Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Kentucky decided a group of cases brought against a number of nursing homes alleging personal injury. The cases themselves have little to do with each other, but they were consolidated by the court because they all presented the same issue:  whether the nursing home was able to compel arbitration based on the contract that they had on file from each resident.

contract-signing-1474333The relevant facts of the cases are simple. Each plaintiff was admitted to a nursing home with the assistance of someone who possessed power of attorney. As a part of the admission process, the nursing home required that a contract was signed. One clause in each of the contracts stated that any problems or disputes that arose between the parties would be settled through arbitration, rather than through the court system. For each of the plaintiffs, the person who possessed power of attorney was the person to actually sign the document.

When the nursing home residents were injured by the alleged negligence of the nursing homes at issue, the family members of those involved filed suit against the nursing home. The nursing homes, in response, sought to dismiss the cases based on the signed contract consenting to arbitration in the event of a problem.

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Earlier this month in Minnesota, prosecutors filed charges against a 55-year-old nurse for allegedly abusing an 86-year-old nursing home resident who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. According to one local news report, the woman faces gross misdemeanor charges for allegedly hitting and verbally abusing the resident on the evening of January 30, 2015.

school-hallway-1559891Evidently, the woman named in the charges was working with two assistants, who told police that they saw the woman exhibit “instances of aggressive and abusive language and behavior” towards the resident. They reported seeing the woman use a “great amount of force” when washing the elderly man’s genitals, and then they saw her hit him in the legs and threaten to spray body-spray deodorant in the man’s face while yelling at him.

The woman, who is no longer employed by the nursing facility, was charged with criminal neglect and disorderly conduct against the elderly Alzheimer’s patient. She faces up to two years in jail and $6,000 for each of the two charges she faces.

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Earlier this month in Minnesota, a man pleaded guilty to the rape of an 83-year-old nursing home resident just moments after he reached a settlement agreement with the woman’s family in a civil case. According to one local news source, the man faces a potential four years in jail when sentenced. The guilty plea was entered just a few moments after he settled the civil case brought by the victim’s family for the injuries suffered by their loved one.

hospital-6-1518170Evidently, the man was a nursing assistant at a nursing home in Minneapolis. In the morning hours of December 18, 2014, a nurse at the facility recalls looking into one of the facility’s rooms and seeing the man moving back and forth in a thrusting motion. The nurse immediately went to her supervisor and reported the nursing assistant’s behavior. He was then removed from the floor, and the police were called. After conducting their investigation, the man was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Earlier this month, the man settled the civil case brought by the victim’s family. While the exact details of the settlement are not publicly known, reporters were told that one of the provisions of the settlement called for a $15 million fine, made payable to the victim’s estate, if the man ever is convicted of rape again. In addition, the man was required to pay several thousand dollars to the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

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Earlier this month in Portland, Oregon, a man filed a lawsuit against a nursing home where he had previously resided, seeking $9 million in damages. According to one local Oregon news source, the allegations are that the nursing home’s negligent care led to a situation where the man’s penis needed to be amputated, due to an advanced kidney infection that spread to the man’s penis.

medical-series-12-1485454Evidently, the man was initially admitted to the nursing home to recover for a kidney infection. However, while he was there, he began to suffer from what he believed was an infection in his catheter. He notified nursing home staff members, but they allegedly failed to take his complaints seriously. Over time, the infection led to gangrene and eventually life-threatening septic shock. Ultimately, the man’s penis needed to be amputated as a result of the infection.

The lawsuit, which names the nursing home facility as well as the two individual nurses who were responsible for the man’s care, seeks $9 million in damages. Included in this figure is an amount of $1 million for the man’s wife for the loss of “affection society, assistance and companionship of her husband.”

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Earlier last month, a Syracuse, New York woman pleaded guilty to several charges stemming from her involvement in a cover-up that attempted to hide several instances of sexual abuse and other failings at the nursing home at which she was employed. According to one local news source, the woman, who was the director of the facility, pled guilty to two counts of tampering with evidence. Her sentence will be determined at a later date. She may face up to four years in jail for her role in the cover-up.

shredding-day-1192430Evidently, the woman allegedly engaged in covering up failures by the nursing home, including destroying witness statements that explained several instances of sexual abuse between residents. The woman also admitted to concealing a patient’s medication history chart, which would have shown investigators that the nursing facility failed to provide one resident with physician-ordered medication. Finally, she admitted to hiding other medical records that tended to show patient neglect.

Investigators have cast a wide net in their investigation into the nursing home’s staff, and charges are pending against several other employees who may have been involved in the acts or the subsequent cover-up.

