degrading and unnecessary medical care for the sole reason of playing a joke on fellow employees. Prosecutors have argued clearly that the victim in this case didn’t actually need the suppository. They showed records which revealed that the victim were not constipated and had a bowel movement less than twenty four hours before. In addition, witnesses have testified regarding the friction between the shifts of workers, indicating that the attack on the resident was an act of “retaliation” between them.

Attorneys for the defense argued that the employees admitted they were laughing as they left the room, but they believed that the suppository was actually necessary. They claim that the man had impacted stool and that the suppository was needed to prevented immediate harm. However, nursing home procedures call for progression treatment of these issues, requiring use of milk of magnesia before resorting to a suppository. Records which revealed that the woman had a bowel movement 24 hours, which before meant that the victim wouldn’t even be in line for a milk of magnesia at the time that the suppository was supposedly given.

Continue reading "Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Trial Proceeds Involving Suppository Prank" »

New Illinois Nursing Home Breaking Ground to Accommodate Growing Senior Population

Elder care advocates have known for quite some time that the percentage of senior community members will increase steadily over the coming years as the Baby Boomer generation begins to retire. There is concern that there are currently not enough resources devoted to senior care or to accommodate the soon to be rising needs. Our Illinois nursing home abuse attorneys know that the inability to provide the close care each senior needs often leads to elder abuse and neglect. It is important for state, local, and federal lawmakers to take steps to prepare for the potential problems facing an aging population.

One of those concerns includes ensuring that there are adequate (and properly maintained) nursing facilities where seniors can go when they need additional assitance. Ideally, there would be a steady increase in the number of available assisted-living facilities in our area so that local seniors can have options to compare different facilities capable of meeting their needs. Competition and choice are important ways that the worst facilities—those continually guilty of Illinois nursing home neglect—can be driven from the market.

The development of more senior living options seems to finally be getting off the ground in our area. For example, the Chicago Sun Times reported this weekend on a new $20.3 million assisted living facility that is set to go up in Gurnee. Ground was just broken on the project, which will ultimately have living space for over one hundred residents. It is expected that the facility will also employ as many as fifty people to provide a variety of services for those who ultimately live in the home. As the development company’s president explained, “we’re going to be touching the lives of hundreds of frail seniors in the area.”

The facility is expected to cater to those seniors who need some basic assistance, but who do not require the extensive aid provided in skilled nursing facilities. For example, there will be certified nursing assistances on duty at all times to help those who need it with medications, grooming, and basic mobility issues. However, it is hoped that residents will maintain a considerable amount of independence. Each will live in a separate apartment with a kitchenette, bathroom, and emergency response system. The facility will also house shared community spaces, such as an activity room, exercise area, library, and TV room.

Our Illinois elder neglect lawyers believe that the more senior care options available in our area, the better. However, no matter where seniors live, it will remain vital for their friends and relatives to keep a close eye on the care that they are receiving. Unfortunately, so many of these homes begin with great intentions, to provide a safe haven for vulnerable seniors, only to end up bastions of neglect down the road. No matter what, those in charges of facilities catering to the elderly must ensure that adequate resources are provided so that seniors receive the care that they are promised. It is one thing to claim to maximize the well-being of the elderly, but it is another to actually do so.

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New Media Effects May Skew Perception of Civil Justice System

When explaining the work that they do, an Illinois nursing home neglect lawyer is often put on the defensive when talking with one who has a negative perception of the civil justice system. Most are familiar with the criticism faced by injury attorneys who work in a variety of areas, including those who work with victims of Illinois nursing home abuse. The most common concern is that victims are getting too much money. This opinion is reached based upon skewed assumptions about the justice system as a whole, the average size of jury verdicts, and the way that decisions are reached in these cases.

This week the Center for Justice & Democracy published a new paper which took a look at the public perception of the civil justice system. In particular they examined the ways in which news media is collected and dispersed in the 21st Century influencing the often unfair perception of the legal system. This latest research is follow-up to a ten-year old study which found that news headlines of jury verdicts almost always highlighting the highest awards and virtually never discussed the misconduct that led to the award. In addition, news coverage never mentioned what was actually happening in a vast majority of cases: plaintiffs failed to receive any award and the awards that they did get were often very modest. All of these findings were bolstered a few years later when the book “Distorting the Law” was published echoing the findings of media effects on the public perception of the justice system.

The latest study continues this trend by working to understand the way that new media trends share information about the justice system. Since these previous works were published, there has been a steady increase in the significant of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Also many more people are receiving their news not from newspapers, but via online sources, often found using Google news aggregators. The aggregators, like regular headlines in newspapers, only provide a small snippet of information about the story in an attempt to entice the viewer to read more. This feature influences the media outlets to include eye-catching figures (such as a large jury award) and catchy headlines, regardless of the effect that the headlines have on the perception

The latest examination of the trends found other interesting features of the skewed system as well. For example the average jury award amount reported in headlines was $4.6 million. This is in comparison to the average jury award of $24,000for a winning plaintiff in the jury trials overall according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice. Therefore, media reports of verdicts were nearly 200 times larger than the usual jury award. This same trend skewing the overall totals were also found when looking at reported and actual settlement figures. The researchers also found that media outlets were six times more likely to report a plaintiff win than a defense win and rarely do outlets explain that plaintiff will never actually receive many of the largest awards because of caps.

The Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers at our firm know that the civil justice system is a vital tool used by victims to receive compensation for their losses and to hold their wrongdoer accountable. Contrary to the often misleading public perceptions, those who file suit following Illinois nursing home abuse are not money-hungry family members seeking a quick buck. Instead, they are regular community members who are using the basic tools available since the nation’s founding to seek justice and respect while encouraging reasonable treatment at these facilities.

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Legislation Introduced to Remove Unfairness of Mandatory Arbitration Clauses

Our Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers have previously shared information on the harm caused by mandatory arbitration clauses. Many of the largest nursing home companies often seek to insulate themselves from certain liability in the regular civil justice court system by steering all disputes into arbitration. Most consumers are unaware of the intricacies of these agreements and often have no idea that they are required parts of their admission procedure.

Arbitration agreements are essentially components of a contract whereby a party agrees that they will have all disputes settled by an “arbitrator” instead of via the regular justice system. In other words, in the assisted-living facility context, if a resident dies because of gross mistreatment at the home, the victim’s family cannot immediately file a nursing home abuse lawsuit to hold the facility accountable for this conduct. Instead, an alternative arbitration process must be entered into. There are many concerns about these arbitration processes. For one thing, they are often guided by the wishes of the defendant who selects where it will take place, who will be the arbitrator, and so on. Obviously the settling of a dispute must be made in a rigorously impartial fashion—which is exactly why the civil justice system exists to begin with. Tampering with that basic judicial principle is almost always a recipe for unfairness. It is very troubling that the arbitrators themselves have a built –in incentive to side with the largest companies in the proceedings, because it is virtually always the company that picks the arbitrator. This essentially means that the arbitrator is employed by the company for whom he or she must decide liability.

In addition, arbitration clauses are often used by the largest companies to prevent class-action lawsuits. These lawsuits are vital at times in order to hold wrongdoers accountable for small systematic harm that they cause to a large group. If those victims are forced to hold the wrongdoer accountable individually, it is usually cost prohibitive. However, if those harmed are able to band together, pool resources, and pres for accountability on a systematic scale, then it is often possible to ensure that the company acts fairly. However, if every individual is forced to go through arbitration, then class-action suits are essentially eliminated. This has the effect of allowing certain companies to harm large group of consumers with little risk of recourse. As one individual involved with the legislation noted, “these forced arbitration clauses in contracts deny consumers their right to hold companies accountable when something is wrong. They basically let companies off the hook.”

