Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse

Danville VA facility
The VA Illiana Health Care System in Danville is part of the Veterans Integrated Service Network 12. The VISN service area includes Northern Illinois, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and large portions of Wisconsin. In late October of 2020, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services received two separate complaints about facilities operated by the system in Danville that failed to adequately address the COVID-19 pandemic.

How did COVID-19 impact the Danville VA facility?

The reports to the OIG concerned two Community Living Centers operated by Illiana, known as Unity and Victory. An investigation by the OIG found that leadership at the facilities did indeed fail to contain a COVID-19 outbreak.

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Ask These Questions Before Choosing a Nursing Home for a Loved One

2020 did its best to reveal the most alarming care deficiencies throughout the country’s nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities. Unfortunately, the pandemic, in some cases, was allowed to target the elderly and nursing home population brutally. While nursing homes and assisted living centers should offer a safe place for your loved one, whether they are your parent, a family member, or a friend who needs guided rehabilitation, you must do the work in choosing the best place on behalf of them. You have the right to ask questions, pull inspection reports, Google the facility, interview staff, read reviews, and have concerns. Because, unfortunately, more than a quarter of all nursing home residents will experience abuse during their residency, and more than half will be neglected.

Start with researching credible online sources, schedule a virtual tour of the facility, or speak with an administrator. Then, be sure to review the following questions to guide your learning about the home’s staffing, environment, and infectious disease outbreaks.

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Regional Ombudsmen Serve as Lifeline for Nursing Home Residents – And So Much More

Under the federal Older Americans Act (OAA), every state must have an Ombudsman Program that addresses complaints and advocates for improvements in the long-term care system. Each state has an Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman (Office), headed by a full-time State Long-Term Care Ombudsman (Ombudsman) who directs the program statewide. Across the Nation, staff and thousands of volunteers are designated by State Ombudsmen as representatives to serve residents directly.

According to the Administration on Aging (AoA)/Administration for Community Living (ACL):

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New Alzheimer’s Drug Could Receive National Coverage Policy, Now Under Medicare Review

On July 12, 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the opening of a National Coverage Determination (NCD) analysis. The government agency says the process will allow an advanced and careful review to determine whether Medicare will establish a national coverage policy for monoclonal antibodies targeting Alzheimer’s disease. Monoclonal antibodies may prevent beta-amyloid from clumping into plaques or remove beta-amyloid plaques that have formed and help the body clear the beta-amyloid from the brain, found in patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

  • When someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (or dementia), they will require more care, patience, and support as they grow older.

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Harmful Medication Overuse Often First Line of Defense for Managing Behaviorally Challenged Nursing Home Residents

There is excessive and unnecessary use of antipsychotics and psychoactive medications in U.S. nursing homes. These powerful drugs are sometimes given to patients living in long-term care facilities to calm behaviors associated with behavior disruptions and mental health illnesses. Antipsychotics can be so powerful that they sedate residents to the point where they become listless and unresponsive. Residents may be slumped in chairs or unable to get up from bed; they may no longer participate in activities like feeding themselves or engaging in routines they enjoy, or even talk with their loved ones. They are also overly-prescribed to residents who may be marked unruly or disruptive or when staff feel overworked and unable to support and service all residents due to understaffing or high turnover rates. Care teams will seek out specific medications that make patients with these issues easier to handle – or sadly, just to quiet them and make them lethargic and sleepy. Nursing home doctors have also been caught on relying heavily on the recommendation of nurses and other care staff when making these medication decisions.

  • According to the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services, more than half of atypical antipsychotic medications that affect at least 105,000 nursing home residents annually are being incorrectly paid for by Medicare, despite the drugs being deemed ineffective and potentially dangerous for the elderly population.

Identifying Heat-Related Stress and Dehydration Injuries in Nursing Home Populations During the Summer Months

When you help your loved one find a nursing home, you should feel it is a safe place no matter their risk factors for injury and illness. The facility staff members should be trusted to care for your relatives and friends and protect them from harm. However, extreme weather events, including high temperatures, can be particularly tough on a neglected senior population. And unfortunately, it is not uncommon to hear stories of elderly individuals in dire situations who face severe injury or even die due to elevated hot temperatures and poor air-cooling options.

But elder community members most at risk are not always those living alone and without extensive social networks. They could also be those who rely on nursing homes and long-term care to keep them cool and safe. And when those in charge fail, and facilities don’t train staff to notice heat exhaustion or dehydration warning signs, the risk of a heat-related injury is high. As a result, facilities must invest in keeping cooling equipment, and doors, and windows well-maintained, so that the potential for hot rooms with uncomfortable conditions never presents itself in the first place.

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Candida Auris Is an Invasive Fungi That is Spreading in Health Care Settings and Proving to Be Drug-Resistant

On Thursday, July 22, 2021, U.S. health officials presented evidence that an untreatable fungus is now spreading in two Dallas-area hospitals and inside a nursing home located in Washington, D.C. Candida auris is a super bacterium the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deems an urgent threat. The fungus is extremely difficult to eradicate even with hospital-grade disinfectants and response plans, reminding health care leaders yet again why infection control is so critical in maintaining healthy human populations

Just as awful, commonly used drugs have little effect on abolishing the super fungus. Moreover, a resistant class of drugs, called echinocandins, once considered a last line of defense, is even useless in some cases, allowing Candida auris to spread quickly among healthcare-reliant populations. 

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Nursing Home Workers Should Report Social Media Posts That Violate Residents’ Rights

Nursing home employees are crucial in helping identify violators of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, including the reporting of other workers who choose to document and publish these unforgiveable acts on popular social media platforms. If you are aware of any harassing video, photo, story, or mention of resident abuse, invasion of resident privacy, or proof of neglect posted to a social networking site such as TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, or through a message, group text, or in an online community, there are several things you can do to report what you have seen.

The nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Levin & Perconti strongly encourage you to:

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Illinois Lawmakers Introduce “COVID-19 Safety Net” Bill Until In-Person Visitation Resumes

There have been over 70,000 positive COVID-19 cases in Illinois nursing homes and over 10,300 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began. Sadly, nearly half of the state’s total death count has been nursing home residents. Many were never able to see their loved ones in person or say goodbye to them before they passed as almost all residents and their family members were prevented from visits for some time. Although the pause was likely necessary to prevent the further spread of the highly contagious virus, it also triggered concerns of abuse and neglect going unnoticed and a call from industry advocates to do more.

Most families have been forced to use or purchase personal devices for residents, but the failure to coordinate the calls showed how ill-equipped homes and staff are. Sadly, regular calls are not a reality for most Illinois long-term care residents. For some of the luckier residents, virtual visits were enough to keep their loved ones knowing they are being looked after, especially those with cognitive disabilities such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s disease.

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Report Shows Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gravely Affected Resident Exposure to COVID-19 at LaSalle Nursing Home

The Illinois Department of Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released its investigative report identifying the causes behind the massive COVID-19 outbreak in the fall of 2020 at the state-run veterans’ Home in LaSalle. The long-awaited public report confirms what many of us already know and outlines the unforgiving failures that resulted in the untimely death of 36 people from coronavirus. Notes published by the OIG show that the facility did not implement the proper infection control policies to prevent the spread of the disease among staff and residents and allowed a deadly outbreak to go on despite warnings. 

The report paints a gloomy picture that documents failures from many. It leads with, “Ultimately, our investigation determined that the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ (IDVA) lack of COVID-19 preparation contributed to the scope of the outbreak at the home. In addition, failures in communication at the home and within the IDVA leadership also contributed to a delayed response to the outbreak.”

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