Articles Posted in Government Reports

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Some of the most critical aspects of the civil justice process are the rules of civil procedure. As the name implies, this refers to the “procedure” that parties and their lawyers must follow when working through the system. These rules are critical, intricate, and often shape the outcome of a case. Yet, most members of the public are unfamiliar with how it all works. That unfamiliarity is a key reason why the legal process can seem confusing and contradictory.

In other words, proving liability is one part of the process–collecting evidence and presenting it such that a judge or jury issues a judgement in favor of the plaintiff. But in reaching that point, many different rules must be followed–deadlines, paperwork requirements, and so on. The same procedural rules affect cases that end in settlement, before an actual trial.

Considering the importance of procedure, those seeking to influence the justice system often seek to alter procedural laws. In this way, the system can be made better (or worse) for all cases, regardless of actual liability issues.

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A report published in the June 9 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that survival rates among Medicare beneficiaries who have been transferred to long-term acute-care hospitals is quite poor. The report used long-term-care trends, which did include all Medicare hospitalizations involving admission to an intensive-care unit of an acute-care, non federal hospital in the US. The study released statistics which show that the long-term care hospitals more than doubled in the past two years, while the number of admissions more than tripled. Costs in these hospitals rose from $1.32 billion from a figure of $484 million in the past ten years.

Mortality rates are also increasing. The nursing home study showed that transferred patients had a higher number of co-morbidities. The numbers went from 5 in 1997 to 5.8 in 2006. Mortality rates remained high throughout the entire study period. They increased from 50.7% in 1997 to 52.2% in 2006. The Acute Long Term Hospital Association is stating that it will welcome the chance to engage in debate about the role of long-term hospitals in the healthcare system. It is imperative that they address these problems now, before they get worse. With the rising numbers of patients residing within these types of nursing homes, there is bound to be nursing home negligence. Hopefully, the health reform law will help secure patient safety within the nursing homes. If you believe that a loved one wrongfully died within a long-term hospital, please consult a Chicago nursing home attorney.

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A panel of nutrition experts has released new definitions for malnutrition that will be universally applicable. McKnights Long-Term Care News & Assisted Living is reporting that these new definitions will help clinicians and healthcare workers identify and treat malnutrition. Researchers had decided to develop new definitions because there was a lack of generally agreed upon terms for the numerous forms and causes of malnutrition. There are now three categories of adult nutrition: starvation-related, chronic disease-related or acute disease/injury-related. These categories can now include all the major causes of malnutrition. These are important clarifications considering a 2000 study found that between 25% and 85% of nursing home residents are considered malnourished. The new definitions were accumulated by ESPEN and ASPEN. They will be published in the journals Clinical Nutrition and JPEN. To read about the new definitions, please check out the link.

Malnutrition or dehydration can cause many problems in elderly residents. These health conditions include tooth decay, broken bones, anemia and low blood pressure. Severe cases can even lead to death. These ailments can oftentimes be easily prevented if the residents are properly fed and nourished. Many times residents who are suffering from depression will become malnourished. Some experts also believe that residents become malnourished due to a lack of adequately trained personnel. Poor staffing is often the root of most nursing home abuse problems. It is the duty of all nursing homes to ensure that not only they have a sufficient number of staff members, but that these staff members are properly trained to deal with the complexities of the elderly. If you believe that you or a loved one resides in a Chicago-area or Illinois nursing home with inadequate staffing, please confront the nursing home about this problem. If this poor level of staffing has lead to nursing home abuse, consult a nursing home lawyer.

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is reporting that they are now notifying those nursing homes who are candidates to become Special Focus Facilities (SFF). SFFs are chosen from among the 15 worst-scoring nursing home in each individual state. Those who chose SFFs analyze the Five-Star Quality Nursing Home Rating System in order to choose which homes make the list. Once a home is chosen as an SFF it is subject to extra inspections and increased enforcement.

The NCCNHR is reporting that of the 355 nursing homes in the SFF program since January of 2005, 51 percent graduated. This means that they had two consecutive standard surveys and no complaint investigations. However, this also shows that almost half of the nursing homes failed to improve. They will continue to remain in the program designed to curb nursing home neglect and abuse. The GAO discovered that SFFs were more likely to be for-profit nursing homes who were affiliated with chain owners.

The SFFs are sorted into different categories by the CMS. One such category is facilities that have not improved. Currently, Illinois has one nursing home in this list, Embassy Health Care Center in Wilmington, Illinois. There is also a category for facilities that are beginning to show improvement. Two Chicago nursing homes are in this SFF category. Both Alden Wentworth Rehab & Healthcare Center and International Nursing And Rehab Center are located on the city’s south side. Additionally, Pekin Manor in Pekin, Illinois is identified as an SFF. To locate more nursing homes that have been designated as SFFs, please click the link.

