$17,700,000

Brain injury due to nursing staff negligence

$14,000,000

Ignored x-ray results delaying diagnosis of lung cancer

$12,000,000

Failure to diagnosis causes wrongful death

$10,000,000

Truck ran over five year boy

$7,620,000

HMO doctor ignored mother's complaints resulting in death

$7,000,000

Vietnam veteran PTSD wrongful death

Danville VA facility
The VA Illiana Health Care System in Danville is part of the Veterans Integrated Service Network 12. The VISN service area includes Northern Illinois, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and large portions of Wisconsin. In late October of 2020, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services received two separate complaints about facilities operated by the system in Danville that failed to adequately address the COVID-19 pandemic.

How did COVID-19 impact the Danville VA facility?

The reports to the OIG concerned two Community Living Centers operated by Illiana, known as Unity and Victory. An investigation by the OIG found that leadership at the facilities did indeed fail to contain a COVID-19 outbreak.

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Ask These Questions Before Choosing a Nursing Home for a Loved One

2020 did its best to reveal the most alarming care deficiencies throughout the country’s nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities. Unfortunately, the pandemic, in some cases, was allowed to target the elderly and nursing home population brutally. While nursing homes and assisted living centers should offer a safe place for your loved one, whether they are your parent, a family member, or a friend who needs guided rehabilitation, you must do the work in choosing the best place on behalf of them. You have the right to ask questions, pull inspection reports, Google the facility, interview staff, read reviews, and have concerns. Because, unfortunately, more than a quarter of all nursing home residents will experience abuse during their residency, and more than half will be neglected.

Start with researching credible online sources, schedule a virtual tour of the facility, or speak with an administrator. Then, be sure to review the following questions to guide your learning about the home’s staffing, environment, and infectious disease outbreaks.

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Regional Ombudsmen Serve as Lifeline for Nursing Home Residents – And So Much More

Under the federal Older Americans Act (OAA), every state must have an Ombudsman Program that addresses complaints and advocates for improvements in the long-term care system. Each state has an Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman (Office), headed by a full-time State Long-Term Care Ombudsman (Ombudsman) who directs the program statewide. Across the Nation, staff and thousands of volunteers are designated by State Ombudsmen as representatives to serve residents directly.

According to the Administration on Aging (AoA)/Administration for Community Living (ACL):

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New Alzheimer’s Drug Could Receive National Coverage Policy, Now Under Medicare Review

On July 12, 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the opening of a National Coverage Determination (NCD) analysis. The government agency says the process will allow an advanced and careful review to determine whether Medicare will establish a national coverage policy for monoclonal antibodies targeting Alzheimer’s disease. Monoclonal antibodies may prevent beta-amyloid from clumping into plaques or remove beta-amyloid plaques that have formed and help the body clear the beta-amyloid from the brain, found in patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

  • When someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (or dementia), they will require more care, patience, and support as they grow older.

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Harmful Medication Overuse Often First Line of Defense for Managing Behaviorally Challenged Nursing Home Residents

There is excessive and unnecessary use of antipsychotics and psychoactive medications in U.S. nursing homes. These powerful drugs are sometimes given to patients living in long-term care facilities to calm behaviors associated with behavior disruptions and mental health illnesses. Antipsychotics can be so powerful that they sedate residents to the point where they become listless and unresponsive. Residents may be slumped in chairs or unable to get up from bed; they may no longer participate in activities like feeding themselves or engaging in routines they enjoy, or even talk with their loved ones. They are also overly-prescribed to residents who may be marked unruly or disruptive or when staff feel overworked and unable to support and service all residents due to understaffing or high turnover rates. Care teams will seek out specific medications that make patients with these issues easier to handle – or sadly, just to quiet them and make them lethargic and sleepy. Nursing home doctors have also been caught on relying heavily on the recommendation of nurses and other care staff when making these medication decisions.

