Articles Posted in Chicago Nursing Home Abuse

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nursing home surveillance

With Elder Abuse on The Rise, Wisconsin Looks at New Way to Prosecute Offenders

Horrific. Demonic. These are the words some nursing home residents (and their family members) are using to describe their abusers. And if the thought of having your loved one beaten, left without food or resting in dirty linens, being overmedicated, sexually abused, robbed, or neglected is painful to think about, the process to prosecute a guilty party without any physical evidence can be even more gut-wrenching. Because most investigators have only the victim’s statements to go on, police struggle to build cases on just accusations. More so, the most vulnerable nursing home residents, those with cognitive issues or memory diseases, may not be able to speak up or even be aware of the abuse.

As these cases increase every year across the nation, it’s simple to see that getting away with elder abuse is just too easy. Cases remain unresolved because of the lack of evidence needed to prosecute nursing home mistreatment or crime and the trends continue. Illinois, including Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Washington, and Maryland have already passed laws allowing some form of surveillance in nursing homes. In addition, Wisconsin’s Attorney General Brad Schimel recently decided enough-is-enough after county data reported 7,019 complaints in 2016, up 21 percent from just three years earlier. The state has announced a move to stop abuse by gathering reliable evidence for prosecutions via state loaned surveillance cameras to family members, free of charge for 30 days, so they can secretly record staff suspected of abusing their loved ones. This move, which is only the second video surveillance loaner program of its kind in the U.S., the other in New Jersey, has ignited protests by the elderly care industry, providers and privacy advocates.

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nursing home reform delay

Impact of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Decision to Delay Enforcement of Protections For Nursing Home Residents

On May 30 several State Attorneys General, including Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, sent a joint complaint to Alex M. Azar II, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Seema Verma, Administrator Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and expressed extreme concern over the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) actions to slow regulatory enforcements that support the safety and wellbeing for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries who receive care in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. In the letter, the Attorneys General are holding CMS responsible for not pushing forward a 2016 series of skilled nursing facility reforms that were set to move out in three future stages. The current administration’s delay will bring major challenges in holding facilities accountable for providing appropriate resident care and well-being.

“We write this letter to express our concern and to alert the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) about the substantial and foreseeable detriment of CMS’ actions to delay enforcement of protections for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries who receive care in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). The recent CMS guidance significantly decreases the protections in SNFs by rolling back reforms to improve the safety and wellbeing of nursing home residents. If allowed to proceed, recent regulatory changes will not only threaten the mental and physical security of some of the most vulnerable residents of our states, but also potentially create additional challenges for MFCU investigation and prosecution of grievances, violations, and crimes occurring in SNFs. We therefore urge you not to lower the level of regulatory oversight.”

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Nursing homes are required by law to provide a safe environment where proper care is provided. In some cases, nursing homes fail to provide adequate care. When a nursing home fails to properly care for a patient and an injury or death occurs, the facility is likely responsible for the negligent act. In one recent case, a nursing home resident died after a facility failed to properly care for a man while under their care. A lawsuit was filed against Glenshire Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre and others alleging negligent care led to the man’s death.

Pressure Sores are Serious

Pressure sores, also known as bedsores or pressure ulcers, are painful skin injuries that occur in areas of the skin that are in contact with the sheets. These sores can form because a patient is unable to adequately move about in bed. The skin rubs against the bedding in the same spots for an extended period of time, rubbing away the top layers. The result is a tender red mark. These sores are generally located on the tailbone, heels, and elbows but can show up anywhere. Once they appear, bedsores can be extremely difficult to treat and easily worsen.

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Nursing homes and care facilities are expected to support and monitor our elderly loved ones. Unfortunately, care facilities do not provide the care or supervision necessary to monitor residents and a patient sustains injuries or dies. Levin & Perconti is representing the estate of a woman who died due to alleged negligent care in a nursing home. The lawsuit was filed against Estates of Hyde Park, and other providers claiming that they failed to prevent her death.

Improper Supervision in Care Facilities

Nursing homes and care facilities must properly supervise and monitor residents. In this case, the lawsuit indicates that the nursing home staff did not take the corrective steps needed to prevent her from injuries. The woman experienced a fall and also developed pressure ulcers. These issues were reportedly not properly treated. The woman suffered pain and declining health until her death.

