Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse

The Los Angeles Times writes this morning about a tragic case in Los Angeles at Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Medical Center where an official Los Angeles County assessment has acknowledged for the first time that a woman who died shortly after writhing in pain for nearly an hour on the hospital’s waiting room floor would not have died if she had received proper medical care.

The vast majority of medical malpractice cases in Los Angeles occur when doctors who are largely good doctors and good people had good intentions but medical mistakes were made. This is something very different. The only reason this woman’s family has a potential wrongful death medical malpractice case is that a security camera videotaped a janitor mopped around the victim while a triage nurse dismissed her complaints.

Sad but true: video cameras and phones are helping make more and more medical malpractice and nursing home claims.

Extendicare, a group of Washington nursing homes, is the defendant in a nursing home lawsuit alleging it took on way too many patients to provide adaquate care. Paintiffs’ nursing home also say that Extendicare violated a Washington law that bars nursing homes from making its clients sign a form waiving liability for Extendicare’s negligence.

Plaintiffs in this nursing home case a man whose daughter died at Aldercrest Health & Rehabilitation Center in Edmonds and two other residents.

You can find the article here.

The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of nursing home abuse neglect claim because the plaintiff failed to provide 60 days’ notice of the intention to file a medical malpractice action against a health care provider as required under Mississippi Code Section 15-1-36(15). This statute requires Mississippi nursing home and medical malpractice plaintiffs to health care provider’s sixty (60) days’ prior written notice notifying the defendant of the legal basis of the claim and the type of loss sustained, including with specificity the nature of the injuries suffered.

This statute comes from Mississippi’s disastrous tort reform act passed in 2002 that, among other things, establishes a cap on noneconomic damages of $ 500,000 for lawsuits filed before July 1, 2011, $ 750,000 for those filed after July 1, 2011 but before July 1, 2017, and $ 1,000,000 for those filed thereafter.

I do not have a problem with the ruling because it is a correct interpretation of the Mississippi law. But the law accomplishes nothing in this case but to deny a Plaintiff the right to justice.

The family of 75-year-old Wilmington native has alleged evidence of abuse and neglect at a state-run facility. What is interesting about his case is that the nursing home resident’s family cared enough to get evidence by way of a “nanny cam.” Earlier this summer, the nieces of this woman who is suffering from dementia, diabetes and a bad back, delivered a DVD of several incidents to the Delaware’s Division of Long Term Care Residents Protection — the agency that monitors the welfare of nursing-home residents and investigates allegations of patient abuse.

Unfortunately, not every has a caring family with the time and resources to set up a nanny cam when a nursing home is abusing or neglecting a patient. But maybe we have stumbled onto something here. Would nanny cams set up appropriately by the state help reduce nursing home neglect and abuse?

A nursing home in Carrollton has been sued for failing to maintain the health and safety standards required by Texas law, according to a lawsuit filed by the Texas Attorney General.

Specifically, the Texas Attorney General’s complaint alleges that Brookhaven Nursing Center’s failure to have backup safety measures and emergency response protocols was a contributing cause to the death of a patient who died of oxygen deprivation because the patient’s oxygen system shut down during a power outage.

It is a sad commentary that Texas now has to rely on the state to bring about justice because there are so few nursing home lawyers left in Texas.

Chicago lawyer Louis Cairo has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a Cook County nursing home, alleging that the nursing home employees were woefully ill-equipped, causing the death of a 67 year-old man. The lawsuit alleges that staff members at Hampton Plaza Health Care Centre on 9777 Greenwood Avenue did not have the necessary training or equipment to adequately respond to a fire. The Plaintiff’s nursing home lawyer said that residents were awakened not by smoke alarms, but by people banging on doors to alert others of the fire. This is not exactly a sign of effective smoke detectors.

If you substitute the word “nursing home” for “restaurant” in this story, it would make me skeptical as to whether the restaurant was negligent, as opposed to a plaintiffs’ lawyer trying to manufacture a case because he has a death case (probably a high profile death case, as many fire deaths can be). Because it is a nursing home, I find myself nodding along, “Yes, they didn’t have fire detectors. That sounds about right.” I don’t think I’m alone. That is a sad commentary on nursing home care in this country.

Missouri Lawyers’ Weekly reports on a nursing home case involving a respiratory therapist who allegedly caused the death of a 79-year-old resident at Scenic View Nursing in Herculeaneum, Missouri. The respiratory therapist had a suspended license and was charged with second-degree involuntary manslaughter in connection to the patient’s death. He entered an Alford plea and was sentenced to four years in jail.

Additionally, the therapist had been previously reprimanded four times for removing residents from oxygen without an order. His last reprimand was six months before the patient’s death. His supervisor said he was a danger to residents and was terminated. It gets better. He also pled guilty to the unlawful sale of Oxycontin to an undercover officer. It gets even better. He told the police officer who arrested him, “I know what this is about. It’s about that old lady. I guess she thought she would live forever.” This came out in the nursing home negligence trial.

If you are a nursing home lawyer, you are thinking one thing: I can’t lose this case. Obviously, I don’t have all of the facts. But apparently, in spite of all of this, the jury did not believe the doctor who said that he did not order the ventilator turned off, even though an eyewitness recalls the order. One more dose of incredible: the doctor was the owner of the nursing home. But for whatever reason, perhaps tactical reasons that one cannot gather from a media report of the story, the plaintiff’s nursing home lawyer did not bring a malpractice action against the doctor.

The University of California San Francisco reported that two years after California the state passed legislation increasing reimbursements from Medi-Cal, average nursing home income from the state’s healthcare program went up to $152 from $124 daily. But average spending on direct patient care went down by 3.6 percent and, not surprisingly, complaints of patient mistreatment proven went up by 36 percent. The study discovered 16 percent of nursing homes in the state failed to measure up to California’s minimum staffing benchmarks.

The average nursing home netted $248,047 in 2006, a 233% increase from 2004. Charlene Harrington, the California studies lead author, told the Los Angeles Times, “They got so much money, they should have been able to do something.”

You would think.

We wrote last month about conditions at an Ohio nursing home named Westside Health Care. It was one of the worst cases of inadequate care our nursing home lawyers have ever heard. After a police inspection/raid, one police officer called the conditions at this Ohio nursing home as “worse than any crack house that they’d ever seen.” That paints a pretty clear picture I think.

Typically, the silver lining in this kind of cloud is that is people shape up and get their act together. That has to be the way it works. Right? Well, police this week raided this Ohio nursing home for the second time in just over a month.

At some point, the state of Ohio has to take over this nursing home until these patients can be transferred elsewhere. There is just no other choice.

Oklahoma does not require nursing homes licensed in Oklahoma to carry insurance. Oklahoma State Senator Richard Lerblance submitted this session a bill requiring nursing homes to carry liability insurance. The Journal Record (OK) quotes an opponent as saying, “Would you rather take care of the patient or pay liability insurance? With low reimbursement rates, it’s almost impossible to do both.”
What a false choice. If you cannot make a profit and still pay for insurance, you should get out of the business because you are not running a profitable company.

How can it possibly make sense that auto insurance is mandatory but medical malpractice insurance and nursing home insurance is not mandatory?