Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse

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caregiver neglect

Caregiver Neglect and Abuse May Happen More Often During Holiday Season

With the National Center of Elder Abuse reporting as many as 5 million people affected by elder abuse per year, and more than 95 percent of which go unreported, it remains an understatement to say nursing home abuse and neglect are a growing concern. And during the busy holiday season, when there are not enough employees to take care of the needs of all the residents and care workers become easily distracted with personal activities, the incidences of abuse and neglect will sadly trend upward. It’s an important time of the year for family members and friends of those residing in long term care facilities to frequently check-in and visit with not only our loved ones but also those responsible for caring for them. Make a daily call or weekly stop this month to see that the quality of services is what you expect. Unfortunately, the result may be that many of our elderly relatives are living with care that is substandard and may even be coated with dangerous abuse and neglect symptoms. Recognize these signs provided by the Nursing Home Abuse Center and report any findings or concerns immediately.

Physical Abuse

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“Since nurse staffing is directly related to the quality of care that residents experience, CMS is very concerned about the risk to resident health and safety that these situations may present.”

-11/18/18 CMS memo to state nursing home surveyors

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency tasked with regulating nursing homes, has updated rules for nursing home staffing levels and how they report employee hours.

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abuse in hospitals

Uptown Chicago Psychiatric Hospital “Called Out” After Reports of Sexual Abuse and Neglect Involving Child Patients

Although not surprised, the entire legal team at Levin & Perconti has been cringing over the recent ProPublica Illinois investigation into Chicago Lakeshore Hospital, a private psychiatric facility located in the northside of the city. The initial ProPublica findings involve both claims of sexual abuse and related disruptions grown from the ongoing neglect of young patients in the hospital’s Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Program. The allegations are horrific to say the least. Even so, dozens of children have bravely stepped forward and shared their personal stories of being raped and sexually abused by staff and patients, while others have been physically assaulted. Many of the hospital’s hotline complaints in just the last few months were triggered from laxed staff who created scenes of abusive sexual activity (most forced), and inappropriate or violent altercations between children and teenage patients.

Federal inspection reports in 2018, show the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has investigated 16 allegations of abuse and neglect, many sexual in nature, at the hospital between staff and child patients, and other hospital residents just this year. As the Chicago Tribune recently reported, some pending investigations include these sickening allegations:

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nursing home abuse lawyers

Inappropriate Social Media Posts Involving Nursing Home Residents 

Over the last decade, as the popularity of social media platforms increased, so have incidents which workers at nursing homes and assisted-living centers shared inappropriate, abusive, degrading or embarrassing photos and videos that may also sexually exploit residents. For the workers who have been caught, they admit initiating or participating in these acts to being stressed and overworked. Whatever the disgusting motive may be, it violates the residents’ rights, and may be actionable in civil court.

As most states wait for The Office for Civil Rights within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to enforce the federal patient privacy law known as HIPAA related to social media exposure, a simple checklist was developed by the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) for nursing homes to follow. This checklist should be reviewed by all nursing home employees often so residents’ rights to privacy (at-the-least) are upheld. Family members should start asking to review this list upon entering a new partnership with a home on behalf of their loved one.

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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.