Articles Posted in Cook County Nursing Home

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On July 24th, our attorneys secured $875,000 for the family of Antonio Mares, a resident of the Center Home for Hispanic Elderly in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Physician’s orders indicated that Mr. Mares was to only receive soft foods, a requirement that was violated by the facility and resulted in his death.

In November 2012, a CNA brought Mr. Mares his dinner, which consisted of a food not allowed by his diet plan, and left his room. The CNA returned to find Mr. Mares choking and unsuccessfully attempted the Heimlich maneuver. The CNA also used the call button in his room, but no members of the nursing staff responded. Mr. Mares’ death is the result of neglecting to follow a physician-ordered diet plan, as well as failing to adhere to the standard of care for those who are at risk of choking. All nursing home residents who are determined to be at risk for choking are to be closely supervised while eating.

In a statement made by Isela Mares, Mr. Mares’ daughter, she says “Our family was robbed of the opportunity to properly say goodbye to my father, and while no sum of money will ever make up for our loss, we are hopeful that this settlement will incentivize the nursing home to make some needed changes.”

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Every month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) update their list of nursing homes that have proven to be in dire need of improvement to avoid patient safety events and to hang on to funding from Medicare and Medicaid. The nursing homes, referred to as Special Focus Facilities (SFFs), have all been found to have higher than average numbers of safety violations or deficiencies, including actions that have the ability to cause immediate harm or death to residents. Facilities are only able to graduate from the SFF list by having a clean record during two consecutive inspection visits by CMS.

‘Graduation’ from SFF Not the Same Thing as Giving Better Care

In a report by Kaiser Health News, over half of the 528 facilities that graduated from the SFF list before 2014 have gone on to seriously harm and even kill patients. The report says that the same facilities still have nurse staffing levels at an average of 12% lower than typical resident to nurse ratios that many other nursing homes maintain, a significant difference in an industry where ratios are already at shockingly low levels.

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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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A $1 million jury verdict was entered in a nursing home negligence case against Lee Manor Nursing Home in Des Plaines, Illinois. The case involved the death of a nursing home resident who exited a window of the nursing home and died soon after from fall-related injuries. The wife and son of the decedent were represented by nursing home neglect attorneys Bryan Waldman and Patricia Gifford of Levin & Perconti.

The victim entered Lee Manor on July 23, 2003. Years before his admission to the nursing home, he was diagnosed as suffering from chronic paranoid schizophrenia and is severely blind. The victim required ongoing supervision and monitoring by nursing home staff. He was placed on a secured floor where the doors were alarmed and the elevators were keyed. However, the nursing home allowed the windows to open 8 and 1/8th inches, providing the victim an avenue to exit. On April 21, 2004, less than one year after he entered, the man fell from a window in his room on the fifth floor of the nursing home and died as a result of his injuries. The jury found nursing home negligence when the nursing home failed to prevent the victim from falling out of the window.

The Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers of Levin & Perconti are committed to protecting and vindicating the rights of nursing home negligence victims. Please contact the firm at (312) 332-2872 or click here to consult an Illinois lawyer.