Articles Posted in Nursing Home Abuse

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, a cap of $ 750,000 for those filed after July 1, 2011, but before July 1, 2017, and a cap of $ 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 through 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 everyone 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 the facts. But apparently, despite 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 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?

People who live, or have loved ones who live, at Westside Health Care and Nursing Home, a long-term care nursing home that recently received a surprise inspection, will have to wait a little longer before receiving the Cincinnati City Council’s health committee has been canceled report on how Westside Health Care and Nursing Home is caring for its patients. A report had been expected today, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Cincinnati police described conditions at the Westside as “deplorable,” and reports showed residents living with fleas, flies, and filth. Residents told police that laundry had not been done in three months. In the affidavit filed to secure the search warrant, Cinncinnati Police Office Aaron Layton said wrote that the conditions presented “a safety, health and fire hazard to the occupants of the premises and surrounding properties.” Upon inspection, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, a fire door tied shut, accumulation of vomit was in an entryway, smoking was permitted near oxygen tanks, the sprinkler system did not work, and there were loads of structural defects.

When I was a kid, I was bouncing around in the back of my parents’ car without a car seat in sight. Today, that is child abuse, but it was normal back then. If you are wondering what seemed awful 10 years from now, I think it will be the way we treat our elderly. I don’t think the Westside Health Care and Nursing Homes of the world will exist in 10 years.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, anti-psychotic drugs were prescribed to 26% of nursing home residents without a diagnosed psychotic or related condition, in other words, off label prescriptions to sedate patients that may or may not need it. Connecticut was second only to Louisiana in dispensing such medications.

Nursing homes in Connecticut and elsewhere are prohibited by federal law from dispensing medications for the purposes of discipline or convenience of the nursing home. (I don’t know about you but it depresses me that anyone would think to give an anti-psychotic drug as as discipline.) This has not stopped a lot of nursing homes from dispensing these drugs for reasons that having nothing to do with the patient’s best interests.

In Connecticut, I would keep a close eye on Chelsea Place Care Center in Hartford and Wethersfield Health Care Center in Wethersfield two facilities that have had problems but are beginning to improve, according to the federal government.

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