  • According to the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services, more than half of atypical antipsychotic medications that affect at least 105,000 nursing home residents annually are being incorrectly paid for by Medicare, despite the drugs being deemed ineffective and potentially dangerous for the elderly population.

Identifying Heat-Related Stress and Dehydration Injuries in Nursing Home Populations During the Summer Months

When you help your loved one find a nursing home, you should feel it is a safe place no matter their risk factors for injury and illness. The facility staff members should be trusted to care for your relatives and friends and protect them from harm. However, extreme weather events, including high temperatures, can be particularly tough on a neglected senior population. And unfortunately, it is not uncommon to hear stories of elderly individuals in dire situations who face severe injury or even die due to elevated hot temperatures and poor air-cooling options.

But elder community members most at risk are not always those living alone and without extensive social networks. They could also be those who rely on nursing homes and long-term care to keep them cool and safe. And when those in charge fail, and facilities don’t train staff to notice heat exhaustion or dehydration warning signs, the risk of a heat-related injury is high. As a result, facilities must invest in keeping cooling equipment, and doors, and windows well-maintained, so that the potential for hot rooms with uncomfortable conditions never presents itself in the first place.

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Candida Auris Is an Invasive Fungi That is Spreading in Health Care Settings and Proving to Be Drug-Resistant

On Thursday, July 22, 2021, U.S. health officials presented evidence that an untreatable fungus is now spreading in two Dallas-area hospitals and inside a nursing home located in Washington, D.C. Candida auris is a super bacterium the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deems an urgent threat. The fungus is extremely difficult to eradicate even with hospital-grade disinfectants and response plans, reminding health care leaders yet again why infection control is so critical in maintaining healthy human populations

Just as awful, commonly used drugs have little effect on abolishing the super fungus. Moreover, a resistant class of drugs, called echinocandins, once considered a last line of defense, is even useless in some cases, allowing Candida auris to spread quickly among healthcare-reliant populations. 

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As coronavirus continues to sweep through the Nation, it leaves a trail of death and despair in its wake — hitting particularly hard throughout the Nation’s nursing home communities. According to a special report from the New York Times, almost one-third of all overall COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are linked to nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

However, the numbers are much worse in Illinois. According to IDPH and the Illinois National Electronic Disease Surveillance System (INEDSS):

  • The first case of COVID-19 in an Illinois long-term care facility was diagnosed on March 11, and a large outbreak ensued.

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Virginia Nursing Home Operator Found Guilty of Health Care Fraud

In Norfolk, Virginia, the operator of Turning Points Residential Care has been sentenced to two years in prison for defrauding Medicaid. According to July 2, 2021 court documents, 47-year-old Lopez Scott submitted more than $188,000 in false claims for a residential nursing facility his business was authorized to use to provide residential support services and skilled nursing services to recipients of Medicaid.

“For three years, the defendant used his position as a nursing home operator to obtain over $188,000 from the Virginia Medicaid program fraudulently,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Health care fraud takes funding and critical services away from those who truly need it. We will continue to hold accountable those who exploit these essential health care programs at the expense of vulnerable members of our communities.”

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Chicago North Side Nursing Home Facing Heavy Accusations of Neglect and Abuse

News reports and interviews with a former Foster Health and Rehabilitation employee reveal just how terrible conditions and resident treatment are at the North Side nursing home. Just days before, reports and a shocking video of abuse shook residents and family members after a 69-year-old man was found neglected and injured at the nursing home, located at 840 W. Foster Avenue in Chicago.

The former employee, Annette Zegarra, recently worked as an office manager for Foster Health and Rehabilitation Center. Zegarra told WGN9 news she knows the abused resident, now identified by family as James Crowder. Mr. Crowder is also a military veteran. A video shows he was found naked on the floor by another resident’s family member visiting the rehabilitation center. In a video, Crowder appeared confused, with a bloody gash on his head and disabled by an injured foot.

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