Having an aging family member can be stressful and unnerving. Every family wants to make sure their loved one is cared for properly, but figuring out how to make that happen is not always easy. According to the National Council on Aging, about one in 10 Americans age 60 or older has experienced some form of elder abuse—and many cases go unreported. In fact, some estimates are that only one in 14 cases of elder abuse is reported. As a result, many advocates find abuse is even more common than most people think. Elder abuse includes physical abuse, as well as sexual abuse, exploitation, emotional abuse, neglect, and abandonment. Abusers can be family members, or they can be staff at nursing homes and other caretakers.

DollElder Americans are especially vulnerable to abuse, in part because they are often isolated and suffer from mental impairment. Abuse can result in injuries and death and also can negatively affect elders’ financial security, health, and dignity. And as the American population ages, more people are at risk of abuse. In 2014, long-term care providers served about nine million people in the United States. A recent case showed a strange and unexpected case of abuse that affected many vulnerable nursing home residents.

Nursing Home Employees Convicted After Harming Residents’ Dolls

According to one news source, two nursing home employees were recently convicted for abusing residents’ dementia dolls. The two women pleaded guilty for their treatment of residents at a nursing home. The employees, who were both in their 20s, were employees at a nursing home where dolls were used a therapeutic tool for residents to care for as if they were their own children. The nursing home housed residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Continue Reading

Medical and social services and law enforcement authorities throughout our nation are coming to terms with a dangerous epidemic of opiate and opioid abuse that has been affecting Americans of all ages and socioeconomic groups. According to a recently published news report, nursing homes and rehab facilities are not immune from this problem, and a failure to properly monitor both residents and visitors for signs of drug abuse is causing an increase in drug-related overdoses and deaths in several states.

Crushed PillsThe fact that many nursing home residents are highly medicated and isolated from the public view keeps the number of overdoses and drug-related deaths hidden. While nursing facilities cannot and should not be held legally responsible for every instance of drug abuse or overdose that occurs on site, the management and staff of these facilities do have a responsibility to monitor their residents and act reasonably to prevent illegal and dangerous drugs from being sold or illegally consumed by their residents.

Chicago Area Nursing Facility Fined Over $100,000 after Five Residents Suffer Overdoses Within Days

The report explains the case of one nursing facility in Illinois that had five residents hospitalized for heroin overdoses within only days, with two of those patients using the drugs and overdosing again within hours of their return to the facility. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Illinois Department of Health have fined this facility over $100,000 in total for failing to properly monitor and treat their residents with drug addictions.

Continue Reading

A popular national news source has recently published an article discussing a change of policy by the Centers for Medicare Services that should open up many nursing home contracts to the possibility for the resident to sue nursing home providers accused of abuse or neglect directly in state or federal court, instead of being required to submit their claim to arbitration, a process that generally favors defendants.

Old WomanMedicare Foots Some or All of the Bill in Most Nursing Home Agreements

Health care improvements and the changing dynamics of how Americans approach old age and family relationships mean that most Americans who reach the age of 75 will need long-term, full-time nursing care at a residential facility at some point in their lives. With the increase in the breadth of the nursing care industry and the bill often being paid by the federal government, providers are often incentivized to provide substandard care and cover up or downplay signs or accusations of abuse.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

It can be difficult for the families of nursing home abuse victims to know when abuse has occurred. Many of the residents who are the most vulnerable to abuse, whether intentional or the result of neglect, suffer from dementia or other cognitive disorders that may make it difficult for family members to tell if their loved one has been a victim or not. There is also a sense of pride and not “wanting to be a burden” that is often present in older generations, and it may prevent nursing home residents from reporting abuse.

Continue Reading

An article recently published by an NBC affiliate in New York helps document a disturbing trend of nursing home abuse and neglect that appears to be caused by understaffed nursing homes, as well as a lack of adequate training and competence among existing staff. According to the news report, an elderly nursing home resident and her family have filed a nursing home abuse lawsuit against a New Jersey nursing home after the resident was allegedly left covered in her own feces for hours as the nursing home staff failed to answer her calls for assistance. Although the proceedings are only in the early stages, the defendant has issued a statement denying any wrongdoing and attempting to discredit the plaintiffs’ claims.