As recently explained in a New York Times piece, these and other concerns have led some legislators to consider passage of a bill known as the Arbitration Fairness Act. Our Illinois nursing home neglect attorneys know that the measure would have a beneficial impact on many residents of long-term care facilities and their families. Specifically, the bill seeks to make clear at the federal level that all arbitration contracts in consumer and employment contracts are invalidated. The United State Supreme Court had previously ruled that such clauses were acceptable, even when state law deemed those clauses to be unfair to consumers. This measure would be an important step forward in ensuring that consumers of all stripes have the fair access to the legal system that justice demands.

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Levin & Perconti Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit Filed Against Rosewood Care Center

Our Illinois nursing home neglect attorneys are proud of our work on behalf of injured victims throughout the state of Illinois. For decades our professionals have worked with families all across our area—from Chicagoland down to the furthest corners of Southern Illinois. No matter where in the state mistreatment occurs, we are ready to help those who have suffered harm because of misconduct of others.

Unfortunately, each and every day across Illinois community members are hurt because of the unreasonable actions of others. This mistreatment can occur in virtually any setting, from nursing homes and hospitals to roads and sidewalks. For decades we have traveled across the state, helping those involved receive the redress they need to properly recover from their injuries. We understand the many ways that these accidents affect the lives of those hurt as well as their loved one. In fact, according to a recent Chicago Lawyer Settlement Survey, our firm has the highest settlement outside of Cook County this year: a $6.5 million trucking accident settlement for a husband and son who lost their mother after their vehicle was slammed into by a negligent truck driver.

One of our latest Illinois nursing home abuse filings was reported this week in the Madison Record. As the story explained, our Illinois nursing home neglect lawyer Michael F. Bonamarte is representing the family of a disabled woman who suffered serious injury while living in an Alton care facility. The victim’s mother initiated the suit. The plaintiff explains that her daughter had been living at the Rosewood Care Center because she needed close care on a consistent basis because of her disability. She had short-term memory loss and a variety of cognition problems.

The documents filed in the case explain how the disabled victim suffered severe injure at the facility two years ago because of the negligence of a care worker. One nursing home employee improperly inserted the woman’s feeding tube. The consequences of the error were severe, as the victim developed a serious infection that did not immediately heal. However, care workers compounded the problem by not recognizing or treating the infection in a timely manner. The problem eventually reached the point where the victim had to be transferred to a hospital. She was forced to spend some time in the intensive care unit of the hospital because of the seriousness of the infection and complications.

The documents filing in this Illinois nursing home neglect lawsuit indicated that the conduct of the care workers—and a variety of other defendants—violated the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. The Act is a state law which demands a certain level of care be provided to residents of these homes. The failure on the staff member’s part to properly monitor this resident’s condition and provide necessary care in a timely manner constitutes a clear violation of the statute. In addition, staff members at the home were not properly trained to provide the level of care demanded by law. On top of all of that, the victim’s mother was not informed of the changes in her daughter’s condition.

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Federal Legislation Introduced to Improve Problems with Medicare’s Secondary Payer System

Our Illinois nursing home lawyers have previously explained the problems faced by seniors because of inefficiencies within the Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) system. The goal of the program is ensuring that the Medicare program (and taxpayers) are reimbursed for costs that others have a primarily responsibility in paying. However, the bureaucracy is so thick with the MSP system that millions and millions of dollars are lost trying to navigate its complexities. Various groups are adversely affected by the bureaucratic nightmare include small businesses, insurance companies, municipalities, and even other federal agencies. Worst of all, many senior participants in the system have also suffered clear harm because of the problems. Our Chicago nursing home attorneys have watched as many of these victims have been left unable to pay bills or have been attacked by creditors because of MSP problems.

The MSP system has been made very difficult to navigate over the years because of frequent mistakes and slow resolutions to issues. The problem has only worsened as of late. In 2007 even more additional reporting requirements were enacted which slowed the process down again and made it even more difficult than it already was for users to figure out what they had to do. Many seniors who have been injured in a variety of incidents, from car accidents to nursing home falls, are rarely able to receive quick and timely answers from the MSP system about how much money will need to be paid back. This makes it difficult to properly account for such costs in settlement negotiations. Even after settlement is reach the Medicare system often makes inaccuracies which demand more money be paid back than care that was provided. These disputes often delay for years, seniors receiving money that they are owed, and occasional mistakes result in senior victims having their social security checks docked by overzealous Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) officials.

The problems have long needed to be fixed. Fortunately, a step in the right direction was announced yesterday as a bipartisan group of legislators proposed a bill to improve the system. Known as “Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers (SMART) Act, the bill is meant to enact changes to streamline the MSP system and provide relief for all those involved—which often includes Illinois nursing home neglect victims and their families. The bill would force Medicare to fully disclose the amount that it must be repaid before a final settlement is reached by the parties. In addition, the legislation would put a three year cap on the time that Medicare can pursue claims on certain claims. Those affected claims are so small that they cost the MSP system more to pursue than they actually collect. The group of Republican and Democrat senators who are sponsoring the measuring explained that the measure will help taxpayers collect millions of dollars that they are owed every year, while ensuring seniors are not denied benefits to which they are entitled. All those who work with senior victims of accident or abuse, including nursing home abuse lawyers, will likely urge passage of this common sense message.

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Levin & Perconti Files New Illinois Nursing Home Neglect Lawsuit Against Elm Brook Health Care & Rehab Center

Earlier this month our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyer Jordan S. Powell filed a complaint, initiating a new Illinois nursing home abuse lawsuit against the Elm Brook Health Care and Rehabilitation Centre and Lancaster Health Group. The suit stems from the mistreatment provided to a former nursing home resident who passed away because of mistreatment at the nursing facility. The complaint includes several counts which allege violations of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, common law negligence, and wrongful death claims.

The complaint explains that the victim was a resident of Elm Brook for a year, only leaving a few days before his death in September of last year. The facility was charged with caring for the senior while living at the facility. The victim as a known fall risk, and he required supervision and assistance with a variety of daily actions to ensure that he did not suffer a potentially deadly fall. Unfortunately, the facility did not provide the level of care that the man need to ensure his safety. As a result, last September the man fell while at the nursing home. The fall resulted in an intertrochantetic hip fracture. The victim ultimately suffered complications from this hip fracture. His health conditioned deteriorated quickly, and he passed away a few days after the nursing home fall.

As frequently occurs in these situations, the surviving family members of the victim are seeking accountability for the failure on the nursing home’s part to ensure that their loved one was not hurt in a preventable fall. The plaintiff in this case is the victim’s daughter, who was named as special representative and administrator of her father’s estate. Besides filing a claim seeking to protect her father’s interest, she is also filing a wrongful death claim to ensure that the suffering of herself, her mother (the victim’s wife), and her brother (the victim’s son) are also accounted for. When a loved one is taken far too early because of neglect at a nursing home, the pain and suffering extends beyond the senior themselves. These deaths affect entire families—and often entire communities—and the law, therefore, provides an avenue by which some of those extended consequences are reflected in a liability ruling.

Every Chicago nursing home neglect attorney at our firm is proud to represent all those who have been harmed by inadequate care at local nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Over the years the Illinois legislature has enacted statutes designed to protect all those seniors living in these facilities from mistreatment and neglect. However, the law is only effective when those in a position to hold a facility accountable for their lapses step up and press from redress. If you suspect that you or someone you know has been the victim of unlawful care at one of these homes, please take the time to visit a legal professional and learn about your options. Together we can ensure that the rights of nursing home residents are respected and future families are not forced to experience the consequences of losing a loved one earlier than necessary.

