Articles Posted in Compromised Care

Steve Levin

A message from Attorney Steven Levin

By now it seems self-evident that the nursing homes and assisted living centers housing many of our elderly and most vulnerable citizens are uniquely susceptible to outbreaks of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

We know that the disease is particularly dangerous for older people. We understand intuitively that a site where older people — some of whom cycle in and out of hospitals, bringing germs back and forth — live in close quarters, with shared spaces and resources, faces heightened risk for infection and contagion.

nursing home neglect attorneys

New Study Shows Majority of Nation’s Nursing Homes Fail to Meet RN Staffing Requirements

Harvard and Vanderbilt medical schools recently put researchers to the task of examining payroll records from over 15,000 U.S. nursing homes, revealing the staggering truth about registered nurse (RN) staffing. Three-fourths of the nation’s nursing homes never meet federal staffing expectations for registered nurse staffing, and RNs are missing from such facilities on the weekends.

Health Affairs published the study in its July issue in which co-author David Grabowski, a professor in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard, said that the conclusions based on a year’s worth of newly logged payroll data, could present much more significant issues in elder care today and well into the future.

A nursing home is expected to provide proper care of residents, and maintain their health and well-being. If a medical problem occurs, the staff is required to report the situation and seek medical attention. Unfortunately, that was not what allegedly happened to a woman who died in a nursing home. The woman was a resident of Glenwood Healthcare & Rehab when she died. The woman’s family has filed a lawsuit claiming that improper care led to wrongful death.

Decubitus Pressure Ulcer

Pressure ulcers are also called bedsores, or pressure sores. They develop mainly on people who are immobile or bedridden. Pressure ulcers are painful sores that appear on the skin in areas where the skin is in contact with bed linens. People who are immobile are unable to change positions while in bed, causing constant rubbing in the same places on the skin. The sores get red and may worsen, becoming infected. They most often develop on the heels and elbows, as well as the tailbone. Decubitus ulcers are those that are on the tailbone.

Communication. Therapists giving advice to married couples, coaches trying to improve their basketball team, and countless others have pointed to “communication” as a key problem–or, a lack of communication. The ability to transmit information to one another in efficient and reliable ways is obviously a critical skill, affecting every area of life–including nursing home care.

In fact, a good number of nursing home neglect lawsuits point to communication breakdowns as a key cause of the preventable harm in question. Many different individuals–doctors, nurses, aides, administrators, other residents, family members, therapists, and more–may be involved in the care of each senior at these facilities. It is important for all of them to share information about necessary care in order to prevent tasks slipping through the cracks and seniors being harmed.

New NH Lawsuit

The nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti have handled all types of abuse and neglect lawsuits against Alden nursing homes throughout Illinois for many years. Today’s Chicago Tribune tells the story of at least thirteen children in the Chicago area who fell victim to abuse and neglect at Alden Village North, a nursing home located at 7464 N. Sheridan Road in Chicago.

The Tribune’s article exposes the sad truth that abuse and neglect not only happens to the elderly living in Illinois nursing homes, but also to younger residents who require ongoing medical treatment that they cannot receive at home. Parents and family members place their trust with nursing home staff to care for their loved ones, but unfortunately neglect and abuse occur, often due to negligent hiring and short-staffing. One of the victims in the Tribune article was just two years old when he died of asphyxiation because staff at the facility failed to properly monitor his tracheotomy tube for over 3.5 hours. The child had a habit of playing with the tube but staff did nothing to prevent this behavior and did not notify his physician of his actions.

In another sad case, a nine-year-old boy who suffered from severe cognitive deficits died due to nursing home neglect. Staff failed to properly care for his g-tube, failed to notice a change in his condition and failed to communicate these changes to his doctor. As a result, he died from bowel obstruction and an infection at a local hospital.
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A caregiver at a North Carolina nursing home was charged with murdering Rachel Holliday, an 84-year-old Alzheimer’s nursing home resident, with morphine. The nursing home caregiver, Angela Almore, also faces charges of felony abuse, which are related to the hospitalization of six other Alzheimer’s patients whom authorities suspect she also gave morphine. This investigation began when authorities suspected abuse after the Alzheimer’s patients tested positive for morphine. The State believes that the patients were likely given morphine to make them more manageable.

Overmedication is a problem that arises too often in nursing homes. An October report in the Chicago Tribune investigated this issue, finding that nursing home staff will resort to overmedicating their residents in order to make it easier to manage them. This usually stems from nursing homes being understaffed or insufficiently trained to handle the complex needs of residents with dementia. Of course, this decision to overmedicate, or to medicate without a physician’s order, is against the standard of care. Further, overmedicating residents in nursing homes can have potentially detrimental effects on their health, and can deteriorate their fragile and vulnerable nature. As evidenced by the article mentioned above, and many similar cases throughout the country, overmedication can and does cause death in nursing home residents.

Our attorneys at Levin & Perconti are very familiar with the effects of overmedicating nursing home residents. Most recently, one of our attorneys, Partner, Steve Levin, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the licensee of Woodstock Residence, in Woodstock, IL, a former nurse, and former nursing director, for administering a heavy dose of morphine that caused the premature death of a resident.

Illinois state senators will hold a hearing in Chicago to examine different ways to improve safety at Illinois nursing homes where it appears that a high number of felons with mental illness have led to reports of assaults, rape and murder. Legislators will hear testimony from experts, government officials and the public in considering what laws we can strengthen and enforce to better improve nursing home safety. They are also set to discuss what measures could be taken to reverse Illinois’ reliance on nursing homes housing younger adults with mental illness and criminal records. Illinois state senator, Heather Steans stated that she is concerned that the mentally ill are creating safety hazards for Illinois nursing home residents and the community. To read more about the Illinois nursing home hearing, please click the link.

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