HandNursing Care Is Facing an Epidemic of Neglect and Incompetence

Many factors result in the recent increase in nursing home abuse and neglect complaints, which are often focused on the duties of lower-level staff, such as nursing aides and assistants. Many nursing home residents are not physically active and have few visitors or family members to check up on them. When neglect or abuse does occur, some patients are afraid or embarrassed to tell anyone about it, or they may not know what their rights are or how to make a claim. The majority of funding for nursing home care comes from the federal government through Medicare, and providers have been known to take advantage of the lack of accountability for government funds by employing too few workers and hiring low-cost, incompetent employees to provide care.

Continue Reading

As this blog discussed in a post last month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently announced a new rule that would deny funding to any nursing home that includes a mandatory arbitration clause in its admission contract. Essentially, the new rule uses fiscal policy to discourage nursing homes from including arbitration clauses in their contracts. This means that abused or neglected nursing home residents will be able to use the court system – rather than a private, confidential, and often one-sided arbitration system – to resolve claims against nursing homes.

Nursing HomeSome commentators suggest that the new rule may also lead to an overall increase in the level of care nursing homes offer to residents. According to one recent news article discussing the new rule and its potential implications across the nursing home industry, nursing homes will now be forced to deal with the claims against them in public courthouses rather than in confidential arbitration.

One of the reasons the nursing home industry favored arbitration for years was that the results of the arbitration – favorable or not – were not made a part of the public record. However, with fewer nursing homes including arbitration clauses in their admission contracts, the public will have a greater understanding of the types of claims that arise in nursing homes. This increased awareness, it is suggested, will result in nursing homes trying harder to avoid potential claims.

Continue Reading

Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a new rule that nursing homes that include binding arbitration clauses in their contracts will not be eligible for federal funding. In a recent development, the American Health Care Association (AHCA) – a non-profit group formed to advance the interests of the nursing home industry – filed a lawsuit in an attempt to block the newly announced rule.

ContractAccording to one news report covering the recently filed case, the AHCA and several other nursing home advocacy groups claim that the CMS and the Department of Human Services overstepped their legal mandate in creating the rule. The groups seek to have the rule removed so that nursing homes that implement binding arbitration clauses can once again receive federal funding.

Nursing home advocates claim that arbitration benefits residents and their families because it enables the inexpensive resolution of claims. By some estimates, arbitration can reduce the cost of litigation for nursing homes by 30-35%. By decreasing the costs associated with defending a claim, the argument goes, nursing homes are more willing to offer fair settlement terms to injured residents and their families.

Continue Reading

According to a recent news report, an 84-year-old nursing home resident will not face criminal charges after an 82-year-old woman has died following a violent beating inflicted by the man. The attack occurred on a morning in late August of this year, after the woman mistakenly wandered into the man’s bedroom in the dementia unit of a New York nursing facility. The assailant violently attacked the woman, who died after suffering a broken neck, broken ribs, a broken nose, and several facial fractures. The county attorney’s office declined to press charges against the man, finding that he suffered from dementia and lacked the mental capacity to stand trial for the crime.

Nursing Home

Civil Liability for Violence Committed by Nursing Home Residents

Although the resident will not be charged for his role in the violent death of his fellow resident, the deceased woman’s family may be entitled to compensation for the loss of their loved one. The prosecutor’s decision not to press criminal charges against the perpetrator would not prevent a wrongful death claim from being brought against the man in civil court, although his mental state would still be relevant in a potential claim. In addition to the perpetrator, the nursing home facility and staff could face civil liability for the woman’s death through a nursing home abuse or neglect lawsuit.