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Earlier this month, the family of a 57-year-old woman who died after lighting herself aflame filed suit against the nursing facility that was charged with her care. According to one local news article, the lawsuit is against the single largest owner of skilled nursing facilities in the State of California. The owner of the facility controls one in every 14 nursing home beds in California.

samaritan-1246021Evidently, the woman suffered from a history of schizophrenia and suicidal ideations, and she was admitted to the nursing home for constant care. The lawsuit alleges that the nursing facility accepted her into its care, knowing that it did not have the trained staff necessary to provide the high level of care that the woman needed. Specifically, the woman’s family claims that the home was “maximizing profits from the operation of the facility by underfunding, understaffing and under training the staff” with “callous indifference to the potential for injury they were inflicting upon the resident population.”

The family argues that the home provided the woman a “day pass” that allowed her to be on her own for about four hours a day without supervision of any kind. This was despite the fact that, just two weeks earlier, staff members reported the woman was suffering from hallucinations and talking to herself.

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Earlier this month in Brooklyn, New York, prosecutors filed charges against an employee at a nursing home after it was discovered that the employee had abused an 82-year-old dementia patient. According to one local news report, the employee was criminally charged with endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person, which is a felony offense. The employee is charged with accompanying misdemeanor charges relating to the incident as well.

hospital-7-1518169Evidently, the woman was seen on video abusing and humiliating the man as she was bathing him. Video evidence allegedly shows her hitting him several times with her own fists, throwing water on his face and chest, and making him hit himself in the face with his hand repeatedly. The New York Attorney General told reporters that he plans on prosecuting the case, and all cases like it, explaining that “When families make the difficult decision to place the care of their loved ones in the hands of a nursing home, they expect them to be treated with compassion and respect—not abused and mistreated.”

Maryland Nursing Home Abuse

While this disturbing account occurred in New York, similar incidents occur here in Maryland on a frequent basis. It is estimated that one in 10 nursing home residents will endure some kind of abuse at some point during their stay. For many people, the abuse involves verbal humiliation and degrading conduct, but for others it involves physical abuse.

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Earlier this year in Minnesota, video cameras installed by the loved ones of a nursing home resident caught several nursing home employees engaging in the abuse of a resident. According to one local news source, the videos resulted in a criminal investigation that ultimately led to the termination of several employees and the suspension of others, including those who allegedly knew about the abuse and failed to report it to authorities.

security-camera-1253661Evidently, the video camera was installed by the family of a resident who spotted bruises and cuts on their loved one. Back in June of this year, the family took the video to the local police department, which conducted an investigation into the allegations and ultimately arrested two of the nursing home’s employees on suspected assault charges. While no charges have yet been filed, the city attorney told reporters that “They did things that I would not want done to relatives of mine if they were in a nursing home, … Inappropriate conduct definitely occurred.”

The nursing home responded with a letter to the family of the woman who was seen abused on the tape, explaining that “this conduct is intolerable and contrary to all we stand for, which is why the employees involved were dismissed.” It remains to be seen if there will be any civil claim for damages filed against the nursing home or its employees.

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Earlier last month, the State of California cited and fined a nursing home facility after it was determined that lapses in care at the facility led to the death of a resident. According to one local news source, the facility was fined $100,000 and issued a Class “AA” Citation, which is the most serious in the State.

childrens-medical-1531645Evidently, last July one of the home’s residents choked on a piece of food while eating in the home’s dining area. The woman ultimately suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away a few days after the incident. After an official investigation, it was determined that the actions of the nursing home in failing to provide adequate supervision played a major role in the woman’s death.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) initiated an official investigation after the woman’s death, and it determined “the facility failed to provide a safe dining experience and failed to implement their care plan to consistently assist and assure that safe eating occurred.” The CDPH also told reporters that the woman had a known history of delusional thought and difficulty swallowing, and she was known to attempt to eat quickly without properly chewing her food.

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Earlier this month, a Kentucky judge ordered a nursing home to pay the estate of one of the home’s prior residents $18 million after it was determined that the home was responsible for the wrongful death of the resident. According to one local news report, the woman spent the five years prior to her death in the nursing facility, but towards the end of her life she suffered greatly due to a lack of care.

wheelchair-1576246Evidently, the deceased resident was allegedly forced to remain in soiled briefs for extended periods of time before a nursing home employee attended to her needs and changed her. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim that there was evidence this was the policy of the nursing facility in order to save on the costs of the one-time-use briefs.

It is also alleged that the woman developed severe bed sores, resulting in her nerve endings becoming exposed. Ultimately, she did develop a number of serious infections, including E. coli. She also had developed severe skin rashes and lost the use of her arms and legs while in the facility.

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