Articles Posted in Chicago

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The civil law is premised on the idea that community members need to act reasonably in their interactions with one another. Not all accidents can be prevented–some things are simply true accidents that involve fluke circumstances. But those incidents are the exception. When analyzed deeply, many accidents that cause harm include unreasonable conduct by one, two, or many different parties. Figuring out that unreasonableness and seeking to compensate those hurt is the root of the civil law.

That is true in all settings, including the care of senior citizens.

One misconception, however, relates to gauging what is or is not reasonable. There are not simple rules, because everything hinges on context. For example, take two similar accidents–a fall in the hallway. Both fall-victims are 67 years old, both falls were caused by the shoes that the person was wearing–they were too big and made it difficult for the senior to walk. One fall took place in an emergency room waiting room–the senior went there to get a few stitches for a small cut. The other fall took place in a nursing home hallway.

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Lawyers, family members, and senior care advocates frequently cite the civil justice system as one of the key ways that long-term care facilities are actually held accountable for their conduct and spurred to make changes to minimize future harm. That point is well illustrated by a recent case related to the tragic death of a wheelchair bound resident and the lack of punishment (or chance of punishment) from state officials.

Nursing Home Wrongful Death

The Republic published an article this week about a 67-year old Tucson man who was living at a rehabilitation and care center. Like many of his fellow nursing home residents, the man had mobility problems. He was confined to a wheelchair and usually required the assistance of staff members at the home to get around properly. Obviously, nursing home staff members understand their role in helping residents in this way who depend on them to move in certain settings.

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It seems that all too often we hear of tragic incidents occurring at Nursing Homes. Today, the Chicago Tribune published an article regarding Alden Village North noting that over the past ten years, Alden has been cited thirteen times for violations in connection to the deaths of its patients.

It is unreasonable to believe that any facility can be perfect in their care, but the types of nursing home neglect that Alden has shown is, in our opinion, inexcusable. The law firm of Levin & Perconti has handled a significant number of cases against Alden for their negligent treatment and care of patients. When negligence occurs, it is important for a facility to investigate the source and correct any problems to mitigate these types of incidents. Alden has been neglecting this part of their duty.

A one-year-old Alden Village North resident who suffered from severe Down syndrome was found in his room “unresponsive and blue” about forty-five minutes after having been fed. There was no one in the room when the child died, and as such Alden was responsible to investigate the cause of the child’s death. In a state investigation, it was found that there was no evidence that the facility reviewed whether proper supervision was provided. The facility was also cited for being understaffed and for not reporting his death to the state health department.

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Illinois state authorities are declining to pursue civil allegations made by whistle-blowers that said one of the nation’s largest pharmacy companies, Ominicare Inc., paid a multimillion-dollar kickback to Chicago nursing home operators. There has been a civil lawsuit filed by two health care industry insiders. This lawsuit claims that Omnicare Inc was allegedly inflating the purchase price it paid for a pharmacy company that was controlled by the Chicago nursing home operators Phillip Esformes and Morris Esformes. These lawsuits were brought under the federal False Claims Act which allows private citizens to file fraud actions on behalf of the government and recover those funds on the government’s behalf.

In 2004 Omicare paid $32 million for Total Pharmacy which included millions of dollars that are alleged to be a kickback to secure long-term pharmacy contracts with the Esformes family’s nursing homes. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office and the U.S. Justice Department declined to intervene for lack of a burden of proof. However, the civil nursing home lawsuit against the owners will continue. The Chicago Tribune reported that the father and son due are listed as part-owners of 28 nursing homes in Illinois and Florida. These cases include a cluster of whistle-blower lawsuits that Omnicare recently settled by paying $98 million. Through these kickbacks Omincare has secured the use of their pharmaceuticals in nursing homes throughout the country. This drives up prices of the drugs and ultimately the cost of patient care. To read more about the nursing home lawsuits, please click the link.

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The Reporter analyzed data from the U.S. Government Accountability Office which listed 580 of the nation’s most unsafe facilities among roughly 16,000 nursing homes in the U.S. 53 of these homes had predominately black residents. Of these 53 facilities, 12 of them were from Illinois which makes us the leading state in the nation. The Chicago Reporter found that of Illinois’ 51 majority-black nursing homes, 24 percent appeared on the federal list for having the worst safety records. This is in contrast to the 5 percent of the state’s white nursing homes that appeared on this least. The Reporter found that the disparities also occurred at a national level. While black nursing homes represent just 5 percent of the state’s nursing homes in the nation, they represent 10 percent of homes on the government’s list of unsafe homes. No other racial or ethnic group was overrepresented in that way. It becomes even worse in Chicago where nearly one in four black nursing homes were listed as being among the most safe unsafe in the nation. They are all located on the south side of the city. The seven homes are: Alden Wentworth Rehab and Health Care Center, All Faith Pavilion, Avenue Care Center, Belhaven Nursing and Rehab Center, Rainbow Beach Care Center, Renaissance Park South, and South Shore Nursing and Rehab Center. To learn more about the disparities in nursing homes, click the link.