Nursing homes have a responsibility to maintain a reasonably safe environment for their residents, which may include a duty to protect residents from acts of violence by other residents. Residents with psychological or mental health issues should be diagnosed and adequately supervised to protect the safety of themselves and other residents. Some residents may need assistance returning to their rooms. Although not every random act of violence may be preventable, nursing home attendants should be available to respond quickly in the event of any emergency or injury, whether accidental or intentional.

Continue Reading

Before a resident is admitted to a nursing home, a contract must be signed. The contract outlines both parties’ rights and responsibilities, as well as setting out some ground rules in the event that the resident or their family sues the nursing home. Over the past decade, more and more nursing homes have included arbitration clauses in these contracts, forcing residents to resolve all disputes through a third-party arbitration company rather than use the court system.

Signing a ContractIn these contracts, the forum of the arbitration is often chosen by the nursing home, and the outcomes of disagreements have historically favored nursing homes. However, in a very important new rule announced by the Department of Health and Human Services, nursing homes that require residents and their families to submit to arbitration rather than the court system will no longer receive federal funding. It is estimated that this new rule will affect 1.5 million nursing home residents nationwide.

Since the nursing home industry has benefited greatly from these arbitration clauses, the industry has reacted negatively to the new announcement. In fact, one spokesperson attacked the Department of Health and Human Services’ legal authority to implement such a rule, saying that the rule “clearly exceeds” the agency’s authority. He also claimed that the rule was “wholly unnecessary to protect residents’ health and safety.”

Continue Reading

A recently published news report discusses the tragic story of an 88-year-old man who passed away in August 2015 after developing gangrene in two improperly untreated pressure wounds, or bedsores, that significantly worsened while he was living at a nursing home. According to the report, the deceased man’s daughter-in-law discovered the wounds while visiting her father at the nursing facility and requested that he be taken by ambulance to a hospital for immediate treatment. Despite the request, the nursing home staff refused, insisting the wounds were minor and manageable. Against the advice of the nurses and employees at the nursing home, the resident’s daughter took him to the hospital herself.

Hospital BedThe Man Was Not Hospitalized Soon Enough and Succumbed to a Gangrene Infection

Although his daughter took matters into her own hands and hospitalized the man after she discovered what appeared to be severely infected pressure wounds, the action was not taken soon enough to save his life. By the time the man arrived to the hospital, the infection had taken over, and his organs were shutting down. He passed away shortly after he was admitted. Seeking answers and compensation for the apparent negligence of the nursing home, the man’s daughter pursued elder abuse and nursing home neglect claims against the nursing facility. According to the report, the daughter alleged that the medical professionals and support staff at the nursing home failed to properly prevent, diagnose, or treat his condition, ultimately resulting in his death.

Continue Reading

When someone can no longer care for themselves, and their loved ones are also incapable of providing the necessary level of care, many families turn to nursing homes. Nursing homes are charged with caring for those who cannot fully care for themselves, and the duties that come along with this are varied and often depend on the condition of each individual resident. However, some duties are present no matter the condition the resident is in, including providing a safe environment that is free of abusive and neglectful staff.

Call ButtonOne way that nursing homes are able to ensure the quality of the nurses whom they employ is through pre-employment and background checks. These checks look into the past of the applicant nurse to determine which other positions the nurse has held, whether there have been any disciplinary actions taken against the nurse, and whether the nurse has any past criminal convictions. Not only are these types of checks legal, but also they are necessary to ensure a safe nursing home for all residents.

Investigation into Nursing Home Abuse Discovers Management Did Not Perform Pre-Employment Background Checks

Earlier last year, nursing home aides at a New York nursing facility taunted an elderly resident and then took pictures of the abuse. After the discovery of this behavior, an official investigation was conducted, which revealed that the nursing home employing the aides had failed to conduct pre-employment background checks on four of its newly hired employees. It was also discovered that the nursing home failed to provide any abuse prevention training and even failed to follow up on reported cases of abuse. According to a recent news article discussing the facility’s deficiencies, the nursing home has a one-star rating and had 24 deficiencies total in 2015 and 2016. This amounts to more than four times the state average.

Continue Reading

Contact Information