Articles Posted in Nursing Home Attorneys

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nursing home medication errors

Evictions and Transfers Could Lead to Medication Errors

There are many high-quality nursing home facilities committed to ensuring the residents in their care are receiving the best attention possible but that doesn’t stop family members from fearing the worst-case scenario when residents are evicted or transferred to a new facility.

In the past five years, Illinois was identified as having doubled their number of nursing home evictions and transfers. Evictions can be justified but Federal law requires nursing homes to give residents 30 days’ notice of their decision to evict them from the facility, as well as the opportunity to appeal the decision. That same notice must also be given to the state long-term care ombudsman, an elder rights representative assigned in every state.

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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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nursing home visitors

Approved Visitors Must Be Provided Immediate Access to Nursing Home Residents

In 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released revised nursing facility regulations that supports the rights of residents to “receive visitors of their choosing at the time of their choosing and require the facility to provide immediate access to the resident in accordance with the regulations.” These rights include access to spouses and domestic partners, including those of the same-sex.

But even with rules and regulations, there have been too many accounts of residents being told, “visiting hours are over,” “you can call your daughter tomorrow,” or “let’s wait to have a visitor for when you are feeling better,” by nursing home staff. When in reality, nursing homes should seek to allow residents the freedom to make their own decisions and help them see the choice for visitors out. Living in a nursing home does not take away a senior citizen’s rights to make choices about their own life, especially when requesting to see a family member or friend or accepting their visits.

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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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Hidden VA Nursing Home Care Data Published

According to USA Today and The Boston Globe, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been tracking and withholding data on the quality of care at VA nursing homes for years. Because of this alleged fail, resident veterans and their families may not see the bigger picture regarding the quality of care services provided or performed. Families may also be withheld vital health care information to assist in making support decisions. On June 25, 2018, the national news outlets published the ‘hidden’ information from 133 VA nursing homes using reports obtained from internal DVA documents. The review concluded that for the 46,000 veteran residents across the U.S., more than two-thirds of their VA nursing homes were “more likely to have issues related to serious bedsores and residents who will suffer serious pain, than their counterparts in private nursing homes across the country.”

Unlike the VA, private nursing homes are required to submit timely reports on the care they provide to measure quality, inspection issues and staffing. That data is then publicly posted on a federal website for families to use when researching a facility for their loved one.

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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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national health disparity month

April Is National Health Disparities Month

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates nearly two-thirds of individuals who rely on federal and state funding to support their healthcare and long-term care services have multiple chronic conditions. Most of these conditions impact specific racial and ethnic minority communities who have disproportionately been supported with the appropriate diagnosis and treatment needed to thrive. As April marks an opportunity to call attention to these issues under National Health Disparities Month, it’s an important time to start discussion about the significant problems we have in the United States and right here in Illinois, in relation to at-risk populations who receive Medicare or Medical Assistance to treat chronic diseases. These groups are currently battling greater morbidity, mortality, and disability rates as a result of their long-term care coverage.

According to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Medicare and Medical Assistance (Illinois’ name for Medicaid) populations that experience disproportionately high burdens of disease are provided worse quality of care, and barriers to accessing long-term care than others. CMS officials say, “these populations include racial and ethnic minorities, sexual and gender minorities, persons with disabilities, as well as individuals living in rural areas.”

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MedPage Today reports that a new study shows that many strokes may be missed in hospital emergency departments in the days before the problems of the stroke become obvious. Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose strokes can have devastating consequences.

The study was retrospective, meaning that it looked back in time at what had happened to stroke victims in the time leading up to their strokes. The study shows that of 187,188 admissions for stroke, 12.7% of the stroke patients studied visited an emergency department and received a non-stroke-related diagnosis within the thirty days leading up to the ultimately diagnosed stroke. Doctors from Johns Hopkins University say this indicates a possibly missed stroke. One in every ten of those non-stroke related discharges were for headache or dizziness. Those were likely strokes, according to the researchers. Women, members of minority groups, and people under age 45 were most at risk for experiencing one of these undiagnosed strokes.

Effects of Failure to Diagnose Strokes:

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As with any profession, experience in certain legal cases ultimately breeds the best results. That is why all those who may work on nursing home neglect cases in the future should take advantage of the opportunity to learn the ins and out of these matter from those who have worked on these cases for decades. Fortunately, attorneys have just that opportunity thanks to a new seminar being organized by the American Association for Justice (AAJ). The meeting is entitled “Litigating Nursing Home Cases Seminar: From Case Selection to Trial,” and is being presented in conjunction with the AAJ’s Nursing Home Litigation Group. It is open to AAJ Plaintiff Members and AAJ Paralegal Affiliates.

As the name implies, the seminar will cover everything from the intake process to identify the cases with the best chance of success all the way to the ultimate trial. Considering its wide-ranging scope and the critical importance (and prevalence) of these cases, this seminar is something that many local attorneys and firms should consider.

Promotional materials for the event explain that “Program highlights include sessions on building a corporate case by following the money trail, proving understaffing at the nursing home, and selection and use of experts.”

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No legal case is ever identical to any other. No matter what, the law is very fact-specific, requiring a close examination of individual details. However, that does not mean that there are not trends. When it comes to Illinois nursing home neglect and abuse issues, those trends are quickly picked up on by those who work on these matters day in and day out. For example, time and again residents develop pressure sores as a result of inadequate care. Those sores are often not treated properly, develop infection, and may contribute to a senior’s death. Every year there are literally dozens of examples of this form of neglect.

Another trend in nursing home neglect cases are falls. Every resident must be analyzed for their fall risk, as physical vulnerabilities often mean that a single nursing home fall can prove fatal. By analyzing risks ahead of time, facilities are able to develop proper care plans to minimize risk. Sadly, those plans are often not done correctly or not followed, resulting in falls that can take the life of a resident.

Illinois Nursing Home Fall Lawsuit