Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse

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nursing home legionnaires disease

Medical Documents Show “Questionable” Record-Keeping Related to Legionnaires’ Disease Victim’s Care and Family’s Concerns Prior To Death

The family of Dolores French, one of the 13 residents of the Illinois Veterans Home who died from the horrific Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in 2015, recently spoke out to WBEZ reporter Dave McKinney after “newly obtained health documents related to her case demonstrated a litany of questionable procedural and record-keeping practices at Illinois’ largest state-run veterans’ home….”

French had only been a resident of the Quincy Veterans Home for six weeks when Adams County Coroner James Keller examined her already decomposing body, possibly of two days, on the floor in her room. Although state officials deny the claim, her family was told her body was not in a condition to be embalmed and an open-casket funeral would not be an option.

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nursing home veteran care

Illinois Veterans Release Capital Report Requesting $200+ Million for New Veterans Home

In 2015, the misdiagnoses and poorly managed care of residents with Legionnaires’ disease claimed the lives of 13 residents of a state-run veterans home in Quincy. One in 10 people will die from acquiring Legionnaires’ disease under normal circumstances, but if the disease is contracted from a health care facility, the odds of death jump to one in 4. Since the incident, the Combined Veterans’ Capital Needs Task Force has been working endlessly to prevent a tragedy like this from occurring again and is now demanding the state of Illinois build a $200+ million state-of-the-art skilled nursing care facility to address safe water supply needs. The recommendations come from the Combined Veterans’ Capital Needs Task Force Report released on May 1, 2018 and includes:

  • Building a new, state-of-the art skilled nursing care facility that could house up to 300 residents.
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superhero caregiver

Overburdened Nursing Home Staff Can Be Heroes to Abused or Neglected Residents

Attorney Steven M. Levin, a partner at Levin & Perconti, was recently featured in Chicago Lawyer Magazine’s feature on whether the heroes of the new Avengers movie could be held liable in a court of law (you can read the interview here). While Steve had fun and the story was lighthearted, it reminded us about some of the everyday heroes we get to work with at Levin & Perconti. They are the staff responsible for one of our nation’s most vulnerable groups of citizens. The nursing assistants, janitors, nurses, therapists, administrators, practitioners and staff who serve nursing home residents and long-term care patients. Because the truth is, not all heroes wear capes.

At Levin & Perconti, we recognize the frustrated, overworked and underpaid care workers who ultimately save lives by speaking up and reporting violations of the law, rules, or regulations regarding the care and treatment of nursing home residents in their charge. The act of reporting can feel extremely uncomfortable and create fear and anxiety for most individuals who chose to get involved in reporting, but when national reviews of care residents indicate an abuse rate of 44 percent and a neglect rate of 95 percent, the need for staff who speak up and report wrongdoings has become a sad requirement to protect nursing home residents who cannot advocate for themselves. When these brave staff report issues their actions will continue to save lives and improve care standards while holding the right people accountable for any wrongdoings.

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Meadows Mennonite Retirement Community in Chenoa, Illinois, has been served with a lawsuit by the family of a deceased resident who was the victim of online photo shaming by an employee from the nursing home. The employee, believed to be Samantha Brown, was terminated when the facility was made aware that she, along with her then boyfriend, Michael Scurlock, had posted pictures of multiple residents in various states of undress while doing routine activities such as bathing, using the toilet, and sleeping. McLean County prosecutors are currently filing charges against the couple, after local police reviewed over 50,000 documents and records, including those from internet providers and Facebook. The graphic images were posted to Facebook earlier this year.

In March, the employee (identified in the lawsuit as Jane Doe but believed to be Samantha Brown, a former CNA) notified Meadows that the photos were posted online, including to the the nursing home’s own Facebook page. She told Meadows, IDPH, and police that she believed photos she and other Meadows employees had taken were stolen by her ex-boyfriend and shared online.

Nursing Home Failed to Report Illicit Photos to Authorities

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The Des Moines Register recently co-published a report with ProPublica, a public interest group, about the uptick in reports of nursing home employees using social media as a way to share demeaning photos and videos of residents.

