Articles Posted in Care Centers Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect

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nursing home wrongful death

A Closer Look at Christian Village Nursing Home Resident’s Untimely Death

Levin & Perconti attorneys recently reviewed second quarter nursing home violations in Illinois on the blog. One out of two facilities with a Type AA violation was Christian Village nursing home, located at 1507 Seventh St. in Lincoln. The home received the serious violation for failing to notify a 64-year-old patient’s doctor of rapid changes related to asthma. The female resident died a preventable death if only she had been treated for her known progressive respiratory symptoms and soon after initial complaints of shortness of breath. Her issues were followed by a continual decline in overall health and was soon later found unresponsive and taking her last supported breaths at a hospital. As a result, the Lincoln nursing home has been fined $50,000 by the state.

According to a report by the State Journal Register, the doctor, who isn’t named, is quoted in investigative documents saying, “I should have been notified” of the patient’s “progressive respiratory symptoms.” In the same note, the doctor said he had “no ideas what was going on” or he would have “ordered an antibiotic or sent the patient to a hospital emergency department earlier if he had known the patient continued to be short of breath,” and that he was shocked to hear the patient had died. The State Journal Register outlined the patient’s timeline of care in a July 18, 2018 news article.

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nursing home abuse

Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Allegations Are Slow to Be Investigated

Throughout the country and right here in Illinois, an already crippled group of elderly are being raped and sexually abused by the very people responsible for their daily care. It doesn’t matter if they are residents of low-income Medicaid funded homes or patients who pay ridiculous costs for daily living and care support staff, the victims are out there, yet little is being done to prevent or remedy the issue. In addition, for the victims or family members who report the allegations, identifying a perpetrator remains a challenge due to the very nature and mental state of most residents.

According to a CNN report, in Illinois, since 2013:

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nursing home abuse and neglect

Aperion Care Capitol Nurse Was Never Trained on Feeding Tube Placement

According to a state report filed by the Illinois Department of Public Health, Aperion Care Capitol, a 251-bed skilled-care facility and nursing home located at 555 W. Carpenter St. was fined for “failing to ensure there were appropriately trained staff to reinsert a feeding tube” that fell out while two nursing assistants were haphazardly removing the patient’s T-shirt.

According to the March 2018 report:

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nursing home neglect

Payroll Records Indicate Nursing Home Staffing Shortages Create Serious Gaps in Patient Care

Only recently did the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) begin collecting and reviewing daily payroll records from more than 14,000 nursing homes. The publishing of the data became required by the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Kaiser Health News recently analyzed the submissions and caught that most U.S. nursing homes have been operating grossly understaffed and reporting a false review of average employee shifts. Kaiser claims these nursing homes had:

  • Significant fluctuations in day-to-day staffing, with particularly large shortfalls on weekends when personnel cared for nearly twice as many residents as normal.
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Hidden VA Nursing Home Care Data Published

According to USA Today and The Boston Globe, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been tracking and withholding data on the quality of care at VA nursing homes for years. Because of this alleged fail, resident veterans and their families may not see the bigger picture regarding the quality of care services provided or performed. Families may also be withheld vital health care information to assist in making support decisions. On June 25, 2018, the national news outlets published the ‘hidden’ information from 133 VA nursing homes using reports obtained from internal DVA documents. The review concluded that for the 46,000 veteran residents across the U.S., more than two-thirds of their VA nursing homes were “more likely to have issues related to serious bedsores and residents who will suffer serious pain, than their counterparts in private nursing homes across the country.”

Unlike the VA, private nursing homes are required to submit timely reports on the care they provide to measure quality, inspection issues and staffing. That data is then publicly posted on a federal website for families to use when researching a facility for their loved one.

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nursing home violations

New Report Shows Serious Care Violations and Doubled Fines For 56 Illinois Nursing Homes

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators. The most recent report, dating January 2018 thru March 2018, highlights more than 50 Illinois facilities determined to be lacking in patient care abilities related to the Nursing Home Care Act, a statute that provides nursing home residents and their families with the assurance that proper and safe care will be received.

