Articles Posted in Failure to Report Abuse

retirement home

Nursing Homes With “No Harm” Deficiencies Are Not Being Held Accountable

Nationwide, a majority of nursing homes voluntarily participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Because of this partnership, facilities must adhere to minimum standards of care established by the federal Nursing Home Reform Law. Those who do not comply, should receive health violations leading to various penalties including fines or in some of the most severe cases, a group’s Medicare or Medicaid certification will be suspended or revoked by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

CMS data indicates that about 95 percent of these health violations are cited as causing “no harm” to residents. In a May 2019 newsletter published by the Center for Medicare Advocacy and the Long Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC) several examples of these “no harm” deficiencies, taken from Statements of Deficiencies (SoDs) on Nursing Home Compare, were discussed. Surveyors classified all of the shortcomings listed below as “no harm,” meaning that they determined that residents were neither hurt nor put into immediate jeopardy for their health or well-being.

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Illinois Lawmaker Says Families Should Be Able to Observe Nursing Home Care Provided to Loved Ones with Dementia Through Video Monitoring

Senate Bill 109, a plan sponsored by Illinois Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Creek), passed the state’s Senate in late March in response to multiple complaints received by the Illinois Department of Public Health about abuse, neglect and theft against nursing home residents. The bill was designed to help families of individuals battling dementia and would allow the installation of video and audio monitoring devices in their loved one’s room to deter or detect signs of abuse and neglect. The legislation language specifically speaks to the use of electronic monitoring in patient rooms in a building or care area solely dedicated to dementia residents.

The bill is now on the way to the Illinois House for further debate. It supports a 2015 law that allowed for video and audio monitoring equipment in facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities or those living in long-term care facilities.

“Frail and vulnerable people are harmed when nursing homes fail to meet our standards. And I don’t think any of us wants to wait until the next natural disaster or other disaster exposes some kind of a deficiency that kills dozens of people.”

                                                 -Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO)

On Thursday, the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing to address substandard care and recent findings of abuse and neglect in U.S. nursing homes.

A nursing home supervisor with a pattern of sexual misconduct was able to keep his job for 19 months after first sexually assaulting and later raping a nurse who directly reported to him at Cherry Creek Nursing Center (CNCC) in Aurora, Colorado. The man, Benjamin Offei, was ultimately sentenced to a year in prison and 10 years probation, but not before spending another 19 months in his job at CNCC and allowing the nurse to be falsely accused of narcotics theft, among other dubious allegations.

Inconsistently Enforced Disciplinary Action Causes Victim to Lose Job

In January 2015, the victim was subjected to sexual assault from Mr. Offei and two days later was raped in his office. After reporting the attack to facility administrators who hesitantly called police, she went to the hospital and was given a rape kit. While in the hospital, the administrators told police that she had stolen narcotics from the facility and after being searched, was found to not have any drugs in her possession. CNCC then suspended the nurse the next day. After her suspension period, the nurse returned to her job at CNCC and was later fired for 4 disciplinary write ups, which, in a lawsuit filed by the nurse, were alleged to be common minimal infractions that frequently occur among CNCC’s staff. One of the violations was for taking a call from her sick daughter while on the clock. The lawsuit, filed earlier this month against CNCC and its owner, Nexion Health, also alleges that 5 other women who worked at CNCC had been sexually assaulted by the same man and were told by human resources that complaints had to be put in writing. The women all refused to do so out of fear of losing their jobs. In her lawsuit, the nurse states that the facility put women in harm’s way by allowing a man with tendencies such as Mr. Offei’s to continue working and then by waging a campaign against victims to ruin their credibility and reputation.

The Ames Tribune reported last week on new allegations of sexual misconduct at an Ames, Iowa nursing home. The state department charged with inspecting the nursing facilities noted a new regulatory violation in September-only the latest in a string of problems at the nursing home.

The nursing home, Abington on Grand, was recently fined by the state for its latest violations. Specifically, staff at the facility completely ignored inappropriate sexual activity between two residents-seeming to find humor in the event. In one instance, two staff members were laughing while telling a third employee to examine one resident’s room. Upon entering the room the employee saw two residents naked from the waist down, engaging in compromising sexual activity. Both the male and female resident had been declared cognitively impaired, unable to make decisions for themselves.

Besides that instance there were dozens of other reported issues involving inappropriate sexual activity between residents. The nursing home had no policy in place to deal with resident-to-resident sexual behavior. Also, staff members had never been trained in the appropriate way to handle these events.

The complete disregard of regulations seems to be a pattern at the facility, with problems repeatedly documented by state investigators. In 2007 the nursing home was named one of the 54 worst facilities in the country by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
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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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An elderly abuse lawsuit alleges that a housekeeper cleaned out most of her client’s accounts. It alleges that she took more than $1.4 million from a retired couple with serious medical ailments. The elderly abuse lawsuit claims that the woman bought fancy cruises and a quickie wedding in Vegas with the money she stole from the seniors. In the couple, one had Alzheimer’s and the other was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. This case highlights the growing problem of financial elder abuse. The elderly are particularly susceptible to the financial scams because they often feel isolated and are quick to trust new friends. In one county alone 1,141 cases of financial elder abuse occurred. This does not count other allegations of elder abuse and neglect. To read more about the financial abuse, please click the link.

Elderly self-neglect is associated with a nearly six-fold increase in the risk of dying within a year. Elder self-neglect and abuse are serious, common and under recognized. There are an estimated 2 million cases of elder self-neglect and abuse in the United States. When elderly persons threatens their own health and safety by refusing to adequately feed, shelter or clothe themselves they are committing elder self-neglect. The Chicago Health and Aging Project created a report saying that of the 1,544 participants in a 9,000 study were guilty of elder self-neglect and 113 participants were reported for elder abuse. Participants with reported or confirmed self-neglect had a one-year mortality rate of 246.36 deaths per 100 person-years and mortality for participants after one year was 9.46 per 100 person-years. This is compared to a mortality rate of 5.01 deaths per 100 persons-years for participants who did not report self neglect. Self neglect is also a marker for increased mortality regardless of cognitive or physical function. The authors of the study suggest that high-functioning elders might be more capable of recognizing elder abuse and seeking help to end such abuse. To read more about the elder study, please click the link.

According to the Chicago Tribune, a nursing home was recently fined $7,000 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for “its indifference to complaints of sexual abuse against elderly residents.” The nursing home neglected to investigate an incident in which a male staff member was suspected of nursing home abuse and the nursing home also failed to report the suspected abuse to the state. The article did not provide specific details surrounding the suspicions of nursing home abuse.

To read the Chicago Tribune article about the suspected nursing home abuse, follow the link.

A lawsuit has been filed for the wrongful death of a nursing home resident. The 33 year old victim, who had suffered a traumatic brain injury at a young age as a result of being beaten, died and the nursing home did not immediately inform the family. When the body was exhumed, it was found that he was likely to have died after being struck in the head with a shower head nozzle. The lawsuit for wrongful death as a result of this nursing home abuse was filed against the state, because he had been placed under the state’s care. The lawsuit is also against his caseworker for her negligence in monitoring his care. The victim had been in a near vegetative state following his brain injury and had been cared for by his mother and his half-sister, until the state determined the sister was not properly caring for him and placed him under the State’s care. For the full story click here.

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