Articles Posted in Nursing Home Staff

nursing home abuse

Nursing Homes Often Use These Common Defenses When Accused of Abuse and Neglect

The nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Levin & Perconti have nearly three decades of experience in defending residents who have had their rights violated and become injured while under the care of others. Through our work we have been able to identify the many common ways nursing homes will attempt to defend themselves even when guilty of obvious wrongdoings which created harm to an already vulnerable individual. These injuries can range from physical and sexual abuse to careless neglect stemmed from medication mismanagement, poor hygiene, haphazard slips and falls, untreated bedsores, malnourishment and dehydration. These injuries can quickly become deadly when not discovered soon enough and are typically created by nursing home operators who make greedy choices that put patients at risk. Some of those common actions include:

  • Reducing or underreporting staffing levels

nursing home neglect

The Most Important Way to Reduce Complications from Pressure Ulcers Is by Preventing Them

A pressure ulcer, also known as a bed sore, a pressure sore or a decubitus ulcer, may not appear serious at first. The open wound often begins with small red marks on areas of the skin that are in continuous contact with surfaces such as bed linens. Sadly, they are one of most common and preventable injuries that occur in nursing homes and can actually serve as a serious warning signal of nursing home neglect. The sore will almost always make itself known but when the discovery of it gets to this stage it can be a sad situation for any family member to be informed of. By this time, the sore has usually broken down so much skin that the underlying tissue, sometimes bone, is now exposed. These injuries are sure to reveal a larger scope of care issues impacting your loved one’s health. When not taken care of or treated with the medical attention required, pressure sores can lead to severe infection, a general decline in overall health, unnecessary emotional anguish and painful discomfort, and even death.

Questions to Ask If Your Loved One Has a Pressure Ulcer

nursing home staff

Underpaid Caretakers Cheer as Illinois Law Pushes Through Minimum Wage Increase Plan

Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D-Ill.) is already making good on campaign promises. The new Governor recently positioned Illinois to join several other states in signing a law raising minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2020, the 81 percent increase will allow Illinois workers to see a minimum wage increase from $8.25 to $9.25 an hour. In July, minimum wage will increase to $10. Each year after that, minimum wage will increase by $1 until 2025, when it reaches $15 per hour.

The news has been well received by both caregiver home health workers and nursing home employees. For decades, the nursing home and home health care industry has remained notorious for clouding care standards with weak, ineffective, and downright lousy wages resulting in extra strains put on overworked employees. Most nursing homes actually have fewer nurses and leading medical staff than they report, leaving underqualified and stressed nursing assistants and personal aides with the 24-hour tasks to keep far too many patients’ dietary, hygiene, medication, and daily living needs met.

nursing home opioids

Wisconsin Nurse Charged for Stealing Opioids from Three Nursing Homes

News of a Wisconsin nurse charged with stealing medication from three nursing homes is unfortunately too common of a read these days. According to the Feb. 2019 criminal complaint, the 36-year-old nurse was charged with four counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and two counts of misdemeanor theft while being employed by Atrium Health Care in Chippewa County. The charges came after another employee contacted local police alerting them that a worker at a nursing home had her name forged in a book that tracks narcotic counts. The book showed Oxycodone had been signed out 11 times with conflicting signatures.

The thief, who was also a trusted nurse, was soon identified and later admitted to taking Opioids and prescription pills, including Vicodin, Oxycodone and Lorazepam, and others from two nursing homes she worked at as well. Opioid drugs are commonly prescribed by physicians for nursing home residents with moderate to severe pain and those in serious, life-threatening illness and can include:

nurse to patient ratio
On Feb. 27, 2019, registered nurses in Illinois, with support of National Nurses United, began lobbying lawmakers in support of a mandated minimum nurse-to-patient ratio. Currently, California is the only state with mandatory nurse staffing ratios established for acute care, acute psychiatric and specialty hospitals. The Illinois proposal would mimic California’s design but also mandate minimum staffing standards in long term acute-care hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers. Although this is not new news for Illinois nurses and their 15-year fight for better staffing ratios, the union continues to rally for the mandate citing that patient health is compromised because too few nurses must care for too many patients.

“Mandatory minimum nurse-to-patient ratios save lives,” said Talisa Harden, a registered nurse at the University of Chicago Medicine in a union published news release. “As nurses, we’ve always known it, and now there is a robust body of peer-reviewed literature that proves it. Illinois patients deserve safe and therapeutic care no matter where they are admitted. This bill will make all Illinois patients safer.”