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Illinois Nursing Home Neglect Lawsuit Filed Against Virgil Calvert Nursing Home

Illinois Group Home Abuse Remains Overlooked Problem

Challenges Faced By Seniors on Medicare

This weekend our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers read with interest a New York Times article that provides a unique perspective on elder care in America. It explains how the 1965 Medicare law is not at all well tailored to provide the services that most seniors want or need. It is a stark reminder that the quality of life and day-to-day welfare of our elderly loved ones is what matters most. That need is often at odds with the cookie-cutter list of medical actions taken by many care providers.

It was explained how the major advances in medicine over the past years were never predicted by those who crafted the landmark healthcare law four and a half decades ago. Little has changed with the overall mission of the law, and so much care received has become not only pointless and expensive, but often downright dangerous. The author explains that in many cases the care for seniors on Medicare is not driven by the wishes of the senior. Instead, doctors and pharmaceutical companies who have money to gain on the system and adult children driven by emotion are the ones who make these medical decisions.

Medicare pays for things like forced feeding tubes, optional surgeries that cause more complications than improvement, and other actions which frequently cause more trouble than they are worth or that seniors want. However, Medicare rarely pays for things which seniors often desperately need, like long-term care in quality facilities, assistance with transportation, or help at home with basic tasks. Seniors nursing home residents are forced to cover the often exorbitant costs on their own—anywhere from $150,000 to $35,000 a year. It is only when they can no longer afford those costs after blowing through their life savings that they can qualify for Medicaid support. Even then, it is not guaranteed what quality of facility the senior may be placed. Much nursing home abuse and neglect has resulted from innocent victims who have no other choice but to resident in some of the worst homes in their area.

Frequently what a senior needs are basic tools to make their lives easier: an electric wheelchair to get around, a talking board to talk to others, home health aides to provide basic assistance, and similar tasks. However, Medicare covers none of that. Yet, it does cover a wide range of things which do little to improve or even prolong a senior’s life: expensive, risky surgeries, diagnostic tests, expensive medications. The story’s author explains how her mother spent $500,000 out of her own pocket on end of life costs (not counting the money her adult children spent as well) only to end up on Medicaid anyway. It is perhaps even more shocking that 70% of elderly residents will need some sort of extended care at some point in their lives. Few have half a million dollars in extra money available to provide for those costs.

Our Chicago nursing home lawyers know that it is vital we discuss these issues, because the problem is only growing. The elderly are the fastest growing part of the population, and more and more seniors will begin needing this care as baby boomers begin to retire in the coming years. Right now more than one-fifth of the nation’s overall healthcare costs are on senior care from Medicare. In a few decades the total number of seniors on Medicare will double. That is why now is as good a time as ever to have honest discussions about the real needs of seniors and the ways to better provide proper care that will make a difference in actual lives.

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Nursing Home Abuse Caught on Tape

Nursing Home Lawsuit Filed After “Granny Cam” Catches Abuse

Government Accountability Office Testifies About Abuse of Prescription Drugs in Nursing Homes

Each Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer at our firm learned quickly that chemical restraints constituted one of the most widespread forms of systematic nursing home neglect. These include the over-prescription of medication to those in these homes in order to make them easier to control. The drugs effective make many seniors sluggish, unaware of their surroundings, and generally take the vitality out of their lives. Many local families have experienced the effect of this mistreatment when they soon discover that their loved one seems “different” since arriving at these homes in ways that are often hard to describe. In many cases they appear to have lost their personality, interest in previously favorite activities, and have trouble interacting with the world around them.

This year the overuse of many prescription drugs, particularly among the elderly in nursing homes, caught the attention of Congress. Federal policymakers voiced concerns that not only was the overuse of these drugs in nursing homes placing the lives of residents at risks and decreasing the quality of their existence, but it was also draining precious Medicare resources. To help get a grasp on the problem, several lawmakers have been holding hearing on the issue. One U.S. Senate subcommittee recently held another meeting earlier this month to discuss the effect that the misuse of certain prescription drugs had on Medicare Part D—this is the part of the federal program that subsidizes the costs of prescription drugs to Medicare beneficiaries.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) sent a representative to testify earlier last week about the agency’s investigation into abuse and fraud in the system. They reported that prescription drug abuse is not only a serious health problem, but it is growing. Many Americans fail to appreciate the significance and scope of this problem. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently explained, drug overdoses—including prescription overdoses amongst seniors—was the seconding leading cause of unintentional death, only behind vehicle accidents.

Overall, the office conducted an investigation which found that roughly 1.8% of Medicare Part D beneficiaries received prescriptions for 12 classes of frequently abused drugs, representing $148 million in annual drug costs. This particularly testimony in question examined also examined abuse outside of the nursing home context, with many Medicare participants participating in “doctor shopping” to acquire large amounts of medications such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, and other frequently abused medications. The GAO made various suggestions about changes that could be made to the system to prevent this type of abuse, save Medicare funds, and ultimately save the lives of those harmed by these medications.

This latest hearing is a reminder of the danger of many prescription drugs and the need to carefully monitor all uses. Our Chicago nursing home neglects lawyers know that this is certainly true in the assisted-living context, where many elderly patients receive vast quantities of drugs—often antipsychotics—that have serious side effects. It is important for those seniors and their family members not to be afraid to question the use of each drug to ensure that it is necessary and will not come with side unwanted side effects that significantly diminishes the life of the senior. Overuse of these drugs is a form of nursing home abuse that needs to be stopped whenever possible.

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New Studies Published on the Risks of Antidepressants

Alzheimer’s Patient Dies in Nursing Home Fall

Defendants in “Angel of Death” Illinois Nursing Home Death Pleads Guilty

Our Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers represent the family of one victim in the case involving a former nursing home employee who has been dubbed the “Angel of Death.” The circumstances around the case have stemmed both civil and criminal lawsuits. The civil suit that our firm is handling was filed by the family of one of the victims whose loved one was killed at the Woodstock Residence after the employee intentionally doled out dangerous medications.

Earlier this week the woman at the center of the situation pled guilty in the criminal case to felony criminal neglect. As such, she admitted that she gave a patient a drug that he had never been prescribed. Sentencing has yet to proceed, but she is facing up to three years in prison for her conduct. The guilty plea was an agreement reached with prosecutors in order to avoid potentially been found guilty of similar felony neglect in five other cases. Plea agreements do not necessarily reflect anything about the evidence or proof available in a certain case, and they are a common part of the criminal justice system.

As our Illinois nursing home neglect lawyer Steven Levin noted in the Chicago Sun-Times after the plea, “We’re saddened she didn’t have to face trial on all the charges, but we’re gratified she admitted some of her guilt.”

At least six patients suffered mysterious deaths at the facility which have been linked to suspicious drugs in their system. The bodies of several victims were exhumed, with a pathologist finding a link between the deaths and morphine overdose—a powerful painkiller. Prosecutors in the criminal case alleged that the nurse at the facility intentionally gave the overdose of the drug to several patients. The supervisors at the facility apparently did nothing to stop the reckless conduct.

While the guilty plea essentially ends most of the criminal component of the case, the civil Illinois nursing home neglect lawsuit is not concluded. Unlike the criminal case, this civil suit is does not involve potential criminal charges but seeks to hold those involved, including the nursing home which employed the wrongdoer, accountable to the families involved for the conduct. Families who lost loved ones because of the intentional conduct of the employee have a right to hold the facility that allowed the situation to occur liable under the civil justice system for their actions.

