Articles Posted in Nursing Home Negligence

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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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Understaffing

Nursing Homes with Serious Deficiencies Are Often Poorly Staffed

An analysis of data from Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare website concluded that nurses and support care staff such as nursing assistants and aides are grossly understaffed at some of the most troubled homes in Illinois. This proves something the nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys of Levin & Perconti know all too well. Understaffed care facilities put unnecessary pressures on employees that often lead to mistakes, injuries, and deaths of nursing home residents in their charge. And although we hear of changes in administrative staff, and fines aimed to tighten and clarify procedures as a solution to the issue, many of these poor performing homes continue to receive their funding, remain understaffed and contribute to more cases of nursing home abuse and neglect than facilities that are equipped to provide sufficient care and services.

The Factors Behind Understaffing

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In 2011, veteran Anthony Spallone of the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans took the lead on filing a lawsuit against the Grand Rapids, Michigan nursing home, alleging that the plan to privatize the facility would lead to disaster for him and his fellow residents. At the time, Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, stated that privatization was in the facility’s best interests and that state-employed nursing aides should be replaced by cheaper, contracted employees from a company called J2. Dedicated aides who spent more time than any other employee with Grand Rapids Home for Veterans residents would be cast aside to make room for aides from J2, a company with a history of providing poor care. Privatization went ahead and as predicted, residents at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans suffered. Anthony Spallone’s lawsuit against the facility was dropped.

Worst Fears Realized

In 2013, Michigan Representative Winnie Brinks began pushing an act that would address better care for residents of the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. She, along with 2 fellow congressmen, were shocked by what they witnessed during a visit to the facility. The privatization had indeed played a part in the decline of the care and conditions there. It was as if everything Anthony Spallone had tried to prevent in 2011 had come to pass.

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A nursing home in Westborough, Massachusetts is facing two separate lawsuits for falls that ended the lives of two its residents within a 7 week span in 2015.  The lawsuit alleges that staff at for-profit Beaumont Rehabilitation & Skilled Nursing Center ignored and purposely defied physicians’ orders that mandated the use of fall prevention devices, resulting in the tragic falls that caused blunt force head trauma and the death of two elderly residents.

Properly Used Safety Devices Can Aid in Fall Prevention

Per doctors’ orders, both fall victims, 89 year old Betsy Crane and 85 year old Vincent Walsh, were to wear wrist or ankle bracelets that function as tracking devices, referred to as a wander management system.  Devices such as these alert staff to the whereabouts of each resident, including leaving protected areas (such as the resident’s room or designated safe zone) or even making the smallest of movements. When combined with adequate supervision, wander management systems can be a valuable tool in ensuring the safety of nursing home residents who are at risk for wandering, as well as those at risk for falls.

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On July 18th, a Cook County jury gave justice to the family of Dolores Trendel. Awarding $4.1 million dollars, a record-setting verdict under the Nursing Home Care Act, the jury found Assisi at Clare Oaks Senior Living in Bartlett, Illinois, liable for stopping a medication that caused a stroke and ultimately ended 85 year old Dolores Trendel’s life.

Doctor vs. Staff

In January 2011, Ms. Trendel was admitted to Assisi at Clare Oaks to undergo physical therapy after a fall at her Schaumburg home caused a broken hip.

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A Casper, Wyoming nursing home with a history of negligent care, cost-centered staffing practices, and hazardous living conditions just settled a lawsuit with a blind resident who was hit by a facility-owned, staff-driven minivan while waiting for a ride. Although the man survived the accident, he now deals with pain and numbness from an incident that could have been prevented by greater supervision and improved employee training.

Repeat Offender

Between January 2014 and 2016, Poplar Living Center was cited 90 times by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for a multitude of violations, some so egregious that they twice lost federal funding. Most of the complaints made by CMS against Poplar Living Center are common themes heard about many nursing facilities: Not enough staff to handle high resident volumes, inadequate staff training, rundown infrastructure, and negligent care.

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In recent years there has been much talk of “whistleblowers.” The most high-profile stories refer to government employees or military personnel who leak secrets to reporters about various government programs. There is significant public disagreement about the value of these political revelations.

It is important not to forget, however, all of the whistleblowers who are not engaged in political matters at all, but who step forward to demand fairness for vulnerable populations like medical patients and nursing home residents.

As elder care advocates know, one of the most important ways that the worst nursing home caregiving practices are fixed are when actual employees say “enough!” and come forward. These whistleblowing employees are able to provide direct evidence of the negligent, and often illegal, practices of individual nursing home or entire nursing home chains. In so doing, these individuals can enact massive changes, literally saving the lives of an untold number of residents.

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Our attorneys are proud to work with residents in Chicago and throughout Illinois after poor nursing home care leads to injury. In most cases the process is initiated by the family of the resident. Sadly, families often only learn of problematic care after an incident which causes harm–a nursing home fall, the development of pressure sores, an attack by another resident, or similar accident. When that happens the legal system usually allows the family to recover compensation for the harm irrespective of possible state and federal sanctions for any care violations.

When helping families with these matters, the final resolution in our cases is often a settlement. These are agreements between the parties to resolve the matter without the need to have the issue decided by a judge or jury. Settlements are an efficient way to resolve disputes, ensure fairness, and provide incentive to ensure proper care 100% of the time.

New Illinois Nursing Home Settlement