Articles Posted in National Nursing Home News

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This week–May 12th through May 18th–represents the official “National Nursing Home Week.” With many participants, including the American Health Care Association (AHCA), the event is a yearly reminder of the needs of long-term care residents and the terrific work that so many valuable caregivers perform day in and day out. It is easy for those of us working on matters related to nursing home neglect and mistreatment to appear unconcerned with the great work that facilities are able to provide. But on the contrary, because we are so familiar with the many instances of poor care, we are better able to understand the value and service of great care, when it exists.

The theme of this year’s week-long event, according to the AHCA site on the event, is” “Team Care.” In summarizing the event, the site explains that the week is for the residents and dedicated staff who “pitch in for optimal outcomes.” This is a timely theme, as with the complex needs of many seniors, proper communication and shared commitments to positive outcomes for senior residents requires clear coordination between all members of the caregivers process. When too many nursing home employees are forced to go it alone or do not receive the support they need for owners and operators, harm results.

National Nursing Home Week Events

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The U.S. Supreme Court has denied certioria in a case where the Third Circuit Court of Appeals said that a nursing home resident and Medicaid recipient may sue their facility under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of the Federal Nursing Home Reform Amendments (FNHRA). The plaintiff in the case was a nursing home resident and Medicaid recipient. After the victim wrongfully died her daughter filed a nursing home lawsuit against the facility under a §1983 action. The nursing home lawsuit claimed the facility violated the FNHRA by not providing proper care. The nursing home tried to commit the complaint by claiming that the FNHRA does not provide an enforceable right of action through §1983. They argued that FNHRA only sets forth requirements that a nursing facility must comply with in order to receive federal Medicaid funds. The district court did agree with the nursing home, and the victim appealed the ruling.

Luckily, the Third Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling and held that the FNHRA does give Medicaid recipients rights and remedies under §1983. Elder Law Answers reported that the appellate court reasoned that both as a nursing home resident and Medicaid recipient, the victim was an intended beneficiary of the FNHRA. The court believed that the language of the FNHRA laid out specific enforceable rights for victims of nursing home abuse. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the writ of certioria and rested on the Third Circuit’s ruling. They believe this will cause all nursing homes to rethink patient’s rights. The Chicago nursing home lawyers agree the rulings of both the Third Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court and thank them for their support of nursing home rights.

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The 2009 National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care Conference is scheduled for October 22, 2009 until October 25, 3009. It will take place at the Hamilton Crowne Plaza Hotel in Washington, DC. They have a renewed commitment to achieve “quality care, no matter where”. The conference is geared toward citizen advocates, resident and family councils, ombudsmen, non-profit organizations, researchers, policy makers, residents, family members and others involved in long-term care advocacy. This conference will help many people detect elder abuse. To sign up for the nursing home conference, please click the link.

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A 73-year-old woman entered a nursing home in 2005 after she fell and injured her arm, believing it would be a quick month stint for therapy. However, two years later, after repeated denied requests to go home, the woman died due to a horrific infected bedsore. Her daughter has filed a nursing home negligence lawsuit stating that none of the staff would check on her mother. On one visit, a family member went to change the victim’s gown and noticed a bedsore, already in an advanced stage, on their mother’s tail bone. The pressure ulcer was infected within days. The victim’s family states that you could put your whole hand down in their mother’s back and you could see the bones and spinal cord. Pressure ulcers are lesions caused by unrelieved pressure on the skin. They are largely preventable by making sure a patient is regularly moved or turned every two hours. However, they are fatal once they become infected. If you or a loved one has experienced bed sores as a result of nursing home abuse, please contact an Illinois lawyer. To read more about the wrongful death, please click the link.