There is simply no excuse for the conduct of those involved in this Illinois nursing home abuse case. Medications remain incredibly powerful tools of control that must be used by those at these facilities in an incredibly careful and deliberate manner. It goes without saying that unauthorized use of these drugs can never be tolerated. Obviously, it is particularly repulsive when these drugs are used in a way that intentionally takes the lives of the seniors who receive the medication. Each Illinois nursing home neglect attorney at our firm is proud to stand up to those who are so callous with the lives of our vulnerable seniors. It is important for the justice system to properly account for this misconduct, provide redress, and ensure that future families are spared similar suffering.

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Chicago Medical Malpractice Lawsuits: The Difference Between Civil and Criminal Cases

Evidentiary Matters Settled in Second Angel of Death Nursing Home Case

Many Illinois Brain Injury Victims Never Fully Recover

The Chicago brain injury lawyers at our firm have worked with enough victims of head trauma to appreciate the fact that many victims are never able to fully recover and live exactly as they did before. The disturbing reality about these injuries is that doctors remain mostly in the dark about the best way to get a patient’s brain back to normal after it experiences trauma. This has significant ramifications for the legal aspect of these injuries if they are caused by the negligence of others. For one thing, if a victim has their life forever altered by the accident, then that seriousness will be reflected in the damages that are sought following the filing of an Illinois brain injury lawsuit.

Recently, Tallahassee News reported on the tough future faced by many brain injury victims who often have their lives forever changed in an instant. Many victims are young children and teens, who are forced to deal with challenges that few their age ever consider. For example, one teen girl was riding on her horse two years ago, something she had done a thousand times before, when an accident struck. Her horse stepped into a hole where a fence post had been removed and the girl was thrown to the ground. During the fall her head slammed onto the hard clay surface below and she suffered a traumatic brain injury. It took more than a month in intensive care and months of physical therapy before she slowly began to get her life back together. The young girl had to re-learn everything from walking and talking to swallowing. While she continues to push past the problems and hopes to recover as much as possible, the girl admits that some things may be forever altered. She explained that that she just has to “adjust to the new normal.”

Many others have found themselves in a similar situation. In fact, many support groups have been created where victims of these accidents meet to discuss their situation. One group in the area includes nine young adults who meet regularly to talk about the progress of their treatment, career plans, and other things about their future. The group was founded by a man who works with the state’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. His work with the victims of these accidents and led him to come up with the idea of bringing all the victims together so that they knew they were not alone. He explained that many victims, “were pretty much alone in their injury,” and he decided that “it only made sense to get them all together.”

The Illinois brain injury lawyers at our firm understand the feeling of helplessness that can come with these injuries. We want to remind all victims that help is available. Not all brain injuries are the result of negligence on the part of another. However, in many cases the injury could and should have been prevented if another had acted in a reasonable manner. In those situations the law is clear in providing a remedy for the victims to help them deal with the complications and prolonged recovery efforts.

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Lawsuit Filed After Inmate Suffers Brain Injury

New Technology Aims to Help Victims of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Nursing Home Lawsuit Filed After Resident Was Allegedly Tormented

Our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers remain shocked by the conduct of some of the worst nursing home employees who seem to use their position of power to hurt those who count on them. In many ways it may be impossible to know exactly why some of these most heart-churning cases of nursing home abuse occur, but in all cases is it important to hold those responsible accountable. Fortunately, the vast majority of people who are hired to care for our loved ones at these facilities are honest, hard-working community members who genuinely care about helping those around them. It is only a very small number of people who seem to take advantage of their position in the most painful ways and cause the golden years of many of their senior’s lives to be the particularly painful and depressing.

On Thursday the Delco Times reported on a new nursing home abuse lawsuit where allegations are being made about a senior who was tormented at the hands of her caregivers. The civil complaint which was filed names a nursing homes, its corporate parent, and three employees at the facility for the harm that was caused to a 78-year old former resident. The family of the victim claim that their mother entered the facility as a happy, hopeful person, but after her abuse she is totally demoralized. The family removed their loved one from the home when they found out about the abuse, but they claim that the damage cause by the mistreatment continues to affect the woman’s life.

According to the complaint the senior was physically taunted and assaulted by the three caregivers as she stood naked from the waist up in her room. The family has video footage that shows the victim trying to escape her attackers only to be pulled back into the room and further ridiculed by the abusive employees. The family used a so-called “nanny cam” to catch the attack. The family initially went to the facility owners after discovering the abuse, by they dismissed the claims as attributable to the woman’s dementia. Instead, the family showed the footage to the local police department and a series of criminal charges have since been filed against the attackers.

Following the events state investigators revoked the license of the facility for gross incompetence, negligence, and misconduct. The facility had been required to report the family’s abuse complaint to the Department of Public Welfare. However that report was never made. Further inquiry revealed that at least three other complaints of abuse were never reported to the proper state and local officials.

Our Chicago nursing home attorneys remain saddened every time more information comes out about these events. It is completely unacceptable for individuals capable of tormenting a senior to be put in a position where they are forced to care for the elderly. It is even more shocking to consider the cost of this care is actually quite high. For example, the family in this case was charge $110,000 up front and $8,000 a month for the care their loved one was suppose to receive. Instead, she woman received care that no one should ever have to experience.

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Nursing Home Neglect Leads to Patient Death, Lawsuit Filed

Illinois Nursing Home Neglect Lawsuit Filed Against Crossroads care Center By Levin & Perconti Attorney

Nursing Home Fall Results in Negligence Lawsuit

The Jamestown Sun reported this week on new nursing home lawsuit that alleges that senior caregivers are responsible for the tragic fall of an elderly woman that ultimately took her life. According to court documents the son of the victim has filed suit against the nursing home and transportation company that he claims were involved in his mother’s passing.

The suit alleges that the victim was an elderly woman who fell onto the sidewalk outside of her assisted living facility as a result of nursing home neglect and carelessness. The accident took place a few days before Christmas in 2008, and the woman ultimately died from the complications that developed from the fall eight days later, on December 28th. The woman was only sixty seven years old at the time of her passing. She was an amputee and was confined to a wheelchair. She had left the facility on the day in question to go play bingo at the local veteran’s club. To reach the club she used a bus service that provides a “Dial-A-Ride” program that is popular with seniors.

Unfortunately, as she was arriving back at the facility after her bingo game, the woman fell on the sidewalk. Upon falling, the senior suffered a fractured hip, which developed into complications that ultimately took her life. According to the complaint, the facility had failed to clear snow and ice that had built up on the sidewalk in front of the nursing home. It is further claimed that the transportation company employees were negligent in failing to provide adequate assistance to ensure that the woman arrived at her destination safely.

Unfortunately, any Chicago nursing home neglect lawyer who has worked in this area long enough knows that complications from hip fractures are one of the leading causes of death after a nursing home fall. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly one out of every five hip fracture patients pass away within a year after their injury. This is a sobering statistics that indicates the scope of the danger posed by these falls. Considering that hip fractures are likely the single most common injury sustained by those who fall at a nursing home, it is absolutely incumbent upon staff members to do everything in their power to prevent these falls. Many facilities report 100-200 falls each year, though the CDC explains that many falls go unreported. This makes it difficult to get a clear grasp on how widespread the problem actually is.

Illinois nursing home law expects that these extended care facilities will properly evaluate each resident that enters a home to assess their fall risk. After so doing, they are required to enact a reasonable plan in conjunction with the senior and their family to prevent injuries that may be caused by a fall. If you know of caregivers at local facilities that have failed in this duty, it is important to contact professional legal help to hold them accountable. Keeping silent only allows misconduct and inadequate care to continue, placing other vulnerable seniors at risk.

