Articles Posted in Hot Button Issues

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A law firm in Eureka, California, is representing the families of two men who died from complications from pressure ulcers within 8 months of each other. The men were unknown to each other, but both received negligent care at facilities owned by the same company and run by the same nursing home administrator.

The lawsuits allege that understaffing was an intentional business decision and that the lack of available staff plus negligence on the part of nursing and medical staff caused both men’s deaths. Eureka Rehabilitation & Wellness Center and Seaview Rehabilitation & Wellness Center are both owned by Brius Healthcare and day-to-day operations of both facilities are overseen by Rockport Healthcare Services.

Avoidable Deaths

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In a March report by 7 News in Boston, an investigative team found at least 12 serious sex offenders living alongside elderly residents in Massachusetts nursing homes. The team cross referenced the addresses of nursing homes in the state with the addresses of registered sex offenders and found two Level 2 Offenders and ten Level 3 Offenders. Level 3 offenders are considered the worst kind in the state of Massachusetts.

In 2005, a registered child sex offender, John Enos, was living in a nursing home in Massachusetts, assumed to be harmless because his crimes were all committed in the 1980s against children. Enos raped his 90 year old roommate, a World War II veteran who never knew that the man living beside him was a sex offender. Although his roommate was unaware, nursing home administrators did know of Enos’ past offenses. 2 years after the crime, Massachusetts attempted to pass a law that denied nursing home residency to anyone convicted of being a Level 3 offender. The Supreme Court in that state overturned the law, saying it was unconstitutional. Massachusetts does not require background checks for residents of nursing homes and they are not required to post or make known the criminal past of any of its residents if such information is made available to them.

Illinois Nursing Home Legislation

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Salem Nursing & Rehab in Augusta, Georgia, also known as Amara Health Care & Rehab, settled a wrongful death lawsuit on the eve before the case was set to go to trial. The widow of a man who suffered and ultimately died from gangrene-infected pressure sores was pursuing action against Amara after her husband was sent to the facility to receive rehab services as a result of a stroke in 2011. In less than than 1.5 years, Mr. Patrick Manning, the decedent, developed pressure sores and was found to be dehydrated and malnourished. His widow, Mrs. Norma Manning, alleged that poor care caused the rapid decline in her husband’s health that ultimately led to his death.

Amara Health Care Had History of Violations & Lawsuits

Unsurprisingly, Salem Nursing & Rehab (aka Amara Health Care) had consistently received a less than average rating through Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as a result of numerous standards violations and had been named in several lawsuits in the last 10 years. A recent search on Nursing Home Compare shows that the facility received 1 star (the lowest rating) at its latest health inspection and has an overall star rating of 2 (below average). Just this past May the facility declared bankruptcy and was sold off to University Health Care System in Augusta.

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The family of a woman with a history of falling and rheumatoid arthritis is suing ManorCare Health Services at Mercy Fitzgerald of Yeadon after the victim died following a fall at their facility. The woman, Nellie Louise Howard, had fallen multiple times as a resident of the facility, but it was a fall she suffered after 20 months in the facility that ultimately took her life. Ms. Howard was admitted in May 2014 with documented dementia and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as a track record of falls. Because of her high fall risk and her other mobility issues, she was required to have 24/7 care in order to prevent accidents. On February 25, 2016, Ms. Howard fell and was treated in the Emergency Room of Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital. She stayed for nearly two weeks before being transferred back to ManorCare, this time to the Hospice unit where she died from her injuries less than 2 months later. Ms. Howard’s cause of death was cervical fracture and pneumonia.

Documented Fall Risk Doesn’t Guarantee Better Supervision
Falls are happening with alarming frequency at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Regardless of a care plan that indicated Ms. Howard required constant care, she still managed to suffer a fall so tragic that it took her life. The nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Levin and Perconti have successfully represented the families of many loved ones who have found themselves in the same unfortunately circumstances. Click here to view some of the many victories we’ve secured for victims of falls and other acts of nursing home and medical negligence.

 

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The family of a man who died from sepsis and respiratory failure is suing Madison Health & Rehabilitation Center in Richmond, Kentucky for failing to correct and prevent pressure ulcers that led to his death.

Donald Shelton was admitted to Madison Health & Rehab with a foot wound and a pressure ulcer on his buttock and was expected to receive care to heal his injuries. Instead, the facility did not bathe Mr. Shelton in the 8 days he was a resident and failed to put together a care plan that outlined a course of treatment. In a span of just over a week, Mr. Shelton developed two additional bedsores and tissue death in his genital area that resulted in necrosis. As a result of the existing sores and newly developed ulcers, Mr. Shelton’s body and organs were overwhelmed by a serious infection known as sepsis. He died exactly 8 days after being admitted to Madison Health & Rehabilitation.

