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Articles Posted in National Legislation

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Levin & Perconti’s Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Attorneys Ask Lawmakers to Reject Immunity for Substandard COVID-19 Care

During these difficult times, it remains vital for patients and their families to understand that nursing home residents still have the right to proper care and providers should always be held accountable when that care goes badly wrong.

On May 11, Levin & Perconti attorneys joined more than a dozen advocate organizations made up of nursing-home residents’ lawyers, families, and elder care leaders, in requesting members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, including Chairman Graham and Ranking Member Feinstein, oppose granting a liability shield to nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, 18 states have issued some form of immunity from liability related to care provided during the crisis by long-term care facilities. By providing immunity, Congress is placing nursing home residents in jeopardy at a time when older Americans are suffering most from outbreaks. Here is a brief synopsis of this important letter.

The coronavirus epidemic is pausing inspections conducted by State Survey Agencies (SSAs). The most recent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) guidance related to nursing homes and coronavirus includes a pull-back of regular CMS inspections. The federal agency said it would only conduct revisits when Immediate Jeopardy (IJ) is cited.

CMS defines IJ as: “… a situation in which entity noncompliance has placed the health and safety of recipients in its care at risk for serious injury, serious harm, serious impairment or death. These situations must be accurately identified by surveyors, thoroughly investigated, and resolved by the entity as quickly as possible. In addition, noncompliance cited at IJ is the most serious deficiency type, and carries the most serious sanctions for providers, suppliers, or laboratories (entities). An immediate jeopardy situation is one that is clearly identifiable due to the severity of its harm or likelihood for serious harm and the immediate need for it to be corrected to avoid further or future serious harm.”

nursing home snapchat video

Video of Dementia Resident Taunted by Nursing Home Caregivers Was Shared on Social Media 

Levin & Perconti is representing the family of a 91-year-old woman after two of her care aides, formerly employed by Abington of Glenview Nursing Home in Glenview, violated the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act and state privacy laws through abuse and the use of social media. The workers, Brayan Cortez and Jamie Montesa, were caught publishing a Snapchat video of themselves taunting Margaret Collins, an elderly resident with dementia. Snapchat is a multimedia app and popular social media channel used by over 180 million people every day. Each post made is called a “snap.”

The video went public just days before the Christmas holiday in 2018 and showed Collins lying in bed and visibly upset from being taunted by employees throwing a hospital gown at her several times, a clothing item her family says Abington workers knew would make her distressed. The video was captioned with “Margaret hates gowns,” and the “snap” was decorated with two laughing face emojis. A former employee saw the video and shared it with the resident’s family.

nrusing home reform

Senate Hearing Regarding U.S. Nursing Homes Called Attention to Unfixed Issues and Reform 

An estimated 1.5 million individuals receive care from nursing homes nationwide each day, many of whom are living with serious physical and cognitive impairments, leaving them frail and remarkably vulnerable to abuse and neglect injustices. On July 23, 2019, members of the Senate Finance Committee Hearing once again heard pleas from elder community leaders about the constant struggles of Americans dependent on Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

(CMS) regulated skilled nursing facilities face each day. These guests discussed the continual lack of follow thru to require facilities to improve, a disregard to follow federal regulation by U.S. nursing home administrators, and ongoing failures to meet minimum care standards.

understaffing legislation

Slammed with a New Law and Bigger Fines, Will Illinois’ Nursing Homes Finally Start Providing Enough Care for Residents?

In June 2019, Illinois lawmakers, sparked by a bill sponsored by state Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago, passed legislation in support of increasing fines and penalties for nursing homes who are not meeting minimum standards for staffing and also provided $240 million to fill a $649 million projected funding gap between the state and federal government. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services will receive $70 million of the newly budgeted state dollars to build-up nurse staffing. The bill also demands better communication between family members of loved ones who reside in nursing homes so they can be informed of staffing challenges that may interrupt or delay the level of care expected.

Several groups and elder organizations supported, endorsed, and pushed the legislation including:

nursing home abuse

AARP Speaks Out on Alarming Proposed Changes to Nursing Home Regulation

At Levin & Perconti we continuously monitor changes to current federal and state nursing home regulations in order to inform our clients of how those changes might impact quality of care. Recently we were pleased to see one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the country, AARP, voice concerns about regulatory actions of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in a letter to the United States Senate Committee on Finance.

Not Enforcing the Rules

Justice for Veterans Served: Illinois Legislators Raise Claim Cap to $2 Million, Retroactive for Quincy Legionnaires’ Victims’ Families

Triggered in 2014, the misdiagnoses and poorly managed care of residents with Legionnaires’ disease claimed the lives of 15 veterans living at the state-run VA facility in Quincy over a two-year span. Because of the tragedies, a handful of advocacy groups and Illinois lawmakers have been working to prevent deaths like this from occurring again while proposing ways to seek justified claims on behalf of those who were lost due to the state’s negligence.

evacuation plan

Lawmakers in Outrage of Administration’s Relaxed Nursing Home Emergency Preparedness Proposed Requirements

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. He has been outspoken on many occasions regarding the outcome of nursing home preparedness in the event of an emergency such as a natural disaster. And with President Trump’s Administration’s recent announcement to ease a home’s necessary preparedness for emergencies, his concern came with outrage expressed in an official letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

“It is troubling to see CMS decide to further roll back its already inadequate safeguards with this proposed rule, which does more to cut corners than cut costs,” Wyden wrote. “The Trump administration’s proposal not only strips patients of commonsense protections in order to pad the pockets of medical providers, but goes against the recommendations of well-respected national organizations charged with developing best practices for workplace and consumer safety.”

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care is urging concerned citizens to help counteract efforts to undermine recently revamped federal nursing home regulations that would preserve the rights of and offer further protection to nursing home residents.

According to National Consumer Voice, “these updated, stronger regulations include a greater focus on person-centered care, improved protections against abuse, neglect and exploitation; improved staff training; notice to ombudsman of proposed transfers/discharges; required infection prevention, and much more.”

How to Show Your Support for Nursing Home Residents

One of the first questions those considering taking legal action ask involve their recovery. What damages does the law allow? In most cases the answer is pretty straightforward–medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional loss, and more. In some cases of senior abuse or neglect there may also be lost wages, though most seniors in these cases do not work.

On top of these damages, some may have heard about “punitive damages.” These are unique awards which do not seek to connect damage to a specific harm suffered by a plaintiff. Instead, punitive damages are rooted in punishment–seeking to deter others from engaging in similar conduct as the defendants. Much confusion remains around these damages. They remain quite rare, and, in most cases, they will not be awarded. To help explain the situation the Center for Justice and Democracy has a “White Paper” that provides a helpful overview. Click Here to view the entire document.

Punitive Liability

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