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Poor Supervision Leads to Nursing Home Fall

Nursing Home Wandering Death Explained By Inside Source

Nursing Home Neglect Leads to Patient Death, Lawsuit Filed

A Chicago nursing home neglect lawyer in our office recently became aware of a new lawsuit that has been filed which claims that a variety of problems led to the death of a nursing home resident. According to details alleged in that lawsuit, virtually all of those problems can be traced back to neglect by caregivers at two different facilities. Ultimate Clear Lake News shared some more details this week on the nursing home lawsuit. A complaint was filed late last week which claims that the facilities committed negligence and gross negligence which led to the death of a male resident at their home last year.

Allegedly the resident developed a large ulcer on his right buttock that became infected during the month that he was living at the first nursing home. The wound was so severe that the man had to be transferred to a local hospital to have surgery to repair it. To recover following the surgery the man was sent to a second nursing home. Unfortunately the care he received there was no better than that at the first home. While at this second home his hydration levels were not monitored and his catheter became blocked. As a result of that nursing home neglect, the man apparently died not long after arriving at the second home.

This latest news report does not indicate the specifics, but it is likely that these lawsuits are rooted in both statutory and common law civil justice claims. In addition, there is a good chance that both negligence and wrongful death claims were asserted in the complaint. Many clients remain unclear about what all of these various claims mean. It can be particularly confusing because the suit stems for a single string of problems, and so it may seem illogical that a single defendant could be found liable on multiple claims. The reason that these multiple claims are filed is that each represents either a different harm that is sought to be recovered or a different authority under which the claim is based.

Each Chicago nursing home neglect lawyer at our firm often explains to clients that when a resident dies because of nursing home neglect, a wrongful death claim as well as a negligence claim is raised. Each cause of action seeks to provide relief for a different harm caused by the conduct. The wrongful death claim is rooted in the suffering faced by the survivors of the victim (family members) who have been hurt because their loved one was taken from them. The negligence claim, however, is based on the suffering faced by the actual nursing home resident. Each claim seeks to recover for different harms.

On top of that, these suits also include claims rooted in a statute (such as the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act) as well as the “common law.” The difference between these claims is authority under which the claim is made. A statutory claim can only be made after the legislature passes a specific law and includes language in that newly created law which allows private individuals to use the civil justice system to seek recovery for their losses when that law is violated. On top of that, even if no cause of action is available pursuant to a legislatively enacted law, a claim can still be brought. In those situations it would be brought only under the “common law” which is a series of rules developed since the nation’s founding that guides conduct between members of society. Under the common law if another community member or business entity acts below a certain level of care and causes harm, then the one harmed can seek recourse.

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Poor Supervision Leads to Nursing Home Fall

Nursing Home Wandering Death Explained By Inside Source

Illinois Nursing Home Neglect Lawsuit Filed Against Crossroads Care Center by Levin & Perconti Attorney

Our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyer Susan L. Novosad recently filed a new Illinois nursing home neglect lawsuit on behalf of a suburban client who passed away because of inadequate care at a local facility. The suit was filed by a family member of the woman who was killed by the negligence—a common occurrence in these situations. In this case the woman who filed the suit was the victim’s sister; she has been appointed special administrator and special representative of the estate. The facility in question is the Woodstock Residence, a facility owned and managed by an Illinois company.

The complaint against the facility alleges several different complaints against the involved parties. Statutory claims pursuant to the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act as well as common law negligence claims were alleged to have been violated by the Woodstock Residence and its employees when they failed to provide the care to the victim demanded by law. The common law claims include both regular negligence causes of actions as well as claims for wrongful death. Each stems from the same misconduct on the part of the nursing home, however they are based on slightly different theories of recovery and require different elements be shown for the plaintiff to succeed. However, this should be distinguished from claims proffered in the alternative. In this case, the plaintiff could succeed on each cause of action simultaneously. The elements can all be shown true, unlike some cases where two alternative theories are proposed in which only one could actually have occurred.

The victim was only 61 years old when she passed away while living at the Crossroads Care Center in Woodstock, Illinois. She had lived at the facility for roughly the previous eleven months. The day before her death, the victim showed a clear change in medical condition, exhibiting signs of trouble that should have been noticed by the employees of the care center. However, the staff members at the home failed to identify the problem or notice her deteriorating physical condition. This improper observation meant that the resident did not receive the medical attention that she needed. The resident was eventually found unresponsive in her room. However, no reasonable steps were taken to resuscitate the victim when it was clear that she was need of emergency assistance. As a result of these lapses, the victim eventually passed away.

Every Chicago nursing home neglect lawyer at our firm knows that one of the most basic requirements placed upon nursing homes under both the common law and nursing home statutes is to properly notice changes in medical condition. One of the primary reasons that many residents enter these facilities is specifically because they may suffer serious medical problems at any moment, and close observation needs to be provided to notice the problem and ensure proper treatment. When nursing home employees fail to notice changes in condition that they reasonably should have caught then the rights of those victims have been violated. The civil justice system provides avenues for those who suffered in this way (and their surviving family members) to seek redress for the Illinois nursing home neglect on these occasions.

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Nursing Home Receives Maximum Fine After Patient Dies From Fall

Nursing Home Sanctions Are Not Tough Enough

Nursing Homes Neglected The Flu Shot Needs of Residents

Each Chicago nursing home neglect lawyer at our firm knows that the misconduct that affects the lives of elderly residents at these facilities is more often than not caused by systematic misconduct at these homes. This is in contrast to rare, one-time incidents that adversely affect a single resident. Instead, the problem is usually engrained in the facility and it is only a matter of time before one of the residents suffers an injury severe enough to warrant a family to contact professional legal help and initiate an Illinois nursing home neglect lawsuit.

Last week Medline Plus discussed one issue connected to that systematic lapse in proper care giving at nursing homes. A report recently found that the overall percentage of nursing home residents that have received the flu shot was significantly lower than the national goal. Of course, seniors are perhaps the most vulnerable group in the country to suffer severe, even life-threatening, problems as a result of the flu. It is obvious to all elderly caregivers that these individuals need to be vaccinated at all costs against this possible problem. Unfortunately, for some seniors, they are failing to receive this basic life-saving medical prevention tool year after year. In addition to the overall low figures, researchers also discovered that black residents were less likely to receive the vaccine when compared with their white counterparts.

All of this data was collected by researchers at Brown University by analyzing patient records from more than 14,000 nursing homes over three different flu seasons. The flu rates were at around 82% overall, less than the goal of 90% set by the Medicare and Medicaid offices. Broken down by race, white nursing home residents were roughly 23% more likely to receive the shot than whites. What is perhaps particularly shocking is that the disparate rates of flu shots continued even within a single nursing home. In other words, the problem cannot be traced back to the fact that black residents are more likely to live in poorer nursing homes. Even when compared with white residents from the very same nursing homes, the black residents were 15% less likely to have had the vaccination. Clearly more research is needed to determine exactly why black residents are vaccinated less than whites within the same facilities.

Any Chicago nursing home neglect lawyer who hears this news would likely be saddened, but not surprised. For a variety of reasons, many facilities fail to take even the most basic steps that are known to save lives—such as providing proper flu shots. This is unfortunately yet another indicator of the chronic problem of elder neglect faced by so many vulnerable community members. It is up to the friends and family members of many of these seniors to stand up and ensure that they receive the treatment to which they are entitled by their caregivers. If you ever suspect that misconduct has led to harm to a senior you know, please do not fail to take action. Contact an experienced legal professional today and help put an end to this abuse.

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Most Nursing Homes Employ At Least One Criminal

More Thorough Background Checks Proposed for Illinois Nursing Home Employees

Many State Nursing Homes Headed in Wrong Direction

Every Chicago nursing home neglect lawyer at our firm knows that in many ways the mistreatment of elderly community members not only continues in many areas, but it may be getting worse. There are many causes for the increasing problems but in the end it boils down to seniors have much fewer public advocates than other interest groups and therefore they are often short-changed on resources. All nursing home businesses and public organizations have money concerns. That is nothing new. However, they increasingly feel safe increasing their coffers by making changes that ultimately result in more harm to the senior citizens who rely on their care. Much Illinois nursing home neglect has been caused by these efforts to reduce staff members, cut back on training, and otherwise limit the resources available to seniors in need of close care.