Pressure Ulcers – A Preventable Injury and Death

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The family of a Pennsylvania man with Bipolar Disorder and Parkinson’s Disease has sued the nursing home where he resided after he died from injuries sustained while smoking at their facility. Kenneth Rodarmel, 73, suffered serious burns while smoking in February 2016 and died less than a month later in a nearby medical center.

The lawsuit alleges that the nursing home, Fair Acres Geriatric Center in Lima, Pennsylvania, neglected to allocate a safe space for residents to smoke, as well as to properly supervise those who had been deemed in need of oversight while smoking. Mr. Rodarmel also endured accidental cigarette burns in 2014 and was transitioned from unsupervised smoking status to supervised.

Lack of Supervision a Continuing Problem at Fair Acres & Nursing Homes Across the Country

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A new trend has emerged in several states including Pennsylvania & New Mexico: Attorneys General partnering with private law firms to sue large nursing home chains for negligent care, Medicare/Medicaid fraud, and deceptive marketing tactics. An article in a December edition of Reading Eagle, a Reading, PA newspaper, puts a spotlight on this growing movement to improve the quality of care received at nursing homes in all states. In Pennsylvania alone, Attorney General Bruce Beemer has filed 3 lawsuits (one of which has since settled) against 3 of Pennsylvania’s largest nursing home chains in the past year and a half. The case versus Reliant Senior Care (now Priority Healthcare Group) settled for a reported $2 million and was the largest nursing home settlement in PA won by an attorney general. The other two chains who are still locked in a legal battle against the state are Golden Living Centers and Grane Health Care.

Sending a Message

Nursing home industry advocates are obviously unnerved by partnerships between attorneys general and private law practices who have a history of success in helping right the injustices caused by big business on the American people. While these advocates argue that private law firms are giving donations to campaigns for attorneys general to essentially guarantee they’ll be called upon for future work, the law does not seem to be on their side. The State of Pennsylvania was unsuccessfully sued by the nursing home industry for such practices.  Elderly advocates believe working relationships between public and private legal entities will send a message to the industry that American taxpayers expect more from facilities receiving Medicare & Medicaid tax dollars.

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A Casper, Wyoming nursing home with a history of negligent care, cost-centered staffing practices, and hazardous living conditions just settled a lawsuit with a blind resident who was hit by a facility-owned, staff-driven minivan while waiting for a ride. Although the man survived the accident, he now deals with pain and numbness from an incident that could have been prevented by greater supervision and improved employee training.

Repeat Offender

Between January 2014 and 2016, Poplar Living Center was cited 90 times by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for a multitude of violations, some so egregious that they twice lost federal funding. Most of the complaints made by CMS against Poplar Living Center are common themes heard about many nursing facilities: Not enough staff to handle high resident volumes, inadequate staff training, rundown infrastructure, and negligent care.

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In November 2015, 76 year old Hilda Cornelius died from an avoidable wound and leg amputation caused by staff negligence at a care facility in Woodway, Texas.  Cornelius was admitted to Regent Care Center of Woodway for a fractured fibula with a modest care plan that would enable her to go home after being treated. Unfortunately, Hilda Cornelius was never able to return home to her loved ones.

After admission, a physician noticed a wound from an immobilizer device on her leg. Wounds from devices such as the one worn by Hilda Cornelius are easily preventable and treatable with proper care from nursing home staff. In less than two weeks, the wound on Ms. Cornelius’ leg progressed into a 10 cm by 3 cm sore that was so deep, her tendons were visible.  The only choice to save Ms. Cornelius was to perform an above-the-knee amputation on January 27, 2016. Within 3 weeks, Ms. Cornelius had passed away from complications related to the wound and amputation.

In a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Hilda Cornelius, the family alleges that staff at Regent Care Center failed to care for her by allowing a preventable injury to occur and to advance into a wound so severe that amputation was the only option.

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A lawsuit was filed on December 21 in Maryland against Neiswanger Management Services, LLC (NMS) for improperly evicting elderly residents from their facilities without plans for their medical care. Maryland law requires nursing homes to have care plan for residents upon being discharged. NMS is accused of kicking out residents as soon as their Medicare benefits have been depleted, leaving resident’s belongings outside and sending some to homeless shelters or unlicensed facilities.

Maryland’s Attorney General, Brian Frosh, said that a review of NMS revealed that despite only operating 2 percent of the nursing home beds in Maryland, “they represent 66 to 70 percent of the evictions.” Frosh believes that NMS has been replacing evicted Medicare residents with those on Medicaid, as Maryland’s daily rate is higher for Medicaid patients than it is for those on Medicare.