Nursing Homes May Be Deceptive in Staff-to-Patient Ratio Reporting

nursing home news

New Administrator Hired for DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Center

The DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Center now has a permanent administrator after more than five months of operating under interim leadership. According to a report published on February 20 in The DeKalb Daily Chronicle, the county nursing home’s operating board recently voted, 7-0, to approve Cheryl Vittorio of Elgin as the new administrator. Vittorio was previously the interim administrator of another nursing home and rehabilitation facility in Jacksonville, Illinois. Jeff Whelan, DeKalb County Board member and chairman of the DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Center Operating Board, said her base pay will be $112,000 a year and increase after a six-month probationary period. The previous administrator was no longer employed at the facility as of September 19 when the board found that leadership responsibilities fell short on many situations.

Prior to the administrator’s departure, the facility was fined a Type “A” violation in total of $25,000 after a patient fell and was seriously injured when improperly moved to a bed, according to a quarterly report from the Illinois Department of Public Health. A Type “A” violation pertains to an incident in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious mental or physical harm will result, or has resulted. DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Center is a large facility with 190 beds and has county ownership. It is located in DeKalb, Illinois and participates in Medicare and Medicaid programs.

nursing home opioids
Congressional Committee Leader Targets Centers for Medicare & Medicaid For Slow Changes of Antipsychotic Drug Use in Nursing Homes

Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) is the author of a January 22, 2019 letter sent to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) administrator, Seema Verma. In the letter, the congressional committee leader overseeing Medicare says he wants to see a closer look at how nursing homes are really using antipsychotics and is also asking for greater detail on how skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and Medicare plans alike are actively changing the way the drugs are being used.  Although antipsychotic drug overuse, theft, and abuse in nursing homes have been long-time issues in the U.S., CMS’s 2019 trend update on the problem shows nursing homes are making progress in decreasing antipsychotic prescribing.

“CMS is tracking the progress of the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes by reviewing publicly reported measures. The official measure of the Partnership is the percentage of long-stay nursing home residents who receive antipsychotic medication, excluding residents diagnosed with schizophrenia, Huntington’s disease, or Tourette’s syndrome. In the fourth quarter of 2011, 23.9 percent of residents received an antipsychotic medication; since then there has been a decrease of 38.9 percent to a national prevalence of 14.6 percent in the second quarter of 2018. Success varies by state and CMS region; some states and regions have a reduction greater than 40 percent.”

nursing home abuse webinar

Levin & Perconti Partners to Present Strafford Live Webinar on Deposing Nursing Home Employees and Owners in Neglect and Abuse Cases

Founder and Senior Partner of Levin & Perconti, Steve Levin, partner Mike Bonamarte and firm associate, Daisy Ayllon, have all been invited to present the upcoming Strafford live webinar, “Deposing Nursing Home Employees and Owners in Neglect and Abuse Cases,” scheduled for Tuesday, April 9, 1:00pm-2:30pm EDT, 12:00pm-1:30pm CST. Strafford provides attorneys with the information and training they need to advance their career and remain at the top of their fields.

Webinar participants will be taught the specific techniques behind building successful depositions. Levin & Perconti panelists will discuss best practices for:

nursing home abuse and neglect

Leaders Say Rural Nursing Homes Face Accelerating Problems

At the close of 2018, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) reported that the fastest growing older population group in the state is age 85 and older. DCEO also projected the 85+ age group will total 402,311 people, an increase of 109 percent, by 2030. And for the geriatric population living in the state’s 62 non-metropolitan and rural counties, current growing health care challenges will create much larger eruptions of a sicker and more underserved group of older adults left to rely on limited health care services, nursing homes included.

The issue starts with an already health disparate elderly population living in rural Illinois areas who will remain dependent on small hospitals that may not provide vital geriatric services, proper diagnosis and treatment plans. Small communities that offer fewer aging support facilities such as long-term care housing, nursing homes, and assisted living centers will also contribute to the struggle as well as minimal access to quality trained, well-paid nursing home care staff. Our Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers continue to work on many cases where understaffing and poorly paid staff created an easy environment for residents to become neglected, abused or mistreated, especially in rural communities.

nursing home drug dangers

Elder Justice Coalition Links Nursing Home Abuse and Opioid Abuse

With an opioid epidemic in our country that is beyond alerting, it remains evident that the 2017 guidelines The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) set forth for managing chronic pain with caution against opioid use are not being followed. The CDC continues to warn that the benefits for improving pain and function through dangerous opioids must outweigh the risks when prescribing and administering the drugs. One group of Americans persistently impacted by the mismanagement of opioids is the nursing home population.

The nonpartisan Elder Justice Coalition (EJC) recently met with the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Health and Senior Advisor for Opioid Policy, Admiral Brett Giroir in response to the opioid crisis. Assistant Secretary for Aging and Administrator of the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Lance Robertson and leadership of the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) were also present. EJC National Coordinator Bob Blancato released this statement recapping the meeting in a January 23, 2019 EJC press release.

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