A 77-year-old Wyoming nursing home resident and one other person are dead, and three others injured, after a shooting occurred near the nursing home where the perpetrator lived. A local news report was recently published describing the shooting, which began at about 11:00 AM on Wednesday, September 14, outside the nursing facility. The condition and identities of the injured victims have not been released to the public, but the perpetrator, who turned the gun on himself after initially fleeing the scene of the shooting, was identified as a 77-year-old resident of an apartment complex adjacent to the nursing facility.

PistolIt Is Not Clear If Personal or Mental Health Issues Led to the Shooting

According to the news report from the scene of the fatal shooting, there may have been personal issues behind the man’s motivation to commit the shooting, although there were conflicting reports of what happened. It is possible that the perpetrator suffered from a mental health condition and should not have been in possession of a firearm in the days and hours leading up to the shooting.

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According to a recent article, a resident at a nursing home in New York died after choking on a grilled cheese sandwich provided by nursing home staff. The women had been diagnosed with dementia and required dentures to chew her food, but she was not wearing her dentures at the time she choked on the sandwich. The woman’s son is suing the nursing home for damages due to negligence on the part of nursing home staff.

Dentures

As Americans live longer and the population continues to age, more and more adults find themselves moving into assisted-living facilities or nursing homes. These facilities provide a wide range of services, including medical care, food services, and assistance with many activities of daily living, like taking a shower, getting dressed, and using the toilet.

Providing such a wide range of services comes with responsibility. In Maryland, nursing homes and assisted living providers must take reasonable care when providing these services, and a failure to take such care is considered negligence. When negligence is committed, residents or their family members may be eligible for compensation for injuries suffered as a result of the negligence.

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The executor of a deceased former resident’s estate has filed a wrongful death claim against a Chicago area nursing home on behalf of the woman’s surviving family members. According to a local news source, the family is seeking damages for the woman’s wrongful death, which was allegedly caused by the negligence of the employees and management of the nursing facility where she died. The lawsuit was filed on August 10 in Illinois state court and is seeking over $50,000 in damages, according to the news source.

WheelchairsThe Plaintiffs Allege that the Defendants Failed to Adequately Supervise the Condition of the Deceased Resident

The plaintiffs in the case of Rodriguez v. Aperion Care International are the surviving family members of a woman who died earlier this year while living at a nursing home facility operated by the defendants. According to the allegations discussed in the news article, the woman died after suffering from skin breakdown and pressure ulcers that she developed while bedridden at the defendant’s facility. These conditions, which allegedly led to her death, are commonly known as bedsores and are generally preventable if residents are cared for properly.

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A 50-year-old New York man has been charged with multiple felonies after authorities confirmed allegations that he sexually abused at least six disabled residents at a nursing home facility where he was employed. The charges were discussed in a recently published local news report, which stated that the man has been indicted on 33 felony charges based on the alleged abuse, which occurred over a six-month period in 2014 and 2015 at the nursing home where he was employed as a counselor to care for the residents.

Old Woman's HeadThe Alleged Perpetrator Used His Trusted Position to Abuse Several Patients

According to a summary of the allegations that is contained in the article, the defendant was employed as a counselor at the nursing facility in upstate New York and began abusing the residents in July 2014. The man’s victims were six residents of the facility who had all previously suffered traumatic brain injuries and were initially unable to report the repeated acts of abuse, some of which allegedly occurred while the victims were asleep or incapacitated. The defendant is said to have used his position as a counselor and caretaker to gain access to the residents and forcibly perform sexual acts on them. If the man is convicted of all of the charges brought against him, he could face 10 years in prison.

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The federal government has recently announced plans for new regulations that will crack down on the problem of residents being abused by nursing home employees. Specifically, the new regulations are designed to target a recently occurring problem of nursing home employees taking demeaning photographs and videos of residents and sharing them on social media sites. Recently published articles by a patient advocacy group have documented the worsening phenomenon and the federal response.

KeyboardThe Federal Government Can Use Medicare to Urge States and Nursing Homes to Prevent Abuse

Most nursing homes are administered by private organizations or state or municipal governments, but the federal government contributes to the costs for each resident in a vast majority of those homes in the form of Medicare payments made on the resident’s behalf. Although the federal government generally lacks direct regulatory authority to compel state or privately run nursing homes to implement certain policies, it can tie compliance with anti-abuse policies into the nursing home’s receipt of Medicare funds, which often comprise most of the payments the nursing homes receive.

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The problem of sexual abuse committed against nursing home patients by employees or medical providers continues to surprise authorities and victims’ families, who often discover that a loved one has been victimized for an extended period of time before any action is taken. For various reasons, elderly victims in nursing homes are less likely than other victims to report sexual abuse to their families or authorities, and it may take an abuser being caught in the act for authorities to be notified. A New York nursing home employee recently pleaded guilty to abusing a 99-year-old nursing home resident in an act that was witnessed by another employee and may not have been reported otherwise.

Elderly HandsAfter the Abuse Was Discovered, Criminal Charges Were Pursued by State Attorneys

According to a local news report discussing the criminal case proceedings, the perpetrator was a certified nursing assistant who was employed by the nursing home to provide care for the victim and other residents. The report states that on several dates in April 2016, the man placed one resident in a bathroom, while he abused his victim in the attached bedroom.