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When our parents become elderly they are often unable to care for themselves in their own homes. Often times, children make the difficult decision to place a loved one in a nursing facility. Nursing homes are supposed to provide proper care and supervision; therefore, we feel that our loved ones will be kept safe from harm. Sadly, that is not always the case. All too often, nursing home residents suffer from neglect or abuse while living in these facilities. Recently, a lawsuit was filed by the family of a woman who died because of alleged nursing home neglect.

Insufficient Measures Taken

According to the lawsuit, the nursing home failed to take sufficient measures to prevent the woman from falling. The woman suffered several falls while she was a resident of Sunrise at Fountain Square. The claim states that the nursing home did not adequately supervise the woman. This lack of supervision allowed a situation that caused the woman to fall. The woman was seriously injured as a result, and these injuries contributed to her death.

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Nursing homes are expected to provide proper care to their residents. Part of their job is to monitor the daily needs of their patients, and ensure that they notice any medical problems that require treatment. A resident of Bria of River Oaks died after allegedly getting inadequate care that contributed to his death. The man’s family filed a lawsuit against the nursing home claiming that the care providers failed to recognize the signs of a urinary infection, which led to the declining health and ultimate death of the resident.

Urinary Tract Infection Went Unnoticed

Nursing home staff members are required to supervise residents and monitor them on a daily basis. This means that they should be aware of the resident’s medical condition so they will notice any changes. Additionally, the care providers should listen to the residents if they discuss a possible medical problem. Any medical conditions should be reported immediately. In this case, the man suffered from a urinary tract infection that was not properly treated medically, according to the lawsuit.

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Far too many nursing home owners and operators are focused almost exclusively on maximizing their own bottom line each month. That often means making choices about staffing, safety changes to the facility, commitment to staff training, the buying of supplies, and many other decisions where the best interests of the residents conflict with more profit for owners and operators. Obviously, a proper balance must be struck with reasonable levels of care provided to seniors at all times. When that profit motive is out of balance and harm results to a senior, then elder neglect has occurred and a civil lawsuit might be appropriate.

Yet, even when dealing with a lawsuit, some facilities take the same approach–willing to do anything to save themselves from having to pay out. In nursing home neglect lawsuits (and possible trials), that often means aggressive legal defenses that seem to throw everything but the kitchen sink at the plaintiffs in order to get the suit dismissed or encourage a settlement far below was is fair.

Judge Rejects Mistrial Argument in Nursing Home Case

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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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Knox News reported earlier this month on a follow-up to a tragic case of nursing home neglect and abuse on which we’ve previously posted. The underlying case involved the rape of an 89-year old woman with severe dementia. Late last month the senior resident told her family that earlier in the summer a man entered her room and raped her. She did not know the man. Eventually the police were called in and a rape test was performed. The test revealed DNA samples of the attacker–though the criminal has yet to be identified.

Of course this opened up a big question: how on earth did the man enter the room and have access to the vulnerable senior? Perhaps the most obvious answer is that the attacker may have been a male employee of the facility. Lawyers and other advocates working on these cases appreciate that sexual assault by caregivers is not unheard of.

The state Department of Health investigated the matter, issuing a suspension on new admissions into the facility after determining that the home’s current policies and procedures placed residents at risk of harm. This particular home is run by a large nursing home conglomerate which operates at least 225 facilities in 28 different states. In other words, if this company was cutting corners or not abiding by proper safety protocols, then tens of thousands of residents may be at risk.

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One of the biggest differences between a risk facing a senior and one facing a healthy younger adult relate to falls. The fact is that many seniors have vulnerable bodies which mean even a short fall can wreak serious damage for an elderly person that would be nothing more than a temporary blip for a younger person. Obviously understanding these risks is crucial to providing proper long-term care–front line workers must act efficiently to limit even the most limited tumbles.

My Elder Care advocate recently published an extensive story of these incidents which provides a helpful summary of the issue.

The Scope of the Nursing Home Fall Problem