Some violations heightened with a serious high-risk designation, and all homes received fines of no less than $1,000 while others reached more than $50,000 fines for issues that caused actual harm or immediate jeopardy to residents. Several problems were related to infected bedsores, medication mix-ups, poor nutrition, and abuse and neglect of patients caused by lack of support or inexperienced, overburdened staff. These violations may result in an official recommendation for decertification to the Department of Healthcare and Family Service, or the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Facilities included in this report are:

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Nursing home lawsuits seem to pit the residents (and their family) against long-term care facility owners, operators, and staff members. Yet, in many of these cases it would be inappropriate to consider the residents in an antagonistic relationship with the staff members. In fact, as elder care advocates have pointed out again and again, when it comes to ensuring proper care, the residents are usually on the same side as the staff members. That is particularly true when it comes to “front-line” care workers–or those who provide help to residents day in and day out. Many of those employees do yeoman’s work with long hours, little pay, poor benefits, and little employer support. On many occasions, it is those employees who are the first to stand up for residents when resources are cut to the bone by owners and operators. In this way, nursing home residents and their families often side with front-line care workers in various disputes with owners and operators.

Sadly, the drive for profits by many long-term care facilities often results in severe cutbacks for the employees who are the lowest rung on the totem pole–but who do the most for residents each day. Often those actions result in labor disputes.

For example, last week, as reported by CBS local, employees at more than 50 Illinois nursing homes–including 12 Chicago nursing homes–conducted an “informational” picketing in front of a local facilities. According to reports the picketing was in response to chronic problems at so many facilities. One employee interviewed for the story explained that, amazingly, her facility continues to face severe shortages of even the most basic supplies, placing resident care and quality of life at risk. For one thing, she noted that things like diapers–or even food!–was sometimes at a bare minimum. On top of that, her facility, like so many around the state, face chronic under staffing problems. There is simply not enough bodies to help residents in the timely way that is necessary. No matter how well-intentioned those care workers, failure to have enough bodies in the hallways is a recipe for nursing home abuse and neglect.

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Yesterday we discussed the new book “Dementia Beyond Drugs: Changing the Culture of the Care” where a doctor argued for a new outlook on dementia care. The physician, who has decades of experience with patients experiencing cognitive disease as they age, argues that instead of focusing solely on the disease itself, the overall patient must be considered.

Admittedly, it is easier to grasp this general principle than it is to understand exactly what that means in terms of caregiving at nursing home and other assisted living facilities. Perhaps most obviously, the book is a call for less dependence on medications to control the symptoms of dementia. Instead, more individualized care plan need to be crafted which take the unique challenges of a resident with dementia into account.

Unique Nighttime Programs

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What happens when a nursing home is cited by state or federal regulators for quality of care problems? Most assume that the regulators will ensure that that negligent facility will be forced to improve or face closure. And in theory that is how the regulators are set to work. While the specific procedure depends on the state in question, most regulators will conduct investigations into practices and protocols at a nursing home during routine inspections or following a particular incident. Following those inspections, the facility may face financial penalties and is often forced to make changes and show improvement. Regulators will often conduct follow-up visits to ensure changes have actually been made.

In some cases, the facility may have committed so many egregious offenses or continually fail to improve, that more drastic actions are taken. This may result in the facility losing its ability to participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs (a death knell for many facilities which cannot financially survive otherwise). Alternatively, a state may deny the facility the ability to receive the proper licensing to legally operate. In those instances, the facility may be closed.

For example, SF Gate reported last week on a nursing home that is slated to close following the end of a two year legal battle with state and federal regulatory officials.

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The Russell Sage Foundation recently released a free new e-book that takes a look at the long-term care system in the United States. The authors examine both the current state of this care (including at nursing homes) as well as the likely future needs. Considering the aging of the nation, the importance of these issues will undoubtedly only grow. Lawyers, senior care advocates, friends, and family members will all need to completely re-think many of these issues if we want to seriously address the problem down the road.

The Importance of Quality Long-Term Care Workers

One chapter of the new book focuses on the critical role played by the caregivers who provide the support that seniors need. This includes direct care workers at nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and at-home service providers. At the end of the day, concerns about neglect or mistreatment begins with an examination of the total number (and quality) of direct care workers. These are the individuals who perform the actual tasks, helping with nutrition,grooming, mobility, and more.