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Crimes are being committed by residents of Chicago nursing homes throughout the Uptown and Edgewater neighborhoods. Illinois is a unique state because it allows nursing homes to house younger adults with mental illness patients including several thousand felons. The Chicago lakefront communities of Uptown and Edgewater contain the state’s densest concentration of mentally ill and criminal nursing home residents. In a 2-square-mile section of the neighborhoods, 11 facilities housed 318 convicted felons and 1,350 people with mental illness. Also most of these nursing homes have substandard nursing staff levels and care. This creates a great deal of both nursing home negligence and abuse. To read more about how Chicago nursing homes house mentally ill patients, please click the link.

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Attorneys Steven Levin and Margaret Battersby of Levin & Perconti filed a nursing home negligence lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County against Alden Northmoor Rehabilitation and Care Center in Chicago, Illinois. The complaint was filed on behalf of 77-year-old Mary Clifton of Chicago, Illinois for the injuries she sustained at Alden Northmoor. While she was a resident, nursing home staff failed to properly monitor the victim and she swallowed a surgical glove on two separate occasions. After swallowing the gloves, Mary had to undergo two small bowel resections, enduring pain and suffering. The surgeries took a toll on her physical condition and she is now immobile. The nursing home negligence resulted in her inability to retain nutrients. The victim was admitted to Alden Northmoor with a diagnosis of dementia. When she was admitted in October of 2007, nursing home staff noted her to be at risk for wandering and odd behaviors due to her dementia. On April 29, 2008 Mary was allowed to swallow a surgical glove at Alden Northmoor due to poor supervision. She was transferred to a local hospital where she underwent a small bowel resection. Upon her return, the nursing staff still failed to develop a care plan to address the victim’s propensity for putting foreign objects into her mouth. Three months later, she again swallowed a surgical glove and had to undergo a second small bowel resection surgery to remove the foreign object. It was at this time that her family removed her from Alden Northmoor. As a result of her injuries, Mary has experienced decreased mobility and is at risk for further digestive problems including a decreased ability to digest nutrients and dehydration.

“After her first surgery, Alden Northmoor should have created a specific care plan to address her odd behaviors, such as wandering and putting foreign object into her mouth,” said Steve Levin. “Despite the known risk that Mary had put foreign objects in her mouth on another occasion, the nursing home failed to address this behavior or properly monitor Mary and as a result, she had to undergo a second surgery. These surgeries took a serious toll on Mary’s overall condition and now she is immobile and faces an increased risk of future medical complications with her digestive system.”

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Chicago personal injury attorneys Michael Bonamarte and John Perconti of Levin & Perconti filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Sacred Heart Home in Chicago. The complaint was filed on behalf of the victim’s mother in the Circuit Court of Cook County for the severe injuries her mother sustained while under Sacred Heart’s care. These injuries lead to her death eight months after her accident at the nursing home. The victim had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. On December 21 of 2007 she left her second floor room and exited the hallway through an unalarmed stairwell door at the nursing home. She was found in the first floor stairwell having suffered serious injuries including a broken back, significant head injuries and paralysis. She died approximately eight months later at the age of 61. After her mother’s death, a complaint was filed with the Illinois Department of Public Health who investigated the victim’s case. The IDPH cited the nursing home for Type A violations for failing to appropriately monitor and supervise the victim. Sacred Heart Home had previously been cited for failing to properly supervise residents. The complaint alleges that the nursing home staff failed to develop and implement a proper care plan based on the victim’s medical conditions. Attorney Michael Bonamarte believes that if the proper precautions were put into place, her accident and subsequent death could have been avoided. If you suspect nursing home negligence, find an Illinois nursing home lawyer.

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Chicago nursing home lawyers Levin & Perconti have filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a Harvard, Illinois woman who alleges that the nursing home failed to prevent a fall that led to her mother’s death. The woman is suing Sacred Heart Home in Chicago after her mother died after suffering from a broken back, head injuries and paralysis after she allegedly fell in a stairwell at the home. The 61 year old died eight months later. The case alleges that staff should have better supervised the victim because they knew she had been diagnosed with both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The wrongful death lawsuit is seeking damages in excess of $50,000, although Levin & Perconti attorney Mike Bonamarte states that they would be seeking an amount much greater than that. To read more about the Chicago nursing home lawsuit, please click the link.

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An 84-year-old nursing home resident at Alden Wentworth Rehabilitation in Chicago died on May 4 after falling from a window at the nursing home. According to the Southtown Star, the victim was from Chicago’s South Side. At the time of the report, it was not know whether his death was accidental or a suicide. However, the article did note that the victim was suffering from dementia. To read more about this death at Alden Wentworth in Chicago follow the link.

Falls often occur at nursing homes, and in many cases, the results are devastating. “In many instances, deaths such as this are a result of nursing home negligence. When residents suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s, they require a great degree of care and supervision. Unfortunately, serious injuries and death may occur when the nursing home staff fails to provide this care,” said Steve Levin of Levin & Perconti in Chicago.

If you or a loved one has suffered serious personal injury or death due to nursing home negligence, please contact our offices by email or at 312-332-2872 to discuss your case with one of our experienced Chicago nursing home lawyers.