After several stories made headlines last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) called on nursing homes to develop training and policies regarding resident abuse. Specifically, CMS encouraged facilities to educate staff about improper use of cell phones and social media as a means of sharing ‘demeaning or humiliating’ photos and videos. Regardless of the push for facilities to prevent and correct staff members from using Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other platforms to share offensive content, the report discovered at least 18 cases of such abuse in the last year alone, with 6 of those in Iowa. The authors note that the number of incidents has increased since 2015 and that the 18 recent cases of which they’re aware are likely just the tip of the iceberg. In all, ProPublica states that they are aware of 65 cases of social media posts of nursing home residents since 2012.

An Increasing Problem

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The National Adult Protective Services Association has shared findings from a study evaluating the differences between substantiated and unsubstantiated cases of sexual abuse in care facilities. The study, entitled Victim, Allegation, and Investigation Characteristics Associated with Substantiated Reports of Sexual Abuse of Adults in Residential Care, considered 410 reported cases of sexual abuse in New Hampshire, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin that occurred over a 6 month period in 2005. Of the 410 cases, 72 (or 18%) were found to be substantiated by a state regulatory agency or a state Adult Protective Services (APS) agency. The study authors spent 3 years interviewing investigators from APS agencies, reviewing records from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and evaluating themes and trends among the data they gathered.

The 72 substantiated cases shared several key characteristics:

  1. Sexual abuse cases were more likely to be substantiated if the reporting of the incident occurred within 3 days.
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On Wednesday, we posted the findings from CNN’s Investigative Report Sick, Dying and Raped in America’s Nursing Homes. The stories and facts discussed in the report are tragic and the reality that these violations are increasingly happening to our loved ones has haunted us. As a reminder, the elder abuse attorneys at Levin & Perconti would like to share the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse in the elderly. The information below is courtesy of The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care.

Physical indicators of sexual abuse include:

  • Bruises around inner thighs, the genital area or breasts
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In November 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began implementing their first newly revised set of nursing home regulations since 1991. According to CMS, 1.5 million Americans call a long term nursing care facility their home, a number that is increasing year by year. With such a large volume of residents in nursing homes, coupled with the fact that for-profit companies own and operate the majority of them, CMS finally decided to tighten rules imposed on the facilities. CMS hopes that the appeal of receiving as much funding as possible from Medicare and Medicaid will encourage facilities to abide by the latest set of changes.

The Good

One of the best provisions outlined in the new regulations is the call for staff training on elder abuse and neglect, specifically on how to care for residents with dementia. Dementia in some form is present in the majority of residents at nursing homes and knowing how to properly care for patients facing this diagnosis has been an age-old problem in long term care facilities.

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A November opinion piece from Crain’s Chicago Business highlights a common practice among nursing homes: Placing elderly residents in the same facility as those with psychiatric disorders and felony convictions. This practice, while not new, has recently come to light after Continental Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Chicago was fined by the Illinois Department of Public Health after five residents overdosed on heroin in just one month.

A Common but Inexcusable Occurrence

Every year, over 2,000 cases of resident-to-resident abuse are alleged in the U.S. alone.

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As discussed earlier this week, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is in a position to exert significant influence over quality of care at nursing homes. That is because most facilities depend on receiving payment from the CMS programs covering seniors without the means to pay for nursing home care on their own. For this reason, CMS has requirements, incentives, and programs aimed and getting facilities to provide better care to both improve senior lives and lower overall long-term care costs.

Minimizing Nursing Home Neglect

For example, last week CMS officials announced the start of a new program aimed at lowering avoidable hospitalizations of nursing home residents. When senior residents are abused or neglected, they often require hospitalization to treat the consequences of the mistreatment. It is not uncommon for those hospitalizations to drag on, as senior bodies are often frail–complications are common. Those hospitalizations are quite expensive. Minimizing readmissions to hospitals is therefore a key cost-containment effort.