That is the same conclusion reached by the members of the editorial board at the Tennessean who penned an editorial this weekend lambasting all those who are allowing the problem of elder abuse to actually increase as of late. The story explains how more and more seniors living in these assisted and skilled care facilities face problems from dehydration and malnutrition to the development of pressure sores. Much of the problem can be found in inadequate and underpaid staff members who simply cannot logically provide the care that residents need with the resources they are given by nursing home business owners. It is surprising that more attention has not been focused on the increasing problem. That is particularly true because the total number of elderly residents in need of such care is only increasing. Just this year many of the Baby Boomers began retiring for the first time. The next several decades will likely see a steady increase in seniors who face certain health problems and need daily assistance to get by each day.

Editorial board members criticized state lawmakers, explaining that even as the neglect rose and the need increased, the oversight of the hundreds of facilities in the state was actually dramatically decreasing. The minimal oversight has made it easier for abuse and neglect to continue unabated. This is a systematic problem that is rooted at the top of the power chain. The vast majority of nursing home staff members genuinely care about the well-being of those who they are charged to care for. However, there is only so much that they can do when each employee is obligated to care for a growing number of residents—it is often physically impossible for them to provide the level of personal care necessary.

Improvements in nursing home care need to come by putting pressure on the owners and operators to make the changes necessary to limit the problem. However, as the editorial noted, the state is actually taking steps backward on this account as a new law was passed which limits the ability of victimized families from using the legal system to protect their rights. This is on top of changes that removed the requirement that these homes file detailed reports whenever a serious mistake is made the harms patients. State investigations into these events were also removed. In short, more and more legislative changes have only made it easier for the state to provide inadequate care without recourse. Each Chicago nursing home neglect lawyer in our office understands this problem all too well. We urge advocates across the country to work with their local representatives to reverse these problematic trends and provide a voice for the often voiceless vulnerable seniors.

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Consumer Voice Launches New Guide to Help With Long-Term Care Decisions

October Declared Nursing Home Residents’ Rights Month

Illinois Nursing Home Residents and Families Should Be Aware of Rights

Several weeks ago our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers reminded local community members that October was Residents’ Rights Month 2011. Much of effort is being led by the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center. One of the centerpieces of the project is spreading the reminder that those living in long-term care facilities, like nursing homes, have the same rights as those in the larger community. Those basic freedoms are not lost because one needs the close, day-to-day care that is provided in these facilities. We know that in our area far too many residents in these facilities that are the victims of Illinois nursing home neglect feel like they are helpless, because they do not understand what level of care they are entitled.

It is vital to remind these seniors—and those who love them—that the law demands a certain level of care be observed. The Nursing Home Reform Law passed in 1987 guarantees certain things at the federal level, while the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act provides further protection at the state level. All of these laws essentially seek to ensure that residents are treated in a way that promotes their quality of life, provides them with a degree of self-determination, and ensures their dignity. Per the terms of these laws, nursing homes are required to provide individualized care that takes the mental, physical, and social well-being of the resident into account as much as practicable. The treatment that a resident receives should be based on a written plan that is prepared in conjunction with a resident, their family, and/or legal representative. Overall, a resident should never experience a decline in health or face problems with their quality of life as a result of the care provided by their nursing home caregivers.

The specific rights entrenched in these state and federal laws are expansive. For example, all residents have a right to be fully informed of certain information. That includes the services available to them, the charges for those services, facility rules and regulations, inspection reports of the facility and correction plans, advance knowledge of roommate changes, and similar questions. In addition, residents have a right to receive this information is a language they understand. Obviously none of this access to information is beneficial if it cannot be understood by the one receiving it.

Many other rights are guaranteed by these laws, and they are often ignored by caregivers. For example, residents have the right to private (and unrestricted) communication with any person of their choice. In other words, caregivers cannot shield a resident from those who she wishes to talk to privately. Further, these seniors have the right to share their concerns and grievances with caregivers without fear of reprisal. They always maintain the right to file a complaint with the state survey agency, and those concerns must be promptly resolved if necessary.

The first step in eliminating elder abuse is having voices standing up and demanding that caregivers do better. Our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers further believe that residents and their families are less likely to stand up for their rights if they are not aware of exactly what those rights are. We encourage all community members to take the time to familiarize themselves with the basics about federal and state nursing home laws. By so doing, families are arming themselves with knowledge that can ensure standards are met and quality care is provided at all times.

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Resident Choking Remains Dangerous Nursing Home Risk

Illinois Nursing Home Sweep Finds Violations

Abused Seniors Citizens Need More Safe Havens

The Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers at our firm have worked with victims of elder abuse enough to know that it remains a far too-common, but hidden problem across the country. This mistreatment and neglect occurs in a wide variety of settings. While there are a surprising number of systematically negligent nursing homes, examples of mistreatment can be found wherever seniors live. That includes in their own homes. The rampant abuse of vulnerable elderly community members and the feeling of hopelessness that many of them experience is leading many advocate to call for more safe places where the victimized can go to seek help.

A story this week in the Huffington Post highlighted the need for these spaces. One “Senior Safe House” reports that its ranks are growing as more and more elderly community members are in need of a safe place to go after facing abuse at home—previously they considered homelessness. For example, one resident of this facility was a 70-year old woman who spent her life helping others. For a long while she cared for her husband who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and became abusive. Once he passed away her daughter moved into her home because of the daughter’s financial problems. The woman’s daughter became increasingly aggressive with her mother—eventually threatening to put her in a home and gain legal power over her. Not knowing what to do, the woman took to the streets. Fortunately, she was able to find the Senior Safe House whose staff members are providing her with the day-to-day assistance that she needs to survive.

Many others are not so lucky. There remain only a handful of such places nationwide. Most seniors still have few places to turn if they find themselves in a situation where they are being abused or neglected. The Illinois nursing home neglect attorneys in our office would agree with the sentiment expressed by the story’s author about the unacceptable levels of senior abuse nationwide. The latest data from the National Institute of Justice found that a shocking 11 percent of individuals over the age of 60 have faces some form of abuse in the last year. That is a dismal statistic that should shock the conscience of all observers. The abuse can take many forms from physical violence and mental cruelty to senior financial exploitation. Financial neglect is a particularly common and underreported problem. A recently federal study found that, at a minimum, seniors lose $2.5 billion each year at the hands of those with ill-motives.

All efforts to improve the lives of victimized seniors are good efforts. The Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers at our firm will continue to advocate on behalf of all of those who do not receive the level of care to which we all should be entitled. It is appalling that so many people are not able to enjoy their golden years and instead spend their twilight in painful situations where every day is a struggle. This should not be tolerated. Please get in touch with our office if you know of abuse that injured or took the life of an area senior.

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Illinois Nursing Home Death Raised Questions About Patient Transfers

Late last week Forbes discussed the unique case of a 58-year old local man with muscular dystrophy who died only three weeks after being moved into an area nursing home from an Illinois charity hospital where he had spent the last 17 years. The Illinois nursing home death is raising questions about the transfer process in Cook County that was conducted after the hospital where the resident spent the majority of his life was shut down. The transfer was part of a Cook County move to save money by converting the hospital into an outpatient center and moving all of the current facility residents to different locations. The victim in this case was one of those residents. The conversion was bitterly protested by some in the community, but policymakers moved ahead with the decision anyway.