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Authorities have uncovered what are described as prison camp conditions at a group home housing the elderly. Investigators say the elder abuse took a new form as the seniors, some mentally disabled, were abused, crammed into chicken coops and forced to go to the bathroom in buckets. Authorities say that the facility was an illegal adult group home that was not licensed by the city or the state. The home owner was arrested and accused of forcing mentally ill adults to live in prison camp-like conditions. The woman’s nursing home abuse included housing the elderly in converted chicken coops with razor wire fences surrounding the facility and padlocked gates. 22 people were living in three dilapidated buildings, none of them with indoor plumbing. The woman was charged with 16 counts of elderly abuse. The facility has been shut down considering the grave elderly abuse. The 22 residents were picked up by family members or taken to licensed care facility. To read more about the horrid nursing home conditions, please click the link.

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An 87-year-old man has been charged with killing his 91-year-old fellow resident at a nursing home. The victim was sitting on a bench outside when the resident struck him in the head. The man was taken to hospice where he died of personal injuries. The death was ruled a homicide and he was charged with second-degree murder and first and second-degree assault. According to experts, elder abuse or exploitation affects 1 million to 2 million people a year in the United States. Incidents in which one elderly person kills another are unusual. Certain incidents can be triggered by a “catastrophic reaction to some event.” Nursing home staff may have anticipated the attack. Residents who show signs of violent behavior are often relocated quickly to avoid both wrongful death and nursing home abuse. To read more about the nursing home death, please click the link.

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The family of a woman who died in 2007 of acute sepsis and other complications stemming from a large Stage 4 pressure wound is bringing a nursing home negligence lawsuit. The pressure ulcer was discovered two months before her death, causing paramedics to rush the 82-year-old woman to the hospital. A felony elder abuse trial is pending in addition to the family’s civil suit, claiming negligence and wrongful death. The licensing division began license revocation proceedings as well. This case highlights the importance of law enforcement in nursing home negligence. By educating others on the importance of carrying for the elderly, nursing home negligence may decrease. To read more about he wrongful death lawsuit, please click the link.

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A nursing home aide tied an 83-year-old woman to her wheelchair with a bed sheet, took her into a common room, turned out the lights and napped. The victim remained restrained for approximately one hour. The elder neglect incident occurred in May of 2008. The certified nurse’s aide pled guilty to violating public health law involving the abuse, neglect and mistreatment of a person. The 72 year old employee had to surrender his nurse aide’s certificate and is prohibited to work in such a capacity for one year from his sentencing date. A director for a watchdog group that tracks enforcement actions against nursing homes and assisted-living facilities stated that this type of incident is not what you do to a human being. The resident of the home was unable to walk or care for herself without the assistance of others. The nursing home’s video recording system showed that the employee pushed the resident down the hallway while she was restrained in her wheelchair with the bed sheet. The use of bed sheets to restraint residents is highly discouraged due to a risk of suffocating and strangulation. To read more about the nursing home abuse, please click the link.

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A family filed an elderly negligence suit against a nursing home physician claiming that the doctor was negligent in prescribing a medication for her. The physician took the stand and testified that the family called months later asking for the exact medication in order to curb’s the woman’s anxiety. The nursing home negligence lawsuit alleges that the medication, Haldol, contributed to the victim’s immobility and bedsores while she was living at a nursing home. The plaintiff alleged the pressure ulcer required surgery and could have been prevented. The nursing home negligence lawsuit claims that the prescription decreased her motor activity. To read more about the nursing home lawsuit, please click the link.

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Last week, two of the country’s largest arbitration firms said they are no longer handling consumer arbitration cases. In the Wall Street Journal, Ed Mierzwinski of U.S. PIRG said “In the long run, I think that this is the beginning of the end of forced arbitration in all consumer contracts, from credit cards, to nursing homes to cell phones.”

While this development is encouraging, it is still important to speak out in support of the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act of 2009. This Act would invalidate all current and future arbitration agreements that many people entering into nursing homes and assisted living facilities unknowingly sign. These agreements take away one’s right to argue their case in front of a jury. Follow the link to learn more about nursing home arbitration. To find out how to contact your U.S. Representatives and Senators to show your support for this bill, click here.