Articles Posted in Hot Button Issues

Are Illinois Nursing Homes Prepared to Prevent Coronavirus from Spreading?

Sicknesses can quickly spread when people are in closer proximity because viruses loom in the air and on surfaces that are touched and shared. Nursing home residents are often enclosed within shared spaces for eating, socializing and living, making the facilities home to several highly contagious viruses. As U.S. cases of the Wuhan Coronavirus continue to rise, including an elderly couple from Chicago, Illinois, nursing homes should be well-informed and prepared to handle a potential case of an infectious disease outbreak related to the sometimes-deadly respiratory illness.

As of February 5, 2020, the facts about Coronavirus according to news sources and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include:

Doctors, nurses, and other nursing home staff are more often being caught and charged with prescription medication theft and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. The most appealing of all include opioids, powerful medications prescribed by physicians for nursing home residents with moderate to severe pain, and those suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Residents who are taking opioids are also more commonly prescribed pain adjuvants and other addictive or ‘street profitable’ medications that are likely to be stolen by staff. These may include controlled substances such as Benzodiazepines. Many nursing home residents receive Benzodiazepines to treat anxiety, seizures, panic disorders, depression, muscle relaxation, and insomnia. These drugs are also frequently stolen or abused by nursing home staff members.

Some of the most common opioids and Benzodiazepines that are frequently stolen from residents include:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)

nursing home vote

Lawmakers Will Soon Vote on the FAIR Act to Stop Forced Arbitration 

Americans have the right of a jury trial unless forced to agree otherwise in the form of an arbitrary clause contractually. These agreements have found their way into all of our employment, consumer, franchise and even medical contracts. Once used as a tool for businesses to solve their disputes, forced arbitration has become a greedy and ruthless tactic, dangerous to consumers.

Just this week, the full House of Representatives is set to vote on the FAIR Act, H.R. 1423. The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA), is vital to all American consumers as no one should be forced to agree pre-dispute to allow third-party arbitrators decide on a judgment rightfully meant for a public trial. The bill has 222 cosponsors including several Representatives from Illinois.

nursing home workers

National Safety Month: Care Workers Have Right to Safe Workplace 

June is celebrated as National Safety Month. As we emphasize the safety of nursing home residents on the blog each week, this also feels like an excellent opportunity to talk about the struggles nursing home employees can face when overexerted, working on demanding schedules with less staff and performing care duties for violent residents who require greater services. These workers can also become too easily hurt by excessive lifting, lowering, pushing, and pulling while caring for residents because of a lack in injury prevention training and poor enforcement of safe workplace policies.

Nursing homes must follow OSHA standards and provide workers with an environment that does not have any known hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious injury. Some of the frequent complaints nursing home workers have of the safety and injury risks related to their job include:

elderly medical care

National Survey Evidence Shows Behavioral Health Services Inadequate in Most U.S. Nursing Homes

Researchers at the University of Rochester School of Medicine started surveying randomly selected skilled nursing facilities in 2017, asking questions about the types of behavioral health issues residents have, available behavioral health services, quality, satisfaction, staffing, staff education, turnover and service barriers. Now complete, the results of the study were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society on June 5, 2019 and show that mental health disorders can affect up to 90 percent of nursing home residents in as many as a third of the nation’s nursing homes and community-based care facilities.

In this first review of its kind, researchers measured four different outcomes:

nursing home neglect

Falls Remain Leading Cause of Injury-Related Deaths for Older Adults and Understaffed Nursing Homes Could Be to Blame

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among persons aged 65 years and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the age-adjusted rate of deaths from falls is increasing as well. Ironically, as many as 75 percent of nursing facility residents are reported falling each year and carry twice the chances of falling compared to a senior who lives in their own home or community.

For elderly patients living in care facilities, hazards that contribute to fall injuries can include:

sexual assault

Suit Filed Against State After Rape and Pregnancy of Incapacitated Woman

Lawyers for a young Arizona woman who was consistently raped and then impregnated by her nurse have filed a 54-page claim against the state seeking $45 million in damages. The 29-year-old woman was a patient and resident under the care of Hacienda Healthcare long-term care facility located in Phoenix. She has been nonverbal and intellectually disabled since the age of three after a drowning accident. Due to repeated sexual assault by a staff member, the woman became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy in December of 2018.  Shockingly, the claim also says the woman could have been pregnant before.

Hacienda Healthcare did publicly apologize for the incident and has promised to follow more robust hiring and training practices. The Arizona Department of Health Services has not yet released a comment regarding the case. 

nursing home neglect

Long-Term Care Resident Left Unattended Dies While Smoking Near Oxygen Tank 

Ohio police in Oakwood Village are investigating the death of a resident from Grande Oaks Nursing Home. The man had caught on fire while smoking a cigarette in his wheelchair outside of the facility. Reports show he was allegedly smoking outside while using an oxygen tank when his wheelchair caught fire. Because staff allegedly were not aware, they did not respond. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until someone driving by noticed the fire and smoke and immediately contacted 911. Local police say they arrived to a smoldering wheelchair parked in front of the building with a male laying on the ground, face down. The man had already stopped breathing and CPR was administered. He later died from his burn-related injuries at a nearby hospital.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) policies show, “Oxygen use is prohibited in smoking areas for the safety of residents (NFPA 101, 2000 ed., 19.7.4). Facilities should ensure resident safety by such efforts as informing visitors of smoking policies and hazards to prevent smoking-related incidents and/or injuries.

elder abuse attorneys

Nursing Home Countersues Although Liability Accepted for Man’s Choking Death

In 2013, an 82-year-old man died from a preventable choking incident at Woodhaven Care Center in New York. The nursing home accepted liability for the man’s death, and a jury awarded $1 million to the man’s family highlighting the issues with understaffing. The wrongful death lawsuit stated that inattentive nursing home staff failed to provide the man with his dentures and fed him food that was not a part of his dietary plan. The man was then left unsupervised, choked on the meal and died within moments after a nurse’s station video camera caught the incident. Staff also waited nearly 20 minutes before calling for help and dialing 911.

Today, Woodhaven has outrageously presented a countersuit against the family of the deceased for alleged money yet owed for his stay. Our nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys plan to follow this story as mediation in the case will be scheduled in the future.

wrongful death attorneys

Nursing Home Associated with Large, For-Profit Network Sued After Woman Suffered and Died

News of a recent lawsuit against Three Mile Curve Operations LLC, dba Logan Center, Genesis Healthcare LLC a nursing home in Logan Center, West Virginia alleges that poor care provided at the facility caused a woman who required rehabilitative services and assistance with day-to-day tasks to suffer from neglect related injuries and eventually die.

According to a March 25th report in the West Virginia Record, an incident took place on April 12, 2018, which triggered the untimely death of Ms. Lilian Messer soon after being admitted to the facility.

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