One of the acts of abuse was discovered by another nursing home employee who entered the bedroom. Authorities were subsequently notified, and they arrested the perpetrator, who admitted other instances of abuse and later pleaded guilty to an 11-count felony indictment filed on the matter.

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Arbitration clauses have become more and more common in many types of contracts between consumers and businesses over the last 50 years, However, the dramatic increase in the use of arbitration clauses in medical care agreements should be of special concern to consumers and their advocates. By agreeing to an arbitration clause, a patient or their family may be giving up their right to sue the other party in state or federal court and instead assenting to resolve disputes through what is known as binding arbitration. Binding arbitration is a process that closely resembles a judicial proceeding, although the “judge” of an arbitrated dispute is simply a private party, and the court rules and procedures that are used in judicial proceedings may not apply.

Binding ContractWhy Do Providers Propose Binding Arbitration, and Why Would Consumers Agree to It?

Binding arbitration is promoted by companies and industry groups as a simplified way of resolving disputes that could get out of hand if they were processed through a full-fledged judicial proceeding. Complainants are legally entitled to a fair process through arbitration, and state and federal laws are applied to their claims.

In reality, the differences between an arbitration proceeding and a judicial proceeding almost always favor the large company, with consumers and patients receiving the short end of the agreement. A recent New York Times article discussing the use of arbitration agreements in nursing home contracts notes that although agreeing to binding arbitration cannot be mandatory for a prospective patient, the agreements are often structured to hide that fact. Many consumers agree to arbitrating potential disputes because they don’t know they have the right to refuse it.

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A recently published news article discusses the difficulty that law enforcement and regulatory authorities have been facing nationwide in attempting to apply existing laws to curb the increasing pattern of “social media abuse” of long-term care and nursing home residents by health care workers. According to the article, there have been dozens of reported instances in which health care workers publish explicit photos or videos of nursing home patients on social media. The resulting posts have been offensive, hurtful, and exploitative of the nursing home patients, and they demonstrate the unprofessional levels of care that some nursing facilities provide.

KeyboardCurrent Laws Addressing Nursing Home Abuse May Not Go Far Enough

According to a recently published report noted in the article, current laws in many states protect nursing home patients from social media abuse by making it illegal for a health care worker or assistant to post an image containing a resident’s genitals on social media. Unfortunately, many of the abusive and humiliating posts that have been made don’t include an image of a patient’s genitals but remain extremely offensive. One such post mentioned in the article included an image of an elderly resident’s hands and legs covered in feces, accompanied by a caption that contained profanity and made fun of the man.

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Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Mississippi issued an interesting opinion for anyone who signed an arbitration clause when admitting their loved one to a nursing home. In the case, Tarvin v. CLC of Jackson, the court determined that the arbitration clause signed by the plaintiff on behalf of her elderly father was not binding because she did not have the legal right to waive her father’s rights, absent a determination of his incompetency.

Signing DocumentArbitration Clauses in Nursing Home Contracts

Whenever a party enters into a contract, they try to include as many favorable terms as possible. However, sometimes nursing homes can overreach, including arbitration clauses that may act to prevent the resident from using the court system to adjudicate any disputes between the parties. Indeed, if an arbitration clause is valid, the parties are required to go to arbitration instead of filing a lawsuit. This can have negative effects on plaintiffs, since usually the nursing home selects which arbitrator to use, giving rise to potential favoritism.

Arbitration clauses, however, are not always valid. In fact, in Tarvin, the court held that the arbitration clause at issue could not be enforced. The court explained that a nursing home resident’s right to use the court system is an important one, and it cannot be waived by just anyone. The court explained that it is only when a resident is deemed incompetent that a loved one can validly sign a binding arbitration agreement. In the Tarvin case, the doctor who determined the plaintiff’s father was incompetent was not his primary care provider. Thus, the court held that there was insufficient evidence proving the elderly man’s incompetence, and he did not validly consent to arbitration through his daughter.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a wrongful death case brought by the loved one of a nursing home resident whom the plaintiff claims was neglected prior to her death. In the case, Handy v. Madison County Nursing Home, the plaintiff’s claims were ultimately dismissed by the court during a summary judgment proceeding because the plaintiff failed to meet her initial burden to show that a prima facie case existed against the nursing home.

Signing DocumentsThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home that had cared for her mother in the three years leading up to her death. In her complaint, the plaintiff alleged that nursing home staff members were negligent in failing to detect a bowel obstruction that ultimately contributed to her mother’s early death. As a part of her case, the plaintiff attached a certification explaining that, if called to testify, her expert witness would explain that the defendant nursing home violated a standard of care it owed to her mother.

In a pre-trial summary judgment proceeding, the nursing home asked the court to dismiss the case based on the fact that the plaintiff failed to produce evidence of the home’s negligence. Specifically, the nursing home argued that the certification was not sufficient to prove negligence and that an expert’s affidavit was necessary. The plaintiff sought several continuances and failed to provide an expert’s affidavit at each scheduled listing. Eventually, the nursing home asked the court to dismiss the case based on a lack of evidence.

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