In total, nine patients were moved from the hospital into other facilities at the end of August. The man in this case predicted that he would not survive after the move. Unfortunately, his prediction proved correct. The man died roughly three weeks after moving to the new facility from pneumonia and a blood infection. His family has suggested that the problems were caused at least in part by Illinois nursing home neglect and problems with the care that he received at the new location.

The victim’s family has filed a complaint against the facility with the Illinois Department of Public Health. The complaint suggests that the nursing home broke promises made to the family about the level of care that their loved one would receive. The complaint further alleges that the facility lacked necessary equipment to provide adequate care such as a heated humidifier—the man breathed through a ventilator. Days went by before the resident had a working call button, because he did not have the strength to use the “pull cord” version which existed at the home originally. There are also questions about whether staff members at the facility were properly trained to understand the victim’s unique needs. It is unclear if there was anything involved with the physical transfer of the man contributed to his passing. Moving a patient who is on a ventilator requires particularly careful planning. Any gaps in that planning may result in unneeded stress being placed on the fragile patient which could have severe consequences.

It goes without saying that all nursing home in our area have a duty to provide the patients in their care with whatever level of treatment that they need. No facility should accept an individual as a resident if they do not have the proper equipment, training, or are in any other way unable to provide the services which the resident and their family expect. Our Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers know that this basic tenant of proper care is violated again and again at homes in our area. This cannot be tolerated. If you or someone you know has been hurt because of Illinois nursing home neglect, do not sit idly by. Contact our office and begin the process of holding those wrongdoers accountable for their conduct.

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Facility Claims Problems Fixed After Persistent Nursing Home Abuse Claims

Permanently rooting out poor nursing home care at consistently deficient homes is a difficult process. Through the years our Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers have come to understand how it is often the same facilities (and large nursing home companies) that allow standards to drop, ultimately leading to resident harm. Eliminating the vestiges of systematic mistreatment is a long, complex and difficult process that requires persistent effort over a period of time. Even when a facility claims to have fixed all of their previous problems, it is only after the location operates for a period of time free of any nursing home neglect that the community should feel comfortable that the home is capable of providing the level of care that residents deserve.

Some cases of poor care and neglect leave permanent scars on the facility that make it difficult for others to trust the services that they provide in the future. A story last week in The Tennessean recently discussed these issues. A facility is making claims that all previous problems are fixed after a nursing home lawsuit was filed claiming that mistreatment led to death of several residents of the facility.

The lawsuit which uncovered the systematic negligence at the home was filed by the family of 57-year old resident who was a registered nurse before suffering a series of strokes which led to require nursing home care. The woman died not long after arriving at the facility from what the family claims—and court agreed—was systematic abuse and mistreatment. The most damaging evidence in the case likely came from the employees of the facility themselves who admitted to being unable to provide the care that residents needed. One nurse explained how “residents were sometimes left to lie in their own urine, which caused dried brown rings on the bed sheets, and feces which, after drying, were difficult to remove.” Many other former residents and their families complained of similar problems at the home over the years. For example, one 80-year old man was clearly in need of medical help after multiple medical tests showed urgent problems. However, staff members kept delaying and proper emergency medical care was never received. By the time he was eventually rushed to the hospital it was too late.

Following all of these revelations, the nursing home claims that changes were made and the problems fixed. However, many local community members remain skeptical. For good reason it is not easy for a home that has acted poorly and contributed to the death of seniors to regain the trust of those who literally depend on them to take care of life and death issues.

All local residents should carefully investigate the track record of all nursing home that they are considering for their loved ones. Our Illinois nursing home lawyers believe all community members should steer clear of the worst facilities that have been shown unable to prevent instances of neglect. For most of these homes, the only thing that causes changes are those actions that affect their bottom line. If fewer residents decide to enter the facility or if victims demand financial accountability through a nursing home neglect lawsuit, the home is more likely to do what is necessary to keep residents safer.

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State Senate Investigating Problems with Nursing Home Neglect Prevention Program

Our Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers know that public resources devoted to rooting out inadequate treatment of senior residents is usually quite meager. It remains impossible for those tasked with protecting these vulnerable residents to frequently check up on all local facilities. State investigators can only investigate a fraction of nursing homes on a consistent basis, and it therefore remains possible for many delinquent facilities to persist continually, hurting residents and disrupting families. The resource problems mean that it is important for outside observers to aid in the effort by reporting cases of Illinois nursing home abuse and using the civil justice system if necessary to hold these care centers accountable.

In addition, it remains important for the public regulators, inspectors, and advocates to use their limited resources in as efficient a manner as possible. These concerns are not unique to Illinois but are found throughout the country. Unfortunately, even public advocates who are specifically charged with improving these long-term care facilities must often engage in battles to avoid unscrupulously political interference in carrying out their tasks. For example, the Orlando Sentinel reported this week on the ongoing debacle surrounding the unseemly actions taken by the state’s executive office to handcuff regulatory efforts in the state’s Department of Elder Affairs.

A state Senate committee is now investigating allegations that there was unlawful interference in the agency by those aligned with big nursing home interests seeking to prevent the elder affairs department from properly holding facilities accountable for their nursing home abuse and neglect. The legislative inquiry was spurred by a federal report which cited problems with the department’s “muzzling” of the state’s Long Term Care Ombudsman Program. That interference included restriction the program’s communication with the media to publicize improper treatment of residents at some locations. In addition, the federal report questioned the state’s role in firing a bulk of the department volunteers—presumably because they were too aggressive in their enforcement efforts.

Legislators on both sides of the aisle have questioned those actions, noting that there appears to be a lack of independence of the ombudsman program. That fact was hammered home by the firing of the long-standing and much-heralded former chief ombudsman. The employee was fired after nursing home facility owners complained to the governor that the man was “too aggressive” in trying to root out inadequate care at local nursing facilities.

Our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers understand that it is impossible to rely entirely on public sources to ensure the safety of nursing home residents. Fortunately, all victims of poor elder care and their families can hold wrongdoers accountable on their own without the need for public interference through use of the civil justice system. While filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit is a retroactive form of accountability that does not take back the harm that occurred, it does act as a spur in many cases for the worst performing facilities to enact long-overdue changes that may save the lives of other residents. In the end, ensuring the proper care of vulnerable seniors is a community-wide effort. It is only through the joint effort of public bodies, family, elder care attorneys, advocates, friends, and others that standards can be improved.

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One reason why so much Illinois nursing home abuse goes unreported is because so few individuals who suspect the problems take any steps to put an end to it. Our Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys understand that it is often difficult to take action when confronted with concerns about the treatment of loved ones at these facilities. However, nursing home residents remain some of the most vulnerable members of our community. They often do not have any voice when it comes to the care that they receive, and therefore they depend on others to take a stand to prevent abuse and neglect.

Shockingly, some nursing homes actively seek to discourage advocacy on behalf of local residents. Many of the largest nursing home chains are so focused on the bottom line that they cut corners and otherwise tolerate inappropriate treatment of residents so long as it keeps profits at a certain level. Some of these homes aggressively work to keep their mistreatment under the radar. A story yesterday in the Santa Barbara Independent emphasizes the extreme lengths to which some facilities will go to cover up their conduct.

As the article explained, a 70-year old Good Samaritan who had spent nearly three decades visiting residents at a local nursing home suddenly found himself barred from the facility after he reported abuse and neglect. The man simply took time out of his day to chat with residents, play games, and otherwise add to the lives of those at these facilities who far too often do not get many visitors. The activities director of the home even asked him to lead religious services at the location. Throughout the nearly thirty years of visiting the facility the man virtually never had any trouble with local management.