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An Illinois county has enacted a new team to review cases of alleged or suspected elderly abuse, neglect or exploitation. This team was organized by the county’s coroner in coordination with the Illinois Department of Aging. They are looking to have several people investigate cases of elderly abuse. Also the team hopes to gather information that will enable them to discover gaps in the nursing home system and the services provided to the elderly. The team leader believes that the elderly are a group that is very vulnerable to nursing home abuse. This type of team should be present in every county throughout the state in order to combat Illinois elderly abuse. To read more about the elderly abuse team, please click the link.

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The USA Today has released a report stating that one in five of the country’s 15,700 nursing homes were found on the lower end of the five-star scale. It seems that almost all of the nursing home receiving one or two stars are owned by-for-profit corporations. The stars reflect inspections performed in the nursing homes as well as complaint investigations. Most owners must take responsibility for the consequences of the poorly performing nursing homes. The lowest-rated facilities have averaged about 14 deficiencies per site. These deficiencies include nursing home abuse and safety violations. You may visit the nursing home compare website by clicking on the link. Many Chicago nursing homes only have one star. These include: Alden Princeton; Avenue Care Center; Belhaven Nursing & Rehab Center; Kenwood Healthcare Center; and Waterfront Terrace. The nursing home negligence attorneys at Levin & Perconti have filed numerous lawsuits against one-star nursing homes in Chicago. They have also noticed that many of these homes have not improved their ratings and continue to commit Chicago nursing home abuse.

To read the story concerning the low star nursing homes, please click the link.

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Authorities saw mentally ill residents in Chicago nursing homes crowded three and four to a room, observed residents wandering hallways and saw very little therapy. This prompted member of an Illinois task force to turn away surprised and dismayed. It was especially true when it came to homes that housed the mentally ill. The Illinois task force was formed in response to a series of assaults in nursing homes. Under federal law, nursing homes are barred from admitting a mentally ill patient unless the state has determined the person needs the high level of care a nursing home can provide. The nursing homes should not admit mentally ill patients if their primary diagnosis is mental illness, however many admit residents with other diagnoses and health complications. In some instances, older nursing home residents have been assaulted by younger, stronger mentally ill patients. These instances of nursing home abuse have led to nursing home reports examining how violent convicted felons living in nursing homes put frail elderly residents at risk. To read more about the Illinois nursing home report, please click the link.

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If the GAO succeeds the number of nursing facilities on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Special Focus Facility (SFF) list from 135 to 580. The GAO enhanced the list by altering the methodology used by the CMS to make SFF designations. The changes include the use of a national rather than a state-based comparison and incorporating CMS Five Star Quality Rating scoring into the calculation. The GAO explained that its expanded list differs substantially from the CMS list. The list will contain the names and addresses of the facilities, which are identified as “the most poorly performing.” Hopefully this new list will help deter residents from choosing nursing homes guilty of elderly abuse. To take a look at the old nursing home list, please click the link.

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A study by Rush University Medical Center found that seniors who neglect themselves tend to be individuals with limited social networks and little social engagement. The study is the largest epidemiological study to date examining a wide range of sociodemographic, health-related and psychosocial characteristics associated with elder self-neglect. This is extremely important because reports of self-neglect to social service agencies are rising. Elder self-neglect is defined by the National Centers on Elder Abuse as “the behavior of an elderly person that threatens his/her own health and safety.” Twice as many women as men and more than seven times the number of African Americans as whites were reported for self-neglect. Professionals who work with the elderly need to be mindful not just of their patients’ health profile, but also of their social well-being, a factor that may put them at risk of self-neglect. To learn how to detect self-neglect, please click the link.

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A scary result of the Omincare drug kickback case is how vulnerable elderly people in nursing homes are to schemes in which drug companies allegedly induce pharmacies to prescribe drugs they otherwise would not. One patient cited by the government’s complaint received 67 different drugs under Omnicare’s reign. The drugs include Cipro, Neurotin, Hearin, Pepcid, Oxycodone and Seroqueol. Omnicare, the country’s largest nursing home pharmacy chain, pain $98 million to settle the case. Also the Wall Street Journal noticed that the government accused Johnson and Johnson of paying kickbacks as well. One single patient received 67 drugs from Omnicare’s pharmacies. It appears that the patients are being “cycled’ through various drug categories. Medication errors are a common form of nursing home abuse. To read more about the pharmacy kickbacks, please click the link.