Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse

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nursing home neglect

Skilled Care Falls Short While Nursing Home Costs Continue to Rise

While there has been a general slowing of individuals dependent on nursing home care from nearly 86 percent in 2012 to less than 82 percent in 2017, as life expectancy continues to increase in the U.S. and seniors account for a higher proportion of the population, demand for the services provided by nursing facilities will increase and no doubtingly, costs will follow suit. But supported and efficient services have failed to align and it’s our nation’s most vulnerable people and their families, as well as care staff, who pay the real price. So, who is to blame?

Third-party payors and private entities who haphazardly increase the costs of healthcare services without providing quality care of professional and skilled nurses and staff look guilty. Employing staff and pushing up labor costs only leads to widespread budget increases and less fattening of private facility pockets, but shortages can ironically do the same. Meanwhile, nursing home administrators blame behind the market reimbursement rates of patients on ‘traditional” Fee-for-Service (FFS) Medicare patients to Medicare Advantage (MA) patients to cause the industry to suffer and negatively profit, demanding them to raise general daily costs to residents and families or cut short in areas such as infrastructure and staffing quality workers.

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“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.

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doctor opioid theft

Current or Former Employees Likely Responsible for Medication Theft

Pain medication thieves recently scored rather too easily at an Oklahoma nursing home. This was the second time in just one month in which patients’ narcotics were taken from the home. Reports from local police in Sulphur say the thieves climbed through the outside office window at the nursing home and stole more than 500 doses of opioids and other drugs including Norco ((acetaminophen and hydrocodone), Oxycontin, morphine and Xanax, and fentanyl patches. The estimated value of the stolen medications tallied in at $1,000. The home’s frustrated administrator said since the most recent incident, locks have been changed, and staff are encouraged to watch out for and report any suspicious activities. Local Police think it is possible that a current or former employee may be responsible for the theft, given that they “went straight for the key” to the medicine cart.

Levin & Perconti’s elder abuse lawyers feel this is yet another reminder for family members to keep a close eye on the security plan and safe living conditions of seniors to ensure they and their medications are protected. Nursing home negligence and lapses in care by nursing home providers can serve as just the start of possible misconduct and are often indicative of larger problems with the management of nursing facilities. When staffing decisions are made quickly or with lax standards, negligent and abusive employees are invited to abuse, steal, and wreak havoc on the lives of residents. These scenarios should never be allowed.

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elder care

Community Members Wait in Angst Over Champaign County Nursing Home Sale 

Residents and community leaders in Champaign County have had a lot to say about the $11 million sale of a financially challenged nursing home to private control under Extended Care Clinical LLC and Altitude Health Services Inc., both headquartered in Evanston. Board members say current funds are insufficient to cover nursing home operations, but a sale would essentially restore the nursing home to its original 12-month budget. Most people in the Champaign County community remain concerned about the sale to this particular buyer and would rather have it stay a county owned facility. The purchasers have already licensed care under a different name, a tactic most for-profit or private care companies will do to minimize any lasting stigmas in poor reputations.

“The proposed project contemplates the transfer of operational control of the nursing home from Champaign County to University Rehabilitation Center of C-U LLC and transfer of the physical plant to University Rehab Real Estate LLC,” according to the application. “Upon approval by the Illinois Health Facilities and Service Review Board, University Rehabilitation Center of C-U LLC will apply to the Illinois Department of Public Health to become the licensee, necessitating a change of ownership.”

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Nursing Homes May Transfer Ownership to Hide Questionable Care

In the aftermath of a resident accident, report of abuse or neglect, or serious complaints against staff, a nursing home’s lease or title may simply be transferred to another company as a way to position a band-aid over real issues. When nursing home facilities are often bought, resold and rebranded, families of residents should raise questions about whether administrators or staff are to blame.

“A May 2016 article in the Boston Globe highlighted the findings of a Harvard University study on the impact an acquisition has on nursing home quality. The study found that there was a direct link between the number of times a facility had changed hands and the number of state violations it had. The authors ultimately concluded that the changing of hands wasn’t the cause, but the fact that the facility itself was plagued by troubles and that changing ownership did little to improve it.” – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

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nursing home abuse

There Are Several Ways to File a Complaint Against an Illinois Nursing Home

With more than 1,200 long-term care facilities serving over 100,000 residents with all types of medical issues, Illinois facilities licensed, regulated and inspected by the Illinois Department of Public Health are open for review and often subject to complaints. Rightful complaints are evaluated under the state’s Nursing Home Care Act. The Department’s 24-hour a day Nursing Home Hotline receives nearly 19,000 calls a year.

IDPH investigates quality of care issues, such as allegations of actual or potential harm to patients, patient rights, infection control, and medication errors. The Department also investigates allegations or harm or potential harm due to an unsafe physical (building) environment. Here is a list of the most common complaints.

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nursing home abuse

Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Allegations Are Slow to Be Investigated

Throughout the country and right here in Illinois, an already crippled group of elderly are being raped and sexually abused by the very people responsible for their daily care. It doesn’t matter if they are residents of low-income Medicaid funded homes or patients who pay ridiculous costs for daily living and care support staff, the victims are out there, yet little is being done to prevent or remedy the issue. In addition, for the victims or family members who report the allegations, identifying a perpetrator remains a challenge due to the very nature and mental state of most residents.

According to a CNN report, in Illinois, since 2013:

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nursing home abuse and neglect

Aperion Care Capitol Nurse Was Never Trained on Feeding Tube Placement

According to a state report filed by the Illinois Department of Public Health, Aperion Care Capitol, a 251-bed skilled-care facility and nursing home located at 555 W. Carpenter St. was fined for “failing to ensure there were appropriately trained staff to reinsert a feeding tube” that fell out while two nursing assistants were haphazardly removing the patient’s T-shirt.

According to the March 2018 report:

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The Elder Justice Coalition is reacting to a July 7th New York Times article that outlined just how extensively nursing homes have hidden low staffing numbers. The advocacy group is calling for an immediate congressional review of staffing practices within nursing homes.


Actual Payroll Data Reveals Staffing Crisis

The article, investigated and published in collaboration with Kaiser Health News, was based off a review of payroll hours submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  The actual hours made news not only because they show a serious crisis in terms of resident to staff ratios, but also because up until recently, nursing homes had supplied their own staffing data to CMS. With the new payroll-based submission process, nursing homes have no ability to fudge numbers.

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Just last week, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted down extending the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act (MCARE) to nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the state. Among other provisions, the MCARE Act currently caps punitive damages against doctors, hospitals, and healthcare providers to 200% of the amount awarded for compensatory damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. The latest version of the bill sought to limit punitive damages against nursing homes to 250%. Punitive damages are dollars awarded to a victim with the intent to punish the party responsible for causing injury. Punitive damages are also intended to deter the likelihood of similar incidents occurring in the future.

Damage Caps: A Solution to a Non-Existent Problem

Robert L. Sachs, Jr., a Pennsylvania personal injury attorney, told the Penn Record that nursing homes are “asking for protections that already exist, and they’re asking for protections…as a cure for a problem that hasn’t even been diagnosed.” Sachs goes on to challenge Pennsylvania nursing home defense attorneys to pull up 5 awards composed of large punitive damages.