However, all of that changed last year when he uncovered shocking abuse and mistreatment at the home. The man reported the nursing home abuse that he saw to state officials. When local management found out that he had been the one who reported the misconduct, they barred him from the home. Of course, the man had developed close friendships with many residents at the facility and felt that the residents had a right to visitors, so he ignored the order and visited his friends there anyway. The nursing home management decided to call police and have the man arrested. He spent time in jail for the first time in his life.

Fortunately the man elected to fight the charges and they were eventually dropped. Not long afterward the negligent nursing home lost its ability to operate because investigations into the home had revealed serious violations the led to harm to residents and were detrimental to their quality of life. Our Illinois nursing home lawyers know that it takes passionate voices to step up and demand accountability. Fortunately, advocates do not have to do it alone. We have worked for decades helping those who have uncovered mistreatment at local nursing facilities. Please consider visiting our office if you suspect problems at a location near you.

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President Obama Takes Steps to Prevent Illinois Nursing Home Neglect

Illinois elder abuse and mistreatment remains underreported, frequently ignored, and rarely are those guilty held accountable for their actions. Our Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys continue to urge all those who suspect mistreatment at a local home to seek help to improve the care received by vulnerable seniors in the area. We know that ensuring that local seniors receive the basic care to which they are entitled takes a community effort, including family members, attorneys, advocates, and policymakers.

That is why it was encouraging to read last week in Forbes about new steps being taken by the President to crack down on poor nursing home care. As part of his latest deficit reduction plan from last month, President Obama has proposed forcing stiff new penalties on all those nursing home that allow their residents to develop problems requiring expensive hospital care. As blog readers are aware, quite frequently local residents are forced to undergo painful and costly medical care because of things like Illinois nursing home falls, preventable infections, and medication problems. While some hospital visits are unavoidable occurrences for those in deteriorating health, many others would be unnecessary if only proper care were provided by nursing home employees.

The President rightly noted that holding nursing homes accountable for their conduct does not have to cost more money, but, in fact, can actually save staggering sums. When poor care is provided to elderly seniors it is eventually translated into increased medical care being required. That medical care is incredibly costly, and it usually comes out of the pockets of taxpayers in the form of increased Medicare and Medicaid payments. The latest data reveals that roughly 40 percent of nursing home residents require hospital admission within their first year of living at an assisted care facility. A new comprehensive Kaiser Family Foundation study noted that roughly 25 percent of those admissions could be prevented. In addition, a congressional study recently found that 14 percent of patients who have to return to the hospital after being discharged to a nursing home could likely have avoided the hospital stay if proper care was provided to them.

To help prevent these instances of nursing home neglect (and save money at the same time), the President is calling for steep penalties to those home that simply send residents to the hospitals instead of providing the consistent, cost-effective care that they need to prevent problems from arising. The proposed penalties are steep. The worst performing facilities could lose up to 3% of their Medicare payments. However, as it now stands the penalty would only apply to Medicare payments, which affect those residents staying at nursing home for rehabilitation or recovery purposes and not necessarily those likely to stay in the facility indefinitely.

Our Illinois nursing home abuse lawyers applaud the efforts by policymakers to hold poor nursing homes accountable for the consequences of their actions. Better care for seniors does not necessarily mean throwing more money into the system. In fact, as this budget deficit plan shows, providing better care often goes hand-in-hand with saving taxpayer dollars.

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New Report Reinforces Danger of Antipsychotic Drugs to Treat Dementia

The Chicago nursing home attorneys at our firm have been closely following the recent burst in scholarship on the effect that antipsychotic drugs have on the patients who receive them. We have worked with many clients and their families following concerns about mistreatment at local facilities where these drugs were doled out in massive quantities. Chemical restraints remain a common problem at local nursing homes. This refers to the excessive use of medication on residents with the main purpose of making it easier for the employees to handle residents. Of course this comes at a huge cost, taking away the vitality, character, personality, and independence of these residents. Not only that but these medications pose significant health risks that many medical professionals in these facilities continue to ignore.

Specifically, new research continues to pour in on the dangers posed to patients who were prescribed atypical antipsychotic drugs for “off-label” purposes. The “atypical” refers to the second generation of this medication. “Off label” refers to the use of the medication to treat things which were not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. These drugs are frequently used to treat dementia patients in nursing homes, even in the face of growing evidence that it leads to a risk of death.

As summarized this week in Health News, a new analysis of more than 150 trials involving these drugs showed that there was often a higher chance of these medications causing problems than actually improving the condition. The doctor who lead the team analyzing the trials explained that the beneficial outcomes for all patents—including those with dementia—were smaller than they expected. For many conditions analyzed, the medications came with virtually no positive effect, but they retained the negative risks. The lead doctor noted that this latest effort was the largest of its kind. She hoped that the results would lead many medical professionals—including those working in nursing homes—to reconsider the way they prescribe atypical antipsychotic drugs.

Our Illinois nursing home lawyers are not surprised by this data, as many families have explained the side-effects associated with these drugs. It remains shocking that so many medical professionals continue to prescribe these medications for uses not approved by the FDA. Atypical antipsychotics are approved by the FDA under certain circumstances only to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. In the last few years, however, medical professionals have begun using the drugs in an effort to treat a wide variety of conditions such as anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, dementia, posttraumatic stress, eating disorders, and substance abuse. Treatment of off-label conditions is now the most common reason that these drugs are prescribed. In fact, new information has emerged about illegal marketing efforts by the makers of these drugs. The large companies may have used underhanded tactics to get doctors to use the medication for these off-label purposes.

It is important for family members to be extra vigilant about the drugs prescribed to their loved ones in nursing homes. The Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys at our firm know that without close observation, it is possible for seniors to essentially lose their freedom by being given non-essential medications that make it difficult for them to interact with the world around them.

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Genius Grant Awarded to Elder Abuse Attorney

The Illinois elder neglect lawyers at our firm have come to appreciate the struggle to raise awareness of the plight faced by many seniors. Unfortunately, elder abuse and neglect remains a somewhat hidden problem, as millions of seniors suffer in silence each day without anyone taking notice of their pain. In our area it is still a battle to spread the word about the resources available to family members of residents to combat mistreatment at nursing homes and in other senior care settings.

The unfortunate fact that most elder abuse flies under the radar makes it important to work every day to bring the problem to light. That is why it was particularly encouraging to learn about the awarding of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” to an elder abuse attorney and activist. The Foundation awards $500,000 to several individuals each year in a variety of professional, academic, and non-profit fields that are making a difference in the world. The purpose of this latest award was to help the activist attorney continue her work combating elder abuse in America. The MacArthur Foundation remains an important organization with much influence and prestige, and so it is encouraging that the group has honored one in this field.

The winner of the award explained how she is guided each day by new stories of tremendous hardship suffered by seniors. She recently recounted the story of one senior who was literally allowed to rot to death by her son. While her adult child lived off her pension, she was left alone in a room, unable to move and struggling with dementia. Pressure sores eventually developed which were so deep that they exposed bone. The woman cried out for help from anyone who could hear, but neighbors just closed their windows.

As a new article at the Center for a Just Society explained, the plight of elder abuse often gets overlooked and advocates struggle to find the resources necessary to combat the problem. The article’s author suggests that part of the problem may be cultural. Some might argue that there is an increasing obsession with youth and less connection with intergenerational family bonds. As a result, older family members often given less attention and observation, which allows neglect to go unnoticed.

The article notes that many facilities advertise themselves as selling caring and nurturing environments that help seniors have happy, productive golden years. However, far too often these homes are nothing more than profit centers where the bottom line matters more than actually providing appropriate care to these community members. When the culture of revenue takes hold a plethora of problems are usually seen by the residents at the facility—from pressure sores and falls to malnutrition and dehydration.

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