Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog

A few years back, in 2010, a 94-year-old woman died while a patient in a San Diego nursing home after she was run over by a large food cart. According to a report by one local news source, the woman’s family recently reached a settlement agreement with the defendant nursing home.

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Evidently, the nursing home uses large carts to transport the residents’ meals and other equipment. These carts are over six feet tall and about 2-3 feet wide. The carts do not have slats or any way for people pushing the cart to see through or around the cart as they are moving it. Therefore, it is nursing-home policy that any time a cart is moved, two employees should be assigned to the cart.

However, when the 94-year-old woman was struck by the cart, it was only being pushed by one person. In fact, it seems as though the facility rarely, if ever, used two employees to control the cart.

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Earlier this week in Winter Haven, Florida, two Certified Nurse Assistants were arrested and charged with battery after they were caught on video beating a 76-year-old nursing home patient. According to a report by one local news source, the man is an Alzheimer’s patient and could not effectively communicate what was happening to his family. However, after his family noticed that he had unexplained bruises on his body, they decided to place a “nanny cam” in the man’s room to see what was going on.

healthcare-upclose-885334-m.jpgAfter 30 days of monitoring the camera, the man’s family were shocked to learn that two of the CNAs charged with caring for their loved one were actually threatening him and physically abusing him. As it turns out, the elderly man has had several other roommates who were moved out by family members, citing staffing problems in the room. One fellow resident’s wife told reporters that the man had actually complained that he was being treated roughly by the weekend staff.

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Extendicare Health Services is one of the largest nursing home chains in the nation. It is also the subject of one of the largest, if not the largest, settlements in a quality-of-care case the country has ever seen. According to a report by one news source, Extendicare recently reached an agreed-upon $38 million settlement.

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The charges against the nursing home chain were several. Some of the charges related to improper billing of the federal government. However, the bulk of the claims were in regard to the standard and quality of care that Extendicare was providing to its aging residents.

According to the report, the investigation focused on 33 Extendicare facilities in eight different states, including Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Kentucky, Washington, and Wisconsin. The claims alleged that the facilities employed fewer nurses than were needed to support the number of patients that the facility housed. In addition, there were claims that the nursing home staff members were not being adequately trained.

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In a disturbing story out of Syracuse, New York, a certified nurse aide has been formally accused of sexually abusing a physically disabled resident in a Utica nursing home. According to a report by one local news source, the state Attorney General has filed a nine-count indictment against a man who formerly worked at Focus Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.

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Evidently, the man was charged with the following counts for alleged forcible sexual assault that took place on May 21 of this year:

  • Three counts of sexual abuse in the first degree;
  • Three counts of willful violation of health laws; and
  • Three counts of endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person in the second degree.

If the man is convicted at trial, he will face up to 21 years in prison.

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Earlier this month in Damariscotta, Maine, a fire in a nursing home resulted in 22 residents needing to be evacuated for their safety. According to a report by the Bangor Daily News, the fire was started by a small electrical fire that began in the attic space. Luckily, the fire was contained to a six-by-six-foot diameter.

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Evidently, the fire was put out mostly with the use of a chemical compound used to help put out fires. In addition, one bucket of water was also used to help quash the flames. The nursing home’s sprinkler system was triggered and kept the fire under control until emergency crews arrived with more sophisticated equipment. Despite the relatively small size of the fire, an entire wing of the nursing home was evacuated. In total, 22 residents were forced to evacuate as a result of the fire.

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Earlier this month in Connecticut, two nursing homes were fined by the State’s Department of Public Health in connection with various reports of substandard care. According to a report by one local news source, the allegations involved verbal abuse, unmonitored bedsores, and the care of a patient who fell 15 times in just four months.

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Evidently, one nursing home was fined $1,650 after it was discovered that residents repeatedly fell while they were unsupervised and alone. In the case of one man who fell 15 times between January 5 and May 18, he was discovered several times on his own in the meal area, lost, at times when meals were not being served.

Nursing home employees had to undergo additional training earlier this year, but that training seemed to have little impact on the quality of care that was being provided to residents. Residents continued to fall off the toilet, in the shower, and in common areas while unsupervised.

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A new bill in Illinois called the “Put A Registered Nurse in the Nursing Home Act” is being introduced by Representative Jan Schakowsky. The bill, which still needs to be voted on before it would have a chance at becoming law, would require that any nursing home facility receiving either Medicare or Medicaid funds have a Registered Nurse on duty all day, every day.

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According to a report by HealthCare Dive, the current requirement is that any qualifying nursing home must have a nurse on duty for at least eight hours a day. This requirement was passed back in 1987, and there has been little regulation of nursing homes passed since then.

Some states are currently mandating that nursing home facilities have a nurse on staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, the new law would make that requirement extend nationwide. Currently, it is estimated that almost 12% of nursing homes do not have a full-time nurse on staff 24/7. The cost of one full-time nurse is approximately $68,000.

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A recent article by the Chicago Tribune outlines the debate the State of Illinois is having in determining whether nursing homes should be required to allow video cameras to be installed in patient rooms in order to document the type of care the nurses are providing to their patients.

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The article explains that there are two sides to the debate, and even patient advocates are skeptical that cameras are a good idea in all circumstances. Right now, there are about five states that allow a family to install a camera in their loved one’s room. Each state’s law is a little different, but a few things must be considered about the use of cameras in nursing homes, such as:

  • The loss of privacy that nursing home residents would suffer as a result of the cameras always being on;
  • The expense of the equipment and the occasional monitoring of the videos;
  • The effect, both positive and negative, that recording patient interactions may have on the nursing home as a workplace;
  • The admissibility of the tapes in civil or criminal suits against the nursing home and its employees; and
  • The privacy of visitors, guests, and nursing home faculty and how it may be affected by the cameras.

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Towards the end of August, authorities filed suit against a Texas nursing home, claiming that the nursing home’s gross negligence caused the deaths of seven residents. According to a report by one local news source, attorneys for the families showed reporters some pictures of the deceased, one woman with maggots in her ear as a result of a massive infection she sustained at the nursing home.

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Evidently, there are several other anecdotal stories that the plaintiffs have, including a bed sore on one man’s back so deep that his bone can be seen in the photograph. Other residents claim that they had been “soaked” in feces and urine for hours on end.

The nursing home’s record is not stellar, either. According to the report, they received four violations for “Level 4 Deficiencies,” meaning that a home resident’s wellbeing was put in immediate jeopardy. The home also has two wrongful death suits against it pending on appeal.

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Earlier last week in Syracuse, New York, a female nurse was arrested and charged with several crimes related to the alleged abuse of a 92-year-old patient. According to a report by one local news source, the nurse was not only charged with the abuse-related crimes but also with falsifying business records to cover up the abuse.

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Evidently, back in March of this year, the nurse was assigned to care for the 92-year-old victim. On March 25, the patient did not want to move from her bed to a wheelchair, despite being asked to do so. The nurse grabbed the patient by her upper arms and forcefully placed her in the wheelchair.

The elderly patient then developed significant bruising. Other nursing home employees noticed the bruising and reported it to management, who assigned the nurse in question to investigate. Of course, rather than admit to abusing the patient, the nurse reported that the elderly woman was suffering from senile pupura, which is the purpling of the skin, a common condition in the elderly.

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